Looking for a chance to have fun on the water near Ellisville? You’ll find various waterways close to home that feature activities the whole family can enjoy together. Whether you’re looking for fishing, kayaking, or a picturesque place to set up for a picnic by the water, you’ll find all that and more thanks to this list Creme de la Creme of Ellisville put together.


Meramec River

A view through the fall trees of a scenic bend in the Meramec River around Ellisville, MO.

Image via Flickr by monamaynard


No matter where you go along the Meramec River, you’ll find so many chances to have fun as a family. You’ll find a variety of lodges, hotels, and motels along the Interstate 44 route so you can plan the perfect adventure.

Regardless of what your family wants to do on the water, this river has something to keep everyone engaged. Go for a kayaking or canoeing trip, or float along in inner tubes or river rafts. With such a beautiful natural landscape close to home, you can easily enjoy the great outdoors without traveling far from Ellisville.


Castlewood State Park

Make the short trip to Ballwin for access to tons of water activities and more. The Meramec River winds through here, creating a lush valley with an abundance of opportunities for outdoor fun. Considered one of the best mountain biking spots in the wider St. Louis area, this state park has biking and hiking trails ideal for various skill levels as well as recreational facilities, picturesque meadows full of wildlife, and of course, some amazing fishing.

You’ll find picnic areas throughout the Meramec River and along Kiefer Creek, not to mention at some trailheads and the playground. Equestrian picnic sites also exist here. You can even rent a picnic shelter if you want to put together a bigger gathering outside for family and friends. If the kids are looking for some fun beyond the water, a playground between the two picnic shelters makes that easy.

Then you’ll have the countless fishing possibilities, sure to keep anyone in the family entertained. Several miles of the Meramec River feature everything from channel catfish and flathead catfish to bass, bluegill, carp, crappie, drum, gar, and longear sunfish. The waterway has cover for the fish with plenty of shallow ripples, deep holes, rocky areas, and more, making this an exciting place to spend the day fishing.


Route 66 State Park

In addition to fishing and boating activities, you can take your family on a trip through history on The Mother Road at this state park. Visit Route 66 State Park’s visitor center, featuring a display that showcases that road, housed in the former Bridgehead Inn. Of course, the park also offers your family an ideal opportunity to explore nature. It’s home to over 40 kinds of birds, and you’ll enjoy the trails and picnic sites throughout the area.

Bicycling and walking trails offer a great way to get active outdoors, while picnic grounds among the shady trees mean this park has great places to relax as well. You can reserve picnic shelters for bigger groups in this park, too. With a playground located right in the picnic area, the whole family is sure to enjoy an outing to this park.

You can’t go wrong with this park when you’re looking to enjoy a waterway, either. You can fish on the Meramec River from sunrise to sunset. The Meramec River is known as one of North America’s most diversified rivers, so it’s a great place for fishing. Just keep in mind that fishing is prohibited in nearby ponds. The park also features a free boat ramp.


Robertsville State Park

Bounded by the Meramec River and Calvey Creek, Robertsville State Park offers an oasis of water-based activities. You’ll find boat launches and easy water access along the Meramec River, and this peaceful waterway provides so many options for fun.

Hang out along the river to enjoy the scenic bluffs, and explore the various outdoor landscapes, including hardwood forests and river bottomlands. If you’re into looking for waterfowl, this is the place to be. A diversity of birds use the different waters in this park. You’ll also have access to quiet campgrounds and some picnic areas.

The park boasts basic, electric, and family campsites, so you can make a longer trip here if you want to take a family getaway. You’ll find both smaller picnic sites and picnic shelters perfect for bigger gatherings here as well. You’ll also find a playground in the picnic area.

In terms of fishing, this park offers about 2 miles of riverbank access where you can fish for crappie, bluegill, and smallmouth bass. If you’re here for the boating, you can make use of a single-lane boat in the day-use area. Swimming is not permitted because of the boat traffic.


Frank Holten State Recreation Area

Located in East St. Louis, Frank Holten State Recreation Area is an easy drive from Ellisville. This outdoor spot combines an urban setting with plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. In addition to open space that’s perfect for a picnic and the 18-hole Grand Marais Golf Course, the recreation area also offers two lakes with great fishing possibilities: Grand Marais Lake and Whispering Willow Lake.

You’ll find picnic shelters and barbecue pits, not to mention a range of gorgeous trees like Scotch pine, poplar, and sycamore in this unique outdoor setting. The two lakes come together to offer over 200 acres of water and shoreline that spans 5 miles. In other words, fishing and boating possibilities abound! You’ll find boat launch ramps for both lakes.

Whispering Willow Lake was rehabilitated in 1983. It’s now stocked with bluegill, channel catfish, and largemouth bass. If you’re heading out here for a day of fishing, keep in mind that there are daily creel and length limits for some sport species.