Francis Park Takeaway. The "South City Place To Be Park". A great all-around park with things to do for people of all ages. From playgrounds to beer gardens to real gardens and everything in between. Doesn't excel in anything, but above average in everything. Home to pickleball, racquetball, and tennis courts. Solid set of walking paths bisects the half-mile-long park. Easy parking around the perimeter. Bathrooms at the playground and beer garden.
Francis Park Experience Summary
I went to Francis Park in between my spa day at the Xtreme Tan and getting a sandwich at LeGrand's.
While I was walking around, I realized I had been here before for The Gateway Cup bike race earlier in the year. It's funny how, after you've lived in the area for a while, you don't even realize all the places you've been.
There are two halves to the park. The northern half is all walking paths and green fields. The southern half has all the park amenities, playgrounds, activities, and more green fields.
The playground on the bottom half is Playground Complete. While the slides aren't giant, two solid-sized ones give you a quick "time to slide," and there are a ton of ways up the playground that offer high "reset value." That lets the kids re-use those same slides a dozen times with different entrances and exit velocities.
The cornerstone of a solid neighborhood playground.
The bathrooms are directly adjacent to the playground, but they were closed in November. They were open earlier in the year because I know a kid hid there for hide and seek, which seems like cheating. So, I would guess they must be open in the spring/summer/fall months.
You can try the beer garden bathrooms just south if the town has closed the playground bathrooms.
Speaking of the beer garden, I've never been, but it's gorgeous, with lights and outdoor seating. It seems like a fun place to go in the warmer months and an unexpected park perk.
When we arrived for the race, we parked two blocks away on a side street without a problem when the crowds packed the park. On this random day, there was infinite parking at 10 am.
Francis Park Playground Breakdown
A solidly big main playset anchors the playground area. The younger kids' playset sits next to it, as do swings and a small rope net.
A covered picnic area, seating, and a bathroom pavilion surround the sunken play area.
The big draw of the main playground is the larger playset. It has two wings, each with its own slide. One wing has a twisty slide, while the other has a medium-high, steep slide. Neither is noteworthy or bland, perfectly average.
What is noteworthy is the number of unique ingresses and egresses into the playset. That means that after each slide down, you have many possible ways up. Think ten ways up times two slides down equals 20 unique trips - high reset value. And because it's compact, you can get back down the slide in a timely manner - quick time to slide.
All of that has the markings of a Playground Complete playground where you can easily spend an hour with your kids.
When we came with our group of friends for the bike race, we spent an hour plus here in the blink of an eye racing, playing tag, and playing hide and seek.
The other complementary apparatus at Francis Park include the little kids' playset, swings, and rope net.
The rope net is small and worth maybe one climb. That kind of thing looks like filler and should maybe be connected to a large playset to get more value.
The swings are swings. Good for five minutes once a visit.
And the little kid playset is good for little kids and is another hiding spot and slide.
These complementary pieces of equipment help squeeze some time out of the visit or allow your kids to creatively add to their playtime.
The bathrooms overlook the playground for easy access but closed to the public by early November.
Francis Park Amenities And Miscellaneous
For grown-ups, there are three major upsides to Francis Park that vault it up my overall quality ladder for parks generally in St. Louis:
Racket sport courts
The walking paths are mainly concentrated in the park's center, forming a route that bisects the park. When we were here for the race, we did a lot of meandering over the fields, which I enjoyed but required nice weather. The path splits on the south side to the playground or racquetball courts.
Which brings me to the racket sports. The south side has a bunch of racquetball courts, several tennis courts, and several pickleball courts. When I was there after my November tanning appointment (Fun story) and before I grabbed a sandwich, I watched a mini pickleball tournament happening.
And I watched it from a beer garden - the Rockwell Beer Garden.
It was closed at 10 am but was super clean, with hanging lights and plenty of outdoor seating. I'm not exactly sure how you can weave it into a visit with the kids; maybe a before-dinner, summer afternoon-type playground/happy hour combo would work.
But the vibes are great.
Parking At Francis Park
On this visit, I parked south of the beer garden on the park's perimeter. You have to park at odd 45-degree angles and reverse in. It was a different experience and made you pay attention for a minute.
When the park was super packed for the race, we parked two blocks west on the north side and walked.
Francis Park Receipt