If you’ve never explored the Sunset Greenway, now is the time to plan a trip! This 3.9 mile paved route meanders through Florissant in north St. Louis County and offers stunning views of the Missouri River at Sunset Park along with connections to other parks, neighborhoods, and multiple historic sites along the way!
No matter the season, a walk or bike ride down the bluff in Sunset Park to the Missouri River is always a feast for your eyes. And speaking of feasts, there are plenty of local restaurants and “Mom-and-Pop” stops where you can enjoy a quick snack or delicious meal. (There are some restrictions due to COVID-19; see notes on dining options below and check restaurant website in advance)
If you are a history buff, you’ll love exploring a greenway that takes you through one of the earliest settlements in the state of Missouri. You’ll also enjoy Old St. Ferdinand Shrine, Sacred Heart Church, and dozens of historic buildings and homes in Old Town Florissant.
There is so much to see and do along the way, we’ve compiled a list of options so you can plan your own trip!
Sunset Greenway in Sunset Park
The Sunset Greenway is a flat, paved route that stretches 3.9 miles from Florissant’s Sunset Park to St. Francois Street near the Old St. Ferdinand Shrine. Less than a mile of the greenway lies within Sunset Park–but what a lovely less-than-a-mile it is! It connects the upper section of the park down to the banks of the Missouri River. You can walk, ride or push a stroller through the tree-lined path while enjoying views of the river. There are plenty of benches to stop and rest along the way. If you happen to be visiting when the sun goes down, you’ll understand why it’s called Sunset Park!
Sunset Park to Saint Ferdinand Park (2.3 miles)
From Sunset Park, the greenway parallels Humes Lane and then turns south along Patterson Road to Mullanphy Road where it passes through Florissant’s 64-acre Saint Ferdinand Park. There are pavilions, sand volleyball courts, restrooms, a lake, six ball fields and four playground areas.
Saint Ferdinand Park to St. Francois Street (.9 miles)
From Saint Ferdinand Park, the greenway continues south along Coldwater Creek, under Lindbergh Blvd, crossing St. Denis Street and through Coldwater Commons Park. The greenway ends at St. Francois Street. Immediately to the right (west) is the Historic St. Ferdinand Shrine. To the left, (east) you can walk or ride on St. Francois Street into Florissant Old Town. It is .7 mile from the greenway at St. Francois Street through Old Town to its eastern border at N. New Florissant Rd.
Historic Sites to See
Old St. Ferdinand Shrine
The Shrine is at the site of one of the earliest European settlements west of the Mississippi. Although Spain controlled the area, early settlers were French farmers and fur trappers attracted to the fertile banks of nearby Coldwater Creek. The French called the valley “Fleurissant” which means “flowering” or “flourishing” while the Spanish called the tiny settlement “St. Ferdinand.” While it is not known when the first settlers came to the area, it is believed that the village was settled about the same time St. Louis was (1764). The king of Spain actually granted the village the site where the old church was built. The settlement was typical of French settlements at the time with a commons and common fields where the villagers did their farming. For a number of years a log church served the community until the original portion of the existing church was constructed in 1821. Tours are available from Monday thru Sunday by appointment. For more details, visit the Shrine’s website. (Note that due to COVID-19, all inside tours are by appointment and masks are required. You can still enjoy the Shrine from the outside too!)
Sacred Heart Church
In Old Town, the historic Sacred Heart Catholic Church is located at the corner of N. Jefferson and St. Denis Street. Founded by German families who settled in the area, the original church was completed in 1872. The existing church was completed in 1893. It is still an active parish of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The historic Herz Jesu school building is the home of Sacred Heart Kindergarten, prekindergarten and preschool. There is a museum on the lower level of the Rectory that is open the second Sunday of the month from 10am to 2pm. To learn more about the church and school, visit their website.
Walking Tour of Old Town Florissant
Old Town Florissant is filled with many century homes, businesses, restaurants and shops housed in historic buildings. Florissant Old Town Partners has created a self-guided walking tour comprised of 13 historic sites. Click here for the map so you can take the tour!
Places to Eat-see notes regarding updates due to Covid-19
There is something for everyone along the Sunset Greenway. Whether you’re craving some Mexican food, a donut, pizza, crab cakes, pastries, deli sandwiches or an ice cold beverage—you can find it just around the corner. Here are just a few of the local favorites:
Hendel’s—known for their historic building, Hendel’s Burger, crab cakes, Sunday brunch and outdoor patio. (599 St. Denis Street, 63031)-inside and patio dining, online ordering available.
Ruiz—St. Louis’ oldest Mexican restaurant is located directly on the greenway! ( 901 N. US Highway 67, 63031)-curbside to go orders only.
Helfer’s Pastries & Deli Cafe—Family-owned bakery and deli. Their slogan is “Premium ingredients and expert skill make quality our specialty.” (380 Saint Ferdinand St., 63031)
Amore Pizza—family owned restaurant known for “pizza and pasta specials at reasonable prices.” (450 Saint Francois Street, 63031)
Fritz’s Original Frozen Custard—home of the Famous Turtle Sunday! (1055 St. Catherine, Florissant, 63031)***closed for season, reopens in spring 2021***
Old Town Donuts—recognized by the Riverfront Times as the best donuts in the St. Louis region. They are open 24 Hours a day, 7 days a week! (508 New Florissant Rd., 63031)
Important information to know before you go!
If you are riding your bike, the Rotary Club of Florissant has recently completed the installation of ten new bicycle racks to accommodate increased bicycle traffic in Historic Old Town Florissant! These are placed in strategic locations around Old Town including City Hall, Fritz’s Frozen Custard, Old St. Ferdinand Shrine, and more.
Street parking is available in Historic Old Town. You can also park in Sunset Park or Saint Ferdinand Park.
Park restrooms may not be available due to Covid-19, plan your visit with that in mind. Find all the details on this greenway here.