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The story behind Explore STL Parks on Instagram

Stephanie Hampton of @ExploreSTLParks shares the inspiration behind her Instagram page designed to inspire families to get outside.

We're all on Instagram these days and it is so easy to spend hours of your day just refreshing that social media feed to see what everyone else is doing. But I've recently met one of the coolest moms in our Instagram pages, actually designed to inspire you to hang up and hang out outside. 

Stephanie Hampton is the brains behind the successful Explore STL Parks page on Instagram and the very proud mother of three sweet girls. But the road to get where they are today wasn't always so smooth. 

"Our middle daughter was born three months early and she was in the queue for 58 days here at Mercy. And when she graduated from the NICU, her medical team suggested that we try some different surfaces for her to walk on. She had some leg braces on, so something that was going to help her develop her leg muscles and work on those growths and fine motor skills. So this was going on while that pandemic was going on when all the playgrounds were closed. So we took to the trails. Now she is determined and she loves hiking. She loves conquering those mountains. And she graduated a full year early from her NICU follow up program," Hampton said. 

Stephanie says she owes it all to their adventures outdoors. So her friends naturally started calling her the park lady, which sparked the idea of sharing her journey with others.

"So I started an Instagram page, @ExploreSTLParks, basically doing just that, exploring the different parks around St Louis. So since the pandemic, as a family and just me and the kids, we've gone to over 180 trails and over 150 different parks," explained Hampton. 

A nice change of scenery and pace for the kids, but for moms too. Stephanie has gotten pretty creative along the way, collaborating with her kids to create scavenger hunt, taking each and every opportunity to learn something new, and making a packed lunch a little more exciting than usual before heading back home for a much needed nap. 

In addition to using the activities as such a fun way for everyone to spend time together outside the house. Stephanie has even more tips for moms on her page, of course. And the key is to not let the intimidation of the unknown keep you from an adventure full of memory making moments. She recommends starting out easy with some paved trails, maybe taking a stroller. Then you can venture out to find some hidden gems, just like this one.

"I feel like us moms as a community need to stick together because it is tough. The most rewarding thing is seeing my family enjoy the outdoors together. I think that has been so fruitful for me. Seeing Holly run down a trail and climb up these rocks, it's just so amazing as a mom to see that," Hampton said. 

Click here for more information on Explore STL Parks. 

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