Saint Louis is often mentioned when talking about cities with a rich history, amazing museums to visit, and incredible baseball, but that isn’t all there is! The city that I call home happens to be known for having an incredible array of things for families to do, both indoors and outdoors. This is pretty much a necessity, seeing as in our little midwestern oasis, you can’t expect the weather to stay the same for long!
One of the big perks of the attractions in the St. Louis area is that there are a huge number of free attractions! Of course, there will always be options to upgrade your experience or make purchases once you are at any attraction or possibly a small fee to park but the actual admittance to MANY of our fun attractions is completely free!
1. The Saint Louis Zoo
St. Louisans have become quite used to hearing (and rather proud of the title) that we have the best zoo in the nation. The Saint Louis Zoo has even been ranked as America’s top free attraction and we completely agree!
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With over 600 species of animals and plenty of opportunities to take in specialty animal shows, this place is an entire day of family fun! Feeding the stingrays is our families favorite but we also make sure to never miss the sea lions either!
You won’t regret a trip to this incredible zoo. These are memories that will last a lifetime! Make sure to hop on the train inside the zoo to get to the different areas if you want a break from all of the walking; This place is HUGE!
2. Saint Louis Science Center
The Science Center, as most locals call it, is an enormous educational museum that is constantly adding new and amazing things to see and try. You can park for free at the planetarium, walk across the enclosed bridge over the freeway, and stop in the middle to check the speed of cars below with built-in radar guns!
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Once you enter into the Science Center, you’ll have a chance to build your own St. Louis style arch out of blocks or raise yourself up using a pulley system! Check out the tons of different rooms in which every age group will find something to entertain them!
A favorite of most everyone is the GROW exhibit. 5,000 square feet of outdoor space where children and adults alike can learn about the journey of the food from farm to table and how agriculture works in general!
3. Anheuser Busch Brewery Tour
If your kids are old enough to be intrigued by the beautiful Clydesdale horses, the incredible process of brewing fresh beer, or the rich history of a brewery founded in 1852, then the Anheuser Busch Brewery is an incredible tour!
Now, growing up a St. Louisan, I may be slightly biased, but I can say that this tour is a HUGE draw for tourists and they always love it! It lasts approximately 45 minutes and is completely free.
At the end of the tour, adults of legal age are given full-size samples of a couple of the beers while they relax in the tasting room.
Other Family Fun in St. Louis
4. The City Museum
The City Museum isn’t exactly what you might think of as a museum. It is made entirely out of “found” materials but it certainly isn’t going to bore the kiddos in any way! This “museum” is an incredible indoor and outdoor enormous playground, for lack of a better definition.
There are treehouses, caves, a ball pit on the roof, a bus you can climb in which is, well, also on the roof. Okay, well it is sort of hanging off of the roof. It’s safe though, really! There are more slides than you can imagine in this place, there is even one that is 10 stories tall!
It’s best to wear easy clothes to move around in, tennis shoes, and bring knee pads if you have them! The website suggests wearing full-length pants to make moving and sliding around easier and less painful. There is lots of crawling around to do and it can take a toll on the knees.
I wouldn’t really suggest this for families with kiddos under the age of 4 or 5. It is a pretty intense place and is best for a family with kids old enough to keep up pretty well!
5. The Magic House
The Magic House is one of the places that I highly recommend every family take the time to visit. It is unbelievable how much education is packed into the fun activities within this beautiful home-style building!
When you arrive at the Magic House in the quaint suburb of St. Louis, known as Kirkwood, there is no other way to describe it but a mix between a castle and a mansion. It is designed like a home on the outside but once you step inside, it is hours upon hours of interactive fun that will keep kids and adults both entertained.
From the Children’s Village (they can run a restaurant, grocery shop, work at a store, and more) to the Star-Spangled Center (kids can put on a robe and sit at a Judge’s bench or take a seat in the Oval Office and make an important executive decision!) and the Kid’s Construction Zone (let your kids hop aboard miniature excavators and try their hands at some true carpentry!) you will find endless hours of adventure at the Magic House!
A true favorite of locals and visitors alike is the static electricity ball! You step into a room and onto a platform with a giant steel ball. Place your hand on the ball and watch as all of your hair stands on end! The employees then take a picture that you have the option to purchase. This is one of the most famous and well-known parts of the Magic House and a keepsake worth having!
6. The Gateway Arch
Even if you don’t know much about St. Louis, you have likely heard of the Arch. It’s what Saint Louis is known for and is often featured in images and videos of the city. The start of the monument came about when Frank D. Roosevelt designated property along the St. Louis riverfront to become the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.
This is the area we now call the Gateway Arch National Park. After the space was cleared, 13 years later in 1948 a competition was held to determine what shape the monument would take. A winner was chosen (Eero Saarinen) and construction began in 1963. The Gateway Arch stands for national identity and is an example of mid-century modern design.
One of the most popular draws of a visit to the Gateway Arch is the tram ride to top! The tram ride takes you 63 stories high, inside of the arch, to the very top where there are windows you can look out of and see views up to 30 miles to the east and west.
The entire tram tour lasts about 45-60 minutes and is an incredible experience. There is also an entire museum at the entrance to the arch that gives you the full interactive history of this beautiful monument. Follow through 201 years of history within six different themed exhibit areas!
7. Busch Stadium
There is no doubt that St. Louis is a baseball town. That might be because we have a team that goes above and beyond for their fans or it might be because we have a town that goes above and beyond for their team.
Either way, when in St. Louis, especially between April and October, you will see A LOT of Cardinal Red. Taking in a game at Busch Stadium is something I recommend any family to do on a visit to St. Louis, partially because the incredible feeling within the stadium is one of a kind.
Cardinal fans really do love their team and you can feel that within the walls of that stadium! Plus, if you don’t care about being extremely close to the field, you can usually find tickets pretty cheap online. (Pro-Tip: A lot of times Sundays in Summer include free ice cream for kids!)
With all that there is to do here, it is no surprise that families love to add this city to their list of family vacation spots. From the unique and delicious foods St. Louisans are so proud of (you have got to try St. Louis style pizza from Imo’s or custard from Ted Drewes!) to the incredible amount of free attractions, you won’t have time to be bored on a visit to St. Louis, Missouri!
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