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Things to do in St. Louis – 12 fun things to do in St. Louis with kids on a family vacation, including outdoor adventures, historical sites, museums, and free activities!
You’ll find all sorts of things to do in St. Louis, Missouri, especially if you’re traveling with your family. There’s no end to the adventures you can have, whether you live there or are just traveling through.
And the thing is, there are a lot of free or nearly free things to do in St. Louis. You just have to do your research before you go.
Hopefully, I can help you cut down just a teensy bit on that research by giving you a few suggestions for fun things to do in St. Louis. Whether your family is like mine and seriously loves the outdoors or yours is more of an indoor museum kind of family, you’ll find that many St. Louis attractions appeal to both types.
And what I love about the city of Saint Louis is its history. I love all the historical places, the architecture, St. Louis foods, you name it… St. Louis is chock full of history and culture.
Below are 12 things you may want to add to your travel itinerary. Some are free (or nearly free), and others are not, but in my opinion, are totally worth the cost.
1. Explore Gateway Arch National Park
The Arch is a national landmark and definitely can’t be left off the list of what to do in St. Louis, especially with kids.
While it’s free for you to explore all around the park and inside the Arch Museum, you’ll likely have to pay for parking and there is a charge to go up in the Arch for a view of the city.
Visit the Arch, explore the Old Courthouse, take a walk or scooter ride around the park, and maybe even take a ride on a riverboat.
2. Take a Walk in Missouri Botanical Garden
My mom used to take me to Missouri Botanical Garden when I was a little girl. I remember being mesmerized by all the little trails that wound here and there throughout the garden.
With 79 acres, including more than 4,800 trees, the garden is a nature lover’s paradise. I remember especially loving the tropical rain forest theme of the Climatron, or geodesic dome.
3. Go Shopping at Soulard Farmer’s Market
Grab your reusable bags and head out for some fresh produce at Soulard Market in the Soulard neighborhood in St. Louis.
You’ll find both free and metered parking.
You’ll also find the most delicious gooey butter cake at Soulard Bakery and the most refreshing Virgin Bloody Mary at Norton’s Cajun Corner.
4. Head to the St. Louis Zoo
Go see all the animals at the St. Louis Zoo, including animals from many different regions around the world.
While admission to the zoo itself is free, other activities inside the zoo like the Children’s Zoo, the train, and the Sea Lion Show are not. While the extra activities are affordable, you can still have a lot of fun without doing any of them.
Tip: Save money for activities by parking for FREE on the street; you will have a bit of a walk if parking outside actual zoo parking, but it’s usually not too far.
5. Pick a Museum, Any Museum
St. Louis is full of awesome museums, including options the whole family will love like…
- Real adventure begins at City Museum, where you can live out your childhood dreams and even ride down a 10 story slide.
- Let your inner science geek and astronomy buff out at the Saint Louis Science Center and McDonnell Planetarium.
- Got a plane, train, or automobile enthusiast in the family? I do! Visit the National Museum of Transportation.
- One of my favorite field trips as a kid was the Magic House, where kids can really get hands on with all the exhibits and even make their hair stand on end.
6. Visit Grant’s Farm and Home
History buff in the family? Visit the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site, where you can go in Ulysses S. Grant’s home and barn and explore around the grounds.
Go across the street to Grant’s Farm where you can see animals from around the world, ride a camel, visit the Budweiser Clydesdales (requires a private tour), and more.
7. Watch the St. Louis Cardinals or the St. Louis Blues
Take in a Cardinals baseball game at Busch Stadium. You can even take a guided tour of the stadium.
Or take in a hockey game at the Enterprise Center, and watch the St. Louis Blues duke it out on the ice.
8. Walk Across Chain of Rocks Bridge
Originally a famous landmark for anyone driving Route 66, the Chain of Rocks Bridge is now part of the Route 66 Bikeway.
At midpoint the mile-long bridge makes a 30-degree turn above the Mississippi River. It’s really a sight to behold and one of the most unique old bridges I’ve ever seen.
9. Have a Picnic in Forest Park
Forest Park itself with 1,371 acres could take a day or more to explore, especially if you add in attractions that are in and around the park.
Maybe take a break from city life and enjoy a day in the park. Pack a picnic lunch, go for a bike ride, go ice skating, and more in one of our country’s largest urban parks.
10. Get a Root Beer
Whether you want a full meal or just a bottle of root beer, Fitz’s Root Beer is another fun stop while you’re in St. Louis.
Watch the bottling line at work while you enjoy a frosty mug of your favorite soda.
And while you’re in the Delmar Loop area, why not explore all the little shops and restaurants that abound in this fun, quirky area of the city?
11. Go Inside the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis
I love visiting cathedrals wherever we happen to roam. I love to go in, sit down, and just soak up the quiet peace and tranquility.
The Cathedral Basilica made my head and neck ache from all of my craning to see every detail. Its domed ceiling is filled with mosaics, made up of millions of tiny pieces of tile, that took nearly a century to complete.
It is absolutely beautiful and costs nothing to visit.
12. Take a Drive
Take a drive around St. Louis and surrounding neighborhoods.
Drive through downtown past the gorgeous colonial architecture of City Hall and the old Union Station. Take a drive around The Hill neighborhood, where you can enjoy some of the most delicious Italian food in the city. Drive around neighborhoods filled with craftsman style houses near Washington University.
Take a drive and explore this beautiful city filled with historic buildings, beautiful architecture, and so many wonderful things to see.
Whatever you choose, there are all sorts of things to do in St. Louis with kids, whether you want to get outside or would rather stay inside. It’s easy to create a LOT of fun memories in a very short time, especially when you’re exploring with your family.