St. Louis, Missouri is a great place to devote some travel time. Whether you are looking for a family vacation or a romantic getaway, St. Louis can be the gateway to fun. Located in the Midwest, it is easily accessible by a majority of the country. For those further away, the St. Louis Lambert International Airport can provide access to this great city.
Nestled in a curve of the Mississippi River, St. Louis is the “Gateway to the West”. It is home to the Gateway Arch, a 630-foot arch that allows visitors a glimpse of the city from above. That is, if you are willing to ride the elevator to the top. Made of stainless steel, the arch is a shining monument of the westward expansion of the United States.
Having spent the majority of my life living close enough to visit frequently, I’m a big fan of all the city has to offer. Although I must admit, there are many attractions I haven’t been to in quite some time, I can assure you they are still well worth your visit.
Favorite St. Louis Attractions
St. Louis Zoo
Located in Forest Park- This is one of the only free zoos in the country. Although there are costs for special attractions inside the zoo, entrance to the zoo itself is free. There is a train that visitors can ride to get between some of the exhibits. The Emerson Zooline Railroad, which is 1 ½ miles circling the zoo, is completely wheelchair accessible. The ticket for the railroad offers passengers on/off access to the railroad for the full day. Even though the zoo entrance is free, free parking spaces are very limited, so you may have to pay for parking in one of the adjacent parking lots. If you are able to snag a coveted free parking spot, you can get through this visit spending very little money. You can bring your own food and drinks into the park. All in all, I’d say the zoo is one of the top attractions for families.
St. Louis Science Center
Located in Forest Park- The science center is always a fun attraction. There is a covered walkway across Interstate 40 where you can use a radar detector to see how fast the cars are driving. While you can’t bring your own food and drink inside the center, there are tables outside that you can use for your own picnic. The center is completely ADA accessible. They have private nursing rooms for mothers who would like to nurse in privacy, although it is not required that you do so. You are allowed to take photos inside the building. Parking is also free if you park at the McDonnell Planetarium, which I recommend because then you have to cross the sky-bridge. There is an OMNIMAX theater which does cost extra.
The City Museum
While not free, this is a unique experience that the kids will love. With 4 floors of fun, plus rooftop attractions at an additional cost, you are sure to find something for everyone. The museum is simply a mixture of creative art and fun. With more slides than you can count, no two are the same, including a 10 story spiral slide. If you really want to get your money’s worth, they are open on Fridays and Saturdays from 9 am until Midnight.
The Magic House
Another fun children’s museum with fun, educational activities. This museum offers more low key activities separated into areas designed for different age groups. While you can’t bring food or drink inside the building, there is an outdoor eating area, or you can leave for lunch and return the same day with your admission sticker. The building is entirely handicap accessible. Parking is free.
Six Flags St. Louis
This theme park is a more costly activity, but promises to be loads of fun. The park offers over 45 rides, shows, and attractions, plus Hurricane Harbor water park onsite. Parking is also pricey, costing about $25 per car. But, if you’re in it for fun, you can’t go wrong here. Just expect to leave exhausted!
Gateway Arch National Park
The Gateway Arch was formerly known as the Jefferson National Expansion, named so to honor the role Jefferson played in expanding the United States westward. It is placed near the point where Lewis & Clark began their expedition. There is a museum located under the arch itself, and of course, you won’t want to miss a ride to the top of the arch to get a birds-eye view of the city and Mississippi River below. While the arch is not handicap accessible, the museum is. In order to go into the arch, you have to be able to walk up at least 96 steps and stand for at least 30-60 minutes without sitting, especially during the busy season. Tickets to the top cost extra. You can also purchase Riverboat cruises, several different types and themes are available. The arch is a must-see for visitors to St. Louis.
Missouri Botanical Gardens
Anyone who loves beautiful flowers will love this place. But, the flowers are not all that the gardens have to offer. From music festivals to holiday light shows, the botanical gardens are a delight to the senses. There are even classes available for those looking to learn a little bit, no matter what your age or experience. There is a cost to enter the gardens, but parking is free, if space is available. The gardens are wheelchair accessible. No outside food or drinks are allowed. Cameras are allowed, but the pictures are not to be used for commercial purposes.
The Butterfly House
Although this is not at the same location, it is actually run by the Missouri Botanical Gardens. The Butterfly House is a glass building filled with plants and over a thousand live butterflies that fly freely around the inside. It does cost to enter and there is a shop on the premises for souvenirs. No outside food or drink is allowed inside. For the safety of the butterflies, no strollers are allowed. It is a fun experience to see all the beautiful butterflies flitting about.
The Fabulous Fox Theater
If you like to enjoy a good show, The Fabulous Fox Theater is the stop for you. The Fox theater has been a St. Louis staple since 1929. Some of the shows coming this season include Hello Dolly, Wicked, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Cats, and Hamilton. They even have music events such as Lenny Kravitz, Boyz II Men, Stomp, and The Piano Guys. You can be sure to have a good time in a beautiful environment.
Listed as America’s oldest and largest outdoor musical theater, the Muny is an experience to remember. Catch a show like Matilda, Paint Your Wagon, Guys and Dolls, or Footloose. You don’t have to worry about the hot St. Louis summers, because the Muny recently installed a new cooling system that helps keep you cool and comfortable. Watching a show under the stars, what a great way to enjoy a summer evening.
The St. Louis Cardinals baseball team and the St. Louis Blues hockey team provide plenty of fast-paced action to fans of the sports. Grab a hotdog and beer and sit back for some excitement at Busch Stadium in downtown St. Louis. The Cardinals fans are ready to show their love for their favorite team. Or, if you prefer some ice-cold action, head over to the Enterprise Center just a short distance away and watch the Stanley Cup winners win over the crowd.
St. Louis is home to multiple casinos. Downtown on the Mississippi River, including the Casino Queen on the Illinois side of the river and Lumiere Place on the Missouri side. Also, in St. Charles area are the Ameristar and Hollywood casinos. Not only can you enjoy a good round of gambling fun, but you can grab a bite to eat or attend a concert.
Regardless of your idea of fun, St. Louis has something to offer. Whether it’s just a weekend getaway or a week-long vacation, you’ll leave the city thinking there’s no way you’ve seen it all. Don’t worry. You can always come back again! That Midwest hospitality is ready and waiting to welcome you back.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay for your trip to St. Louis, have you thought about camping? For just a weekend getaway, check out these tips to find ideas in St. Louis.
Have you spent any time in St. Louis? What are your favorite places to visit or see? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think!