Families looking for fun things to do in St. Louis with kids are in luck! The city boasts an impressive amount of family-friendly fun in addition to its historic past and great urban culture.
Families visiting St. Louis don’t have to break the bank either! There are a ton of free things to do in St. Louis, including many of its most famous museums, zoos, parks, and tours.
Here are our favorite things to do in St. Louis with kids.
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Fun Things to do in St. Louis with Kids
1. Feel the Beat at the National Blues Museum
Music-loving families won’t want to miss a visit to the National Blues Museum, located in downtown St. Louis.
From offering live concerts to showcasing memorabilia, the museum presents a gorgeous visual display. The tangible history plus plenty of listening opportunities do an excellent job of bringing to life the unique American-style of music known as the blues.
2. Spend the Day in Forest Park
Located in the stunning and expansive (larger than Central Park!) Forest Park, the St. Louis Art Museum showcases an impressive collection of art that rivals its “big city” alternatives and admission is free!
And although there is plenty of art to go around, your kids will love the scavenger hunt through the galleries that keeps them totally engaged and interacting with art around every turn.
While in Forest Park you can also take a paddle boat ride, explore the St. Louis Science Center (free!), the St. Louis Zoo (free!), the Missouri History Museum (free!), enjoy a picnic lunch, play on the park structures, walk the trails, or take in a show at the outdoor Muni theater. There’s a ton to do in the 13,000 acres of this park!
3. Visit the Old Courthouse, Site of the Dred Scott Case
St. Louis’ Old Courthouse is framed by the Gateway Arch and it’s a stunner to see. After snapping a few pictures of its beauty, step inside to examine a surprising look into our nation’s civil rights history.
The Dred Scott Supreme Court case took place at the Old Courthouse in 1846 and hastened the start of the Civil War. Families can participate in reenactments, walk through historic buildings, and learn about the property and slave rules that fueled the civil war.
4. Climb the Cahokia Mounds
The history of the St. Louis region’s earliest peoples come alive at the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, located across the river in Illinois.
At the Cahokia Mounds, families can follow the trails to explore 100-foot archaeological remnants from 1200 AD. An interpretive center, video productions, gift shop, and restaurant round out the experience.
Want more Missouri fun? Check out the Top 10 Things to do in Missouri with kids.
5. Chug Along the Mississippi River
Add a bit of nostalgia to your St. Louis vacation by taking a historic river cruise down the Mighty Mississippi River.
After climbing aboard a replica 19th-century paddlewheel riverboat, you’ll either ride the Tom Sawyer or the Becky Thatcher, enjoy scenic views of the St. Louis skyline and the Gateway Arch. There is a narration of the riverboat’s history, an old-fashioned piano, and plenty of onboard snacks and drinks.
Tip: The Gateway Arch Riverboats are operated by the Gateway Arch Foundation, the same company that operates and sells Arch tickets. Packages that include both attractions are available at a discount price.
Illinois is just across the river! Read about the Top 10 Things to do in Illinois with kids.
6. Sample at Pint at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery- Yes, You can Bring the Kids!
Whether you are a fan of beer or not, a tour of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery is a St. Louis must. Complimentary (yes, free!) tours are offered daily at the complex, which opened its doors all the way back in 1852.
Tours for all ages include access to historic buildings; behind-the-scenes looks into the brewing process; and the chance to pet the world-famous Clydesdale horses. You can even interact with Bud, the playful Dalmatian spokesdog.
Enjoy a complimentary glass of beer to finish your tour. Kids and non-drinking fans can choose soda and other specialty drinks.
Tip: There is a ton to do onsite from photo ops and gift shops to full meals at their restaurant. Tours run every few minutes during the busiest periods.
7. Cheer for the Home Team at Busch Stadium
Allegiance to the Cardinals runs strong in St. Louis, where you’ll see red everywhere you go during (and outside of) baseball season.
Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals, sits downtown with easy access from most major hotels. Ballpark Village, an adjacent shopping and dining area, is perfect for pre or post-game snacks and souvenirs.
Tours of the stadium are offered throughout the year, and game day tickets are perfect for introducing your child to the historic birds on the bat.
8. Go Wild at the St. Louis Zoo
Voted as one of Trekaroo’s favorite zoos in the United States, the St. Louis Zoo is home to an incredible variety of animals including cheetahs, rhinos, elephants, mongoose, giraffes, bears, tigers, lions, monkeys, orangutans, kangaroos, and harbor seals.
And that’s just scratching the surface! Want to know the best part? Visiting the St. Louis Zoo is absolutely free!
Additional fun opportunities onsite include the Children’s Zoo, Sea Lion Show, Zooline Railroad, and Sting Ray touch zone.
9. Have an Adventure at the City Museum
Hands down the most loved part of most family’s trips to St. Louis is a visit to the strange, funky, and oh-so-amazing City Museum.
Don’t let the museum name fool you. This 100-year old factory building is part playground, part adventure park, part art gallery, made almost entirely of found and repurposed objects!
Kids will love exploring the miles of slides, bridges, secret passages, and tunnels. The circus or galleries can entertain when you need to sit. Want to visit the roof? There’s a school bus up there and a Ferris wheel- you can ride a slide down the entire building!
You have to explore this museum to believe it!
10. Visit Gateway Arch National Park
Designated a national park in 2018, Gateway Arch National Park is home to the 630-foot, iconic Gateway Arch, built to commemorate the Lewis & Clark expedition. Visiting it is definitely the most popular thing to do in St Louis with kids.
A massive renovation, new lobby, and completely updated museum experience make visiting the Arch a fully immersive and educational experience. The views from the top (tickets required) are beautiful and the ride in a 1960s style tram/carousel cart is worth the price of admission.
Be sure to spend time going through the exhibits to learn about westward expansion. The expanded museum showcases all sides of the Lewis & Clark expedition, including how it affected Native American cultures.
11. Take an Art Hike
Art and nature lovers flock to the free Laumeier Sculpture Park. Follow the paved path to find sculptures everywhere you turn.
Favorites include The Eye or the larger-than-life Deer. There’s even a dedicated children’s area where kids can gently touch the sculptures. If you’d rather take a hike, Laumeier offers hiking trails with pieces of art to enjoy along the way.
12. Family Fun Awaits at St Louis Station
At one time, the St. Louis Union station ushered in 10,000 rail passengers a day. Today, the newly reimagined Union Station is a hub for family fun.
Take in views of the city from 200 feet up high at The Wheel. Take a spin on the carousel with horses or even a rhino or giraffe. Challenge each other to a game of mini golf on the 18-hole course, get lost in a mirror maze, or conquer the ropes course.
13. Experience Fishy Fun at the St. Louis Aquarium
Located at the St. Louis Union Station, the St. Louis Aquarium is a wonderful spot for the families. Your underwater sea adventures allow guests to explore the 120,000 foot Aquarium with more than 13,000 animals found in rivers and the ocean.
Take your time to learn more about these creatures through hands-on experiences. Dip your fingers in the water and watch as Doctor Fish gently nibble on your hands.
Watch how Archer fish spit water to catch their food. Touch stingrays and anemones. For a wild time, take a behind-the-scenes tour to watch them feed shark, stingray, and other fishy friends.
14. Get Outside at the Missouri Botanical Garden
Take a walk through Missouri Botanical Garden, one of the best botanical gardens in the nation. Whatever you do, do not miss the beautiful stroll through the Japanese Gardens for a dose of serenity.
Keep kids busy by feeding the extra large koi fish. You can purchase fish food at the gift shop.
15. Kids Can Be Kids at the Magic House
The Magic House is truly magical for kids. This children’s museum located just outside St. Louis inspires kids to learn while playing.
Pretend in your very own village, aspire to be the next President or Vice President, create art that you can keep, make music and so much more!
16. Be One with the Birds at the World Bird Sanctuary
The World Bird Sanctuary showcases over 215 birds, many of which have been rescued.
Did you know that ravens can talk like parrots? Or that peregrine falcons are the fastest animal around? Learn cool facts like this as well as get to know each bird- they have their own personality!
Watch out for special events where you can meet many of their residents. Visiting the sanctuary is free but donations are encouraged.
17. Watch Bison Roam at Lone Elk Park
Located seconds away from Wild Bird Sanctuary, Lone Elk Park is an absolute must!
Be amazed as you watch wild bison, elk, and deer roam around from the comfort of your car. It almost felt like we were back at Yellowstone! This is another free experience but donations are appreciated.
Bonus: More Free Things to do in St. Louis with Kids
In addition to the amazing free attractions included above, the following locations also offer free admission. St. Louis also hosts a variety of special events that are free; check the calendar at explorestlouis.com.
- Missouri History Museum
- Grant’s Farm
- Forest Park
- the Contemporary Art Museum
- Saint Louis Science Center
- Purina Farms
- Jefferson Barracks Historic Park
- City Garden
- World Chess Hall of Fame
Special thanks to Katie Bodell who co-authored this article.