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St. Louis has a storied tradition in American history. Founded in 1764, it’s one of the oldest U.S. cities not on the east coast. With over 200 years of traditions, the city is chock full of history and culture. But is St. Louis for kids? You bet!
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 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.
Let’s get started with our top 10 things to do in St. Louis!
Fun Things to do in St. Louis with Kids
10. 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 and tangible history (plus plenty of listening opportunities) to the unique American-style of music known as the blues.
9. Explore the Galleries at the St. Louis Art Museum
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 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, 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!
8. Visit the Old Courthouse (site of the Dred Scott Case)
St. Louis’ Old Courthouse is framed by the Gateway Arch; it’s a stunner just 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 made at the Old Courthouse in 1846 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.
7. 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 this shortlisted national park up and comer.
Want more Missouri fun? Check out the Top 10 Things to do in Missouri with kids.
6. Chug along the Mississippi River
Add a bit of nostalgia to your St. Louis day 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) you’ll enjoy scenic views of the St. Louis skyline and the Gateway Arch, 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.
5. Sample a 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!) and VIP 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; the chance to pet the world-famous Clydesdale horses; interaction with Bud, the playful Dalmatian spokesdog, and 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.
4. Cheer for the Home Team at Busch Stadium
Allegiance to the Cards 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.
3. Go Wild at the St. Louis Zoo
Voted #3 in Trekaroo’s Top 10 Zoos Across 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! Wanna know the best part? Visiting the St. Louis Zoo is absolutely free!
Additional fun opportunities onsite include the Children’s Zoo (hello petting zoo!), Sea Lion Show, Zooline Railroad, and Sting Ray touch zone.
Related: See all zoos that made our Top 10 Zoos Across America.
2. Have an Adventure at the City Museum
The kids might disagree with me on placing the City Museum at #2 on this list. 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!
1. Visit Gateway Arch National Park
Designated a national park in 2018, Gateway Arch National Park is home to the 630-feet, 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. Plus, it is totally free to explore from the ground. 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 thankfully showcases all sides of the Lewis & Clark expedition, including how it affected Native American cultures.
Bonus: More Free Things to do in St. Louis with Kids
In addition to the amazing free attractions included in our top 10 above, the following locations also offer free admission. Saint 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
- Laumeier Sculpture Park