Our guide to St. Louis, Missouri attractions shows you where to walk in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark and explore the Gateway Arch which overlooks this exciting city.
Many of the most family-friendly attractions in St. Louis are located in Forest Park, one of the largest (over 1,200 acres) and lovliest urban parks in America. And, best for the vacation budget, most of them are free of charge! Please click Animal Magnetism, to access Family Travel Forum's story about all the great animal attractions in St. Louis. For information on lodging and dining and other attractions, visit www.explorestlouis.com or call 800/325-7962.
Great Fun for the Kids
(Toddler to Age 10)
Magic House Children’s Museum
516 S. Kirkwood Road at Lindbergh Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63122
Located in a three-story Victorian home in suburban St. Louis, this children’s museum, dating from 1975, predates many other similar museums focusing on learning through fun and “please touch” activities, both indoors and outdoors. The under-2’s in your family will particularly enjoy the “Baby and Me” area.
4746 Gravois Road
St. Louis, MO 63116
Presented in several scales, a wide variety of dollhouses, farmhouses, and apartment buildings (along with dolls and furnishings), as well as some of St. Louis’ landmarks are on display. There’s something here to interest young and old.
Museum of Transportation
2967 Barrett Station Road
St. Louis, MO 63122.
All aboard! For planes, trains and automobiles, in addition to trolleys, buses, firetrucks and boats, head to this museum it's impressive collection of transportation vehicles, including the world's largest successful steam engine. You’ll have a chance to climb on some cool stuff and to take a ride on a streetcar. Kids under 5 will enjoy hands-on activities offered at the Creation Station.
Saint Louis Zoo
1 Government Drive
St. Louis, MO 63110
With 18,000 exotic animals, many of which are rare and endangered, this zoo should not be missed. Popular exhibits focus on apes, chimpanzees and orangutans, as well as penguins and puffins. The Zoo offers many programs for families – kids can explore animals through hands-on activities, crafts, songs, stories and role playing. Take a ride around the grounds on the Zoo Train, check out the Butterfly Dome and head to the Children’s Zoo to pet a baby bunny and other adorable animals.
Oakland and Tamm Avenues across from Highway 40
Located in Dogtown on the south side of Forest Park, this fanciful playground offers various types of turtles (ranging from 7- to 40-feet-long), and turtle eggs, for climbing, sliding and frolicking. Open year-round from dawn to 10pm, the playground is near the zoo and is also free of charge, and lots of fun.
Fun for Older Children
The Saint Louis Art Museum
One Fine Arts Drive – Forest Park
St. Louis, MO 63110
With the slogan “Dedicated to Art and Free to All,” America’s first publicly-funded art museum is housed in the Fine Arts Palace of the 1904 World’s Fair, and offers an extensive collection of 30,000 objects from the ancient world through contemporary times. Opening in June, 2013, is the exciting new East Building which will increase the current exhibit space by 30%.
Saint Louis Science Center
5050 Oakland Avenue – Forest Park
St. Louis, MO 63110
Explore all aspects of science from aviation to ecology, dinosaurs to technology, in this exciting hands-on facility, really a museum/playground. Visit a space station at the James S. McDonnell Planetarium, watch an Omnimax movie and take a ride on the human transporter, the Segway, a really fun way to get around that even grandparents can enjoy.
Union Station Shops
1820 Market St
Market Street between 18th and 20th Streets
St. Louis, MO 63103
For a period of time during its first life (1894 to 1978), the St. Louis Union Station boasted the reputation of being the largest and busiest railroad station in the world. Restored and re-opened in 1985, it is enjoying its new life as a shopping, dining and entertainment complex, while maintaining its grand architecture. Shop and dine in national chains and local specialty stores and restaurants. The station also houses the St. Louis Union Station Hotel (314/621-5262), a Doubletree by Hilton property.
Six Flags St. Louis
Exit 261 of I-44 (SW of St. Louis in Eureka)
Thrill and chills await families every summer at this combination theme and water park where the whole family will have fun and excitement. Lots of rides are specifically geared towards the littlest visitors.
City Cycling Tours
Get in some exercise while sightseeing in Forest Park and throughout the city. Bikes and helmets are provided and the guided tours are informative and fun. Reservations strongly suggested.
Fun for the Whole Family
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
St. Louis Waterfront
The symbol of the city, and a monument to the spirit of exploration that fueled the country’s westward expansion, this unique structure was designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen whose design was selected during a nationwide competition. Begun in 1963 and completed in October of 1965, it measures 630 feet tall, and 630 feet from leg to leg, and the viewing area at the top of the stainless steel arch is accessed by riding in a unique tram capsule which takes 4 minutes to reach the top and 3 minutes to return down. Overlooking the Mississippi River, on a clear day (not too common in St. Louis) you can see 30 miles in the distance from the observation area at America’s tallest manmade monument, built to withstand strong winds and earthquakes. Some people suffer from claustrophobia while riding the tram, so be certain you will be comfortable before you disembark.
Museum of Westward Expansion
Under the Gateway Arch
Located beneath the Gateway Arch, this museum, under the aegis of the National Park Service, explores the settlement of the American West and is an integral part of the complex. Highlights include displays of pioneer artifacts as well as those of American Indian communities, including an authentic tipi, and an overview of the Lewis & Clark expedition.
Gateway Arch Riverboats
St. Louis Riverfront
Enjoy “Ol’ Man River,” on a replica of a 19th century Mississippi steamship while enjoying the sights of the city. Choose from a sightseeing or dinner, or Sunday brunch cruise, or specialty cruises including the Blues Cruise complete with live music, a visit to the historic riverside town of Kimmswick, Missouri, the Octoberfest in the fall and other special holiday cruises.
700 Clark Street
St. Louis, MO 63102
Put on a red shirt and cheer for the local team at the home of the St. Louis Cardinals. Call for a schedule of games and stadium tours. Stop at the Cardinals Official Team Store between gates 5 and 6 for souvenirs.
Anheuser-Busch Brewery Tours
12th and Lynch Streets
St. Louis, MO 63118
Tour the world’s largest brewery and learn about the processes of mashing, fermentation and aging, finishing and packaging while touring this historic brewhouse. Also, see the Clydesdale stables of draft horses, originally used in the production process. Parking, tour and samples (for the over 21-year-olds) are free-of-charge.
Raging Rivers WaterPark
100 Palisades Parkway
Grafton, IL 62037
Forty minutes from St. Louis along the scenic Great River lies a slippery sensation of great fun for the kids. Whirl around in the giant wave pool or twist and turn in a double body flume encircling the natural hills and contours of the endless river that’s more than 500 feet. Or, if you opt for a less thrilling ride splash around in the itty bitty surf city pool, where your youngest can enjoy pint sized water slides, kid friendly waves and a fountain mountain family interactive area. Open Memorial Day – Labor Day.
400 Jefferson Drive
St. Louis, MO 63110
The Steinberg skating rink has been a St. Louis tradition for more than 52 years. Every winter holiday season families are welcome to glide around the circular arena and experience the enchantment of this inviting ambiance. Also, after you and your family tire from the skating experience, you can relax at the Steinberg café which has a full menu and also serves beer and wine.
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.