Land of the Free: 5 Free Things to do in St. Louis with Kids
Meet us in affordable St. Louis By Jody Halsted on Mar 12, 2014
The secret to planning an affordable city vacation is mixing in plenty of free fun. We asked Jody Halsted of FamilyRambling.com to share five fabulous and free ways for families to have a blast in St. Louis.
Go to the top of the arch: The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, better known as the Gateway Arch, rises along the Mississippi River overlooking downtown St. Louis. You can ride to the top and enjoy the view for free.
Underneath the arch, the free Museum of Westward Expansion tells the story of Lewis and Clark and the Native Americans who shaped the history of the West. (Don’t forget to pick up a Junior Ranger booklet so the kids can earn a badge.) There’s also free admission at the Old Courthouse, where Dred Scott and his wife sued for—and won—their freedom.
Climb and play: Unlike many sculpture parks where folks are asked to keep their distance from the artworks, the Citygarden Park in downtown St. Louis encourages kids to touch, explore, and even climb. Fun fountains provide a place to splash and play during hot summer days and there is plenty of space to spread out a picnic blanket in the shade.
Meet the Budweiser Clydesdales: Located just south of St. Louis, Grant’s Farm is the 281-acre ancestral home of the Busch family and one of the few places you can see the famous Budweiser Clydesdales—along with resident elephants, tropical birds, kangaroos, goats, and deer. Wondering how the Busch estate got its name? Take a free tour “Hardscrabble,” a farm with a cabin built on the property by Ulysses S. Grant in 1855. Note: At Grant’s Farm, admission, tram rides and all shows are free, but there is a parking fee.
Commune with feathered friends: Just outside of St. Louis city limits, the Lone Elk County Park, also known as the World Bird Sanctuary, hosts bird shows, educational programs, and miles of nature trails. Take a walk through the sanctuary and you’ll encounter exhibits with raptors, owls, snakes, tortoises, and more.
Visit the zoo, museums, and more: You could spend several days without dropping a dime in the great expanse of Forest Park, whose 1,293 acres contains the free St. Louis Zoo, one of the best zoos in the country, as well as the St. Louis Science Center, St. Louis Art Museum, and the Missouri History Museum, all of which offer free entry. The Muny, America’s oldest and largest outdoor musical theater, is also located in Forest Park and offers nearly 1,500 free seats for every performance.