Thinking about visiting St. Louis? St. Louis is a great city for families to visit with an endless list of affordable activities and places to eat. The city is easy to navigate by car and has attractions to suit every taste. Growing up, some of my best memories involved visits to St. Louis and I’ve loved starting to pass down a love for this city to my own children. While I’m about to give you the ins and outs of my favorite places to visit with kids – all of these locations are just as fun to visit on an adults only trip!
Where To Stay
On my most recent visit to St. Louis with my daughter who was six we stayed at the Drury Inn and Suites in Forest Park. This place won out when it came to price, location, and amenities all meeting together nicely for a weekend trip. As far as location goes, this spot was prime and within minutes my daughter and I could be at the Science Center, Zoo, or out seated at a table to eat. We both enjoyed the pool and my daughter loved the free soda and popcorn served in the evenings. In the morning we were able to grab a continental breakfast before heading out to sight see.
I have stayed at other chains in the St. Louis area as well, but we will definitely be headed back here for future family trips.
What To Do
This is a list that could go on for ages! I have however managed to narrow it down to my top 5 picks! Click any place heading to visit the locations website.
I can’t imagine a trip to St. Louis without stopping by the zoo that defined so much of my childhood. While many of the exhibits have been updated since my younger days, the St. Louis zoo is still a great mix of modern exhibits and nostalgia for a person like myself.
At the zoo you will pay $15 per vehicle for parking but no individual entrance fee. There are some things within the park that you can pay extra for. The ones I wouldn’t miss out on are the sea lion show ($4 per person, children under 2 free, seasonal show) and the Children’s Zoo (FREE admission the first hour the zoo is open otherwise $4 per person Children under 2 are free). If you get to the zoo when it opens and go straight to the children’s section in the first hour you can get in free which is nice and a pleasant note to start the day on. Otherwise, I do think the admission price to the children’s section is worth the extra fee.
Exhibits you won’t want to miss at this zoo include the amazing Polar Bear exhibit (my daughter still talks about the bear “high-fiving” her) and the Sea Lion exhibit – both of which are some of the best I’ve seen. They also have an interesting Penguin exhibit.
As far as time – this zoo is large. You can make it an all day excursion or we tend to do it in approximately 4 – 5 hours knowing it is likely we will be back in the future if there is something we missed.
Putting The City Museum into words is ..difficult. Take everything that comes to midn when you hear the word museum and toss it out the window. The City Museum is an always changing place! I think the website describes it best..
“Housed in the 600,000 square-foot former International Shoe Company, the museum is an eclectic mixture of children’s playground, fun house, surrealistic pavilion, and architectural marvel made out of unique, found objects.”
I recommend the City Museum for families with children ages 5 and older who don’t mind crowds, tight spaces, and the potential to be temporarily separated from your group members. I say this not to scare anyone, but only for the sake of honesty. All children who enter the City Museum have wrist bands put on with their phone numbers written so that if you are separated a staff member can help them contact you. In the City Museum you will climb, you will explore with all of your senses, you can watch a circus performance, you can go down a 10 story slide or ride a restored ferris wheel on the roof. The first time I was there it was just my husband and I and I kept waiting for someone to tell us we couldn’t climb or jump on structures like we were doing…they never did. If you take on the adventure that is The City Museum, be prepared to be inspired, have fun, get some bruises on your knees (TIP: WEAR KNEE PADS..if you didn’t bring them and wish you had they sell them in the gift shop!), and explore a place that is unlike any other.
If the City Museum doesn’t seem like your type of thing or you have kids ages 12 and under I can’t encourage you to visit The Magic House enough. It is wonderfully designed children’s museum that started in an old victorian mansion in 1979. Every year it grows and changes and every year it seems to get better. The Magic House has everything you would expect to see in a children’s museum – imaginative play, hands on exhibits, education at every corner – and so much more. This museum is a great way to fill a hot afternoon and connect with your kids.
I am so excited to see the renovations that have been done to the Arch and surrounding park! This stretch of land along the Mississippi river is a beautiful sight to behold and a great strolling point where the kids can run, jump, and play. The new museum, if anything like the old, will be a great educational resource for everyone in the family. You have to buy tickets to travel to the top of the Arch but for those who have never been – it is worth every dollar for the view and the experience. Even if you choose to keep your feet on the ground, no trip to St. Louis would be complete without at least taking a moment to gaze up at this magnificent beauty.
If the City Museum doesn’t suit your tastes or age group and you would rather save some money than see The Magic House, then you cannot go wrong with the St. Louis Science Center. This place is hands on FREE fun for the whole family. This science center has great exhibits on ecology and engineering. The exhibits fit a wide range of ages and are things that your oldest party member to your youngest will enjoy together. You definitely will want to check out the Makerspace exhibit area to really engage your mind and have a great time at the Science Center.
While these are my 5 personal favorite spaces in St. Louis there are many other great options including but not limited to:
Cardinals baseball ($), The Art Center (Free), Forest Park (Where the Zoo and Science Center are located – a large park with diverse options for activities), Missouri Botanical Gardens, and The City Garden
Where To Eat
Almost as exciting as where to explore in St. Louis is where to eat! I have three MUST eat places when in St. Louis but to be honest – you can find food for every palate in this city!
Known originally for its freshly bottled Root Beer, Fitz’s now makes and bottles a number of different sodas. This place is worth the visit for many reasons. The service is quick and the prices fair, you can watch soda be bottled (time of day dependent, check website) while you eat, the atmosphere is fun and family friendly, and did I mention you can get the biggest and best craft soda floats you will ever find? I love that for my two young girls I could order one float and the staff would split it between two servings for us before it was brought to the table – each girl felt like she got her own giant float for the price of one. You and your kids will love stopping in to this spot. It CAN get busy but I’ve been here for both lunch and dinner and made good time – call ahead and check wait times if you are on a crunched schedule just to be safe.
St. Louis can easily compete with Chicago when it comes to the pizza scene – but don’t tell Chicago I said that! A slice of Cornmeal crusted deep dish from Pi’s Pizzeria sure does make my day and is something I always look forward to on the drive south. With a nice vibe, unique pizza toppings, and two great crust options (both the deep and the thin are tasty) you can’t go wrong with this slice of Pi in St. Louis. I’ll let the picture do the talking!
First of all, the building that houses this restaurant and ice cream bar is completely beautiful. As an adult, I have to suggest an ice cream martini or a Mimosa float to help you relax but what everyone should go here for is the ice cream! The ice cream is specially made by a dairy in Wisconsin and all toppings are made in house as fresh as can be – and it shows in flavor. I consider myself to be a bit of an ice cream snob..but I may or may not have driven six hours just to itch the scratch I had for this ice cream that wouldn’t go away. Please do me a favor and take your kids (and your dessert ready appetite) to this stop in St. Louis!
To be honest, this post has just started to scratch the tip of what you could do in St. Louis as a family but I promise if you mix and match these items to fit your schedule and your tastes you will have experienced some of the very best St. Louis has to offer and go home with happy smiles and a million memories.
If you are road-tripping it down to St. Louis like we do I have some great podcast suggestions to make the trip go faster here.
Have you been to St. Louis? Let me know your favorite city spots in the comments! Have more questions about the city you want answered? Please feel free to ask and I will always do my best to get you an answer!