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Ten Free or Practically Free Things to Do with Your Kids in St. Louis This Summer

My husband was unexpectedly called to St. Louis a few weeks ago on business. Since it’s summer and our schedule is a bit more flexible, the kids and I decided to tag along for the trip.

We travel to St. Louis at least a few times a year to visit family. So often when we visit, it’s just for a three-day weekend. We rarely get to act like tourists and do all the fun things that St. Louis has to offer. With an entire week of leisure ahead of us, the kids and I finally got a chance to visit some of St. Louis’ greatest kid-friendly attractions.

Best of all? Almost every place we visited offered budget-friendly admission prices, and most even offered FREE admission! Here are the places we visited, and a few that we would have loved to visit given just a few more days in St. Louis!


  • The Magic House Children’s Museum 1 of 10
    The Magic House Children's Museum
    The kids absolutely LOVED The Magic House, a hands-on children's museum that includes a miniature grocery store in the Children's Village, a Bubble Room for the kids to put themselves inside of bubbles, a Mystery Room where kids can solve cases using clues and the latest crime fighting technology, and the Construction Zone with kid-sized building materials, hard hats, and earth moving equipment. Admission is only $9.50 per person, which is a STEAL considering this is one of the finest children's museums we've ever visited.

    (photo credit: Flickr)
  • St. Louis Zoo 2 of 10
    St. Louis Zoo
    The St. Louis Zoo is not only one of the best zoos in the country, admission to the zoo is FREE. Parking prices can be a bit steep at $15 per car. However, if you arrive early enough, there is ample parking on the street at nearby Forest Park. We packed a picnic lunch and stayed most of the day. While there, we couldn't pass up a ride on the train, so we splurged $5 per person for round trip tickets. Check out the penguins and puffins (my kids favorite!) and the elephants (my favorite), in addition to all of the St. Louis Zoo's expansive exhibits.
  • Saint Louis Art Museum in Forest Park 3 of 10
    Saint Louis Art Museum in Forest Park
    The Saint Louis Art Museum is yet another fantastic attraction in St. Louis that offers free admission. We visited on a Sunday and discovered that they offer family tours and hands-on activities for the kids to enjoy, making a visit to an art museum a lot more kid-friendly.

  • St. Louis Science Center 4 of 10
    St. Louis Science Center
    I remember a family vacation from my own childhood to St. Louis and the place we visited that stands out most in my memory is the Saint Louis Science Center. Admission the Science Center is free, though parking does cost $10. The kids ran from one exhibit to another, playing with all sorts of hands-on activities updated from my own childhood visit. They especially loved the walkway across the interstate where you could watch cars zoom below through glass in the floor. The Science Center also offered several paid admission exhibits. My kids enjoyed hands-on Discovery Room where they got to play with magnets, enjoy the water table, play dress-up, and much more--all for just $3.50 per person. Not a bad deal!

    (photo credit: Flickr)
  • Missouri Botanical Garden 5 of 10
    Missouri Botanical Garden
    The Missouri Botanical Gardens is a must-see attraction. I did have to pay $8 for my own admission to the gardens, but the kids were free. We took leisurely walks through the Japanese Garden then we visited the People and Plants of China Exhibit, where the kids enjoyed puppets, games, and puzzles.

    (photo credit: Flickr)
  • Grant’s Farm 6 of 10
    Grant's Farm
    Grant's Farm is a nearly 300 acre farm dedicated to animals, conservation, and wildlife preservation. The farm was formerly owned by President Ulysses S. Grant and is the historic home of the Busch Family, founders of Anheuser-Busch. Visitors are treated to a tour of the farm and it's animals via tram. There is also a petting zoo. If you're really lucky, you'll get a chance to see the world famous Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales. Admission is free! Parking is $12, but adults get to sample two beers from Anheuser-Busch at the end of the tour on the patio, which easily makes up for the parking fee.

    (photo credit: Flickr)
  • Anheuser-Busch Brewery Tour 7 of 10
    Anheuser-Busch Brewery Tour
    Anheuser-Busch also offers complimentary Brewery Tours, the oldest of their breweries. I know that I don't usually think of brewery tours as being kid-friendly, but it was actually very educational. My kids were surprisingly interested the beer making process, especially the area where they could see the bottles being filled. Afterwards we were able to see the Clydesdales in the barn located on site. There was even a complimentary beer tasting for those of us 21 years old and over at the end of the tour!

    (photo credit: Flickr)
  • The Muny 8 of 10
    The Muny
    We ran out of time to visit The Muny, an outdoor musical theatre in St. Louis, but hope to catch a show some day. They offer 1,500 free tickets for every performance. Some upcoming summer performances include Aladdin, Pirates, and The King and I.

    (photo credit: Flickr)
  • Cahokia Mounds 9 of 10
    Cahokia Mounds
    Cahokia Mounds, located just outside of St. Louis in Collinsville, IL, came highly recommended as a fun place to visit, and a great place to wear the kids out. We weren't able to get there during this trip, but plan to visit to see the 100 feet tall mounds, trails, and museum. Admission is free, though a $10 donation per family is suggested.

    (photo credit: Flickr)
  • Citygarden in Downtown St. Louis 10 of 10
    Citygarden in Downtown St. Louis
    Citygarden, located in downtown St. Louis near the Gateway Arch, is an outdoor art museum featuring sculpture, stunning landscaping, and water features. Admission is free and it's on our must-see list the next time we visit St. Louis.

    (photo credit: Flickr)
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Did we miss seeing something while in St. Louis? Tell me in the comments below!

(photo credit, top image: Flickr)

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More on Southern By Proxy
Summertime is Exhuasting!
8 Tips for the Summer Road Trip
Ten Free or Practically Free Things to Do in St. Louis with Your Kids This Summer

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