I’ve never lived in St. Louis, but since it’s only a short 4 1/2 hours away from Chicago, I’ve vacationed there. St. Louis is a terrific place to visit with kids because there’s so, so much to do! I’ve put together a few of my family’s favorite places to frequent when in St. Louis. Use this as a guide to help you plan your vacation, or to get new ideas of places to check out if you’re a native.
The Gateway Arch 1 of 15You can't visit St. Louis without a stop at the iconic Gateway Arch. Built as a monument to Thomas Jefferson for acquiring the Louisiana territory in The Louisiana Purchase, making westward expansion possible, the arch stands 630 feet tall. Visitors are welcome to take a tram to the very top of the arch where they can look out and see Missouri on one side and Illinois on the other.
Learn more about the Gateway Arch here.
MIssouri Botanical Garden 2 of 15Whether you have a green thumb or you can manage to kill air plants, there's something for you to enjoy at the Missouri Botanical Garden. There are caves to explore, structures to climb, and plenty to discover in the children's garden. Kids learn about plants, nature, and sustainability through hands-on activities and play. And don't forget to visit the Japanese Garden, the Climatron, the Victorian Garden, and the rest of the nearly 80 acres of flora and fauna.
Learn more about the Missouri Botanical Garden here.
Busch Stadium 3 of 15While you're in St. Louis, be sure to take in a Cardinals game in the new(ish) Busch Stadium, a retro-style ballpark that seats 46,000 in the heart of St. Louis. The new stadium which opened in 2006 is just the first phase in a renovation that includes 7 city blocks north of the field called Ballpark Village. Ballpark Village is slated to include Budweiser Brew House, Cardinals Hall of Fame, and Ballpark Village Live Marketplace, among others.
Learn more about the St. Louis Cardinals and Busch Stadium (including tickets) here.
The Fountain on Locust 4 of 15This hidden gem with the art deco interior is tucked away in St. Louis and it's well worth a stop. It's a good old-fashioned soda fountain that serves up delicious treats like home-made sodas, egg creams, and malts along with adult drinks like ice cream martinis and classic retro cocktails (when was the last time you ordered a Rob Roy or a Knickerbocker?) They make nearly 50 kinds of soup and I can honestly say I had the best chicken soup ever when I was there. They also serve up budget friendly salads, sandwiches and specials that are sure to make your mouth water.
Learn more about The Fountain on Locust here.
St. Louis Zoo 5 of 15When my kids were younger they were huge zoo fanatics. For many years, we spent a LOT of time visiting various zoos so I can say with some authority that the St. Louis Zoo is one of the best! Not only that, but it's FREE which is always a welcome word when trying to plan out things to do with kids. Visit your favorite animals, take pictures, hop on the Zooline Railroad, check out the new stingray exhibit at Caribbean Cove (opening April 2013), and take in a sea lion show.
Learn more about the Saint Louis Zoo here.
Museum of Westward Expansion 6 of 15This museum is located underground beneath the arch. It showcases a slice of American history from the Old West. Learn about Native American, explorers, cowboys, and the pioneers who helped forge our nation. It's a fun little museum full of history and best of all, it's FREE.
Learn more about the Museum of Westward Expansion here.
The Old Courthouse 7 of 15Your visit to St. Louis wouldn't be complete without a stop at the breathtaking Old Courthouse located a couple blocks from the Arch. Remember learning about the Dred Scott case in U. S. History class? Well, this is the site where he and his wife sued for their freedom. It's FREE to tour the impressive structure filled with murals and exhibits rich in history.
Learn more about the Old Courthouse here.
City Museum 8 of 15The City Museum is my kids' favorite museum by far. When we first walked in, we asked for a map and were told, "We don't have maps. Go explore and have fun!" This is a museum like none other. The museum occupies a 600,000 square foot building and filled with an eclectic mix of playground, funhouse, surrealistic pavilion, and architectural marvels. You or I might call the contents of the museum "junk", but somehow all these reclaimed materials are integrated in such a way that it makes an impressive wonderland that young and old alike can't wait to explore! I'm afraid I can't do the museum justice with mere words. Check out the pictures of the different attractions to learn more.
Learn more about City Museum here.
Magic House 9 of 15The Magic House is a children's museum and contains a zillion hands-on activities for kids. This place is perfect if you have young kids. It isn't really geared toward teens, however if you're like me and have both young and old kids, the older ones won't be bored out of their minds while the little ones play. There's enough to occupy the teens too. My young kids could spend the entire day just pretending they're cashiers, auto mechanics, doctors, fishermen, and more in the children's village, a pretend town sized just right for the little ones. The great thing about this museum is that everything is hands-on and the whole family will have a terrific time experimenting here.
Learn more about The Magic House here.
St. Louis Riverfront 10 of 15Right across from the Arch is the St. Louis Riverfront. Here you can grab a bite to eat, take a stroll along the river, ride down the Mississippi on a riverboat, or rent bikes and peddle along the water. Check out the dinner or brunch cruises available as well. Discounts are offered when you purchase riverboat tickets along with tickets to the top of the Arch.
Learn more about the Riverfront, bike rentals, the riverboat cruises here.
Fitz’s Grill & Bottling Works 11 of 15This restaurant sits in the heart of the Delmar Loop, a stretch of 10 blocks which houses shops, the St. Louis Walk of Fame, and a renovated 1930s movie theater. Famous for its root beer, Fitz's offers a casual menu of burgers, salads, wraps, and pizza. Have a seat on the main floor and watch the bottling line. And of course, you have to try out their famous sodas. (Cream soda's my favorite!)
Learn more about Fitz's American Grill and Bottling Works here.
Six Flags St. Louis 12 of 15Six Flags St. Louis is an amusement park with something for everyone in the family. With roller coasters for the teens, shows for mom and dad, and Bugs Bunny National Park filled with kiddie rides for the little ones, everyone will have smiles on their faces here. Attached is Hurricane Harbor waterpark also! Take a day off from the history-rich attractions and unwind in this fun-filled amusement park.
Learn more about Six Flags St. Louis here.
Ted Drewe’s 13 of 15Ted Drewe's has been serving up frozen custard since 1929 and there's a reason why. It's delicious! St. Louis has two locations, one right on old route 66. Grab a cup, a cone, or a sundae of this delicious, silky smooth, creamy confection and enjoy!
Learn more about Ted Drewe's here.
Anheuser Busch Brewery Tour 14 of 15A tour of a brewery may not sound like the best attraction to check out with kids, but it's an interesting tour that adults and teens will enjoy. Young children may be a little bored with the finer points of making beer, but they'll enjoy seeing the famous Budweiser Clydesdales. At the end of the tour, mom and dad can sample the complimentary brews while the young ones can refresh with soft drinks and snacks. This tour runs year-round and is FREE.
Learn more about the Anheuser Busch Brewery Tour here.
Mark Twain’s Boyhood Home and Museum 15 of 15About a 2 hour drive from St. Louis is Hannibal, Missouri, home to one of America's most beloved authors, Mark Twain. In Hannibal, you can tour Twain's boyhood home, take a riverboat cruise, and explore in the caves. Learn about the life of Samuel Clemens the man who later became Mark Twain.
Learn more about the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum here.