Due to its location along the Mississippi River and its proximity to the Illinois state border, St. Louis has always been a bustling city key to the country’s economy and trade. This hasn’t changed since its founding, and with the largest metropolitan population in Missouri, it pulls from a wide variety of cultures and areas. These blend together in a way that allows the city to appeal to just about anyone.
No matter what your interests are, St. Louis can gain and hold your attention. To help you plan the most memorable trip, we’ve rounded up 25 top-rated, family-friendly activities in St. Louis that you won’t want to miss below.
Duration: 5-7 hours
If you have any interest in the Deep South music genre, this is a stop you’ll want to make. In addition to the historical exhibits regarding Blues, you can also plan your trip to coincide with the many performances held here. Each Friday and Sunday evening feature a Blues performance that promises a grand time for all.
Cost: $15 per person
Duration: Approx 1 hour flight time; plan for 3.5 hours total
What better way to get a real view of the city than to enjoy it from the sky? This may not be the best bet for anyone with a fear of heights, but for those who aren’t bothered by being high off the ground, it’s an experience you won’t soon forget. The basic flight includes champagne or sparkling cider, and while it’s $219 for adults, kids from ages 6 to 14 are only $150. This activity is one that sets off daily at sunrise or sunset, so plan accordingly.
Duration: 1.5 hours
This Zip line Canopy Tour features 10 zip lines and is the only one within 30 minutes of the St. Louis metropolitan area – which means you’ll be able to get a wonderfully woodsy experience without too much travel time. Some of the lines travel upwards of fifty miles per hour to satisfy your need for speed. Adventure Valley even has a paintball experience that allows you to compete on two zip lines. If you’re looking for an active experience, this is the place to go.
Duration: 2-3 hours
If you’re interested in experiencing the city but aren’t overly interested in taking a formal tour, this is a great alternative. This immersive experience will take you places you wouldn’t otherwise see, giving you a real, authentic taste of the city – and please a little of your competitive side as well. With more than 20 challenges, it is often used as a team-building exercise but is wonderful fun for anyone.
Duration: Nightly Shows June-Aug
This theater only operates during the summer months, but if outdoor theater interests you in any way, this is one you’ll want to see. This theater has been around for a hundred years and is nowhere close to stopping. With big name shows like Jesus Christ Superstar and Jersey Boys, you can get the quality of Broadway in a much different atmosphere, making this experience completely unique.
Cost: $15-100 Based on Seating
Duration: 1 hour
During baseball season, you can always try to catch a Cardinals game, but even when the season is over, taking a tour of this stadium is more interesting than you may imagine. Even if you’re not a baseball fan, you’ll see a lot that’s worth your while, but for a Cardinals fan, this tour is absolute bliss. During the tour, you’ll visit the dugout, the broadcast booth, and the Redbird club.
Cost: $14 children $18 adults
Duration: Hours vary by season
This thrill park features a connection to a water park that turns a roller coaster journey into one that the whole family can enjoy. There are 9 roller coasters, 3 wooden and 6 steel, that will certainly get your heart pounding, and for the younger kids, there are multiple water slides and a lazy river that will allow you all to relax for a full day of fun in the sun. And for days that aren’t particularly sunny, there are seasonal events as well, including Holiday in the Park with lights, shows, and of course Santa!
Duration: 2 hours
If you want to get a good and thorough look at the Gateway Arch, this is the best way to do so. The arch is probably the most famous landmark in the city, and the tram ride included in this ticket will allow you to go up and see it from the top, while the riverboat cruse will let you see it along the city’s horizon. You’ll get to appreciate the view and enjoy informative commentary from a city guide.
Cost: $19 children $30 adults
Duration: Tuesday-Sunday; closed Mondays
This is a children’s museum that will allow your kids to explore their environment while learning through play. The creativity and curiosity unleashed from your child is a magnificent thing to behold, and this museum allows them to do so without hesitation. They will experience the reality of construction, the joy of mysteries, the exhilaration of music composition, and more in each of the specialized activity areas and rooms.
Duration: 9am – 5pm
If you want to see what beauty can come from plants, this is where you can take your family to appreciate that. There are conservatories and international gardens, demonstration gardens, and formal gardens. These gardens were created in 1859 and are situated on 79 acres of horticulture conservation and display. You can easily spend your entire day here or just an hour or so, based entirely on your family’s interest level.
Duration: 9 am – 5 pm
This museum features a wide variety of weapons, equipment, and uniforms of those who fought in the Civil War. The museum utilizes the former Jefferson Barracks Post Exchange and Gymnasium building as its facility. In 2002, the Missouri Civil War Museum was formed and spent a decade restoring and remodeling to host a complete preservation of Civil War-era memorabilia. Located close by is the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, where over 200,000 veterans and their loved ones are laid to rest. This is where you visit to learn about one of the most pivotal moments in the country’s history.
Duration: Tues/Thurs or Saturday; each at 10:30 am
If you’re interested in theater, then planning to see a show at the Fabulous Fox may be a great idea for you. But even if you can’t fit a show in your schedule (or you simply can’t score tickets), you can still enjoy the beauty of this theater with a tour. Tuesday and Thursday morning shows are a couple dollars cheaper, but Saturday’s show features an organ presentation that, if you can fit it into your schedule, you won’t want to miss.
Cost: $8 Tues/Thurs; $10 Sat
13. City Museum
Duration: Closed Mon-Tues; 9 am – Midnight Wed-Sat; 11 am – 5 pm Sun
This is a unique museum that will immerse you into the city’s roots possibly more than any other tour. There’s an eclectic collection of preserved items without a particular theme – simply this: If it’s wonderful, it’s worth preserving. With this motto in mind, the museum features a children’s playground and fun house, a surrealist pavilion, and architecture marvels. There are salvaged construction cranes, bridges, miles of tile, and two abandoned planes. Even though you may have never heard of this hidden gem, it was voted the #1 family attraction in the world by Trip.com Awards.
Duration: Wed – Sat 11 am – 4 pm; Sunday 1 – 4 pm
This may be of great interest to a certain type of person. You know your family well enough to know if you have family members who would take an interest in this museum. It’s laid out on one floor and will allow you to peruse the miniatures behind glass. There are some available for purchase, but primarily this is for viewing pleasure, not sale. There are miniature houses and buildings that will make you feel like an overlord, and the child in you will delight at the expansive collection they possess. You can even relive your visit with a virtual tour online.
15. St Louis Zoo
Duration: Daily 9 am – 5 pm
After discovering that admission is completely free, you may anticipate the St Louis Zoo not being the best in quantity or quality, but that’s not the case at all. In recent years, it’s been voted the Best Zoo and America’s Top Free Attraction, and with good reason: there are over 17,000 animals in this zoo, and while some special shows and activities require a modest fee, you can pretty much see it all without paying the obscene prices of similar zoos.
Cost: Free admission, Exhibits cost approx $4 each or $11 for access to all
16. Grant’s Farm
Duration: Open weekends – Closed for winter
This farm is the ancestral land of the Busch family and is named after Ulysses S. Grant, who worked a portion of the 281 acre farm. There are rides, shows, and animals that make this a family-friendly activity, and for the adults, there is also The Baurernhof, where those over 21 years of age will be served complimentary samples of Anheuser-Busch products. While the admission is free, keep in mind the parking and extras on the farm are not.
Cost: Free admission, $12 parking, some exhibits may cost
Duration: 10 am – 5 pm
This museum is extensive in its collection of historical items. If you want to peruse the collection in its entirety, you’ll have to physically go to the museum, but there are over 100,000 items listed on their website (here) if you want to check anything beforehand. In this museum you’ll find artifacts, photographs, books, maps, and documents all detailing the history of Missouri. If you have family in or from Missouri, there’s even a genealogy and local history index you can use.
Cost: Free (some exhibits may cost)
18. The Delmar Loop
Duration: Hours vary by business
According to the American Planning Association, the Delmar Loop is one of the top ten streets in America. With shops and restaurants and a lively night life, this street puts on full display all that St Louis has to offer. There are six blocks of culture with art galleries, live music, and the St Louis Walk of Fame. The Loop even holds frequent events, farmers’ markets, and pub crawls.
Cost: Free to visit but shopping costs involved
Duration: Mon-Thurs 9:30 am – 4:30 pm; Fri 9:30 am – 4 pm; Sun 10 am – 4 pm
This museum opened in 1995 with first-hand survivor stories and memorabilia that will serve to follow through with the museum’s mission statement: “Through the lessons of the Holocaust, we inspire all people to confront hatred, promote human dignity and prevent genocide.” While it’s a sobering experience, it definitely serves as an invaluable lesson in humanity’s history.
20. Old Courthouse
Duration: 9 am – 6 pm (Hours change seasonally)
Speaking of invaluable lessons in history, the Old Courthouse in St. Louis is located under the Gateway Arch and is the site of many critical moments in American history. Dred and Harriet Scott sued for their freedom from slavery here, and Virginia Minor fought for a woman’s right to vote in this building, as well. Exhibits within the Old Courthouse will teach about these events along with the crucial role St Louis played in the migration west of early settlers.
Duration: 10 am – 4 pm
This Cathedral was built in 1914 and has several chapels within, each a beautiful celebration of the Catholic faith. But more than that, you need have no connection to Catholicism to appreciate the awe-inspiring detail of the domes, arches, statues, and architecture of this building. The 14-foot Angel of Harmony statue just outside will pull you in, and the breathtaking mosaics and impressive crypts will more than maintain your interest.
Duration: Dawn to dusk
This historic site is the most sophisticated prehistoric site of a native civilization north of Mexico. These mounds are spread over 2,200 acres and reveal the remnant of an ancient settlement that is known today as the Cahokia. In 1250 AD, this civilization was larger than London and is one of the greatest cities in the history of the world. You can view the archaeological remains of its structures and the entire city’s infrastructure – long before such a society was commonplace.
Duration: 6 am – 10 pm daily
Forest Park Forever is the private, non-profit conservatory that strives to maintain, restore, and sustain roughly 1,300 acres of forest within the city of St Louis. Forest Park is one of the largest public urban parks in the country. Its nearly 500 acres larger than Central Park in New York, and within its grounds are several businesses that are all part of the bigger picture of a park that speaks to St Louis’ roots and the heart of its culture of nature.
Duration: Tues-Sat 10 am – 5 pm; Fri 10 am – 9 pm
This museum includes collections of art from all over the world and several different periods. It also includes an armory, which should maintain the interest of family members who may not normally appreciate an Art Museum. Along with temporary exhibits that travel all over the world, you’ll find an extensive collection of permanent displays of contemporary and modern art, along with photography, drawings, and prints.
Duration: Mon- Sat 9:30 am – 4:30 pm; Sun 11 am – 4:30 pm
Most cities have their own Science Center, but this is one you won’t want to skip – especially if you have children. There are live animals and hands-on exhibits located throughout which will be a delight for your children. It even includes an IMAX theater which primarily shows science-centered films, but occasionally it will feature a more popular film (i.e., it definitely shows the Star Wars movies as they are released).