St. Louis: 5 Free Things to Do

Photo by Gil Courson

Free and fun throughout St. Louis

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Don’t miss these 5 free things to do in St. Louis.

We get it. Travel can be costly at times, especially when you travel as a family. But through the generosity of donors, as well as a supportive tax base in the city and state, some of St. Louis’ top attractions can be enjoyed for free.

5 Free Things You Can’t Miss:

The heart of St. Louis, other than the Cardinals, is Forest Park. The site of the 1904 World’s Fair and a tribute to the Louisiana Purchase, Forest Park is the city’s place to play and much of it is absolutely free. Three stops include:

1.  The Saint Louis Zoo – Not only is it free, but it really is one of the best zoos in the country.  Although admission to the zoo is free, there are some exhibits that have a fee associated, so your best bargain is the Adventure Pass for $10.95.

However, a number of area hotels partner with the zoo, so your room rate will include up to four Adventure Passes. Participating hotels are all listed on the zoo website.

There is a $10 fee for parking at the zoo, but here’s a way around that:  One of the St. Louis Trolley stops is the zoo. Indeed, one full route is dedicated to Forest Park, so park anywhere along the route and simply take the trolley. Note there is a $2 charge for adults and $1 charge for children, so a family of four is still going to pay $6.

Photo by Diana Lambdin Meyer

Or another option is to stay at the nearby Cheshire Hotel, located just outside of Forest Park, less than a mile from the zoo entrance. The hotel has bicycles for its guests, which includes a lock, just so you can ride to the zoo, or anywhere else in Forest Park and spend the day however you like.

The zoo also has free wifi.

2. The St. Louis Science Center – Just about everything that was said about the zoo can be said about the Science Center. It’s fabulous and free, but there is a fee for parking, so take the trolley. The Drury Hotels partner with the Science Center to provide their guests OmniMax Theater and special exhibit passes.

3. The Missouri History Museum – Indeed this is for history geeks, but how cool is it to see many of the original artifacts from the Lewis & Clark Expedition? For kids, there are regularly scheduled story-telling programs and make-and-take workshops. Check the website for what’s being offered during your visit.

4. Another destination that is synonymous with St. Louis families is Grant’s Farm. This is where the Clydesdales live when they are not high-stepping at Busch Stadium. Lots of other adorable animals and experiences are a part of this historic park. Parking is $12 per car, and sorry, the trolley doesn’t come this far west. The animal shows and tram rides are free, but minor charges apply for feeding goats, parakeets, and camels. Pony rides and paddle boat rides cost a little more, but you can indeed enjoy a great day at Grant’s Farm for just a few bucks.

5. The Karpeles Manuscript Museum is a lesser known museum, but fascinating in so many ways. Free admission and plenty of free parking make it a treat, but seeing original works of Mark Twain, the application from the city of St. Louis to form a major league baseball team, and so many fascinating pieces of paper that tell a remarkable story, that’s a memorable day.

More Free Things:

All Missouri State Parks are always free and in St. Louis, this includes some good ones:

Route 66 State Park
Confluence Point State Park
Castlewood State Park 
The Scott Joplin State Historic Site
First Missouri State Capitol

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