St. Louis has many of the elements families are looking for in travel. From the convenient locale to the affordable attractions (many are free), this city on the river offers more than just the a visit to the Arch. From downtown Indy, St. Louis is an easy four-hour trip.
If you’re considering an upcoming visit to St. Louis for your family, here are some tips on places to visit and things to look out for.
Gateway Arch National Park (U.S. National Park Service)
We thought it’d be a wonderful idea to take the tram up to the top of the arch later in the day. First, to see the city at night and secondly, to bypass all of those crazy tourist lines. It was beautiful experience–but be prepared that the tram experience takes a very long time. There’s a long line (metal security detector line is in there, as well). And then you have to watch a video and pose for a green screen photo. The experience is well-worth it, but make sure your kids aren’t too tired, hungry, etc. Personally, the best part for our family was running through all the green space outside of the arch.
Free City Parks and Green Spaces
FUN FACT: Inside the Citygarden, you’ll find an installation by Julian Opie called “This is Bruce and Sarah Walking”. Julian is the same artist who completed Ann Dancing on Mass Ave in Indy.
Forest Park is considered one of the nation’s greatest urban public parks. St. Louis’ family attractions in Forest Park, including the St. Louis Zoo, Missouri History Museum, St. Louis Science Center, St. Louis Art Museum and The Muny (the nation’s largest outdoor theater). Visitors can ride the Forest Park Trolley among the attractions throughout the day. Visiting Forest Park’s attractions could make up a whole day or weekend–so plan accordingly.
St. Louis’ Forest Park at over 1,300 acres is bigger by far than Central Park in New York City. And all of St. Louis’ major attractions in the park are open free of charge.
Our family enjoyed the St. Louis Zoo. Elephants, giraffes, grizzly bears, and so much more. The Zoo is 90 acres (and hilly through parts) – so we’d recommend the extra fee to take the Emerson Zooline Railroad passenger trains. Tickets are $7.95 and include all day on-off privileges. Children under age 2 are free.
FUN FACT: Craft alcoholic drinks are available for purchase throughout the Zoo.
We stayed downtown and had a few favorite kid-friendly spots.
Baileys’ Range for made-from-scratch burgers, ice cream and milkshakes. (boozy milkshakes, too!)
Three Sixty has a wonderful brunch – and offers the best views of the city: a birds’ eye view into Busch Stadium, the Arch, and the river. Just know that the space is more upscale and you’ll need to make sure your kids are well-behaved, as there are many temptations for the kids to get into. No lids for drinks, too. So considering seeing if you can pack your own kid-friendly cup.
Union Station Hotel offers many restaurant choices. We enjoyed it because the bartender made our kids mocktails when we enjoyed the 3D light show in the Grand Hall. (More on Union Station Hotel and all of its family-friendly activities here here)
This alone is worth the trip! Once a shoe factory, this 600,000 square foot space is an eclectic mixture of children’s playground, funhouse, surrealistic pavilion and architectural marvel made from some of the coolest found and fabricated items. It’s like nothing else you’ve experienced. It’s not for everyone, though. If you’re a bit on the anxious side or have young kids, spend some time on the City Museum site looking at the drone footage before you go. Here are our tips on visiting.
Author Trisha Brand and her husband Adam are always looking for new ways to spend time with their young kids (Veda and Sully). Before joining Indy’s Child in 2018, Trisha logged time at various magazines (Indianapolis Monthly, Food & WIne, Bon Appetit, and SELF to name a few).