Situated on the west side of the Mississippi River, St. Louis is a major U.S. city with major family appeal. It has everything from big-city culture to sprawling green spaces in the heart of the metro. Known as the Gateway to the West, St. Louis represents a mix of American cultures with vibrant and eclectic entertainment to match. This Missouri city offers plenty of kid-friendly options for your upcoming trip, but make plans to have transportation to navigate the spread-out design of the city.
No list of family-friendly St. Louis activities is complete without mentioning the Gateway Arch, which is the tallest man-made monument in the country. The iconic landmark defines the city's skyline with its soaring metal structure, and it houses a free Museum of Western Expansion inside the arch. If you want the best view of the city, grab tickets to head to the top of the arch. The journey involves riding a small, egg-shaped tram up 630 feet to peek out the windows at the top. Kids can imagine they're blasting into space as they zoom up the arch.
Take your family on a virtual safari without busting the budget at the Saint Louis Zoo. Admission is free, although the zoo's parking lot comes with a fee if you can't find a free street spot. Check out the paid experiences—including a sea lion show, children's zoo, stingrays, carousel and train rides—to make this stop memorable. The 90-acre zoo makes the adventure fun in a park-like setting with lots of natural exhibits. Over 17,000 animals call the zoo home, including hippos, polar bears, and Asian elephants.
Once the International Shoe Company, City Museum is a giant playground where you never have to tell your kids not to touch things. The space features oversized objects, including a giant praying mantis and the world's largest pencil. Kids can climb to soaring heights and then zoom back down on slides. Toddler Town holds lots of fun for younger family members. Head to the roof for a massive playground, Ferris wheel, and school bus, which hangs over the edge of the building precariously.
Citygarden is another spot where kids can touch, climb and play on many of the features. It's a lush oasis in the middle of the city with plants, sculptures, and water features. Unlike many public gardens, Citygarden invites kids to interact with the elements, including the water features. A spray plaza with 102 jets shoots water in programmed patterns, begging kids of all ages to dodge the spray. At night, the plaza includes lights for a dazzling show. Admission is free, making this a budget-friendly option when kids need a place to run and play.
Unleash your child's inner scientist at the Saint Louis Science Center. Over 700 exhibits put your kids in control with hands-on displays. Animated life-size dinosaur models, traveling exhibits and many interactive displays fill the space. While general admission is free, some experiences require a paid ticket, including a virtual reality experience, motion simulator, planetarium shows, and Omnimax Theater shows. The planetarium also offers public telescope viewings.
Stop at the Missouri Botanical Garden where you can explore the Doris I. Schnuck Children's Garden, which features four trails with interactive displays and adventures. Travel the Settler's Path to see the general store, town hall, and edible garden. The Botanist's Path lets you escape to a secret garden and treehouse. Along the Adventurer's Path, explore a cave, steamboat, and frontier fort. The Discoverer's Path includes a pond and locks and dams.
The Busch brewing family once called Grant's farm home, but it's now a 281-acre family-friendly entertainment destination. You'll find plenty of farm animals, but it's also home to wallabies, lemurs, elephants, and other exotic animals. You can also see Clydesdale horses of all ages up close. A carousel, camel rides and animal shows keep the fun rolling while you're on the farm.
Six Flags St. Louis offers a range of rides, from kid-friendly options to thrill rides. Entertainment options include live shows and Looney Tunes characters' meet and greet. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, stay cool at the water park on a range of slides. The park operates seasonally with special Halloween and holiday events on select dates.
Enjoy an All-American day at the ballpark when you take in a St. Louis Cardinals game during spring and summer. The Family Pavilion features various play areas, virtual reality, speed pitch, and other activities if the kids need a break from the game. Outside of the game, you can visit the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum. St. Louis has other sports options if you're not a baseball fan. Saint Louis FC is a United Soccer League team that plays at World Wide Technology Soccer Park. Head to Enterprise Center during your fall or winter trip to catch a St. Louis Blues hockey game.
St. Louis Union Station combines history and family entertainment. Once one of the busiest passenger rail terminals, Union Station now houses the St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station along with other entertainment, including a Ferris wheel, carousel, ropes course, and mini-golf course. Many of the original architectural details remain, such as the original terrazzo floor, which gives you a look into the past. A daily 3D light show on the vaulted Grand Hall ceiling is another fun option for families. It also has multiple restaurant options to refuel between adventures.