6 Fun Family Attractions in St. Louis
We visited St. Louis recently for the first time and were struck by how much there was to do as a family. There are two Hilton hotels located in downtown St. Louis: Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark and Hilton St. Louis Downtown at the Arch. All of the destinations listed below are just miles away (and several within walking distance) from both hotels. Here are six family-friendly attractions to visit in St. Louis:
The St. Louis Gateway Arch
I think any St. Louis native would make a visit to the Gateway Arch a requirement for entry into the city. It is truly a sight to behold. We chose not to ride in the four-person pods up to the top (I am not a huge fan of confined spaces or heights), but it is possible to ride the 630 feet to the top of the Arch. The views of the city and the Mississippi River are said to be breathtaking, and the tickets are reasonable and available online. At the very least, take a walk around the Arch, along the Mississippi River and visit its museum.
If you’re only in St. Louis for a short time, choose to visit City Museum! Housed in a former shoe factory, it’s called a museum, but it’s more of an indoor-outdoor playground and amusement park. Plan to spend a day here with your kids. There’s a pizza café as well as a bar, so there’s no reason to leave! Adults and kids will marvel at the nine-story slide that had previously been a chute for shoes. It’s one of the coolest places I’ve visited. Really.
With almost 1,400 acres of green space, Forest Park is an expansive city park in St. Louis’ Central West End neighborhood. If the weather is nice, there are plenty of family-friendly activities here: multiple playgrounds, dual paths for walking and biking (bike rentals are available on-site), and athletic fields for all types of sports.
In the winter months from mid-November to mid-February, the Steinberg Skating Rink is open for business. For just a $7 entry fee and a $5 skate rental, ice skate to your heart’s content, then head to the café or fire pit to enjoy some hot chocolate.
Within Forest Park, you’ll also find several of the city’s main cultural institutions and family-friendly destinations, including the St. Louis Zoo, the Missouri History Museum, and just across the street, the St. Louis Science Center.
St. Louis Science Center
We had a really fun afternoon at the St. Louis Science Center and could easily have spent a full day. This attraction offers free admission for its permanent exhibits, but IMAX movies cost extra.
Our kids’ favorite exhibit was the Life Science Lab where they donned lab coats and glasses and conducted their own experiments. Prompted by an online guide, they learned about blood typing, examining fingerprints and extracting DNA from wheat germ — all without adult help!
Scheduling note: Please be aware that the Science Center closes at 4:30 pm, so make sure to allow enough time to see everything.
St. Louis Zoo
The St. Louis Zoo is located within Forest Park and offers free admission to its main exhibits, although there is a parking fee. There are some parts of zoo that do have small admission fees: the Children’s Zoo, which is geared specifically for younger children, the Sea Lion show, the Stingray Cove, the 4-D movie and the rides. The zoo offers a wide variety of animals from all over the world — there are even some tree kangaroos!
World Chess Hall of Fame
If yours is a chess-loving family, then a trip to the World Chess Hall of Fame in St. Louis’ Central West End neighborhood is a must! The Hall of Fame has an extensive collection of historical artifacts and game paraphernalia that take visitors through a visual history of the game.
They offer Saturday Family Days specifically for children ages 5-12 when kids get a special kid-friendly tour and participate in a related art project. The Hall is located right next door to a Starbucks, and there are several restaurants and shops within short walking distance. We enjoyed some delicious deep dish pizza and salads at Pi which is just a couple of blocks away.
You may also enjoy:
- 5 Fun Things to do in St. Louis With Kids
- 5 Fun Things to do in Branson, Missouri With Kids
- Fun Things to do in Chicago With Kids
- Chicago Attractions With a View – Seeing the City from Up High
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Erin is a native Floridian who has resided in Atlanta since 1995. Her husband Mike and she have two funny, smart, active girls and two cats.