16 Free Things to Do in St. Louis


stlouislionThe largest urban area in Missouri, St. Louis is home to many free family activities.  The area was sold to the U.S. in 1803 by Napoleon Bonaparte and is nicknamed the “Gateway to the West.”  The historic city also hosted the World’s Fair and the Olympics in 1904.

There are free parks and museums throughout St. Louis, as well as other attractions you can enjoy for free.

1. St. Louis Zoo – Home to 6,000 exotic animals, the St. Louis Zoo is one of just three zoos in America that still are free (the others are Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago and the National Zoo in Washington D.C.) The St. Louis Zoo even waives fees for special exhibits on certain days.  The zoo includes a 10,000-acre Jungle of the Apes exhibit, a Penguin habitat and the Monsanto insectarium.  The Living World Center teaches children about animals through interactive lessons. Summer hours are Friday to Sunday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Monday to Thursday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily the rest of the year.

2. . St. Louis Science Center – Features exhibits about genetics, the Boeing Space Station, the St. Louis Arch, and radar guns. Hours are Monday – Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  Summer hours are Monday – Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sundays 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

3. Grant’s Farm -  The farm is the former homestead of Ulysses S. Grant and is now a wildlife preserve spanning 281 acres. It is home to more than 1,000 animals from 6 continents. The famous Budweiser Clydesdales are trained and housed here and visitors can take a tram ride through the Deer Trail. Admission is free but parking costs $11 per vehicle.

4. St. Louis Riverfront – The Mississippi River is the longest in the country, and from the shoreline you can relax and watch the barges floating along.

5. The National Great Rivers Museum- Located across the Mississippi River in Alton, Illinois, the museum is dedicated to educating people about the history and cultural significance of the Mississippi River. Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

stlouislion6. Confluence State Park – Here you can view the coming together of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.

7. The Old Courthouse – The Dred Scott slavery trial was held here in 1857. You can walk a short film about the trial and may even be able to participate in a courtroom trial reenactment.

8. St. Louis Art Museum – The first publicly funded art museum in the country, the St. Louis Art Museum houses more than 30,000 objects.  Their pre-Colombian and German Expressionist collections are considered among the best in the world. Free admission to special exhibits on Fridays. Open Tuesday – Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Fridays 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

9. Laumeier Sculpture Park – With +96-acres of permanent and visiting sculptures, the Laumeier Sculpture Park offers a whimsical outdoor experience.  An outdoor sculpture garden, museum of art and hiking trails are among the features the park offers. Open daily, 8 a.m. to sunset.

10. The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts – highlights contemporary art and architecture. Open to the public Wednesdays 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

11. Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis – next to the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, this museum is free Thursdays and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

12. St. Louis University Museum of Art – next to the Contemporary Art Museum, the University museum offers tours. . Call WHAT NUMBER? for tour information.

13. Missouri History Museum – Features exhibits of the 1904 World’s Fair and some of the sites of Lewis and Clark’s journey. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

14. Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site – Located right next to downtown St. Louis, the site is home to one of the country’s greatest mysteries.  Visitors can view the remnants of the prehistoric people of the Land of the Sun, the  Indian civilization that vanished after 1300 AD. You can also climb the largest prehistoric earthen structure to view some of the sights of the city at the 100-foot tall Monk’s Mound.

15. Route 66 State Park – Offers hiking and biking trails as well as a free museum with memorabilia of the famous highway. 

16. Museum of Westward Expansion – below ground museum showcasing the expedition of Lewis and Clark. Located at the base of the Arch.