St. Louis and surrounding areas are a great family travel destination in the Midwest. There are lots of activities to do in St. Louis with kids and here are some of our favorites to get you started planning a St. Louis family vacation.
Gateway Arch National Park
There is no more iconic sight in St. Louis than the Gateway Arch. This 630 foot tall arch symbolizes the westward expansion of the United States under President Jefferson.
Gateway Arch National Park encompasses the Gateway Arch, the Gateway Arch Museum, and Gateway Arch Park. Taking a tram to the top of the Gateway Arch is one of the best family activities in St. Louis we have ever done.
The Gateway Arch Museum is a great place to learn about western expansion, colonial St. Louis, and other history of that same era. The interactive displays and easy flow of one exhibit to the next made for an excellent learning experience.
Find out more about Gateway Arch National Park including information on the tram ride and parking in this article.
Since 1954 Grant’s Farm has been a popular family travel destination when visiting St. Louis with kids. Grant’s Farm is 281 acres that was once the home of the Busch family. Now the farm houses the Budweiser Clydesdales and many other animals.
The best part of our trip to Grant’s Farm were the many opportunities to interact with animals. Elizabeth loved feeding a bottle to baby goats, food pellets to the older goats, and having parakeets land on her arm to eat birdseed on a stick.
If you want to feed a bottle to the baby goats it is important to get to Grant’s Farm early. The babies tend to eat a lot very early and then lose interest in bottles by late morning.
There is a tram ride free of charge that provides a tour of the vast property. Our tram ride was interrupted by some roaming bison and cattle, but we didn’t mind since we got to see these large animals close-up.
The Clydesdale Barn is open to the public so can visit these beautiful horses. I knew that Clydesdale horses are large, but I didn’t have a true grasp on their immense size until seeing them in person.
Grant’s Farm general admission is free. There is a charge for parking and some of the on-site activities. Check here for more pricing information for Grant’s Farm.
The Magic House
There are 3 levels of interactive fun at this St. Louis area children’s museum. The Magic House has a mix of indoor and outdoor exhibits that change periodically.
One of the most popular exhibits is Children’s Village. The Children’s Village play area set up like a town. Kids take turns visiting or working at a pizza parlor, library, fishing spot, post office, or veterinarian clinic among other businesses.
The Magic House is one of the best children’s museums we have ever visited. Make sure you reserve plenty of time for The Magic House when visiting St. Louis with kids. With so many interactive exhibits to explore, a couple of hours at the museum will go quickly.
I don’t know why anyone would ever call this place a museum. There are no educational displays or art. What you will find here is a crazy assortment of re-purposed items built into the kookiest multi-floor indoor/outdoor jungle gym you could imagine.
Knee pads are recommended for adults, but we just opted for pants instead of shorts that day. The City Museum may be better suited for older kids who you feel comfortable allowing to explore on their own. Elizabeth was pretty young on our first visit so there was some crazy squeezing into places and climbing for Mr. Smart Mouse and I.
Shockingly, we all had a fun time exploring the City Museum and continue to recommend the City Museum to friends visiting St. Louis with kids.
Watch A St. Louis Cardinals Game
Do you have tickets for a Cardinals game?
Great! Head into Busch Stadium early and explore this beautiful ballpark. There is a small Build-a-Bear inside the park where you can get a bear or Fred Bird with some coordinating Cardinal’s gear. This Cardinal themed Build-a-Bear is a great souvenir from a St. Louis family vacation.
Keep an eye open for the St. Louis Cardinal’s mascot, Fred Bird. We were lucky enough to meet Fred Bird near the Build-a-Bear store while we were exploring the park before the game.
No St. Louis Cardinals Baseball Ticket? No Problem!
Across the street from Busch Stadium is Ball Park Village. Grab a spot early at one of the several places to eat inside or snag a seat (for a fee) on one of the rooftop viewing decks.
It is fully Cardinal Nation inside Ball Park Village so expect lots of excited baseball fans wearing red. We stopped to check it out before heading into Busch stadium for the game. Ball Park Village is like a huge family friendly sports bar.
St. Louis Science Center and Planetarium
The St. Louis Science Center is another museum we love in the St. Louis area. General admission is free, but certain experiences and exhibits have a fee. Here are a couple stand out exhibits we thought were especially interesting.
Life Sciences Lab
In the Life Sciences Lab there are lab stations set up with different science experiments. After waiting in line a staff member outfits you in goggles and a lab coat.
Once you are appropriately attired and a lab station opens staff will escort you to the table. At the activity bench a staff member explains how to work the computer guide. Each activity bench has a different self led experiment where a computer prompts you through all the steps of the experiment.
Please note: Kids must be 5 years old to enter the Activity Bench area. Kids 5 to 9 years old must be accompanied by an adult.
In this 2 part exhibit you control a Mars rover in the Mission Mars Control area using the same type of information real NASA scientists use. You run a mock test of steps to get your rover into position for a soil or rock sample. Then you run a simulation. During the simulation you see if you successfully complete the sample or if your rover becomes damaged or stuck.
What makes this activity extra fun is that you are actually controlling a rover in the Planetarium across the highway from Mission Mars Control. This gives kids a good idea of how challenging it is to do experiments remotely.
Across the highway walkway is Mission Mars Base. When you are in Mission Mars Base you can learn and visualize how scientists conduct experiments on the surface of Mars.
Live Sky At McDonnell Planetarium
Live Sky is a 25 minute show in the Orthwein StarBay. Here a guide walks visitors through many of the constellations that can be seen in the St. Louis night sky that evening (assuming there was no light pollution).
This planetarium show is a great overview of constellations for your star gazer. After the show you can briefly walk through the Boeing Space Station. In this area you can learn more about how astronauts live and work in space.
Although Fitz’s is a restaurant, I am including it in my overview of our favorite St. Louis activities. This is because you can see their delicious sodas being bottled while you eat.
Having soda is a big deal for Elizabeth. She has a corn allergy which usually excludes most fun drinks at restaurants. However, Fitz’s makes their own sodas with real sugar!
We each ordered different flavors and all of them were amazing. Making the delicious soda even better is that it is served in a frozen mug. The wait can be long, but we didn’t mind since this was a special treat for Elizabeth. Make sure you check the bottling schedule before you go if watching the bottling process is important to you.
Final Thoughts On Visiting St. Louis With Kids
St. Louis and the surrounding suburbs are a great affordable vacation option for families. Many places like Grant’s Farm, the St. Louis Science Center, and the St. Louis Zoo have free admission and only charge for certain activities. We still talk about climbing around City Museum and the unique experience of riding a tram to the top of the Gateway Arch from our family trips to St. Louis. What are your favorite things to do when visiting St. Louis with kids?