St. Louis is a baseball town, and even if you’re not a fan, catching a game at Busch Stadium is a must (unless it’s mid-July when the weather is brutal—in that case, you’re excused). The Cardinals are typically one of the best teams in baseball, but regardless of their playing, nearly every game is a sell out.
Just steps from Busch Stadium, you can pre- or post-game at Ballpark Village. Although it’s busiest during baseball season, Ballpark Village offers a wide variety of entertainment options year-round, including restaurants, bars, and the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum. During the summer, this venue provides an oasis for sports fans looking to cheer on their favorite team and avoid the sticky summer humidity. Those who couldn’t care less about sports can still have a great time getting rowdy in one of the bars (riding that mechanical bull) or enjoying live music.
Parking can be tough. Your best bet is to ride the MetroLink or pay to park at one of the many surrounding lots or garages for $7-20, depending on how close they are to the stadium.
Nothing screams St. Louis quite like the Gateway Arch. Set along the banks of the Mississippi River, the soaring stainless steel arch is a timeless feature of Downtown St. Louis and postcards alike. You can ride the tiny tram up to the top of the Observation Deck to take in some vertigo-inducing views of the city—you can see up to 30 miles on a clear day—but that’s a tourist move. We recommend walking the beautiful new grounds and visiting the museum if it’s a nice day; if not, a drive-by viewing will be fine.
The ride to the top of the Arch includes squeezing yourself into a very small elevator pod, so if you’re claustrophobic (or scared of heights) you might want to pass on this one. Our personal favorite way to appreciate the Arch is over a cocktail at Three Sixty at The Hilton Ballpark--no tight squeezes necessary.
“Animals Always” is its motto, and with over 18,000 wild animals across 90 acres, it doesn't disappoint. The best part? Unlike most of the nation's zoos, this exotic kingdom boasts free admission and a calendar of special events. From Boo at the Zoo in October to the Wild Lights during the holidays, the zoo is a hot spot for meeting humans, too. The sprawling layout and varying enclosures and animal houses are just as fun for kids as they are for hipsters and grandparents (and hipster grandparents).
Between June and August, the summer heat and “school’s out” crowd can be a little much, making fall or spring the best time to visit. If you can catch the sea lion show during the summer, your kids will thank you.
One of the best ways to spend a day outdoors in St. Louis, the Missouri Botanical Garden (MOBOT) is an urban oasis for locals and tourists alike. The garden offers 79 acres of green-themed wonders, from the Japanese gardens to the tropical plants inside the Climatron. The winding paths are ideal for leisurely strolls, and the children’s garden is a great place for kids to run off the candy you thought you’d agreed not to give them. MOBOT has a menagerie of signature of events year-round, ranging from the summer nights Whitaker Music Festival to the holiday Garden Glow.
Go in the spring when everything is in bloom--you won’t be sorry. Parking is free but sometimes limited depending on the crowds. Additional off-street parking is also available. Entrance fees vary by time and day, so check the website before you go. (It’s free to St. Louis city and county residents on Wednesday and Saturday mornings.)
St. Louis loves the Arch, but St. Louis really loves beer. Anheuser-Busch's oldest and largest brewery has been nestled into historic Soulard since its founding in 1852. This historic landmark offers multiple daily tours, from the 45-minute complimentary tour to a paid Beer School class. Alcoholic and informative? Sign us up. If you don’t feel like going on the tour, you can always just have a drink in The Biergarten.
Age requirements (and prices!) vary by tour so make sure to check your tour's rules before bringing kiddos along. We recommend befriending your tour guide in hopes they'll slip you a couple extra beer tokens--we don't guarantee this will work, but it's worth a shot.
In its own words, City Museum is an "eclectic mixture of children's playground, funhouse, surrealistic pavilion, and architectural marvel." Or, put another way: imagine that a team of artists and construction workers were given a couple million dollars, an abandoned building, and a bathtub full of acid. That’s the City Museum. What else do you need to know?
This is a dreamland for kids and the young at heart. Once an old shoe factory, this oddball museum is now a bastion of inspiration and quirky coolness in both the St. Louis art and tourism scenes. Spanning 10 floors and a rooftop (with a ferris wheel on top), the open and industrial space is chock full of exhibits and structures designed to be interactive. It’s open late on Fridays and Saturdays, with DJs spinning tunes and big kids over the age of 21 going down the multi-story slides and then grabbing a drink at the Cabin Inn bar.
Be mindful of the 3rd floor—it’s been home to long-running rumors of hauntings. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays, but open late (and popular with adults) on Fridays and Saturdays.
Forest Park has been a jewel of St. Louis ever since it opened in 1876. Covering over 1,300 acres (that’s bigger than Central Park, yo) in the heart of the city, Forest Park was once home to both the 1904 World’s Fair and the 1904 Summer Olympics. Today it’s a cultural hub, holding the Saint Louis Zoo, Missouri History Museum, Saint Louis Art Museum, and The Muny outdoor theatre. Its beauty and activities draw in locals as much as tourists--so you know it’s worth the trip. There isn’t a better place to be in St. Louis on a beautiful day.
Forest Park hosts dozens of events each year, from the raucous LouFest music festival to the family-friendly Hot Air Balloon Glow and Balloon Race. In addition to all the cultural attractions, you’ll find golf courses, tennis and racquetball courts, a children’s playground, softball and soccer fields, and the Steinberg Skating Rink, which does double duty as a beach volleyball court in the summer. Heads up--with so much to do inside Forest Park, the roads and parking lots can get packed between Memorial and Labor Days. Ubering is never a bad idea.
There are a lot of iconic St. Louis foods—toasted ravioli, St. Louis-style pizza, gooey butter cake—but the only one that everyone agrees is delicious is BBQ. Sure, people from Memphis, Kansas City, Alabama, and so on might argue they do it best, but you won’t leave here disappointed. Pappy’s is the one BBQ joint that’s nationally known, and while their ribs are amazing, the lines can be huge. We recommend stopping by their sister restaurant, Bogart’s, instead for ribs and pulled pork. For brisket lovers, a visit to Salt + Smoke or the Stellar Hog is a necessity. Want to try pork steak? Head to BEAST Craft BBQ Co. Only eat poultry? Gobble Stop Smokehouse specializes in smoked BBQ turkey and chicken. For more specifics, head to our St. Louis BBQ guide.
The only downside to BBQ joints is that they sell out of meat. The early bird gets the worm, so to speak, so plan your day in a timely fashion. Also, don’t plan on doing anything afterwards.