Fun Things for Families to Do While Visiting St. Louis
When parents start thinking about vacation destinations, research shows they usually have one of two priorities: visiting new places together or relaxing and unwinding together. Keyword: together.
The same research—the 2017 U.S. Family Travel Survey—finds that most parents recognize the benefits of vacations in widening children’s horizons and strengthening family bonds. But they also are looking to balance values like safety, affordability, age-appropriate activities and staying within everyone’s comfort zones. Which is why they often end up at theme parks or all-inclusive resorts, even when they yearn for something more original.
Enter, St. Louis.
These attractions, all in the St. Louis area, hit the sweet spots parents say they value for family getaways together.
Gateway Arch National Park: Children adore the adventure of riding the tram up the 630-foot Arch and peering from the windows at the top. Their parents will adore the new Museum at the Gateway Arch. It uses universal design principles to ensure all visitors can access and understand its exhibits, and many of the displays are hands-on and interactive.
Kiener Plaza and CityGarden: Downtown’s two most popular outdoor hangouts are just a block apart. Both feature fountains and areas for kids to play, but each has its own vibe. Kiener Plaza, overlooking the Old Courthouse and the Arch, is a stone-paved open space, with a grassy concert knoll in the middle. CityGarden’s walkways wander amid greenery and sculptures, leading to nooks where children can climb, jump, wander and explore.
City Museum: This eclectic attraction invites the adventurous to slither through tunnels, zoom down multi-story slides, climb across barriers and see the city from new angles (like the rooftop Ferris wheel). There’s always something new to do and see—the upcoming Toddler Town Castle is just one example—and it’s nearly impossible to cover everything in a single visit.
Saint Louis Zoo: The 90-acre complex has six unique zones, a dozen eateries, its own railroad and carousel, a children’s zoo and much more. Best of all, general admission to the zoo is free. Once inside, families can watch thousands of animals go about daily life in realistic habitats. If they want, parents can choose to pay for individual features (like the 4D theater) or purchase an all-day Adventure Pass for $12.95 per person. But for many kids, the pure joy of seeing so many animals is enough.
Saint Louis Science Center: There’s no way to avoid learning—cleverly disguised as fun—about all things scientific. From space to dinosaurs, rocks to agriculture, energy to robotics, families will find something to fascinate all ages and interests. General admission is free, but it’s worth spending a little extra on an Omnimax movie, planetarium show or special exhibit.
Forest Park: With its combination of open outdoor areas and museums, Forest Park can be many things over the course of a single visit. Families can play together on its trails, playgrounds and golf courses. They can relax by its waterways or venture out onto the lake in a paddleboat, kayak or canoe. They can experience the past and present from new perspectives at the Saint Louis Art Museum and Missouri History Museum. They can dine family-friendly restaurants within the attractions, at the Boathouse or on an al fresco picnic. And to get from one to the other, they can hop aboard the trolley.
St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station: When this new attraction opens in the fall of 2019, visitors in the middle of the nation will be able to see aquatic life from rivers and oceans worldwide. Its location at Union Station makes it convenient to hotels, dining and public transportation.
This post is part of a collaboration with Explore St. Louis.
Find more family-friendly destination ideas on explorestlouis.com.
All photos by Attilio D’Agostino.