Top Things to Do with Kids in St. Louis

10 attractions that are the gateway to your children’s next travel adventure

Known as the “Gateway to the West”, the city of St. Louis is just that—an exciting way to have a travel adventure with your kids. As a Midwest destination, “The STL” is synonymous with its famous archway located on the downtown banks of the Mississippi River. Yet, this wonderland of attractions and activities has even more to offer, especially for young travelers taking on their first experiences in a new city.

City Museum: New adventures that keep going and going

 Pathways literally extend for miles through the ladders, tunnels and bridges at City Museum. Photo Credit: Zak Littrell / City Museum

If any place in St. Louis has blended the past with the present to create a new surrealistic world, it’s City Museum. The 600,000-square-feet discovery center is housed in a century-old warehouse once owned by the International Shoe Company. Repurposed pieces of the city have been integrated into four flours of immersive exhibits, including a rooftop complete with a magical school bus. Your kids will spend hours making their way through secret passageways to new destinations including a playground, fun house, dreamscape pavilion and miles of bridges, tunnels, slides and climbers designed for exploration.

Grant’s Farm: A historic farmland with famous horses

 The Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales will graze past as you make your way to the historic home of former President Ulysses S. Grant.

Just 20 minutes from Downtown St. Louis, Grant’s Farm is the ancestral home of the Busch family, founders of the famous beverage company. Those same Budweiser Clydesdales you see in their commercials can be found grazing the grassy knolls of the 281-acre property. In addition to 900 animals and horses, you’ll also find the historic home of U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant, who once worked a portion of the land. You can plan on spending most of the day here viewing the animals, grabbing a bite to eat and posing for photos with the majestic horses.

The Magic House: Curiosity and imagine rule at this interactive children’s museum

 Children arrive from near and far to learn, imagine and create a day of fun. Photo Credit: The Magic House

The St. Louis Children’s Museum is affectionately known as “The Magic House"" because it’s more than a learning center. The exhibits serve to spark the imaginations and curiosity of its visitors, inspiring young minds to discover and create magic every day. Planning a day here could include taking a ride on a Dinosaur Train, tinkering in the Children’s Village or experimenting in the Learning Lab. Kids can also hone their crafting skills at MADE for Kids, a project-oriented makerspace where kids and parents are invited to collaborate together on fun projects.

Lone Elk Park: Catch a glimpse of local wildlife

Less than 30 minutes from Downtown St. Louis is Lone Elk Park, a 546-acre nature preserve where you can see wild bison, turkey, waterfowl, elk and deer roaming the grounds. The park staff regularly feed the animals first thing in the morning, so if your kids enjoy waking up early, plan on arriving when the gates first open around 7 a.m. The early hours are when it’s easiest to see the animals roaming the grounds. Park admission is free, and there are also two hiking trails and places for catch and release fishing with a permit.

St. Louis Zoo: Gain rich experiences at a free zoo

 Admission to the zoo is free; but seeing endangered species up close like this elephant family is priceless.

Originally commissioned by the Smithsonian Institute in celebration of the 1904 World Fair, the St. Louis Zoo is one of only a handful of zoos in the country that offer free admission. Several of their special attractions charge a small fee, but with over 13,000 animals, this attraction is an affordable and fun experience to share with the entire family. The zoo is also big on wildlife conservation, educating visitors about what they can do to help save endangered species and preserve the ecosystems they need for survival.

Eckert’s Belleville Country Store & Farm: Pick your own produce at a local farm

St. Louis offers a long tradition of farming that keeps the region rooted in local culture and history. Eckert’s Farm in nearby Belleville features the largest family-owned pick-your-own orchard in the country. Throughout the year, kids of all ages are invited to pick seasonal produce such as apples and peaches. In the winter, you can even cut down your own Christmas tree. After working up an appetite from working the farm, pay a visit to the country restaurant where you can sink your teeth into their famous fried chicken. There’s even a food menu created especially for kids and tweens to enjoy.

Citygarden: Outdoor adventure everywhere you look

 Downtown Citygarden is great for playing outdoors among sculptures, steps and water features.

Citygarden is the perfect place to let your kids run, splash and climb in the heart of Downtown St. Louis. The urban park features a “spray plaza” featuring 102 fountains, a 180-foot-long pool and 6-foot-tall waterfall, letting kids have a blast while parents take a moment to cool down. The sculpture garden has 24 locally made large figures that kids can play on, often becoming the backdrop for an imaginative adventure. Plus, a collection of trees, grassy lawns and sitting areas makes this attraction available for all to enjoy.

Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House: Take flight on colorful wings and beautiful scenery

Take an afternoon to be mesmerized by the colorful butterflies at the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House. Your kids can explore the manicured gardens surrounding an 8,000-square-foot conservatory housing over 2,000 butterflies. The glass house has a Native Butterfly Garden that is host to plants for caterpillars and nectar sources that attract the winged beauties so you can snap keepsake photos. You’ll walk by waterfalls, serene corners for sitting and the Mysterious Monarch sculpture, a 28.-foot-tall butterfly-shaped structure created by a local St. Louis sculptor especially for the Butterfly House.

World Chess Hall of Fame: Discover winning moves among champions

 Stand next to the world’s largest chess piece at the World Chess Hall of Fame. Photo by Michael DiFilippo / Courtesy of World Chess Hall of Fame.

The recent popularization of chess playing among kids has made the World Chess Hall of Fame in the Central West End a coveted attraction. Admission is free to this museum located in a historic red brick building. Once inside you’ll see exhibits detailing the greatest players in the world and the moves that made them champions. Art has a place here as well with exhibits featuring famous artists like Keith Haring and some of the most impressive chess sets ever crafted. Before you leave, be sure to take a picture with the world’s largest chess piece standing 20 feet tall and weighing over 10,000 pounds.

Ted Drewes Frozen Custard: Sweet treats for kids of all ages

Your trip to St. Louis is sure to include discovering new eats with your kids. However, there’s one sweet treat not far from the Arch that you shouldn’t miss. Ted Drewes Frozen Custard is a local favorite dating back to 1929 when they first served frozen custard to happy customers. Ted’s famous “concrete” shake has since become their most popular menu item, served so thick it’s presented upside-down. If you happen to be there around the holidays, Ted Drewes is also known for selling beautiful Christmas trees, so you can plan on enjoying the smell of fresh pine while eating a spoonful of Ted Drewes frozen delights.

Search Hotels

More to Explore

Create Favorite Childhood Trips
Revive your best car memories on your next trip with the kids.
Best Kids' Vacations
Here are the best kids' vacations that will keep the youngsters busy and entertained.
Single-Parent Travel
These tips will help single parents create rewarding travel memories for everyone.