I am so excited to share some insider tips on all things STL! As many of you know, I love to get out and about and explore my native St. Louis and I believe you can have a blast in your own backyard. You don’t have to stray far from the Lou to find adventure.
Recently I took the boys for a St Louis staycation. I want to share with you all the inside scoop on what to do with your kids for a fun St. Louis trip. This is a roundup of sorts. From fairytale carriage rides to rooftop cocktails by the Arch, there’s really something for everyone to enjoy in this awesome city! Here are a few of my favorite spots and activities.
Getaway near the Gateway
For our recent weekend trip downtown, we stayed in the Drury Inn and Suites situated in the heart of St. Louis. TripAdvisor named Drury as the number one hotel downtown and it’s easy to see why! Only steps away from the Gateway Arch grounds, this hotel is the perfect place to stay with family when you’re looking to plan a little getaway that offers both convenience, history and value. The Drury attracts both locals and tourists for its many unbeatable amenities. It’s in a great location for going to a Blues or Cardinals game, attending a show downtown, or simply for taking in the sites. With a recent historic renovation, Drury Inn and Suites offers a few unique architectural touches that make you feel as if you were on a luxurious vacation. For the best view in town, simply take the elevator up to the 8th floor to their new observation terrace where you can enjoy a glass of wine from the daily kickback hour and take in the sites. Location! Location! Location!
Speaking of wine, what really sets Drury apart from other hotels in the area is their amazing dining options. From 5:30-7pm, enjoy Drury’s Kick Back Hour with 3 free drinks (yes 3 per adult) and “snacks.” These “snacks” include chili, salad, loaded baked potatoes, hot dogs, nachos and their main dish of the night which is chicken, tacos or pasta. This is perfect for traveling with kids who aren’t great at sitting still in restaurants for too long. Just grab your food and dine in style in their elegant dining space or head to the terrace.
In the morning before a big day of sightseeing, start your day off right with a healthy and delicious breakfast downstairs. At Drury, you don’t have to worry about mediocre continental breakfasts. This truly is the breakfast of champions with a massive variety of options. Indulge your sweet tooth with a stack of fresh pancakes or fuel up on something hearty likes eggs and potatoes. We made our own waffles and I enjoyed some oatmeal and yogurt with a cup of freshly brewed Kelso Bros coffee.
Drury also has a state of the art fitness center to work off those pancakes. 😉 You don’t have to miss your daily workouts while traveling.
If you want to save 15% off your next Drury hotel stay use the code: HAPPY at checkout.
STL must-see sights
The St Louis Arch
Now, I’m sure if you’ve lived in St. Louis for long enough, you’ve probably been to the Arch at least more than once, but you may not be aware of some of their new and improved features.
Their recently renovated high-tech museum is filled with rich Lewis and Clark history and has lots of interactive, educational exhibits for kids. It’s a great place to learn the story of the Native Americans, explorers, pioneers, and rebels who made America possible. They also offer private tours which is definitely something to try if you haven’t already.
The tram ride itself takes about 4 minutes to the top and 3 minutes down.
Tips to know before you go: The best way to buy tickets is online at http://www.gatewayarch.com/buytickets. Tram rides sell out early and often, so online is the best option for purchasing.
Be prepared to go through security.
For a discount, check out the coupon here
The St. Louis Riverboats are a great way to sightsee in a relaxing setting. It offers spectacular views of the Arch, Old Courthouse, and city skyline from the Mississippi on a replica 19th-century paddle-wheel boat. You can travel day or night.
St Louis Carriage Company
This was definitely a favorite activity with my boys, Logan and Mason! We cruised the streets of downtown in a cozy carriage led by our magnificent horse, Jett! Check him out on Facebook…he’s pretty awesome.
We made advance reservations and were picked up right outside our hotel. It was so convenient! It was a chillier day, so we were given cozy blankets upon arrival. Logan asked if he could sit up with our driver, Gina who was super friendly. She even let him take the reins for a bit! #wesurvived lol.
This is such a fun way to explore downtown and your kids will absolutely love it. Keep this in mind for date night too. It’s a romantic and charming way to see the sights.
Tip: You can request the Cinderella carriage too.
You can spend the day at Brookdale Farms. They have events year round. We love going in the Fall. You buy a wristband that gets you unlimited access to the corn maze, bounce houses, hayride, kids zip line and play area, pumpkin patch, animals and more. For an additional fee, you kids can slingshot pumpkins or do Logan’s favorite the Pumpkin chunkin!
During the summer months, you can take a float trip or reserve a private hayride and bonfire for up to 20 people year round.
Brookdale Farms is also the home for the lantern fest along with rodeos, light shows, a balloon glow and so much more.
Mom tip: Have your kiddos wear their old shoes so they can run free on the farm.
If you have limited time in St. Louis, add this to the top of your list! This is a MUST for kids. This is no boring museum. The entire place is made of recycled materials including the gigantic bus on the rooftop — it’s the ultimate playground. Your kids will be begging you to stay. Mason’s favorite was the rooftop Ferris wheel and the bus and Logan’s favorite was the TEN…yes ten story slide.
Tip: Make sure you establish a meeting space with your kids no matter how old they are. There are so many nooks and crannies in this amazing space, so you will need it just to check in.
What to wear: I’d highly recommend wearing shorts or pants and comfortable shoes. When I took my boys, I had a dress on and flip flops…the worst possible idea because I think I flashed some kids below me on the airplane while climbing up to help Mason!
Parking: I’d recommend parking in the City Museum parking. The cost is $10 and cash only, but it’s worth it.
Children’s Garden and Botanical Gardens
I absolutely love the Botanical Gardens for its natural beauty and outdoor fun for kids. In the garden, kids can learn about plants, nature, and sustainability through hands-on activities. The park is open April-October and in the warmer months, there are plenty of opportunities to cool off in the Splash Area. Make sure in the cooler months to check out the Climatron for a toasty tropical experience.
-St Louis city and county residents get in free on Saturday and Wednesday mornings. It’s a little more crowded on these days, but it’s worth it!
-There is also an indoor kids area if it gets too hot or cold with interactive things for kids.
-There are also splash pads during the summer months for kids who love to get in the water. Come prepared with swimsuits and towels.
This place is fun from top to bottom. My boys love the 3 story slide and the ball that makes your hair stand up. It’s also great for birthday parties!
Tip: On the first Friday night of each month, they have family fun nights where you can get in free. For a discount coupon check out the link here
Big Joel’s Safari
This place is worth the trip if your kids love animals. My boys got a kick out of riding the camel and feeding the birds. You can buy a stick with peanut butter and the birds will eat it off!
Myseum is an indoor play place perfect for rainy/extreme hot or cool days when your kids get restless. The great thing about Myseum is it’s a manageable size place to keep an eye on your kids without wondering where they ran off to. My boys favorite attraction is the Spaceship.
-Don’t forget your socks. Everyone must have socks or you can buy them for $2.00
-You can bring in your own food and drink. They have an area of tables you can relax while the kids play so stock up on snacks!
Boathouse at Forest Park with paddle boats
The boathouse is a must if you are visiting St Louis. You can rent paddle boats, canoes, paddle boards or kayaks and cruise through the canals of Forest Park seeing the world’s fair museum, all kinds of birds and turtles and end up on the grand basin looking up at the beautiful art museum.
Tip: You can get fish and turtle food out of a coin cranked vending machine. This kept my boys entertained while we were waiting for the boats.
St Louis Zoo:
My kids would go to the zoo every weekend if they could. This place is a MUST.
Tip: For parking all the local park on the street outside the zoo. Even near turtle playground and walk over the highway bridge to save the parking fee. If you can find Oakland and Tamm avenues, you’ll save some $$ and get to walk across the bridge above the highway. You can also drive past the South parking entrance and past the stop sign there is free parking on the street but get there early.
The early bird gets the worm. Tip 2: The zoo opens at 8:00. If you can get there when they open, you can go to the children’s zoo, pet the stingrays and ride the carousel for FREE. These are all typically paid exhibits. This is a hidden gem, so make sure to set your alarm and make the most of the freebies. This is also for the last hour the zoo is open each day.
Don’t miss the Tiki Fruiti hut with cored out pineapple with Pineapple whip. Sooo refreshing. One of the only places besides Disney World that serves this tasty treat.
Tip: One of our favorite spots to picnic in all of St Louis is Art Hill so after you leave the Zoo I recommend picnicking on Art Hill and you can watch the paddle boats cruise around the grand basin.
Eckert’s Family Farm
My family loves going to Eckert’s. It’s across the river in Belleville IL, but totally worth the trip. Our favorite activity is taking the tractor to the fields to pick fruit. Depending on the season, you can pick strawberries, blackberries, peaches, vegetables, flowers, apples, pumpkins and more. They have a massive market where you can buy produce and many other food items already made.
We also LOVE going to the country restaurant. They serve fried biscuits with fresh apple butter that are off the charts amazing. They are worth the trip alone!!! (Promise)
This is a must for animal lovers! On the tram ride, you’ll see bison, deer, geese, and ostrich.
Once your at the end, you can walk through animal shows, ride the carousel and feed the baby goats. You can get a fun pass for your kids: 2 goat bottles or food, carousel ride, and a snow cone for $6.
The courtyard transports you to a German town center. There are free Anheuser Busch samples at the food and drink pavilion. I tried the Golden Light and it was perfection.
This attraction offers free admission, but you pay $12 for parking unless you want to park at Gravois and McNary and take a 5-10 minute walk to the entrance. On nice days this is a good option since there’s a lot of traffic waiting to get into the parking lot.
St Louis Science Center
The Science Center is fun and educational experience for kids (and adults) of all ages and many of the exhibits are free! We love seeing shows at The Imax Theatre. It’s such a treat. My boys especially love the outdoor Grow exhibit where they can climb in an actual combine, see chickens, and get an idea of what it’s like to milk a cow. Important life skills, people.
My boys also like to walk across the bridge that goes over highway 40. You can wave at cars below and see how fast they are driving.
Admission is free but some special exhibits have a fee. In the discovery room, your kids can play and explore in a room full of fun hands-on attractions to keep them entertained. They only allow a limited number of kids in at once and have all sorts of exhibits.
For discounts check out the link here
Laumeier Sculpture Park
This park is an exciting treasure hunt. There are so many interesting sculptures to check out. My family loves the trails and all the interesting gems to see along the way.
Tip: Print out a map of the trails and a scavenger hunt here
This city garden has so many unique and fun sculptures the kiddos can climb on. My boys loved the waterfalls and walking over the water path…never mind Mason put his foot in the water and completely submerged his foot.
If you want to get a description of the sculptures and do a fun audio tour, you can get the info here.
St Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium,
At Centerfield, there is a family pavilion for kids 12 and under where they have a massive jungle gym to climb on, a virtual reality game to play, Yadi bobblehead to get some pics with, radar guns, and a soft play area for little kiddos.
Fred Bird photo ops are in the Family Pavilion from 1st pitch to the bottom of the 2nd.
The family pavilion also has their own kid meals with milk, apple juice and kid-friendly food that you will not get at other parts of the park, so make sure you get your kids the food at this concession stand if they are picky eaters like my boys.
Tip: If it’s not a busy game and if you don’t mind sitting separate or if there are only two of you, you can get 1st pitch tickets through the ticket lottery the day of for $5.50 for TWO tickets. This could be fun if you just want to take your kids for the experience but don’t plan on sitting in the seats.
Here’s the scoop: The ticket window opens at 9:00 am. You buy two tickets for $5.50 and then come back at first pitch and are handed an envelope to see where your seats are. They can be anywhere in the arena.
For other discount, promotions check out the link here.
The Muny is an iconic outdoor theatre in Forest Park that offers amazing Broadway shows from mid-June to mid-August. I love exposing my kids to the arts and The Muny is a pressure-free way as a mom to kids
Tip: You can always picnic around the theatre, bring icy towels to stay cool,
If your not sure how your kids will like it try the free seats first to test it out but bring binoculars.
This museum is super fun if your kids are into all things trains, planes, and automobiles. They even have a little room called Creation Station filled with train tables. You must purchase tickets for this and times fill up fast, it’s best to book ahead.
My boys love the miniature train outside that lets you ride around the property. Check out groupon.com for discounts.
Where to get good grub in the Lou:
Sugarfire at the Boathouse in Forest Park
Fitz’s Root Beer in the Loop
The Fountain on Locust
St Louis foods you must try while in St Louis.
Imo’s St Louis style pizza
Gooey Butter Cake
Ted Drewes Frozen Custard
These are all our favorite spots. Tell me what you love in St. Louis.
We want to say a huge thanks for all the businesses who partnered with us to bring you this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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