In need of a fun family getaway? One of my family’s favorite places to head for a few days away is Saint Louis. The City Museum, Science Center, Magic House, Botanical Gardens, Turtle Playground are just a few spots that make ups this kid-friendly city; Saint Louis offers countless opportunities for families to enjoy time together indoors and out. Family fun in Saint Louis is seriously everywhere!
On a recent three-day Spring Break excursion, our itinerary included old favorites and a few new places to explore.
Only three and a half hours from our town, maybe closer to yours, this trip is worth repeating!
Family Fun in Saint Louis
The Saint Louis Science Center is a FREE science museum filled with hands-on activities encouraging children and families to build, play, and explore.
If you belong to a children’s museum that is part of the ASTC travel passport program, parking and six tickets to a Discovery Room session and/or a planetarium show are free. Visitors may also receive $1 off tickets to the OMNIMAX Theater and special exhibitions.
We happened upon the Turtle Playground accidentally on our way to the zoo. HUGE turtle sculptures create this FREE fun place to play.
You can park on the street next to this playground and walk just a short distance to the zoo. It may save on parking. This park is near a highway. Watch small people closely.
The Saint Louis zoo is also FREE! It hosts beautiful paths between each exhibit, cares for over 17,000 animals, and is known for conservation. On this trip, we only had time to spend an hour exploring, but had plenty of time to meet kangaroos, see elephants, and become captivated with a very fast armadillo. We took advantage of free parking and free admission to the Children’s zoo.
Other than the first and last hours of operation, many of the zoo’s exhibits, including parking, the stingray exhibit, children’s zoo, and sea lion show cost money. While I’m sure they go to good causes, experiencing this zoo is not technically free.
Just 30 minutes or so away from Saint Louis, The Endangered Wolf Center is worth the drive. Housing rescued, rehabilitated, and bred (to be released) Mexican Wolves, Red Wolves, Maned Wolves, Swift Foxes, African Painted Dogs, and Fennec Foxes, the mission of this center is both education and reintroduction. We took the Endangered PredaTour, an hour and a half, part classroom, part in the field experience. It was great for children and adults. If you are close to this park, their summer camps and seemingly continuous programming looks awesome.
Get tickets in advance, the park closes during birthing season, there is a lot of walking on uneven ground during tours, and the wolves and other animals are seen at a distance. There are no close encounters or petting allowed. This is to make sure the animals are safe and able to be released in future.
This place! The City Museum can not be missed! Once an old shoe factory, the giant indoor and outdoor playground (like no other) utilizes recycled materials to create rooms filled with mazes, caves, ten story slides, and places to crawl around. Complete with restaurants, two bars, a ferris wheel on the roof, and an old airplane to climb through, plan to spend the entire day!
The City Museum is not open Mondays or Tuesdays. The roof is only open in the summer. Losing children here is EASY! Set a meeting place or plan to follow them, crawling, through tight dark spaces. Many people wear knee pads. If they’re old enough, climb a little and then watch them climb while enjoying a cold one (see above). It’s lovely for all! Parking is not free, though there are many paid parking lots ranging from $5-$10. You can go in and out of the museum with your ticket. Avoid carrying a purse, jacket, or anything that hinders you from climbing through small spaces.
Huge brewed-on-location root beer floats in every flavor, good food, root beer and real beer, Friz’s Root Beer Factory is one of our favorite places in Saint Louis! Like other breweries, a glass wall allows the brewing process to be observed.
We were fortunate to find ourselves at the Missouri Botanical Gardens on opening day of the Doris I. Schnuck Children’s Garden. Because of the event, nature stations were set up for kids to create bug houses, bird feeders, and plant veggies to take home. Our son also participated in a Canopy Climb. There were a number of organizations helping to sponsor the event, including The World Bird Sanctuary. The garden’s extensive gardens and greenhouses would be a lot to try and see in one day, but it would be worth trying! We highly recommend stopping at their Sassafras Cafe! Not pictured, amazing french onion soup.
Where to Stay:
Our recent trip lead us to an Airbnb (referral program link- thanks!) in Lafayette Square. The location was perfect.
If you are within driving distance or up for a road trip, Saint Louis and the surround areas are the perfect place for a family to play. Clean, easy to navigate, and reasonably priced, just a couple days away can be filled (or leisurely) spent enjoying time together.