St. Louis is a family town. If you're looking for activities and events that are specifically kid-friendly, we have much to offer. Whether your family is into the environment, sports, exercise, science or anything else, St. Louis is the place to be. Some of the most popular family-oriented places are listed below, and you'll likely be pleasantly surprised to learn upon exploration that many of these are free of charge!
Since its inception in 1910, the 93-acre Saint Louis Zoo has been renowned for its naturalistic exhibits and diverse collection of animals. Visitors to the Zoo can walk the River's Edge, a 10-acre immersion exhibit that showcase species from several continents; observe The Wild, a habitat that explains how animals have adapted to the globe's harshest environments; visit Discovery Corner, where kids can enjoy a petting zoo, an insectarium and stingrays at Caribbean Cove; ride the Zooline Railroad; and so much more. In 2013, the Zoo announced a decades-long expansion plan that will include expanded animal habitats, a gondola and bridge over Interstate 64, and a Zoo-themed restaurant and hotel — assuring that the Saint Louis Zoo will remain a perennial family favorite for years to come!
Making science fun is what the Saint Louis Science Center is all about! With more than 700 displays spread out over several buildings, the Science Center focuses on hands-on learning with exhibits, experiments, and classes showcasing many different kinds of science. Older kids really "dig" a realistic fossil lab and thrill to Amazing Science Demonstrations, while younger children delight in the fundamentals of science and technology in the nurturing, child-friendly Discovery Room. Featured exhibits such as Dinosaurs in Motion and movies at the Omnimax Theater are popular with children and adults alike, and those interested in astronomy and space exploration need only cross the enclosed walkway spanning Interstate 64 to visit the James S. McDonnell Planetarium. There truly is something for everyone to enjoy!
Every summer, the St. Louis Municipal Opera, The Muny, offers a series of high-end productions to be enjoyed under the stars. The amphitheatre's yearly offerings include performances that are appealing to children; in the past, shows such as Beauty and the Beast, The Sound of Music, and High School Musical have thrilled younger audiences.
The Saint Louis Art Museum has more than 30,000 works of art to delight both the serious art fans and those simply looking to enjoy a few hours strolling its many galleries. The Art Museum also hosts many family-friendly events throughout the year, including Family Sundays, which include hands-on activities and tours based on different themes reflecting exhibits currently on display.
The Missouri History Museum focuses on the early history of St. Louis and Missouri, housing ongoing exhibits on the 1904 World’s Fair and on changes St. Louis has seen in the past 200 years. Short-term exhibits on a variety of topics — such as the Civil War and Native American treasures — are presented throughout the year. The museum hosts a number of events geared toward families. Twilight Tuesdays in the spring and fall feature a variety of musical performances; while the adults enjoy the concert, museum staff keep the children entertained with arts and crafts projects — at least until intermission. Family Film Days run throughout the winter months, keeping cabin fever at bay, along with storytelling and other events. An exciting new initiative, History Clubhouse: Let’s Build It!, asks families to explore local history by creating artwork and writing museum labels about their experiences visiting local places of interest, enjoying live music and theater performances, and much more.
Forest Park’s Grand Basin was the “heart and soul” of the 1904 World’s Fair; today, it is lined with classical promenades and eight fountains. During the day, picnics and paddle boats rented from the nearby Boathouse make this the perfect spot for a family outing. Enclosed by beauty— the woods of Forest Park on one side and the Central West End skyline on the other — Steinberg Skating Rink has been provided a respite during the long winter months for generations of St. Louisans.
The Missouri Botanical Garden offers a number of great programs for very young children to teens. Nature Loving Families offers families the opportunity to take seasonal guided walks, perform hands-on crafts, and craft science experiences — all amid the wonders of nature. In Great Green Adventures, children ages 6 to 12 explore a special part of the Garden each month, and children ages 8 and older can participate in Canopy Climb, a beginning ropes course that allows them to explore different parts of a tree's structure, limbs and canopy. Older youth and teens can participate in a variety of activities, including environmental leadership and service programs and field-based education opportunities. The Garden’s Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House located in Chesterfield, a western suburb of St. Louis, offers a variety of activities for children in addition to a home for more than a thousand live, free-flying tropical butterflies.
St. Louis Cardinals Baseball is always exciting, and 2013 was no exception — the Redbirds cinched the National League Pennant for the 19th time in the franchise’s storied 113-year history. America’s pastime is a great opportunity for families to spend time together, and a trip to Busch Stadium during the baseball season is a St. Louis must. Members of the Cardinals Kids Club have access to special events at the stadium during games, and everyone loves Fred bird, the Cardinal mascot who loves to “beak” his friends.
City Museum, housed in the 600,000-square-foot former International Shoe Company, is an “eclectic mixture of children’s playground, funhouse, surrealistic pavilion, and architectural marvel made out of unique, found objects.” From its enchanted caves lined with mysterious creatures to its monumental 10-story spiral slide, City Museum is full of surprises. Among the best: MonstroCity, a “Mad Max-inspired” sculpture and playground, Beatnik Bob’s carnival midway, and a rooftop exhibit that includes a four-story Ferris wheel, splash pond, and magnificent view of St. Louis.
The Magic House, a children’s museum located in the St. Louis suburb of Kirkwood, offers hands-on learning experiences that encourage experimentation, creativity and the development of problem-solving skills. Housed in an ever-growing Victorian mansion, the Magic House offers exhibits geared toward elementary-age and younger children, such as the Children’s Village, Waterworks, and the Kids Construction Zone.
Whether you want to travel backwards at 70 mph before dropping 23 stories or prefer a leisurely float down a lazy river, Six Flags St. Louis can make your dreams come true. The park combines traditional amusement park rides, live entertainment, shopping and dining. It also includes a Water Park, where the whole family can cool down on hot days by rafting, slides or wave pool
Explore St. Louis Kids offers additional suggestions for family fun.