St. Louis might be one of the most underrated family destinations in the U.S. With world-class museums, professional sports for every season, and a stunning monument to 20th-century design and engineering, St. Louis offers families a host of affordable entertainment options.
Where to Begin: the Gateway Arch
Perhaps the best place to start a St. Louis adventure is the famous Gateway Arch. At 630 feet, this monument’s grace ascent gives the city a skyline like no other. Visitors can experience the Museum of Westward Expansion before climbing into a pod-shaped elevator and making the journey to the top of the Arch. There, visitors can look out the small windows and see the city to the west and the Mississippi River and Illinois to the east.
No trip to St. Louis is complete without a visit to the zoo. The Saint Louis Zoo features over 19,000 animals, a zoo train, and a lively sea lion show. Surprisingly, admission to the zoo is free. Visit soon to see the zoo’s newest resident, a baby Asian elephant that was born in April 2013.
Another free option in Forest Park is the Saint Louis Art Museum. From ancient Egyptian artifacts to paintings by modern masters like Paul Cezanne, Georges Braque, and Andy Warhol, the museum’s comprehensive collection can help inspire young artists and their parents.
For families who prefer science to Cezanne, the Saint Louis Science Center is a fun and educational option. Cross the pedestrian walkway and watch the cars zip by on the highway below, or watch a movie on the five-story screen at the OMNIMAX theater.
In addition to its impressive museums, St. Louis also boasts a well-deserved reputation as a sports town. During warm summer nights, families can take in a Cardinals baseball game at the 2006-reincarnation of Busch Stadium.
Relax and Refuel
Once you’ve experienced the art, culture, wildlife, and sports of St. Louis, you’ll need to recharge with something scrumptious. Fans of Italian food should visit “the Hill,” a predominately Italian-American neighborhood known for its wide array of old-school Italian restaurants. Local favorites include Cunetto’s House of Pasta and Charlie Gitto’s.
After dinner, consider a stop at the St. Louis staple Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. Known for their so-thick-you-can-turn-the-cup-upside-down “concretes,” this ice cream shop is a must-visit for kids (and their parents) who have a sweet tooth.
St. Louis is a fantastic budget-friendly summer destination for families. We have visited many, many times, and we always find new things to try.
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