St. Louis is known as the Gateway to the West, and it is also a gateway to a ton of free activities for visitors of all kinds. The city is located next to the Mississippi River, meaning that just walking around St. Louis can be an entertaining and free activity.
With parks, museums, zoos, and landmarks all available for free, visitors will never find a reason to leave St. Louis with empty wallets. Here are ten of the top free activities to help you enjoy this midwest city to the fullest.
With 105 acres of beautiful land and 60 large sculptures, Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis will entertain kids and adults alike for hours.
The park is one of the largest of its kind in the country and is free to visit every day of the week, making it a must-see during any vacation to St. Louis.
Consistently ranked as a top attraction in the U.S., Grant's Farm is the ancestral home of the Busch family (yes, like the beer). The farm houses more than 900 animals, and entering is completely free.
The farm also has shows, petting zoos, and rides for children, although visitors have to pay for some of the extras. One of the special sites at the zoo is the Clydesdales, which are even bigger and more beautiful when seen in person.
Citygarden covers almost three acres in the middle of downtown St. Louis and serves as a little artistic paradise among the city's skyscrapers.
The park includes interactive art, rain gardens, a waterfall, and a children's spray plaza with water emerging from the concrete like miniature geysers. A walk through downtown simply won't be complete without a relaxing break here.
Anheuser-Busch has three breweries across the U.S., but the St. Louis brewery is arguably the most impressive as it is the oldest (built in 1852) and largest. With its historic architecture that includes three National Historic Landmarks, a tour of the brewery (always free) should be on every visitor's list.
As the brewery is in the historic Soulard neighborhood, visitors will also have the chance to experience another rich piece of St. Louis history outside the building.
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis was built over a hundred years ago in 1914 and continues to stand as an architectural masterpiece in the center of the city. The Basilica offers free tours (with a reservation) from Monday to Saturday and after masses on Sunday, where visitors can marvel at the largest mosaic collection outside of Russia.
The collection covers 83,000 square feet (7, 700 square meters) and was made with 41.5 million glass pieces—a remarkable piece of work that no visitor should miss.
The Muny (Municipal Theatre), located in the beautiful Forest Park of St. Louis, is celebrated as America's oldest and largest outdoor theatre. The theatre has a rich history as it now boasts more than 100 seasons of live shows.
Most of the tickets for the shows have to be bought, but the theatre also offers nine rows of free seats at the back of the theatre that can be claimed on a first-come, first-serve basis. This means that everyone has the chance to enjoy one of many performances each season.
The St. Louis Science Center is a common location for school field trips, but it also offers many activities for adults. Visitors will explore exhibits and interactive activities related to all areas of science, including ecology, energy, dinosaurs, space, structures, and more. Every visitor is sure to find something to enjoy.
The center also features GROW, a gallery focused solely on teaching visitors about agriculture and answering basic questions about how we grow our food and how it gets to us. With the center being dedicated to education, visitors will fill their minds without emptying their wallets.
The St. Louis Art Museum, always free to visitors (closed on Mondays), is a must-see while in the area. Located in Forest Park, the location of the museum itself is something to see with its beautiful views of the surrounding nature.
The museum houses two stories full of art galleries that include the works of Vincent van Gogh, Ansel Adams, Dale Chihuly, and more. There are also several exhibitions that change throughout the year. The museum offers free daily tours for those who want more details about the various pieces.
One of the few free zoos in the U.S., the St. Louis Zoo has repeatedly been rated as one of the top free attractions in the country, and for good reason. The zoo, sitting on 90 acres in the middle of Forest Park, is home to more than 500 species and includes a children's zoo, insectarium, and more.
Visitors can view sea lion feedings, walk through the impressive (but chilly) indoor penguin exhibit, and enter the Bird Garden to be surrounded by hundreds of birds of all sorts, all without spending a dime.
The St. Louis Gateway Arch is the tallest arch in the world and America's largest man-made monument, standing 630 feet (192 meters) tall. The arch rises over the city as a truly impressive monument that will leave all visitors in awe. The park surrounding the arch was recently renovated, and walking around the new space offers hours of relaxing entertainment.
Sitting next to the Mississippi riverfront, the park offers access to riverboat rides and many local restaurants in nearby Laclede's Landing. Those who want to visit the arch's museum can enter for free, but going to the top of the Gateway Arch will cost $12 for adults and $8. This is arguably worth it, though, as it offers an amazing view of downtown St. Louis and the Old Courthouse, where the Dred Scott case was decided.