Living in the heart of the U.S.A., Missouri has a host of adventures for you and your family. The state is a goldmine of outdoor adventures, attractions, and caverns to explore. We have extended family in the state, and have spent many weeks exploring and learning about life in the state. St. Louis is one of our favorite cities to visit and offers many opportunities for us to explore and grow our children’s experiences.
Straddling both sides of the Mississippi River, St. Louis is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the Midwest. Due to the influence of several industries, it’s also a city with great family attractions. Our favorite is Grant’s Farm. The Farm is home to the famous Anheuser-Busch Clydesdale horses. It’s also a zoo park with everything from peacocks to camel rides. Your kids will enjoy the tram ride through the Deer Park with hundreds of grazing animals on the way to the zoo area. Parents aren’t left out, as the farm is owned by Anheuser-Busch, and offers beer tastings and snacks in The Baurnhof, German for “farmstead.”
We also love to visit Missouri Botanical Garden when we are in the city. The gardens are beautiful throughout the year and are a great place for children to roam and explore nature. We love visiting in early May. That’s when the tulips, irises, and peonies are bursting with color all over the garden. Visiting the garden is a cultural experience for kids, as it sports both a beautiful Japanese Garden and an old-style English kitchen garden and boxwood maze.
There’s a Children’s Garden on where your little ones can play the day away. The Children’s Garden is part play, part science and history. Your kiddos can explore a Midwestern village, climb a tree house, or splash like crazy. It’s a place to delight every sense and open new discoveries for your kiddos. Always check hours for the Children’s Garden, as they vary slightly from the full garden hours.
If you’re in St. Louis, you’ve got to stop at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, also known as The Arch. The curved monument dominates the St. Louis skyline and is a beautiful park for your family to explore. Once in the base of the arch, you’ll be treated to models and descriptions of the building process of the arch itself. Just under a mile from the Arch and at the edge of the park, you can visit the Old Courthouse. A historic site and current museum for expansion artifacts, the Old Courthouse is the location where you purchase your Arch tickets. In July 2018, the renovated Museum at the Gateway Arch will open at the base of the Arch and detail Native American, explorer, and pioneer history.
If you’re up for a family challenge, take a trip up the inside of the arch to the top. The small elevators hold five people at a time and are a bit challenging for anyone with a fear of small spaces. However, they do have a window in the door, and the trip is not as bad as it may sound. I’m definitely not a fan of being in a small space, but have made the trip to the top several times and am still standing! The view from the top is worth the ride, as you’ll see the Mississippi on one side and metro St. Louis on the other. One note: If you have small children and use a stroller, it is not possible to bring the stroller to the top. Make sure you have a baby carrier of some kind for the ride up and to use in the observation deck.
Our last favorite place to visit in St. Louis is the St. Louis Zoo. Like Grant’s Farm, the St. Louis Zoo is a free family activity. The Zoo is a great stop and is well designed for spending a part of your day without being too tiring. Our kiddos love the sea lion exhibit. We’ve even had the sea lions “play” with our kids at the big window before! The Zoo does have a train through the park, and it’s one of the best ways to get a good look at the resident elephants. Keep in mind, the only type of stroller you can take on the train is an umbrella stroller.
For more locations filled with great learning adventures for children, see links below:
St. Louis – https://explorestlouis.com/
Grant’s Farm – http://www.grantsfarm.com/
Grant’s Farm Attractions and Fee info – http://www.grantsfarm.com/attr
Missouri Botanical Garden – http://www.missouribotanicalga
Missouri Botanical Children’s Garden – http://www.missouribotanicalga
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial –https://www.nps.gov/jeff/inde
More about the Arch – https://www.gatewayarch.com/
Old Courthouse and Arch Elevator Trip – https://www.nps.gov/jeff/plany
St. Louis Zoo – https://www.stlzoo.org/