Heading to St. Louis, Missouri with kids? Lucky! There are tons of things to do in St. Louis with kids that the whole family will enjoy. For instance, the St. Louis Zoo is continually named one of the best zoos in the U.S., and there are lots of great parks to explore, which means the kids will be too tired to bicker. Plus, the city’s fantastic food scene is family-friendly, and the St. Louis Blues NHL hockey team are the reigning Stanley Cup champions going into the 2019-2020 season. So, yeah, there are a lot of exciting reasons to plan a family vacation in the “Gateway to the West.” Here are some of our favorite things to do in St. Louis with kids.
Attractions in St. Louis for Kids
There are so many kids attractions in St. Louis, it might be hard to know where to start. So, here are some we think will be big hits on your family vacation itinerary.
The zoo is one of the best things to do in St. Louis with kids. Its 90 acres is home to 18,000 animals and its renowned conservation program. The best part? Admission is free! However, some attractions have nominal fees, including safari tours, Zooline Railroad, Conservation Carousel and Sea Lion Show.
The Magic House children’s museum is a must-visit when in St. Louis with kids. It has hundreds of exciting interactive exhibits to sneak in some learning. Have your camera ready to capture the kids touching the electrically charged ball, making a 3-D impression of themselves or sailing down the three-story slide. There’s even a special area for ages 2 and under. Bonus: Every third Friday from 5-8 p.m. is Free Family Night for up to two adults and four children.
City Museum isn’t so much a museum as it is a 600,000-square-foot playhouse located in the former International Shoe Company. It offers a playground, funhouse, surrealistic pavilion and architectural marvel made out of unique, found objects. The brainchild of internationally acclaimed artist Bob Cassilly, a classically trained sculptor and serial entrepreneur, the museum opened in 1997. And fear not when hanger strikes your little ones: City Museum has plenty of concessions to satisfy your hungry explorers. Parents, wash it all down with an espresso or cocktail.
The Myseum in nearby Town and Country is, as its website states, “scientifically fun.” There are more than 30 interactive exhibits, including an imagination playground, dino dig, magnetic ball wall and so much more. Note: socks are required for exploring. If you forget to bring your own, you can buy a pair for $2.
This indoor gym is great for all kids and sensory needs. They’ll have fun on a zip line, slide, crash pit, trampoline, tunnel, swings and climbing structure. There are two locations in the St. Louis area. Be sure to call before going to open play at either to make sure its not booked for a special event.
If your kids love cars and trains, you’ll want to get all aboard the NMOT in Kirkwood. It has dozens of locomotives, cars, buses, streetcars, aircrafts and more that show how our transportation has evolved. In addition, one of the first railroad tunnels built west of the Mississippi is on its grounds.
This nostalgic bowling alley—with martini lounge!—is fun for the whole family. Kids are welcome before 9 p.m. After that, it’s 21-only. Plus, it has a full kitchen serving fun and funky food, so you don’t have to worry about finding a place to eat before or after.
This popular family-friendly attraction is loud and wild, which means everyone will exert tons of energy. Demolition Ball involves supercharged bumper cars with two five-player teams shooting a wiffle ball through a 16-inch circular goal using a trackball scoop. In addition, there’s Adrenaline Zone, a multi-level laser tag arena; The Heist, a timed laser maze in which you try to steal the Mona Lisa, and video games, foosball and pool tables.
Best Restaurants in St. Louis for Kids
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With so many things to do in St. Louis for kids, your family is going to work up a big appetite at some point. So, here are some of the best restaurants in St. Louis for kids.
Ted Drewes has been a St. Louis favorite since 1931. You’ll probably have to wait in line in the parking lot, but it goes fast. And the rich and creamy frozen stuff is worth it. The custard is so thick, in fact, they serve it upside down, which is part of the shtick. Just don’t try that trick with the Cardinal Sin, a concrete or sundae smothered in tart cherries and hot fudge—especially on a hot summer day.
This nationally renowned restaurant and music club—where late, great Chuck Berry frequently performed—is home to one of the best burgers in town. Plus, it’s filled with pop culture memorabilia and you can play pool and shuffleboard. It has a decent kids’ menu and great drinks, too.
Have a great meal and craft sodas at Fitz’s. Plus, the kids will like watching how the workers brew and bottle all the frothy beverages.
Three Kids might not seem like a place primed for children, but they have a great kids’ menu. Every one of their meals comes with a cookie, which is sure to please your sweet-toothed sweeties. The ample menu, beers and cocktails are sure to make you happy, too.
Outdoor Activities in St. Louis
St. Louis is a beautiful city with plenty of places to enjoy the outdoors. Here are some of our favorite outdoor activities in St. Louis for kids.
Home of the 1904 World’s Fair, Forest Park is located in the heart of St. Louis and covers 1,371 acres—that’s bigger than New York’s Central Park. Here you’ll find the aforementioned St. Louis Zoo, as well as the Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri History Museum, St. Louis Science Center and The Muny, America’s oldest and largest outdoor musical theater.
If all that’s too cultural for your bunch, tire them out by riding bikes, renting paddle boats, playing tennis, ice skating or sledding down Art Hill in winter and more. In addition, you can eat a lot of great food here, too. We recommend the Boathouse, a casual restaurant located on a picturesque lake. In summer, enjoy patio dining and live music. Once winter hits, snuggle up with hot chocolate (and, of course, the family) by the large stone wood-burning fireplace.
Thanks to its children’s spray plaza, Citygarden in Downtown St. Louis is a great place to cool off in summer. In addition, the park has interactive art, six rain gardens, a six-foot waterfall and paved, winding paths.
Sure, your kids may not have green thumbs. But, that doesn’t mean they won’t love the Doris I. Schnuck Children’s Garden at the nation’s oldest botanical garden. It boasts a cave, slide, treehouse, prairie village and more. Be sure to explore the rest of the Missouri Botanical Garden, especially the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House, too. That’s home to more than 60 tropical butterfly species and hundreds of tropical plants.
“Missouri’s Coaster Capital” is located in nearby Eureka. Being a Six Flags park, expect dozens of thrilling rides for kids of all ages, Hurricane Harbor waterpark and entertainment to be included in your admission. And, of course, there are lots of food options, too.
In 1250, the city of Cahokia was bigger than London. You can give the kids a glimpse of this complex archaeological site in nearby Collinsville, Illinois. Explore 800 acres, visit the museum, climb the 100-foot Monks Mound and learn about the Cahokia tribe’s lives here.
The St. Louis Carousel in Chesterfield’s Faust Park was built in 1921. It features 60 hand-painted horses, four antlered reindeer and two carriages. Fun fact: The carousel survived a fire that destroyed its original amusement park in 1963.
It’s not just a clever name for this park with sculptures by Bob Cassilly. The kids (and, we suspect, you) will just love Turtle Park in Forest Park. There are huge turtles, big turtle eggs and one long snake to climb.
Suson Park has a playground, fishing and working animal farm. There you can all get up close and personal with cows, horses, sheep and ducks.
Other things to do in St. Louis with kids
We told you there are a lot of things to do in St. Louis with kids. But wait, there’s even more, so keep reading!
The 630-foot-tall Gateway Arch is the tallest man-made monument in the country. It’s a sight to see from the ground, but especially if you ride the tram to the top. Its interactive museum is included in admission. Note: This is not a fully accessible attraction in St. Louis as there are some stairs and standing involved. No wheelchairs, strollers or scooters are permitted on the observation deck.
Once back on the ground, take a 10-minute stroll to Kiener Plaza. It’s a great place to take a pic of the kids with the Gateway Arch in the background. Plus, there are fountains, paths, lawn and playground.
If your kid is a baseball fan—or y’all just love ballpark food because who doesn’t, really?—take them out to a ballgame at Busch Stadium. Seeing the Red Birds, who won the 2011 World Series, play is one of the best summertime things to do in St. Louis with kids. In addition, there are lots of other food options to meet your family’s dietary needs and plenty of choices for mom to have a well-deserved adult bev.
If your fam is really into baseball, you won’t strike out adding the Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum to your list of things to do in St. Louis with kids. It has the largest team-held collection in Major League Baseball and is second only to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in terms of size. It has more than 16,000 memorabilia items and 80,000 archival photographs. You can even take a tour of Busch Stadium and maybe run into our friendly feathered mascot Fredbird. Even if you’re not into baseball, this is one of the best things to do in St. Louis with kids of any age.
The Blues are fresh off the first Stanley Cup win in their 52-year history. So, it’ll be exciting to catch a game at the Enterprise Center if vacationing in St. Louis with family during the 2019-2020 season.
This University City street was named “one of the 10 great streets in America” by the American Planning Association. In addition to the St. Louis Walk of Fame, The Loop offers lots of vintage clothing stores, ethnic restaurants and a record store called Vintage Vinyl. It boasts a huge inventory for every type of music genre.
Yes, this accessible restored theater offers contemporary independent films in a historic cinema house. But, it also screens kid-friendly flicks, such as Dora and the Lost City of Gold, and offers booster seats. Plus, you get free refills on all popcorn and sodas, too! Be sure to go early on Friday and Saturday nights to hear the Wurlitzer pipe organ.