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50 Things to do with Kids in St. Louis Before (or Even After) They Grow Up

Jun18

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By Angela of Fluid Pudding

I was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. Sadly, when you’ve lived somewhere for years and years (and years), it’s sometimes difficult to view your city as a tourist in order to avoid the “There’s nothing to do here!” vibe. I’m happy to say that my interest in St. Louis was recharged about five years ago after we welcomed our daughter Meredith into the family. Seriously? This town is simply bubbling with events and attractions for kids of any age. Here are some of the things we love to do.

1. Pick up a sandwich from Amighetti’s on the Hill (they have a great kids menu, too!), enjoy a picnic lunch in Forest Park, and spend the afternoon at the St. Louis Zoo! Admission is free!

Things to Do With Kids in St. Louis

2. Travel back to the good old days and enjoy a chocolate phosphate and a chili dog from Crown Candy.

3. Check out an Omnimax show at the St. Louis Science Center. While you’re there, take a few hours to explore the special exhibits–including the space show at the Planetarium!

4. Let your imagination go wild at the City Museum. The shorties will especially love the recently expanded Toddler Town, and because the museum is open until one in the morning on weekends, the adults can come back in the evening and play big people style.

5. Get out on a rainy day and explore the St. Louis Art Museum. Many family programs are offered during the spring and summer months!

6. Get your exercise by strolling around 100+ acres of outdoor art at Laumeier Sculpture Park. (Art camps are offered during the summer for kids ages 4-15.)

7. Put on your big goofy foam fingers and head to Busch Stadium for a Cardinals game! (Be sure to stop by Gus’s Pretzels on the way to the stadium! They’ve been twisting pretzels for nearly 100 years!)

Things to Do With Kids in St. Louis

8. Head over to Fitz’s Root Beer for an amazingly fun lunch. If you get there early enough, you can request a table near the bottling line. That will keep the kids hypnotized until the food is delivered! (Added bonus: The kid meals are delivered in a mini car!)

9. Grab your eye patches and parrots and head out to the St. Louis Pirate Festival! There are merchants aplenty and lots of swashbuckling!

10. If my grandma was still with us, she would to tell you to pack up the kids and head to Hodak’s for lunch. I think you’ll agree that they serve the best chicken in St. Louis, and have been doing so for nearly 50 years.

11. Take a tram ride through Grant’s Farm, where you’ll see free roaming bison, antelope, and zebra! While there, be sure to visit the Budweiser Clydesdale Stables, where up to 15 foals are born each year.

12. If you’re itching for a theme park, Six Flags is surprisingly clean! If it’s particularly hot, you might want to walk over to Hurricane Harbor and enjoy one of the country’s largest wave pools.

13. If, like me, you’re in love with the smell of old books, you need to make the trip to the Greater St. Louis Book Fair. Located in the West County Mall parking lot, the fair opens for four days in the spring. During that time, over a million books, CDs, and DVDs are available, and the funds raised provide services to promote education and literacy in the St. Louis Metropolitan area.

14. Take some time to study the St. Louis Walk of Fame while you’re strolling around the University City Loop. You’ll be surprised at how many amazing men and women have called St. Louis their home!

15. For an especially unique tour of the city, grab your bike at midnight and join in on the Moonlight Ramble. If your kids aren’t up for the twenty mile tour, a ten mile tour is available!

16. Learn all about the history of St. Louis at the Missouri History Museum. Be sure to check the schedule during the spring and summer months to see which local bands are performing (for free!) during the museum’s Twilight Tuesdays concert series!

17. Head on down to the riverfront and travel to the top of the Gateway Arch! Helicopter rides are available for those who want an even more elevated view of the city.

Things to Do With Kids in St. Louis

18. Learn a bit about The Poet of Childhood at the Eugene Field House and St. Louis Toy Museum.

19. Explore four floors of hands-on activities at The Magic House St. Louis Children’s Museum. Be sure to take a ride on the three story slide!

20. See a show at the Fox Theater. If the show schedule doesn’t interest you, take a tour of the building!

21. Explore the marketplace at St. Louis Union Station. While you’re there, enjoy the entertainment at The Fudgery and ride a paddle boat around the lake!

22. Take a short drive down to Kimmswick. While strolling around this lovely town, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the many antique shops and historic buildings. (Be sure to eat a slice of pie or two at the famous Blue Owl!) Check out the Kimmswick Event Schedule. It seems like there’s always something going on. (My favorite is the Apple Butter Festival. I’m a sucker for apple butter. On wheat toast. Good God.)

23. Bundle up, head downtown, and enjoy the St. Louis Thanksgiving Day Parade.

24. The Missouri Botanical Garden is a beautiful place to visit. Be sure to pack a picnic basket during the summer and attend one of their free Wednesday night concerts.

Things to Do With Kids in St. Louis

25. Are you looking for something safe to do with your family on New Years Eve? Plan on attending First Night Saint Louis–the visual and performing art festival that has been helping families ring in the new year since 1992!

26. Welcome the holiday season by driving through the Way of Lights. If you’re feeling particularly brave, you might want to take a ride on a camel! (If not, you can always pet a donkey at the petting zoo!) This light exhibit has been entertaining my family since I was a kid. (And that was a long time ago.)

27. The Great Forest Park Balloon Race is one of the most amazing things you’ll see. Be sure to visit Forest Park for the balloon glow held the evening before the race. (Seriously. Check out this amazing photo of the glow.)

28. You know you’ve always wanted to go to a Renn Faire. Why not attend the Greater St. Louis Renaissance Faire? It gets bigger and better every year. The merchant list alone is very impressive!

29. You’re not a true St. Louisan unless you’ve stood in line for a Ted Drewes frozen custard. (If you’re one of those people who never know what to order, get the Dutchman Delight Concrete. Chocolate, butterscotch, pecans… You’ll be thanking me for this recommendation.)

30. Check out Purina Farms, where visitors can milk a cow, watch a canine competition, or play in a hay loft!

Things to Do With Kids in St. Louis

31. St. Louis is proud to have its own one-ring European circus! Circus Flora made St. Louis its home in 1987, and the big top shows take place in June.

32. The St. Louis Jazz and Heritage Festival is one of my family’s favorite events. Good food, great music, and a musical petting zoo for the kids. Who could ask for anything more?

33. Are you in the mood for some exploration? You can pan for gold, dig for fossils, or take a riverboat ride while visiting Meramec Caverns.

34. The Wolf Sanctuary is an amazing place dedicated to the preservation of rare and endangered wolves. Be sure to call ahead to take the 1/2 mile walking tour, as the sanctuary closes during the breeding season.

35. See a show at America’s largest and oldest outdoor theater–The Muny. If you’re not in the mood to pay for premium seats, the theater offers 1,500 free seats in the last nine rows of the theater. (The free seats are available on a first come, first served basis, so get there early!)

36. If water parks are your thing, you’re going to love Raging Rivers. (Personally, I’m a big fan of the Endless River.)

Things to Do With Kids in St. Louis

37. Along with their spectacular concert program, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra offers several casual Family Concerts throughout the year, free community events, and amazing holiday concerts. There’s something for everyone at the symphony!

38. Enjoy the music, dancing, and presentations at the St. Louis Earth Day Festival.

39. If you find yourself in St. Louis on Independence Day, you need to spend some time at Fair St. Louis! So much food! So much music! An incredible fireworks display at the Gateway Arch!

40. Eat yourself silly at the International Horseradish Festival. The kids will enjoy the games, and you might enjoy participating in the Bloody Mary contest!

41. Buy some fresh produce at the oldest farmer’s market west of the Mississippi–the Soulard Farmer’s Market. If the peaches are good enough for Bill Clinton

42. If a quiet stroll is what you need, the Butterfly House is perfect. The 8,000 square foot Conservatory Garden was designed to ensure a natural and safe habitat for nearly 60 species of butterfly!

Things to Do With Kids in St. Louis

43. During the summer months, be sure to scope out one of the many Frontyard Features. Free family-oriented movies under the stars! Perfect!

44. Although I’m not a big sports fan, I’ve always loved attending a St. Louis Blues hockey game. Rowdy crowd, arena food, and ice fights!

45. The St. Louis Shakespeare Festival provides professional and free Shakespeare performances outdoors! If you arrive early to the show, you’ll be entertained by fire eating clowns, jugglers, and various other strolling performers.

46. Visit an ancient Indian civilization at Cahokia Mounds! Public tours are available in June, July, and August.

47. There’s nothing quite like a good tailgate party before a St. Louis Rams game!

48. The Museum of Transportation showcases steam, diesel, and electric locomotives, as well as automobiles, streetcars, and aircraft. Their Creation Station is a big hit with kids ages five and under.

49. Pick peaches, strawberries, blackberries, apples, or pumpkins at one of Eckert’s Country Farms. You can even cut your own Christmas tree at Eckert’s during the holiday season!

Things to Do With Kids in St. Louis

50. Explore St. Louis by riding a riverboat on the Mississippi River! The Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher Riverboats offer many different types of cruises, including a sightseeing cruise your entire family will enjoy!

This series was inspired by Mommy Poppins’ 100 Things to Do with Your Kids in NY Before They Grow Up.

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30 Responses to “50 Things to do with Kids in St. Louis Before (or Even After) They Grow Up”

  1. jami Jun 18 at 2:31 pm Reply Reply

    You might also try Opera Theatre of St. Louis, in at the college (can’t remember the name!) in Webster Groves. They perform in a small theater – about 900 seats, and the stage is thrust, meaning the seating surrounds 3/4 of the stage – the close seats are REALLY close. Also, they do everything in English and make a real effort to be sure it’s understandable, as well as dramatically engaging. Probably not for small children, but when I performed there, we often had kids from 8 or so, on up. For a whole evening, pack a picnic, and have a picnic supper beforehand. A truly lovely experience.

  2. Wendy Jun 18 at 3:29 pm Reply Reply

    Oh, this makes me so horribly homesick! Gus’s pretzels? Fitz’s rootbeer? Isn’t it peach season right now at Eckerts?
    I guess its time to head home for a visit…

  3. pharmgirl Jun 18 at 3:42 pm Reply Reply

    Rock on FP!
    When business associates visit, I take them to neighborhood places (Hill, Loop, South Grand, Soulard, etc) and they are always blown away by the architecture and the food.
    We’ve got a good thing going in the ‘Loo! thanks for doing such a great job showcasing it!

  4. Nichole Jun 18 at 4:12 pm Reply Reply

    Man, I miss St. Louis. I was outraged the last time I went to a zoo and had to pay. The nerve!

  5. Heather Jun 19 at 2:10 pm Reply Reply

    What a great list. Don’t we live in a magnificent city? We tried to mark one or two of these off our list on Father’s Day by booking a Sunday brunch cruise on a riverboat to Kimmswick. Unfortunately, the trip was cancelled due to the flooded Mississippi.

  6. kimblahg Jun 21 at 12:01 am Reply Reply

    Horseradish festival? Who knew!?

  7. Dooley Jun 23 at 2:10 pm Reply Reply

    I just became familiar with the very cool kids programs from Go! St. Louis (gostlouis.org) — this group puts on most of the big running events in St. Louis, but the revenue from the races supports their mission to provide healthy lifestyle habit events for kids throughout the year. Truly awesome.

  8. tubeless Aug 08 at 1:56 am Reply Reply

    Thank you for this post. I’ll bookmark it because I had just started writing out a list of places to go and see in this Beautiful home town under the Arch!

  9. Renee Jan 02 at 2:47 am Reply Reply

    Great list! I was impressed and I live in St Louis. I found this great web site for daily events in St Louis, I use it all the time. So I want to share

  10. Versa Dave Jan 02 at 7:59 am Reply Reply

    Wow! What a great list…and it came up on the top of my Google search for things to do with the kids. Thanks for the help!!

  11. Christine Jun 26 at 7:14 pm Reply Reply

    This was great! I am a native of St. Louis but have lived in So. California for over 13 years. I sure miss my city! Did you mention Ted Drews or Imo’s Pizza? I will be going back this summer to visit and taking the kids! We can’t wait! Thanks again – this is a great list! You really showcase a lot of wonderful things to do in St. Louis!

  12. Stacy Aug 24 at 8:40 pm Reply Reply

    I took my 5 year old to the Mo. Botanical Garden today. WOW! It is stunningly beautiful and the Children’s Garden provided HOURS of fun. It is such a treasure for our city. The best part, because I’m a STL county resident, it was only $7.00 for the 2 of us! AWESOME!

  13. Stacy Aug 24 at 8:42 pm Reply Reply

    Another fabulous place: Powder Valley Nature Center at 270 and Watson Rd. They have great hiking trails and so much for kids to do!

  14. Lou Jan 19 at 7:26 am Reply Reply

    Two Aussies travelling Route 66 found your beautiful Arch and your wonderful museum  that’s all we had time for before we had to move one. But St Louis is high on our return list. One day but at least we have the memories

  15. Jennifer Feb 17 at 11:36 am Reply Reply

    Elephant rock state park, “off broadway” does some fun family style shows, city garden is a hoot if you have on a bathing suit, just to add to your amazing list.

  16. Amy Jun 10 at 10:48 pm Reply Reply

    What about Rombach’s farm in Chesterfield (fort for kids to play in since 1970′s also the Smokehouse  on the outer road there. Near Purina Farms is the Arboretum (Gray Summit) and just sitting on the riverfront during 4th of July is awesome! Also Creve Coeur lake is very peaceful with waterfall and picnics. Mastodon state park  is always cool! Hannibal is just north of St Louis, Chain of Rocks Bridge. Alton Lock and Dam etc . I really miss St. Louis!!!!! 

  17. Mandy Jun 11 at 2:28 pm Reply Reply

    Thank you so much for writing this article!!! I’ve been living in New Orleans for the last 5 years (away from St. Louis for 9 years) and we’re moving back to St. Louis next summer to be closer to family now that we have our daughter. The number one thing I’m going to miss about New Orleans is ALL the amazing things to do with kids, but this article just convinced me it will be happening in St. Louis, too! 

  18. Dee Aug 20 at 5:54 pm Reply Reply

    The comment about having to pay to go to the zoo is not true. The St. Louis Zoo is FREE to all. 

    • Isabel Kallman
      Isabel Aug 20 at 6:04 pm Reply Reply

      She did not write that you have to pay. She was referencing other zoos and implying the free admission at the St. Louis zoo as one of the reasons why she missed it. :)

  19. RLW Jan 27 at 2:47 pm Reply Reply

    This is a good list, but I suggest one addition and one removal:

    I’m surprised that the World Bird Sanctuary isn’t on the list. It’s a great place for animal lovers of all ages. Kids will love it.
    https://www.facebook.com/WorldBirdSanctuary

    The subtraction I suggest is the Pirate Festival which is actually not family oriented and probly not suitable for kids IMHO. YMMV, but try attending the Renaissance Faire first and see what you think about it. Then realize the the Pirate fest is several clicks farther along the grown-up scale.

  20. Jenna Jan 27 at 3:03 pm Reply Reply

    You forgot to mention the Bird Sanctuary. It is amazing there. They have a wonderful open house weekend.

  21. Don kragness Jan 28 at 7:35 pm Reply Reply

    Don’t forget the Old Court House. Programs throughout the year. Especially 4th of July and Christmas Ball

  22. Stephanie Jan 29 at 8:46 am Reply Reply

    The Saint Louis Art Museum offers a free family program every Sunday from 1-4. You can drop in at any time in that window. The program is year-round! You can also come to family workshops with your kids on Saturdays. They are $10 per person (less for members) and are targeted to certain ages, so you should check the Museum’s calendar and pre-register for these.

  23. Ryan Jan 29 at 12:33 pm Reply Reply

    What about Bob Kramer’s Marionnettes? A St. Louis treasure for 35 years. Every child should go there! It’s fantastic!

  24. Brian kirkpatrick Jan 29 at 3:13 pm Reply Reply

    The bird sanctuary!

    Lone elk park!

  25. Chris Jan 30 at 9:51 am Reply Reply

    NASCAR Speedpark at The Mills Mall, Turtle Park across the interstate from the zoo,  and Park Avenue Coffee for some Gooey Butter Cake!

  26. donofalltrades Jan 30 at 12:11 pm Reply Reply

    Love it!

    I don’t know about bringing kids to the Wednesday night concerts though. There’s a lot of drinking and inappropriate activity in the bushes going on, unless they’ve cleaned that up.

  27. TedH Feb 01 at 1:24 am Reply Reply

    Hodack’s is SERIOUSLY over-rated for fried chicken. Maybe they were great years ago but now it’s a factory. Go to King Edwards on Watson Rd.  Chicken fried with love.

  28. Andrea Mar 15 at 11:39 am Reply Reply

    Don’t forget swing around fun town in fenton, incredible pizza company in south county, ronnies 20 cine in south county, the drive in theater in Belleville, bounce u in chesterfield, monkey joes in Crestwood, swimming at the meramec river, moolah shrine circus in st Charles, the st Louis car show at Americas center and the petting zoo at suson park in south county…. There’s so much to do in st Louis…

  29. johna May 20 at 2:13 am Reply Reply

    We are moving to the area this summer and I love the tip about Kimmswick.  How can I find more small town festivals like that??

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