9 Best Things to Do for Under $15 in St. Louis

Missouri Botanical Garden

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It's easy to find things to do in St. Louis without having to spend a lot of money. You can always check out the city's best free attractions for a day of fun—and if you don't mind spending a few dollars, you'll be opening the door to even more options. Here are our top picks for the best things to do in and around St. Louis that cost $15 per person or less.

01 of 09

Visit the Museum at the Gateway Arch

Displays at the Museum at the Gateway Arch

Gateway Arch

St. Louis, MO 63102, USA
Phone +1 314-655-1600

While you do have to pay a larger fee to ride to the top of the famous St. Louis Gateway Arch, there are two related sites that offer free entry and are definitely worth checking out.

The Museum at the Gateway Arch, situated at the foot of the attraction, offers a look at the city's role in the westward expansion of the U.S. over the last 200 years. Founded in 1764, the history of St. Louis began long before that with the Indigenous people who once called the area home—the museum features galleries that expand on this, as well as the building of the Gateway Arch and other stories of historical note.

Nearby, though it's currently closed for massive renovations that are expected to end in late-2023, the Old Courthouse, built from 1839 to 1862, was the site of the Dred Scott case, which ultimately led to the Dred Scott Decision in 1857, and where Virginia Minor argued for her right to vote as a woman in 1873. Upcoming exhibits will detail what life was like in St. Louis for African Americans from slavery through the Civil Rights Movement and beyond, as well as a look at the role court system plays in our society.

02 of 09

Be Awed by the Butterfly House

Butterfly House in Faust Park

Missouri Botanical Garden

Located in, 15050 Faust Pk Dr, Chesterfield, MO 63017-1805, USA
Phone +1 314-577-0888

The Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House in Faust Park is a relatively new attraction, opening to the public in 1998. Over the years, it's become a popular family-friendly destination.

The main feature is an 8,000-square-foot, glass-domed conservatory filled with thousands of butterflies from across the globe. The conservatory is home to up to 80 different species of butterflies and more than 100 varieties of topical plants. There's also an outdoor Butterfly Garden that's open in warmer months and an Exhibit Hall with interactive displays about butterflies, caterpillars, and other useful insects.

Admission to the Butterfly House is $8 for ages 13 and up, $5 for seniors over 65 and children ages 3–12, and $4 for members of the U.S. military. Kids ages 2 and under get in free, while children of U.S. military and military seniors get in for $2.50 each.

03 of 09

Geek Out at the Museum of Transportation

Museum of Transportation in St. Louis County

TripSavvy / David O'Brien

2933 Barrett Station Rd, St. Louis, MO 63122, USA
Phone +1 314-965-6212

All aboard for some fun at the Museum of Transportation. From giant locomotives and classic cars to historic planes and river tugboats, this museum has it all when it comes getting around.

Home to one of largest collections of train locomotives in the world with more than 70 on display, the museum also houses 200 classic vehicles, including rare gems like the only operational Chrysler turbine car on public display and an historic 1901 automobile build by the St. Louis Motor Carriage Company. For young visitors, there's Creation Station, a special play area filled with transportation themed toys and activities. 

Admission to the Museum of Transportation includes trolley rides when it's in operation, and costs $15 for adults (ages 13–64); $12 for seniors 65 and over, U.S. military members, and first responders; and $6 for children ages 2–12.

04 of 09

Stop and Smell the Flowers at the Jewel Box

Jewel Box in Forest Park

TripSavvy / David O'Brien

St. Louis, MO 63110, USA
Phone +1 314-531-0080

The Jewel Box is one of the most beautiful attractions, located in St. Louis' Forest Park. The 50-foot-tall, glass-walled greenhouse is filled with hundreds of plants and flowers, with the selection changing according to the season—poinsettias greet visitors in the winter and Easter lilies in the spring, for instance.

The outdoor grounds are also filled with blooming flowers. The Jewel Box is a great example of Art Deco design and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. You can visit for free on Monday and Tuesday between the hours of 9 a.m. and 12 p.m.. Otherwise, admission is just $1 per person, making this the greatest deal in town.

Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09

Go for a Stroll in Missouri Botanical Garden

Bulb Garden at Missouri Botanical Garden

Missouri Botanical Garden

4344 Shaw Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA
Phone +1 314-577-5100

Missouri Botanical Garden is a perfect spot for anyone who enjoys the natural beauty of the outdoors. This green oasis in the city sports nearly 80 acres of plants and flowers in a variety of settings. Highlights include the traditional Japanese Garden, Tower Grove House, and the giant Climatron, filled with tropical plants.

Missouri Botanical Garden has been welcoming visitors for more than 150 years and is listed as a National Historic Landmark. Admission is $14 for those 13 and up, $7 for members of the U.S. military, and free for children 12 and under.

06 of 09

Admire the View From Confluence Tower

Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower

Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower

Confluence Tower, 435 Confluence Tower Dr, Hartford, IL 62048, USA
Phone +1 618-465-6676

The St. Louis area owes much of its history and growth to its location at the confluence of North America's two greatest rivers, the Missouri and the Mississippi, which join together just north of the city.

One of the best places to view this natural wonder is from the Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower, located in nearby Hartford, Illinois. The tower has three observation decks at 50, 100, and 150 feet, and the decks can be reached by stairs or elevator. The tower offers panoramic views of the river valley below, and on a clear day, visitors can even see all the way to downtown St. Louis, nearly 20 miles to the south.

Note that the tower is closed at certain times of the year, particularly in November, December, March, and April, and that there is a $6 fee to go up to the viewing platforms (kids 5 and under get in free).

07 of 09

Check Out the International Photography Museum

International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum

International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum

3415 Olive St, St. Louis, MO 63103, USA
Phone +1 314-535-1999

See the work of the best photographers from around the world at the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum. From Ansel Adams to Dorothea Lange, this museum showcases top photographers from the 19th and 20th centuries. The collection contains historic photographs that helped change to world, and the equipment used to capture those moments. The museum also hosts classes and lectures to help visitors learn how to become better photographers themselves.

Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for students with a valid ID, seniors, and kids ages 6–12 (children 5 and under and members of the U.S. military get in free).

08 of 09

Learn About the Past at the Mastodon State Historic Site

Mastadon State Historic Site

Mastadon State Historic Site

1050 Charles J Becker Dr, Imperial, MO 63052-3524, USA
Phone +1 636-464-2976

Mastodon State Historic Site is a fun destination for amateur archaeologists or anyone looking to spend a little time outdoors. It's just a 25-minute drive south of St. Louis, making it an easy choice for a day trip or afternoon away from the big city.

The 431-acre park contains the bones of mastodons and other animals that lived during the last ice age more than 10,000 years ago. Here, you'll find hiking trails, picnic areas, and a bird viewing sanctuary.

The on-site Mastodon Museum houses exhibits about the animals as well as the American Indian people who once called this area home centuries ago. While entry to the historic site is free, entry to the museum costs $4 for those ages 13 and up (kids 12 and under get in free).

Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09

Experience Ragtime at the Scott Joplin House

Scott Joplin House State Historic Site

Scott Joplin House State Historic Site

2658 Delmar Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63103, USA
Phone +1 314-340-5790

The King of Ragtime composed some of his most famous songs including The Entertainer while renting a room in this modest brick home in St. Louis in 1902. The Scott Joplin House State Historic Site is open to visitors who want to explore Joplin's life and contributions to many genres of music. The site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. 

The home is furnished as it would have been in 1902, and an authentic player piano fills the rooms with Joplin's most popular tunes. Guided tours are available every hour and tickets cost $6 per adult, $4 for children ages 6–17 (kids 5 and under get in free).

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9 Best Things to Do for Under $15 in St. Louis