It's easy to find things to do in St. Louis without spending a lot of money. You can always check out the city's best free attractions for a day of fun. If you don't mind spending a few dollars, you'll have even more options. Here are top picks for things to do in St. Louis that cost less than $10 a person.
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: $8 for adults, $5 for children 3-12
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 has 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.
Hours: Daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: $8 for adults, $5 for children
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. The museum boasts one of largest collections of train locomotives in the world with more than 70 on display. There are also 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.
Hours: Daily from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Cost: $3 to $7 per treat
Enjoy St. Louis' favorite sweet treats at Ted Drewes. The historic frozen custard stand has been serving up its concretes, shakes and sundaes to hungry customers for more than 80 years. All of the custard is vanilla mixed with a variety of sauces and toppings. Some popular combinations have been on the menu for decades, but new flavors are also added each year. Get a Fox Treat (hot fudge, raspberries and macadamia nuts) or Cardinal Sin (tart cherries and hot fudge) for a true St. Louis experience.
Hours: Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Cost: $1 per person (free on Monday and Tuesday until noon)
The Jewel Box is one of the most beautiful attractions in St. Louis' Forest Park. The 50 foot tall, glass-walled greenhouse is filled with hundreds of plants and flowers. The selection changes according to the season. For example, poinsettias greet visitors in the winter and Easter lilies in the spring. The outdoor grounds are also filled with many blooming flowers. The Jewel Box is a great example of art deco design and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Hours: Daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: $6 for St. Louis City/County residents, children 12 and younger are free
The Missouri Botanical Garden is a perfect spot for anyone who enjoys the natural beauty of the outdoors. This green oasis in the city has 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. The Missouri Botanical Garden has been welcoming visitors for more than 150 years and is listed as a National Historic Landmark.
Hours: Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
Cost: $6 for adults, $4 for children 12 and younger
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 Mississippi Rivers join together just north of the city. One of the best places to view this natural wonder is from the Confluence Tower in nearby Hartford, Illinois. The tower has three observation decks at 50, 100 and 150 feet. The decks can be reached by stairs or elevator. The tower offers a panoramic view of the river valley below. On a clear day, visitors can even see all the way to downtown St. Louis, nearly 20 miles to the south.
Hours: Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: $5 for adults, children are free
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.
Hours: Grounds open daily from 8 a.m. to 30 minutes after sunset. Museum open daily from 9:30 am to 4:30 p.m. (reduced hours in winter).
Cost: Museum admission $4 for adults, children 12 and younger are free
Mastodon State Historic Site is a fun destination for amateur archaeologists or anyone looking to spend a little time outdoors. 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. There are hiking trails, picnic areas and a bird viewing sanctuary. The Mastodon Museum has exhibits about the animals and Native Americans that called this area home centuries ago. Mastodon State Historic site is a short drive south of St. Louis, making it an easy choice for a day trip or afternoon away.
Hours: February: Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., March-October: Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Cost: $6 for adults, $4 for children
The King of Ragtime composed some of his most famous songs including The Entertainer while living in a modest brick home in St. Louis. The Scott Joplin House is open to visitors who want to explore Joplin's life and contributions to many genres of music. 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. The site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.