Summer Fun for Kids in St. Louis

From the Zoo and Grant's Farm to Fountains and Flowers, You're Covered

Black family playing on tire swing.
••• Inti St Clair/Getty Images

Parents are always looking for ways to keep their kids entertained during the summer. The St. Louis area offers a lot of great kids' events, activities, and attractions that are free. Here are some top choices to keep the kids happy that don't cost a red cent. Because they are so affordable, you don't need to pick their favorites. Check all of them out for days of free fun.

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    Give your kids a look at a real animal farm complete with pigs, horses, cows, and chickens. The animal farm at Suson Park in St. Louis County is open daily in the summer. Suson Park Animal Farm is open daily from  10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. April through September 2017.

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    Grant's Farm is another great place to see animals from around the world. The 281-acre farm in south St. Louis County is home to hundreds of animals, including the famous Budweiser Clydesdales. Grant's Farm is the ancestral home of the Busch family, yes, those Busches of Anheuser-Busch fame. The farm is named for Ulysses S. Grant, who owned 80 acres of this land in the mid-19th century before he went off to the Civil War. A cabin built by Grant himself is on the farm. Grant's Farm is open daily except​ for Mondays. Admission is free for everyone, but parking is $12 per car. Grant's Farm is open every day but Monday from April 25 to Aug. 27, 2017.

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    The fountain and wading pool at Tower Grove Park in the city of St. Louis is a nice place for kids to cool off in the summer heat. There are dozens of pop-jets for children to play in, as well as a large water bowl in the center of the fountain. The fountain and splash pad is open daily from May 1 to until Oct. 31, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The wading pool is closed for the 2017 season because of mechanical issues.

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    The St. Louis Zoo in Forest Park was named the best zoo in the United States by USA Today in March 2017 and should be right at the top of the list of things to do.  Admission to the St. Louis Zoo is always free, but each day during the summer from 8 ​a.m. to 9 a.m., the Children's Zoo, the Conservation Carousel, and the Stingrays at Caribbean Cove are also free. The Children's Zoo has an outdoor playground with slides, bridges, and rope ladders. Kids can also get an up-close look at bunnies, guinea pigs, and other baby animals. From May 26 to Sept. 4, 2017, the zoo is open from 8 a.m. to 5 .pm. Monday through Thursday and from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. 

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  • 05 of 08

    The Children's Garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden is designed to teach kids about nature in a fun way. There's a tree house, frontier fort, outdoor classroom, and Midwestern prairie village. The Children's Garden is free to residents of the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County on Saturday mornings from 9 a.m to noon. The Children's Garden is open daily from April through October.

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    Admission to the St. Louis Science Center is free for everyone except for special exhibits. The James S. McDonnell Planetarium is the jewel in the crown of the Science Center and is located in Forest Park; the main building is across Highway 40/Interstate 64 and can be reached by the Skybridge, which just adds to the fun. The Science Center is the best place to be for the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017, where there will be activities for all to mark this historic scientific event.  The summer hours at the Science Center, May 27 to Sept. 4, 2017, are 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Sunday. On Thursdays from June 1 to Aug. 10, the Science Center is open until 8 p.m.

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    St. Louis' top children's museum, in the suburb of Kirkwood, has hands-on fun galore for kids of all ages. It offers free admission for families on the third Friday of the month from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. From Memorial Day through Labor Day the Magic House is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Saturday. It's open until 9 p.m. on Friday. Sunday hours are 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. 

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    Citygarden is a public park filled with fountains, wading pools, and sculpture. It's a great free place for kids to play on a hot summer day. Citygarden is located along Market Street between Eighth and 10th streets in downtown St. Louis.​ It's ​open daily from sunrise to 10 p.m. and is always free to all.