If you are visiting or live in the St. Louis area, you're lucky to have many great free kids' events, activities, and attractions to choose from this summer.
Give your kids a look at a real animal farm complete with pigs, horses, cows, sheep, goats, ducks, and chickens. The animal farm at Suson Park in St. Louis County is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. from April to September. Other features include a playground and fishing ponds.
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 after President 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 Mondays from April through October. Admission is free, but parking is $15 a car.
The fountain and wading pool at Tower Grove Park in the city of St. Louis are a nice place for kids to cool off during 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 are open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. from May 1 to October 31. There are also two playgrounds, tennis courts, and athletic fields.
The St. Louis Zoo in Forest Park was named the best zoo in the United States by USA TODAY and should be at the top of your list of things to do. General admission to the St. Louis Zoo is always free, but each day during the summer from 8 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 24 through Labor Day, the zoo is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
The Children's Garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden is designed to teach kids about nature in an engaging way. There's a tree house, cave, steamboat, 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 April through October.
Admission to the St. Louis Science Center is free except for special exhibits. The James S. McDonnell Planetarium (free, but tickets required) is the jewel in the crown of the science center and is located in Forest Park; the science center's main building is across Highway 40/Interstate 64 and can be reached by the skybridge, which just adds to the fun.
Summer hours 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 to early August, the science center is open until 8 p.m.
St. Louis' top children's museum, located in the suburb of Kirkwood, has hands-on fun galore for kids of all ages. Favorite features include an electrically charged ball you can touch, a giant kaleidoscope wheel, a three-story slide, model trains, and the Poet Tree.
The Magic House offers free admission for families on the third Friday of the month from 5:30 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 from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Citygarden is a public park filled with fountains, wading pools, and two dozen sculptures. It's a great free place for kids to play on a hot summer day.
Citygarden is located along Market Street between 8th and 10th Streets in downtown St. Louis. It's open daily from sunrise to 10 p.m.