16 Free Things to Do in St. Louis

St. Louis, Missouri

Lightvision, LLC / Moment / Getty Images

The city of St. Louis is a great place to go for budget-minded travelers. With major attractions like the St. Louis Zoo, the Science Center, and the St. Louis Art Museum all offering free admission, you can spend several vacation days discovering the attractions of this gateway city. When budgeting for your trip, keep in mind that while many of these attractions are free, additional charges are sometimes required to access special exhibits and amenities, so check the pricing details and hours of operation of each locale just in case.

01 of 16

Stroll the St. Louis Walk of Fame

Chuck Berry's Star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame

Michael B. Thomas / Stringer / Getty Images

6504 Delmar Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63130-4501, USA
Phone +1 314-727-7827

Start your trip to St. Louis by walking along the St. Louis Walk of Fame, located between the 6100-6600 blocks of Delmar Boulevard, on the Delmar Loop. Each of the gold stars you'll see are dedicated to more than 150 actors, writers, musicians, artists, athletes, comedians, and other notable people from St. Louis who have made an impact on American culture.

Get your cameras ready, as you'll recognize names like Chuck Berry, Tina Turner, Maya Angelou, Tennessee Williams, Shelley Winters, Yogi Berra, Kevin Kline, Cedric The Entertainer, Nelly, Vincent Price, Miles Davis, Phyllis Diller, Robert Duvall, Redd Foxx, Martha Gellhorn, John Goodman, Charles Guggenheim, Charles Lindbergh, Dred and Harriet Scott, and the Isley Brothers, among others.

02 of 16

Take an Architecture Tour at the St. Louis Public Library

The St. Louis Public Library

Barry Winiker / Getty Images

1301 Olive St, St. Louis, MO 63103-2325, USA
Phone +1 314-241-2288

For a closer look at one of the best examples of Beaux-Arts and Neoclassical architecture in the country, head to the St. Louis Public Library's Central Library, located in the heart of Downtown St. Louis on Olive St. between 13th and 14th streets. Opened in 1912 and renovated in 2012, the library features a number of artistic designs based on Italian Renaissance styles you'd find in Vatican City, the Pantheon, and Michelangelo's Laurentian Library.

Visit the welcome desk in the Great Hall for one of the St. Louis Public Library's free one-hour architectural tours, which are offered Mondays and Saturdays on a walk-in basis and led by volunteer docents. Private groups of 10 or more people should book tours at least 30 days ahead of time to avoid disappointment.

03 of 16

Visit the Museum at the Gateway Arch

Displays at the Museum at the Gateway Arch

Gateway Arch

St. Louis, MO 63113, USA

Though the ride to the top of the Gateway Arch does cost money, the Museum at the Gateway Arch (formerly known as the Museum of Westward Expansion), located underneath it, is free to visit.

The museum, which reopened in 2018 after a series of extensive renovations, showcases the history and culture of the Native Americans, as well as the colonists who later came to settle in the Midwest, celebrating America's pioneers and the spirit of exploration that led to the country we know today. Learn about the role St. Louis played in all of this, with exhibits focusing on the city's colonial past, riverfront era, the historic Lewis and Clark Expedition, and the building of the Gateway Arch.

04 of 16

See the Animals at the St. Louis Zoo

Saint Louis Zoo

Saint Louis Zoo 

1 Government Dr, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA
Phone +1 314-781-0900

The St. Louis Zoo, located in Forest Park, ranks high among its nationwide counterparts. In 2016, it was chosen as "The Best Free Attraction in the United States" in USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice Awards.

The zoo houses more than 5,000 animals from seven continents, offering a unique experience every time you visit. Whether you’re there to see the birds at the Penguin and Puffin Coast exhibit, or to welcome baby elephants to the River’s Edge, it’s hard to beat a day at the St. Louis Zoo. Although admission is free, some attractions like the Children's Zoo and Zooline Railroad require a small admission fee.

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05 of 16

Travel to Outer Space at the Science Center

St. Louis Science Center

Raymond Boyd / Getty Images

5050 Oakland Ave, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA
Phone +1 314-289-4400

For fun, educational, and hands-on experiences designed for the whole family, head to the St. Louis Science Center. Test your knowledge of fossils and dinosaurs, clock the speed of cars on Highway 40 with a radar gun, and see what it’s like to travel to outer space in the planetarium. Admission is free, but you will need to purchase tickets for special exhibits and OMNIMAX Theater movies.

06 of 16

Browse the Art Museum

St. Louis Art Museum in Forest Park

Seide Preis / Getty Images

1 Fine Arts Dr, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA
Phone +1 314-721-0072

Peruse more than 30,000 paintings, drawings, and sculptures at the St. Louis Art Museum, which sits proudly atop Art Hill in Forest Park. The museum is home to one of the world’s top collections of twentieth-century German paintings. Kid-friendly tours and activities are offered on Sundays, while free lectures and live music happen most Friday nights.

07 of 16

Step Back in Time at The Missouri History Museum

Missouri History Museum in St. Louis
Deborah O'Brien
5700 Lindell Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63112-0040, USA
Phone +1 314-746-4599

The Missouri History Museum in Forest Park provides a look back at the key events that shaped St. Louis. The 1904 World’s Fair exhibit, the Lewis and Clark expedition display, and the recount of Charles Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic each feature interesting artifacts and renderings that are sure to capture your imagination. General admission is free, yet a fee is still required for special exhibits.

08 of 16

Sample Beer at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery

Anheuser-Busch brewery in St.Louis
Pp391 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
1200 Lynch St, St. Louis, MO 63118, USA
Phone +1 314-577-2626

See how Budweiser and other Anheuser-Busch beers are made during a free tour of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, located just south of Downtown St. Louis in Soulard. You'll have a chance to learn all about the city's history of beer-making and get to view modern beer processing technology in action. At the end of the tour, those 21 and up can enjoy a free sample.

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09 of 16

People-Watch at Citygarden Urban Park

Citygarden in St. Louis

Doug Kerr / Flickr / Creative Commons

801 Market St, St. Louis, MO 63101, USA
Phone +1 314-241-3337

In the heart of downtown St. Louis on Market Street between 8th and 10th Streets lies Citygarden Sculpture Park, a metropolitan reprieve filled with fountains, wading pools, a sculpture park, and year-round activities. Pull up a bench and watch the people pass by, take a walk on the park's trails, or let the kids play in the fountains on a warm day. Citygarden also plays host to a number of free concerts and events in the summer as well as an annual Christmas lights display each winter.

10 of 16

Attend a Musical at Municipal Opera

st louis Muny

The Muny

1 Theatre Dr, St. Louis, MO 63112, USA
Phone +1 314-361-1900

The Municipal Opera, also known as, "The Muny," is the nation's largest and oldest outdoor theater, with live performances at this Forest Park theater being a summer tradition for nearly a century. Each year, The Muny stages seven musicals starting in mid-June and ending in early August. More than 1,400 free seats in the last nine rows at the back of the theater are available for every performance. It's first come, first served, with gates opening for the free seats at 7 p.m. and showtime starting at 8:15 p.m.

11 of 16

See the Animals at Grant's Farm

Animals at Grant's Park

Marques Stewart / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

7385 Grant Rd, St. Louis, MO 63123, USA
Phone +1 314-843-1700

At Grant's Farm, your family can interact with both farm animals as well as other exotic creatures from around the world. This 281-acre farm in South St. Louis County not only houses hundreds of animals but is also the home of the famous Budweiser Clydesdales. Hop the tram to the middle of the park and go from there. Note that while admission to Grant's Farm is free for everyone, there is an extra fee for parking.

12 of 16

Visit the Birds of Prey

World Bird Sanctuary
World Bird Sanctuary
125 Bald Eagle Ridge Rd, Valley Park, MO 63088-2036, USA
Phone +1 636-225-4390

A visit to the World Bird Sanctuary gives you the chance to get an up-close look at bald eagles, owls, falcons, vultures, and other impressive avian species. The Sanctuary also educates people about the world's most threatened birds through a variety of seasonal shows, educational programs, and special presentations. Admission and parking are free.

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13 of 16

Climb the Cahokia Mounds

Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site
Michael S. Lewis / Getty Images
Collinsville, IL, USA
Phone +1 618-346-5160

A visit to Cahokia Mounds gives you a peek at St. Louis' ancient history. And frankly, there's no place quite like it. This archeological site was once home to the most advanced civilization north of Mexico and is deemed a World Heritage Site by the United Nations due to its role in early Native American history. Climb to the top of the mounds, take a guided tour, or check out the exhibits in the Interpretive Center. Cahokia Mounds hosts special events like Kids' Day, Native American Market Days, and art shows. Admission is free, but there is a suggested donation.

14 of 16

Tour the Cathedral Basilica

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis

Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

4431 Lindell Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63108-2403, USA
Phone +1 314-373-8200

The Cathedral Basilica in the Central West End is more than just a church; it is the spiritual center of the St. Louis Archdiocese. This ancient building is also home to one of the largest collection of mosaics in the world, consisting of 40 million glass pieces that took nearly 80 years to install. It's truly a site to behold, so sign up for one of the guided tours, offered Monday through Friday (by appointment only) or on Sundays after the noon mass.

15 of 16

Visit Laumeier Sculpture Park

Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis County

David O'Brien

12580 Rott Rd, Sappington, MO 63127, USA
Phone +1 314-615-5278

Laumeier Sculpture Park is an outdoor art museum in South St. Louis County where dozens of pieces of art are spread out among 105 acres. There are also indoor galleries, special exhibits, and family events. Every year on Mother's Day weekend, the park hosts a popular art fair.

16 of 16

Learn About Rivers at the National Great Rivers Museum

National Great Rivers Museum

Deborah O'Brien

1 Locks and Dam Way, Alton, IL 62002, USA
Phone +1 618-462-6979

The Mississippi River plays a key role in the history of the St. Louis area and the National Great Rivers Museum, located next to the Melvin Price Locks and Dam about 35 minutes away in Alton, Illinois, showcases this through educational and interactive exhibits. Take a free tour of the largest locks and dam on the Mississippi River.

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16 Free Things to Do in St. Louis