St. Louis is an impressive place, especially for families with kids. The region is brimming with free, world-class attractions, engaging events and flourishing public parks, making it an unrivaled choice for a weekend getaway or a lengthier stay.
Whether you’re traveling with toddlers in tow or preteens with an increasing sense of independence, St. Louis has immersive and memorable activities that everyone can enjoy together.
Explore upcoming kid-friendly events in St. Louis on our events calendar.
At Amp Up Action Park, there’s guaranteed fun at every turn. Zip around a custom-built track in the most technologically advanced indoor kart in the world and complete a heart-pounding adventure in the three-level, black light-lit laser tag arena. There’s also an elevated ropes course, axe throwing, arcade games and pickleball. Play as you go or purchase a two-hour pass, and when you get hungry, stop by the Filling Station Cafe or Trackside Tavern for bar bites, pizza, sweet treats and more. Parents can also sip beer, wine or sangria while their kids continue to play.
For unlimited fun under one roof, head to Main Event in Chesterfield. From bowling to laser tag and billiards to mini golf, every activity and game is designed to bring family and friends together. You can also play arcade games, immerse yourself in a virtual reality experience, test your skills on the indoor ropes course and show off your smarts in one of the miniature escape rooms. If you’re in the area on Monday, take advantage of Main Event’s all-you-can-play promotion – it’s just $12.99 a person!
Once one of the largest and busiest passenger rail terminals in the world, St. Louis Union Station is now a wellspring of family-friendly activity. There’s something for kids of all ages – think a classic carousel, a mirror maze, a miniature golf course, a ropes course and even a Build-A-Bear Workshop. On the lake in front of the main entrance, a fire and light show dazzles viewers, while the 3D light show in the Grand Hall captivates audiences with underwater scenes, Queen hits and more. Union Station is also home to the St. Louis Aquarium and the St. Louis Wheel.
Take flight at Adventure Valley, where 10 zip lines will propel you through a beautiful wooded ridge in Jefferson County. On one zip line, which is more than 1,100 feet long, you can reach speeds up to 50 miles per hour! If you would rather keep your feet on the ground, Adventure Valley also has a paintball park, which is open on Saturdays and Sundays for those 12 and older. Don’t underestimate how fun it can be to team up with your loved ones and play in a paintball tournament.
Get crafty with your kids at MADE for Kids, a 7,000-square-foot makerspace created by The Magic House. Suitable for kids aged four to 14, the wonderland features an immersive makers workshop, artists studio, design lab and entrepreneurs marketplace where kids can use their imaginations to tinker, create, invent, explore and discover. Watch as your youngsters experiment with screen printing, 3D printing, laser cutting, stop motion animation and more – you’re bound to be impressed.
Water slides, wave pools and lazy rivers – Raging Rivers WaterPark is a kid’s paradise and the perfect place to cool off if you’re visiting St. Louis during summer. Take tiny tots to the Itty Bitty Surf City, sail down the Mississippi Monster with older kids and then relax in a rented cabana with an ice-cold drink. 2023 is Kidsfest at Raging Rivers, with daily magic shows in June and daily dog shows in July.
For the best views of the Gateway Arch and St. Louis’ working riverfront, climb aboard one of the Gateway Arch Riverboats. Both the Becky Thatcher and the Tom Sawyer are 19th-century replicas, transporting you to a time when steamboats ruled the river. Cruises are narrated by captains from the National Park Service, who bring the history of the Mississippi River to life. Whether you choose a one-hour day cruise or a two-hour dinner cruise, you’ll learn about the river’s role in the country’s history as well as its impact on St. Louis’ economy to this day.
Open since September 2021, RYZE Adventure Park in Maryland Heights offers more than 100 obstacles, plus a heart-stopping zipline and a death-defying free fall, on its four-story Adventure Tower. Are you up for the challenge? The Adventure Tower isn’t linear, so you can make your own course, picking and choosing the activities and obstacles that you want to do. RYZE also has a Little Ninja Course where younger kids can climb and explore at their own pace. The course features 16 elements, all close to the ground but full of adventure. If you would rather keep your feet on the ground, check out the 18-hole state-of-the-art miniature golf course, which glows with neon lights at night.
Were you born to ride…rollercoasters? Six Flags St. Louis boasts nine exhilarating rollercoasters (six steel and three wooden) with more than 22,000 feet of combined track. Located in Eureka, the amusement park continues to add attractions, appealing to thrill-seekers of all ages. Take toddlers and little kids to Bugs Bunny National Park, where they can ride, fly, spin and climb to their hearts’ content. Six Flags St. Louis also has a waterpark, Hurricane Harbor, for wet and wild summer fun.
Reaching a height of 200 feet, The Wheel is the tallest observation wheel in St. Louis. It boasts enclosed, climate-controlled gondolas and sweeping views of the St. Louis skyline. Want to splurge? The VIP gondolas offer opportunities for kids to learn concepts in math, engineering and geography; plus, they have leather captain’s chairs and a glass floor.
Before or after your visit to the Saint Louis Zoo, check out Turtle Playground. Especially great for little kids, the playground is a magnet for children of all ages who love climbing – here, they get to clamber on the backs of giant reptiles! Represented in concrete are a common snapping turtle, softshell turtle, red-eared slider, Mississippi map turtle, stinkpot turtle and three box turtles, plus seven oversized turtle eggs and a long, sinuous snake that appears to be taking a bite out of the nearby overpass.
Ready, set, go! At Victory Raceway, the electric go-karts reach speeds up to 45 miles per hour on the indoor racetrack. There are no two-seaters – everyone drives – and kids have to be at least six years old and 50 inches tall to get behind the wheel. We know what you’re thinking, but don’t worry – the junior karts only reach speeds up to 25 miles per hour.
At Eckert’s, you can almost taste the history. Eckert’s Orchards took root in 1837, and today, there are three farms just across the river in Southern Illinois. Together, the farms present fun for all seasons with you-pick crops such as strawberries in spring; blackberries and peaches in summer; apples and pumpkins in late summer and early fall; and Christmas trees in winter. Eckert’s also has special events throughout the year, which feature farm animals, corn mazes, wagon rides, live music, festive foods and more.
After a $380 million makeover, the national park land around the Gateway Arch and the Museum at the Gateway Arch is picture-perfect and ready for visitors. The verdant grounds feature stroller-friendly walkways and two reflection pools, but if you want a bird’s-eye view, take the tram ride to the top of the 630-foot monument. After you squeeze into a futuristic, five-person pod, it takes four minutes to ascend. At the top, small windows reveal spectacular views of the Old Courthouse, downtown St. Louis and beyond to the west and the Mississippi River and Illinois to the east. Tickets often sell out, so reserve your spots ahead of time.
Uncover Missouri’s buried treasure beneath the rolling hills of the Meramec Valley. Meramec Caverns, the largest commercial cave in the state and one of the most awe-inspiring caves on the planet, boasts astounding formations, including glistening stalactites, magnificent stalagmites, an ancient “wine table” and a seven-story “mansion,” which were formed from the erosion of large limestone deposits over millions of years. Trained rangers guide captivating tours along well-lit walkways to some of the rarest and largest cave formations in the world – they’ll also show you where an episode of Lassie was filmed in 1966. The underground oasis is a cool 60 degrees year-round, and you can supplement the spectacular experience with other family-friendly activities, such as panning for gold, ziplining or taking a scenic excursion on the Meramec River aboard a canopy-topped riverboat.
Parents, listen up! One of the best playgrounds in St. Louis sits on two acres next to the Climatron conservatory inside the Missouri Botanical Garden. The Doris I. Schnuck Children’s Garden introduces kids at their most impressionable age to the significance of plants and nature in fun and innovative ways. Youngsters can splash through a stream, navigate a rope bridge and play with the locks and dams. They can climb to new heights in a treehouse and then glide down Spelunker’s Slide and cool off in a limestone cave. Bringing botany and 19th-century history to life, the garden also invites children and adults alike to explore the wetlands, board a steamboat and visit a Midwestern prairie village. The Missouri Botanical Garden has long been a place of beauty, serenity and discovery, and there’s plenty more to enjoy beyond this playground.
Nestled within 112 acres of oak-hickory forest in a quiet corner of Kirkwood, Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center introduces people of all ages to the wonders of the natural world. One of the three trails through the park features interpretive signage, and inside the nature center, you’ll find interesting exhibits, including an aquarium and a bee hive, which offer something for every season.
Arguably the best-kept secret in the St. Louis area, the Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka aims to help save and protect wild canids by reintroducing Mexican wolves and American red wolves – the two most endangered wolves in the world – into the wild. Want to see the wolves for yourself? The Endangered Wolf Center offers a variety of daytime tours – from its signature endangered species tour to a specialized photography tour to field trips for schoolchildren – as well as nighttime howls. Education coordinator Jimmy Parsons can imitate each howl, and you might be lucky enough to hear the wolves howl back while learning more about wolf communication. Visiting the center, you’ll also meet other species of canids, including South American maned wolves, African painted dogs, fennec foxes, arctic foxes, swift foxes and a melanistic red fox named Cooper.
Families with kids flock to Grant’s Farm – and for good reason. The St. Louis treasure boasts more than 900 animals, along with storied architecture, from Ulysses S. Grant’s humble log cabin, which he built in 1855, to the Busch Family Estate, often referred to as the “Big House.” Your visit starts with a short tram ride through Deer Park, where you might spot free-roaming antelope, deer and various bovines, including bison, water buffalo, yaks and domesticated cattle. When the tram stops, you can get off and ride a camel, watch a short and sweet animal show or feed the goats. (Warning: Those little guys can be aggressive.) Before you leave, stop by the German-style stables to see the iconic Clydesdales as well as classic cars and carriages. At the Bauernhof, enjoy lunch or a light snack; guests over 21 are also invited to grab two free beers. Yes, you read that right. Welcome to St. Louis! Admission to Grant’s Farm is free, but parking is $15.
It’s a deer. It’s a bison. It’s a wild turkey! Lone Elk Park, a 546-acre wildlife management area, offers frequent wildlife sightings whether you drive or walk through the park. If your kids can handle it, follow the White Bison Trail – a three-mile loop with twists and climbs – for the opportunity to spot white-tailed deer, elk, waterfowl and more.
Life is better with a pet, and Purina Farms teaches visitors how to connect with theirs on a deeper level. It all starts with understanding and appreciating dogs and cats and their unique abilities. So, head to the Purina Farms Visitor Center (open to the public from mid-April through October), which includes the Incredible Dog Arena, where the Purina Incredible Dog Team demonstrates its skills; the Pet Center, featuring a 20-foot, multi-level home for adoptable cats; and the Barn and Play area, which houses domestic farm animals.
A leading zoo in animal management, research, conservation and education, the Saint Louis Zoo should be at the top of your travel bucket list. At the entrance to the zoo, stop by The Living World, a 65-foot rotunda with natural light from the glass-domed ceiling and an assortment of life-size shark, squid and stingray sculptures. Then, journey outside to meet the amazing animals that bring the zoo to life. On any given day, you might see bears splashing in plunge pools, monkeys swinging through the trees or penguins squawking for more fish. General admission is free, as is street parking, and the Emerson Zooline Railroad is worth the money if your kids tire of walking. Your littlest ones might also enjoy a ride on the Mary Ann Lee Conservation Carousel, featuring 64 hand-carved wooden animals that represent some of the protected and endangered species at the zoo. The thrills never stop, so plan to spend a good chunk of time here.
On any given day, more than 60 species of tropical butterflies dance through the conservatory at the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House. Most people become enchanted by the experience, but some can get scared if too many butterflies land on them. Besides the delicate insects, the conservatory houses more than 150 tropical plants – in case you just want to focus on their beauty. Throughout the year, the Butterfly House also hosts special events for all ages, such as Morpho Mardi Gras, the BOOterfly House and Supper with Santa.
Hey, there’s a shark on track 36! The St. Louis Aquarium was retrofitted in a 19th-century train station, and visitors of all ages will love discovering which creatures now live along the tracks. The aquarium holds approximately 250,000 gallons of water and more than 13,000 animals. Keep an eye out for green sea turtles, paddlefish, sea dragons, cownose rays and Lord Stanley, the blue lobster. Love aquatic animals? Consider taking a behind-the-scenes tour of the St. Louis Aquarium, which includes personalized animal encounters that your kids won’t soon forget.
On a picturesque plot of land in St. Louis County, approximately 25 minutes from downtown St. Louis, Suson Park boasts a wonderful playground, catch-and-release fishing and a working animal farm. Kids can get up close and personal with cows, horses, pigs, sheep, chickens and turkeys, or you and your family can take a leisurely stroll around the grounds. Pack a picnic and enjoy a bite in one of the three shelters in the park.
Walk on the wild side at the World Bird Sanctuary. Founded in 1977, the sanctuary aims to protect and preserve all manner of winged friends through conservation, rehabilitation, education and advocacy. The World Bird Sanctuary encompasses more than 305 acres and houses more than 200 birds, offering a one-of-a-kind wildlife experience. Meet a proud eagle, talk to a colorful parrot, encounter an emu and learn to appreciate vultures. This is one attraction that you shouldn’t miss, and we recommend planning ahead to join a guided tour. Dark winter nights are the perfect time to join one of the Owl Prowls, for instance, where you can meet the amazing birds that fly by moonlight. Held on select evenings from November through March every year, Owl Prowls offer an exciting opportunity to learn more about the intriguing life of owls from a local naturalist. Come face-to-face with live owls, take an easy night hike across the grounds and try to call to an owl in the wild. Hoot. Hoot.
Designed specifically for families, Citygarden should be on your list of things to do in St. Louis. The downtown oasis includes conversation-starting sculptures, lush plant life, rain gardens, dancing fountains and a 180-foot-long shallow pool with a six-foot-tall waterfall where kids can cool off. This is a perfect pit stop between visits to the Gateway Arch and Busch Stadium – just make sure you have a towel handy.
City Museum is difficult to describe; it’s best to just go. Housed in a 600,000-square-foot former shoe company warehouse, the unique attraction is as much a playground as it is a museum. Exhibits consist largely of repurposed architectural and industrial objects, from broken tiles to safety deposit boxes to stainless steel buffet pans. This is a truly immersive experience, where you can climb into a bow whale’s mouth, rocket down a 10-story slide and pilot a plane suspended in the air. You can also navigate an underground tunnel system, marvel at pancake art, test your circus skills and write with the world’s largest pencil. How serious is City Museum about exploring? The gift shop sells knee pads – which aren’t a bad idea.
Located in the Old North St. Louis neighborhood, the Griot Museum of Black History reveals the broad scope of Black history and culture with educational and engaging exhibits. Its mission is to collect, preserve, interpret and share the stories of Black people, highlighting their regional connection to American history and their contributions to the country’s development. The core galleries of The Griot include artifacts, memorabilia and life-size wax figures. Most kids have fun “meeting” people who had a real impact on St. Louis, including Josephine Baker, Dred and Harriet Scott, James Milton Turner and Miles Davis.
At Laumeier Sculpture Park, you can enjoy more than 60 sculptures al fresco. Meandering along the walking trail through the 105-acre, open-air museum and sculpture park, you get a close-up view of a huge eyeball, a larger-than-life deer and a pile of massive, crumpled cylinders. You can even walk, climb or sit on some of the large-scale pieces. While you’re here, encourage your kids to invent their own titles for the sculptures and ask them what they see, think and feel about each piece. Like so many of the magical places in St. Louis, Laumeier Sculpture Park is free and open to the public.
An epic adventure for preschoolers and young children, The Magic House offers hands-on interactive exhibits, where they can explore a child-size village, investigate scientific wonders, discover a new culture and take on the role of a doctor or veterinarian. Older kids will also enjoy surrounding themselves in an enormous bubble, experimenting with a 3D printer and taking a video with their hand on an electrically charged ball. (Spoiler alert: It makes your hair stand up!) In the Star-Spangled Center, parents might even learn something about a U.S. president or two. On top of that, The Magic House hosts special exhibits and events throughout the year. It’s all located approximately 20 minutes from downtown St. Louis in the charming suburb of Kirkwood, which also provides parks and restaurants for more family fun.
Have you ever wanted to feel like a giant? The Miniature Museum of Greater St. Louis boasts an extensive collection of tiny objects in room boxes, dollhouses and displays. Located in the heart of the Bevo Mill neighborhood, the museum focuses on the cultural and educational aspects of the miniature works.
Explore the storied history of St. Louis, from its founding in 1764 to the present day. The Missouri History Museum’s exhibits occasionally change, but they’re always well done. Little ones will love the History Clubhouse, where they can build a downtown skyscraper, play house in the ancient city of Cahokia, serve food at the 1904 World’s Fair and pilot a steamboat on the Mississippi River. Coloring STL, another current exhibition, allows visitors to interact with St. Louis’ most fascinating buildings by coloring them, right on the walls.
A combination children’s museum, science museum and indoor playground, Myseum has 30 unique exhibits to explore. Kids can dig for dinosaurs, play with glow shapes, interact with the video wall, “work” at an imaginary zoo clinic and more. Every visit offers something new, educational and, above all, fun for growing minds. Just remember to bring socks!
The National Blues Museum explores the history of the blues and celebrates the genre as the foundation of all modern American music. Featuring artifact-driven exhibits and high-impact, technology-driven experiences, the museum has a cool factor for kids. During your visit, you’ll even have the opportunity to write your own blues song and add a guitar track – no strumming skills required.
The mighty Mississippi River has many stories to tell, and the National Great Rivers Museum wants to share them with you. Housed in a 12,000-square-foot facility adjacent to Melvin Price Locks and Dam, the museum is the direct result of a partnership between the Meeting of the Rivers Foundation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Through interactive exhibits, a theater and free public tours, the National Great Rivers Museum introduces people to the great rivers in the area, their unique environments, their roles in our history and their impact on our lives today. You can do a self-guided tour, but the daily tours led by staff members are more exciting for kids. Available at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., the tours take 45 minutes, and they allow you to experience the locks and dam from the view of a lockman.
Do your kids love planes, trains and automobiles? The National Museum of Transportation has one of the largest and best collections of transportation vehicles in the world, encompassing more than 190 major exhibits. Check out the Union Pacific #4006 – known as “Big Boy,” it’s the largest successful steam locomotive ever built. Ooh and aah at a 1901 automobile – built by the St. Louis Motor Carriage Co., it’s the oldest of only nine such cars still in existence. And marvel at Virgin Hyperloop’s Pegasus pod, which can transport cargo – and eventually people – at airline speeds with zero direct emissions. There’s a lot to climb in and on at the museum, and for the littlest ones, there’s the Creation Station play area.
Travel across time, places and cultures at the Saint Louis Art Museum. Boasting one of the country’s leading comprehensive collections, the free museum in Forest Park inspires discovery and elevates the human spirit. Younger kids will dig the colorful paintings and ancient artifacts, while older kids might enjoy a deeper dive into the artwork with an audio guide. On select Sundays, the museum offers family-friendly tours with hands-on activities; each Family Sunday features a different theme and art project. Wee Wednesdays – including a look at art from the museum’s collection, story time and an art activity – are also recommended for kids three to five.
Another fantastic and free attraction, the Saint Louis Science Center specializes in “Aha!” moments. As you test the laws of physics, sneak by a life-size, animatronic Tyrannosaurus rex, explore the night sky and build a replica of the Gateway Arch, you’ll ask and answer hundreds of questions. You might also consider paying for a special exhibition or a film at the OMNIMAX Theater if something sparks your interest.
Acrobats, aerialists, comedians and daredevils – Circus Flora has assembled the most breathtaking circus artists from around the world for an arresting and unforgettable family-friendly experience. The theater company, which performs at The Big Top in the Grand Center Arts District, specializes in one-ring circus productions, combining the energy of both traditional and modern circus arts. Aiming to engage audience members on different levels, it focuses on emotional narratives and inspirational physical feats. Don’t miss this opportunity to teach your kids that adventure and excitement are everywhere.
Ready for a showstopper? The Fabulous Fox attracts audiences from near and far for Broadway shows such as Frozen, The Lion King, Six and Wicked. Dress your best and enjoy a night at the theater, where the lights, costumes and songs will keep your kids enthralled. Before the curtain rises, grab a bite to eat at The Fountain on Locust – and save room for dessert! The ice cream cones, old-fashioned sundaes and creamy milkshakes are irresistible. The boozy floats and signature ice cream Martinis are also must-try treats for those 21 and older.
During summers in St. Louis, the limelight shines on The Muny. For more than 100 years, the outdoor theater has filled Forest Park with the sounds of Broadway, attracting out-of-town professionals as well as local talent for memorable musicals ranging from As You Like It (the very first production ever mounted at what would become The Muny) to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Every season features a few kid-friendly productions – think Matilda the Musical, Mary Poppins and Annie. The shows are enchanting, electrifying and empowering, and every night, there are free seats available on a first-come first-served basis, so everyone can experience the magic of live theater.
Want to take your kids to a live sporting event? From Cardinals baseball to Blues hockey to Battlehawks football, St. Louis gives fans something to cheer about all year long! Check out our St. Louis sports guide for more information.
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