A group enjoys free beer on a tour of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in St. Louis.

30 Things to Do in St. Louis for Less Than $30

Wednesday April 26, 2023

By Rachel Huffman

Traveling on a budget? St. Louis has an abundance of free and affordable activities that you shouldn’t miss.

Here are our top picks for things to do during your trip that won’t break the bank.

Cruise on the Riverboats at the Gateway Arch

The Riverboats at the Gateway Arch cruise along the Mighty Mississippi.

The Riverboats at the Gateway Arch award guests one of the best views of St. Louis’ working riverfront, the Gateway Arch and the city skyline. Narrated by the captain or a National Park Service ranger, the St. Louis Riverfront Cruise highlights the history of the Gateway City and the Mighty Mississippi. Cruises run daily from March through November, but times vary. Tickets are $24 for adults (aged 16 to 59), $22 for seniors (aged 60 and older), $14 for children (aged 3 to 15) and free for infants (aged 0 to 2). Before or after the one-hour cruise, stop by The Paddlewheel Café for pretzels with cheese, pulled pork nachos, chicken Caesar wraps and more.

Cheer On the St. Louis Cardinals

Fredbird gets St. Louis Cardinals fans to cheer at Busch Stadium.

Join the best fans in baseball as they descend on Busch Stadium for St. Louis Cardinals games. There’s nothing quite like the atmosphere at the retro-style stadium, which opened on April 10, 2006, becoming a good luck charm for the home team – the Cardinals became the first team in almost 100 years to win the World Series in the inaugural season of a new ballpark. With 46,000 seats, you’ll likely find one that costs less than $30 – and has a spectacular view of downtown St. Louis.

Take a Tour at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery

The Anheuser-Busch St. Louis Brewery offers tours to the public.

Comprised of elaborate, red-brick buildings with rounded arches, embellished cornices and castellated rooflines, the Anheuser-Busch brewery in St. Louis is the company’s flagship brewery. During a tour, you can explore the campus and visit the Clydesdales before taking a seat in the Anheuser-Busch Biergarten and enjoying a cold one – on the house. Each tour explains the life of an Anheuser-Busch beer from seed to glass, and the Finisher Tour (starting at $20 per person) will even give you a taste of beer straight from the finishing cellars.

Let Loose at City Museum

City Museum features enchanted caves that delight guests of all ages.

An architectural playground for all ages, City Museum has ever-evolving, always-thrilling spaces that you can explore for hours. The weirdly wonderful attraction boasts a 10-story slide, the world’s largest pencil, an underground tunnel system and a school bus hanging off the roof – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In the 600,000-square-foot former shoe company warehouse, you can marvel at more than 29,000 artifacts from around the world – plus, pancake art! Don’t be afraid to act like a kid again, and then we recommend using your adult privileges to grab a drink at one of the eccentric bars.

See a Show at The Muny

The audience cheers for a dazzling performance at The Muny in St. Louis.

Every summer, The Muny fills Forest Park with the sounds of Broadway. Attracting out-of-town professionals as well as local talent, the outdoor theater dazzles audiences with every production, and if you’re in town at the right time, we recommend seeing a show here. In its 105th season, The Muny will bring Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Chess, West Side Story, Little Shop of Horrors, Rent and Sister Act to the stage. The shows promise to be 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.

Celebrate St. Louis’ Music History at the National Blues Museum

The National Blues Museum features interactive exhibits.

During the Great Migration from 1910 to 1970, more than six million Black Americans moved from the rural South to the urban Northeast, Midwest and West. Blues musicians followed the movement upriver from the Mississippi Delta, and in time, they established a unique St. Louis sound. 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. Want to see a live performance? Check out the museum’s Howlin’ Friday concert series, which pays tribute to icons such as Al Green, Tina Turner, Ray Charles and Erykah Badu. Tickets to the concerts are $25 a person.

Marvel at Public Art

People walk among The Walls Off Washington.

From the playful sculptures in Citygarden to the vibrant murals in The Grove, public art is everywhere in St. Louis. Sculptures, murals, fountains, mosaics and memorials enrich our streets and parks and illustrate a wide range of innovative concepts, projects and programs. The Walls Off Washington, a new art initiative by the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, also features striking murals with uplifting imagery created by local, national and international artists, while Counterpublic weaves contemporary art into St. Louis life for three months every three years. As one of the world’s largest public art forms, the latter exhibits artist commissions throughout the region, including three anchor sites – Sugarloaf Mound, The Griot Museum of Black History and CITYPARK stadium, home of St. Louis CITY SC – which you can experience any time. Discover more public art on the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis website.

Dig into Emblematic Eats

Rich, moist and tender, gooey butter cake is one of St. Louis' most emblematic eats.

St. Louis-style pizza, pork steak, frozen custard – the Gateway City has iconic dishes that delight everyone, from the pickiest eaters to the most ardent epicures, and each one comes with its own history, tradition and irresistible flavor. Take gooey butter cake, for instance. Legend has it that St. Louis’ signature dessert was concocted when an absentminded baker forgot that he’d already added butter to his yellow cake mix and unknowingly doubled the amount. If you want to try another fortuitous dish, order toasted ravioli for the table. The St. Paul sandwich, which layers a hot, crispy egg foo young patty, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and a smear of mayonnaise between two slices of white bread, also has a story behind it. According to popular belief, the sandwich was invented by Steven Yuen, owner of Park Chop Suey on Chouteau Avenue, in the 1940s, as a way to draw more Missourians into his restaurant. Unique yet familiar, the sandwich began attracting attention, and its flavor and affordability helped it rise in popularity. You can savor each of these emblematic eats – plus, the slinger – for much less than $30 a person. Bon appétit!

Join the Circus at The Big Top

Circus Flora performs at The Big Top.

Assembling the most breathtaking circus acts from around the world, Circus Flora offers an arresting and unforgettable experience at The Big Top in the Grand Center Arts District. This summer, the theater company enters the daring world of espionage! With nods to beloved spy stories, Undercover, a one-ring circus production, introduces the world’s top double agent, who faces an archvillain obsessed with world domination. Aerialists, acrobats, contortionists and comedians will craft this thrilling story, which will captivate your whole family. Tickets start at $10.

Walk Among an Ancient City at the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site

People climb Monks Mound at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site.

The remains of the most sophisticated prehistoric indigenous civilization north of Mexico are preserved at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site less than 10 miles from downtown St. Louis. The people who lived here – the Mississipians – were accomplished builders, and they erected a wide variety of structures, from practical homes to monumental public works that have maintained their grandeur for centuries. With more than five miles of trails, 100-foot-tall mounds and an engaging interpretive center, you and your travel companions will leave the site with a greater understanding of this ancient city and exciting stories to share with family and friends.

Watch a Bird Show at the Saint Louis Zoo

See Winging It, a new bird show, at the Saint Louis Zoo.

A leading zoo in animal management, research, conservation and education, the Saint Louis Zoo should be at the top of your travel bucket list. General admission is free, as is street parking, but if you have a few extra dollars – $3.95 a person, to be exact – buy tickets to Winging It, a new bird show, which the Saint Louis Zoo will launch in partnership with the World Bird Sanctuary on May 6. In the amazing, free-flying presentation, a variety of native and exotic birds will demonstrate their natural abilities, and trainers will separate fact from fiction when it comes to our feathered friends and their behaviors. Birds such as bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, American barn owls and turkey vultures will take the stage at the zoo’s Lichtenstein Sea Lion Arena on select dates from May 6 to Oct. 1.

Play All You Want at Main Event

A family plays a game at Main Event in Chesterfield.

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!

Discover a New Band at The Duck Room

Up-and-coming artists perform at The Duck Room inside Blueberry Hill.

The Duck Room, the legendary live music club that opened inside Blueberry Hill in 1997, saw Chuck Berry, the first person inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, play here once a month for 209 consecutive months in an unforgettable concert series. Today, the venue welcomes a slew of up-and-coming artists. Time your visit to this hallowed and historic setting to coincide with a show that excites you. Live music performances happen several nights a week, and tickets typically range from $10 to $25.

Splish-Splash at the St. Louis Aquarium

The St. Louis Aquarium is retrofitted in a 19th-century train station.

Let your imagination set sail at the St. Louis Aquarium. Retrofitted in a 19th-century train station, 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? Splurge on a behind-the-scenes tour of the St. Louis Aquarium, which includes personalized animal encounters that your kids won’t soon forget. The 45-minute tours cost $16 per person in addition to the general admission tickets, which range from $18 to $27 (children aged two and younger are free).

Journey from Grain to Glass at StilL 630

David Weglarz, owner of StilL 630, poses with three of his "Indomitable Spirits."

Resembling the lab of a mad scientist, StilL 630 is lined with bottles of botanicals. David Weglarz, who founded the craft distillery in 2011, loves to experiment, distilling different ingredients in different proportions in different barrels in search of awesome new recipes. “I love what I do; I hope that shows,” Weglarz says, “and I hope that you really enjoy StilL 630. Life is to be seized and savored, and the best days require the best spirits.” The award-winning distillery, just south of downtown St. Louis, offers tours, tastings and bottle sales of its “Indomitable Spirits,” including Gateway Barreled Gin, Expedition Rum, Cask-Strength S.S. Sorghum Whiskey and Cask-Strength Missouri Straight Bourbon Whiskey. The Grain to Glass Tour, in particular, is affordable, educational and fun.

Stroll Among the Souls at Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum

Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum in St. Louis is a great place to take a walk.

If you want to venture farther off the beaten path, head to Bellefontaine Cemetery & Arboretum, which encompasses more than 9,500 trees, representing 560 species, as well as babbling streams, pristine lakes, swarms of bees and butterflies and the occasional red fox or turkey. With more than 170 years of history, Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum is not only a tranquil burial site; it’s also a beloved local landmark and a shining example of environmental stewardship. Throughout the year, it hosts more than 300 events, covering a range of topics from history to horticulture, but you can also roam around the grounds on your own.

Pick Your Own Produce at Eckert’s

A family picks fruit at Eckert's.

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.

Learn Something New About St. Louis with See STL

From the top of the Gateway Arch, you can see across downtown St. Louis.

Guided tours get a bad rap, but they’re one of the best ways to connect with a place – plus, you usually learn fun facts that you can’t find anywhere else! If you want to take a deep dive into local history and culture, sign up for See STL walking tours. Led by the Missouri Historical Society, the two-hour walking tours are $20 a person, and they explore a range of topics and neighborhoods, from great music to urban renewal and Laclede’s Landing to Cherokee Street. Mixing historical knowledge and engaging storytelling, the guides have an infectious enthusiasm for St. Louis, and they know how to keep a crowd entertained.

Visit a Temporary Exhibition at the Saint Louis Art Museum

The Saint Louis Art Museum is one of the city's free attractions.

Boasting one of the country’s leading comprehensive collections, the Saint Louis Art Museum inspires discovery and elevates the human spirit. Located in Forest Park, the museum is free, but every year, it presents ticketed exhibitions that tell new stories. “The stories that art tells help us reflect on our history, better understand our present and inform our future, so we must ask what stories we want to tell,” Min Jung Kim, director of the Saint Louis Art Museum, says. “Then, we begin to identify exhibitions that have a particular appeal for our audience.” Currently, the public can view two ticketed exhibitions: Age of Armor: Treasures from the Higgins Armory Collection at the Worcester Art Museum and Monet/Mitchell: Painting the French Landscape. Later in the season, the museum will explore modern and contemporary Native American art and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the birth of hip-hop with two more temporary exhibitions. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and students, $6 for children and free for toddlers and infants. Insider tip: Ticketed exhibitions are free every Friday.

Get Up Close and Personal with Nature at the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House

Get up close to nature at the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House.

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.

Share a Pint

St. Louis has one of the best beer scenes in the U.S. with more than 65 craft breweries, including Schlafly Beer.

In St. Louis, great beer is a way of life. Ours is a city built on brewing, and today, people from all walks of life travel from near and far to make memories over a pint. Anheuser-Busch serves as a hub for brewing innovation, using the highest-quality ingredients, grown by American farmers, to produce more than 30 brands of beer. St. Louis also boasts almost 65 craft breweries. As you explore the region’s beer scene, we hope that you’ll raise a glass at one of our favorite spots, including 4 Hands Brewing Co., Melvin Brewing Eureka, Narrow Gauge Brewing Co., Schlafly Beer and Urban Chestnut Brewing Co.

Go Back in Time at the Jefferson Barracks Telephone Museum

The Jefferson Barracks Telephone Museum features hands-on displays alongside an extensive collection of telephones manufactured from the late 1800s through 2012.

To the generations that remember life before smartphones, we think that you’ll have a blast poking around the Jefferson Barracks Telephone Museum. The self-guided history museum in Jefferson Barracks Park has hands-on displays alongside an extensive collection of telephones manufactured from the late 1800s through 2012. You can marvel at military telephones from World War I through the Gulf War, operator switchboards from the 1920s and 1960s, a variety of novelty telephones and a telephone poll complete with climbing equipment.

Visit the Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park

The Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park is built on geometric shapes.

Frank Lloyd Wright is widely recognized as the greatest American architect of the 20th century, and at the Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park, you can experience one of his unique designs firsthand. Nestled on more than 10 acres of grassy fields in Kirkwood, the 1,900-square-foot residence was built for Russell and Ruth Kraus in the 1950s, and today, it remains an excellent example of Wright’s democratic vision, meant to provide middle-class Americans with beautiful architecture at an affordable cost. Tours of the home are available year-round, and advance booking is recommended.

Feed the Goats at Grant’s Farm

A girl feeds the goats at Grant's Farm.

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.

Sip a Flight of Cider at Brick River Cider Co.

The ciders from Brick River Cider Co. are made from fresh-pressed Midwestern fruit.

Homestead Peach. Summer Tart. Mission Mango. Firehouse Rosé. These are just a few of the options for your flight at Brick River Cider Co. Housed in former Engine House Number 32, approximately six blocks north of St. Louis Union Station, Brick River makes ciders from fresh-pressed Midwestern fruit. The building, constructed in 1892 as the largest fire station west of the Mississippi River, is now a laid-back tap room and gastro pub with garage-style doors that open on nice days. Semi-sweet and dry ciders impart hints of apple and peach, getting you as close to the orchard as possible in St. Louis.

Make a New Friend at Build-A-Bear Workshop

An oversized teddy bear makes a girl laugh at Build-A-Bear Workshop.

Cute and cuddly, Build-A-Bear stuffed animals will make your little ones smile. Originally conceived as a place for children to create their own teddy bear with a step-by-step process, including the iconic Heart Ceremony, Build-A-Bear Workshop is now a multigenerational, multidimensional global brand. Its line of stuffed animals has also expanded to include aquatic, farm and woodland animals as well as characters from Disney, Marvel, Harry Potter, Star Wars and Pokémon.

Test Your Wits at Escape Challenge St. Louis

Teenagers use their wits to get out of a room at Escape Challenge St. Louis.

Concentration, creativity and collaboration. Perception, patience and persistence. Your team will need these skills to break out of Escape Challenge St. Louis, where ordinary rooms are turned into engaging mysteries. Perfect for problem-solvers aged 12 and older, the scenarios are specifically designed to give guests a unique escape experience. So, gather your group and see if you can beat one of the high scores. Right now, there are two rooms priced at $25 a person: Stranger Times, which will transport you to 1984 Hawkins, Indiana, and Three Strikes – And Your Out, which will have you swinging for the fences.

Make Your Hair Stand on End at The Magic House

Kids play in the St. Louis CITY SC exhibit at The Magic House.

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.

Pour Your Own Candle at The Candle Fusion Studio

Create your own candle at The Candle Fusion Studio in Saint Charles.

Candles have calming properties, but sometimes, it’s difficult to find the perfect one for your home or office. Enter The Candle Fusion Studio, where you can customize your fragrance and pour your own candle. Individuals can get creative at the candle bar whenever the shop is open, and the candle-making process takes approximately 30 minutes. Once your candle has been poured, it takes two hours to set. While you wait, smell some of the unexpected yet enticing aromas of the shop’s hand-poured, soy-wax candles. Does baked bread, Bordeaux, candy cane, fig, flannel, hops, lemongrass, Santa’s pipe, summer lawn or whipped cream appeal to your senses?

Explore Missouri’s Buried Treasure at Meramec Cavern

Meramec Caverns features glistening stalactites and magnificent stalagmites.

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 ziplining or a scenic excursion on the Meramec River aboard a canopy-topped riverboat.