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8 Things to Do in St. Louis with Kids


Article by City Lifestyle

Photography by Shutterstock

St. Louis is a family-friendly city with lots of things to do with kids.

To animal attractions like the zoo, Grant’s Farm and the aquarium to expansive playgrounds like the Missouri Botanical Gardens and the Magic House, this town has endless opportunities for family fun.

Gather up the little ones and see all the fun things St. Louis has to offer for kids!

Fun Things to Do in St. Louis with Kids

Get Your Thrills at Six Flags 

Six Flags St. Louis has plenty of big roller coasters for the older crowd, but the theme park also has lots of rides for kids! It includes plenty of outdoors and indoors entertainment, making it the perfect place for all kinds of weather.

At Bugs Bunny National Park, kids can find all sorts of rides and attractions designed especially for them. Climb in the tree fort and go down the slides at Bugs Bunny Fort Fun, fly through the air in propeller planes on Bugs Bunny Ranger Pilots, or climb aboard a train on Foghorn Leghorn National Park Railway. 

If your kids love outer space, then they’ll love Marvin the Martian Camp Invasion. Your little astronauts will climb inside the futuristic spaceship for a wild through outer space. 

Want to make a splash? Then take the kids on Thunder River, the ultimate white water rafting adventure. The round river rafts take you through unpredictable currents, swirling whirlpools and rushing waterfalls. Don’t expect to stay dry as water will splash into the raft when you bump into the stone walls and rush down steep channels. 

For more water thrills, jump into a log-shaped raft and glide down a river at the Log Flume. First, take a relaxing ride through the woods—but don’t get too comfortable! This ride ends with a steep drop and a big splash that will soak all passengers aboard. 

To dry off, swing through the air on the spinning chair lift at Daffy Duck Stars on Parade. Then take a spin in a classic car at Moon Antique Cars, choose your favorite horse at the Grand Ole Carousel or take a leisurely ride on the Colossus Ferris wheel.

In addition to all the thrilling rides for kids, Six Flags is also home to the Looney Tunes gang. Meet Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety Bird and all their friends as they wander throughout the park. Be sure to pose for a photo with your favorites!

Turtle Playground: A Unique St. Louis Park

Established in 1996, Turtle Playground is one of the city’s most unique and beloved outdoor things to do.

Kids of all ages are drawn to these giant concrete reptiles—a snapping turtle, a soft-shell turtle, a red-eared slider, a Mississippi map, three box turtles and a stinkpot turtle—which range in length from 7 to 40 feet. 

Created by Bob Cassily, founder of the City Museum, Turtle Playground also includes seven oversized turtle eggs, three of which include hatching baby turtles; and a long snake that appears to take a bite out of the Tamm Avenue overpass.

The park was designed by Richard Claybour and was funded by Sonya Glassberg as a gift to the children of St. Louis. The turtles are named for her children and grandchildren.

The playground is part of Forest Park and can be accessed by the Tamm Avenue overpass near the St. Louis Zoo parking lot.

Come Out and Play at the St. Louis Zoo

Perhaps the most well-known free outdoor things to do in St. Louis is the zoo.

The St. Louis Zoo has been free since its founding in 1910, giving equal access to its 3 million visitors annually. Located in Forest Park, the zoo is home to more than 13,000 animals in an attractive, family-friendly environment.

The St. Louis Zoo offers so much to see and do that multiple visits are definitely a must!

The Emerson’s Children’s Zoo is a 3.5-acre area at the zoo that aims to bring children and the animals closer together. It is home to nearly 300 animals, including the endangered Matschie’s tree kangaroo, meerkats, fennec foxes, Tasmanian devils, Hoffman’s two-toed sloth, river otters and naked mole rats. Visitors can brush goats; pet rabbits and guinea pigs; meet reptiles, birds and amphibians; and more. 

The Emerson Children’s Zoo also has a playground, which has an acrylic slide through the otter pool, climbing structures, a farm-play area and more. After extensive updates and expansion work, the children’s zoo opened in 1998 in the same location as the former children’s zoo, which opened in 1969.

Everyone loves sea lions, and at the St. Louis Zoo, these adorable animals are on prominent display at the new Judy and Jerry Kent Family Sea Lion Sound. This popular attraction combines Sea Lion Basin and Sea Lion Show in a 1.5-acre exhibit in the heart of the zoo.

For the first time in North America, visitors can walk through a 35-foot underwater tunnel, the Holekamp Aqua Tunnel, and watch the sea lions all around them! 

Observe the playful sea lions in the outdoor pool at Sea Lion Landing, which features varying depths of water and shallow outcroppings. A shallow beach at one end of the pool is where the sea lions can sunbathe, feed and train. 

If the kids can’t get enough sea lion action, be sure to catch a sea lion show at the Lichtenstein Sea Lion Arena. The arena boasts 811 seats, a large stage, a 40,000-gallon see-through pool, a rock bridge extending into the audience, a high diving platform and a slide—all designed to showcase the sea lions’ many tricks and talents!

River's Edge is the St. Louis Zoo's first immersion exhibit—a lushly planted naturalistic environment showcasing multiple species from around the world. It is home to animals from Africa, South America, North America and Asia, including capybaras, hippos, elephants and cheetahs.

Kids will love Anheuser-Busch Hippo Harbor, a 55,000-gallon aquarium where massive Nile hippos swim and play. 

Venture over to Asia to see the world’s largest land animals, Asian elephants. These adorable creatures live in a spacious habitat where they can splash in the water, take a dust bath and graze on grass and leaves.

Over at Africa Savanna, endangered black rhinos wallow in the mud to protect themselves from insects and heat. 

No visit to the St. Louis Zoo is complete without exploring Big Cat Country! Admire these beautiful animals in a large natural habitat that includes trees, shrubs, boulders, a pool and a 27-foot waterfall. Spot (pun intended) leopards, cheetahs, lions, tigers as they wrestle, climb, run and pace their territory.

The St. Louis Zoo also has Polar Bear Point, Penguin & Puffin Coast, an Insectarium, the 1904 Flight Cage and so much more to see and do. No wonder it's one of the most popular outdoor things to do!

Cheap Things to Do: Kid-Friendly Fun for the Budget-Conscious

Animals, History and Fun at Grant’s Farm

Grant’s Farm is home to more than 900 animals and honors both the 18th president of the United States and the Busch family legacy.

Grant’s Farm is one of the best things for families to do together, with its variety of attractions and beautiful atmosphere. Grant’s Farm offers free admission, but it costs $15 to park. Kids can ride the classic carousel ($3), feed parakeets ($3) and baby goats ($2), ride camels ($7) and more. 

The whole family will enjoy the free narrated tram ride that traverses the expansive farm. Learn about the history of the land; Ulysses S. Grant’s cabin on the property; and the many species of animals, including bison, Black Buck Antelope and zebras. 

One of the most impressive attractions at Grant’s Farm is the Bauernhof, a 1913 building that houses the Busch family’s world-renowned carriage collection and stables. The Bauernhof surrounds a beautiful courtyard where visitors can enjoy lunch from the Braut Haus and adults can sample complimentary Anheuser-Busch products from the hospitality room.

Discover the Beauty of Nature at Missouri Botanical Garden

The Missouri Botanical Garden offers discounted tickets to St. Louis City/County residents. With proof of residency, adult tickets are $6, seniors are $4 and children 12 and under are free.

Roam the 79-acre garden, the nation’s oldest botanical garden in continuous operation, and admire beautiful displays such as the Chinese Garden, the English Woodland Garden, the Victorian District and the Climatron. 

The Doris I. Schnuck Children’s Garden, open April through October, is nearly 2 acres of space for kids to learn the significance of plants and nature in fun and innovative ways. Venture into a limestone cave, board a steamboat, explore the wetlands, slide down Spelunker’s Slide, climb a treehouse or visit a Midwestern prairie village. 

The children’s garden’s theme is A Missouri Adventure, which brings botany and 19th-century history to life in a way that appeals to both kids and adults.

When the temperature reaches 70 degrees, the Splash Area in the garden turns on to keep kids cool. Admission to the children’s garden is free for kids ages 2 and under and ages 13 and up, $5 for non-members and $3 for members. 

The Missouri Botanical Garden also has programs designed to educate, inspire and enrich kids of all ages. Little Sprouts is a seven-week session ($105 for members; $126 for non-members) for 2- and 3-year-olds and their parents and includes indoor, hands-on activities; songs; stories; snacks; and a walk in the Garden. 

Indoor Things to Do: Learn + Grow Little Minds

St. Louis Science Center: A World of Wonder

The St. Louis Science Center, one of the only free nonprofit science museums in the country, is filled with hands-on exhibits and attractions such as the Life Science Lab and the Discovery Room.

Marvel at the life-sized animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex, stargaze at the McDonnell Planetarium, and watch a movie at the OMNIMAX Theater. Even teens will be amazed by the truly immersive experience of the five-story, 80-foot diameter dome.

The Science Center is also home to the McDonnell Planetarium, which has the world’s most realistic star projector, Zeiss Universarium Mark IX. It is the largest artificial sky in the Western Hemisphere, projected onto an 80-foot dome. Planetarium shows include Live Sky Tonight, Gateway to the Solar System, The Constellations and more. 

McDonnell Planetarium also contains the Boeing Space Station, which features two levels of exhibits that illustrate the future of space travel. The Orthwein StarBay’s SBC Learning Center gives you a glimpse of life on the International Space Station. The StarBridge has exhibits that demonstrate the roles involved in maintaining a space station.

Make Memories at the Magic House St. Louis Children’s Museum

The Magic House is over 60,000 square feet of interactive learning exhibits. In the Children’s Village, kids can catch toy fish in a pond, stock shelves at the grocery store, use tools to service a car, climb a treehouse and more.

The Magic House’s brand-new Waterfall Patio invites kids of all ages to splash around. Spin water wheels, use hand pumps, tip buckets and more at this outdoor attraction.

If your kids love art projects, the Art Studio and Make-It Workshop will challenge them creatively with all sorts of crafts. They can paint a picture, sew on a real sewing machine, create a sculpture and see a 3D printer in action!

The Magic House is known for its electrically charged ball, which makes your hair stand up on end when you touch it. This is a must-have photo opportunity! 

New Things to Do: The Up-and-Coming Attractions

Dive Deep at the St. Louis Aquarium

If you’re looking for the best, new things to do with kids, one of the city’s latest attractions is the St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station. The 120,000-square-foot aquarium contains more than 13,000 animals and boasts 44 exhibits.

If your kids can’t stop singing “Baby Shark,” they’ll be amazed by all the sharks swimming in the 250,000-gallon Shark Canyon. At the Touch Pools, kids can pet cownose rays, bamboo sharks, sea stars and more. Get up close to the aquarium’s animal ambassadors, such as a ball python and a sugar glider, and ask their caregivers questions. 

In The Ocean Shore gallery, kids can splash in the tidal pools and meet some of its fascinating yet often misunderstood residents, such as horseshoe crabs, sea cucumbers and pencil urchins.

The Confluence gallery explores the city’s two most prominent rivers: the Mississippi River and the Missouri River. Here, you’ll learn about the region’s most important fish, like largemouth bass and crappie; and spot ancient fish like longnose gar and paddlefish. 

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