Top 10 Fun Things to Do When Visiting St. Louis

By Bob Haegele · May 15, 2023 · 10 minute read

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Top 10 Fun Things to Do When Visiting St. Louis

Welcome to your gateway to the Midwest: St. Louis! The city is a fun, energetic place to visit; it’s packed with culture, history, parks, and live music. If you play your cards right, you’ll never be bored in this Midwestern metropolis.

Whether you prefer to indulge in delectable dishes or marvel at historical landmarks, you’re sure to find something in St. Louis. So get ready as we journey from the top of the Arch to the endless city parks and beyond. You’ll learn not just the best things to do in the city, but also smart strategies about when to go and how to score deals.

Best Times to Go to St. Louis

The best time to visit St. Louis depends on your preferences and what you hope to see. However, for most people, the best times to visit St. Louis is likely to be in the fall or spring for two reasons. First, St. Louis can be bitterly cold in the winter and hot and sticky in the summer. For these reasons, you might prefer the milder weather in the fall or spring.

In addition, some of the city’s best events occur when the weather is less extreme. For instance, there is the St. Louis Renaissance Festival, which runs from September to October. There is also the Taste of St. Louis and the Great Forest Park Balloon Festival, both of which take place in September. If you visit these attractions, consider a travel credit card to earn some extra points or miles.

This isn’t to say there is nothing to do outside of the fall in St. Louis. In the spring, there is St. Louis Earth Day. Plus, baseball starts in spring, so it’s always a great time to catch a game.

On the topic of events, however, you might want to bundle up and head to St. Louis in the winter. One of the best events in the city is Soulard Louis Mardi Gras, which takes place in January and February. While it isn’t necessarily the best time to visit in general, it’s an amazing event if you love Mardi Gras. The St. Louis event features a family festival, scavenger hunt, and a cajun cook-off.

Bad Times to Go to St. Louis

Bad times to visit St. Louis will also depend on your preferences. However, there are certain things you may want to avoid:

•   Extreme weather: St. Louis can be extremely hot in the summer with temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit and a hefty dose of humidity. This might complicate your summer travel plans. In the winter, temperatures can drop below freezing at times, with periods of snow and ice that make walking and driving dangerous.

•   Tourist season: St. Louis often experiences an influx of crowds in the summer months and around on holiday weekends. This can mean long lines at tourist attractions.

•   Baseball games: The St. Louis Cardinals tend to draw big crowds when there are home games. If you aren’t a baseball fan or don’t like crowds, it’s best to stay away, especially from the areas near the stadium.

•   Spring allergies: While spring is a great time to visit St. Louis, there can be a lot of pollen during this time. If you are highly sensitive to pollen, you may want to visit during a different time of year.

Average Cost of a St. Louis Vacation

The cost of a vacation in St. Louis depends on several factors, depending on where you stay, what you eat, and the length of your stay. Keep in mind that credit cards often include travel insurance to protect you against unexpected costs and cancellations. This is good in its own right and may keep you from spending on separate trip insurance.

You will likely find St. Louis to be more affordable than cities like New York or Los Angeles. Of course, the cost estimates are also different for individuals and couples. Here’s what to expect:

For individuals:

•   Hotels: $80 to $200 per day for mid-range hotels, depending on the location and amenities and what steps you take to save money on hotels.

•   Food: $25 to $50 per day.

•   Transportation: Public transportation is $1 per ride for buses and $2.50 for trains in St. Louis. Day passes cost $5. However, renting a car may be necessary, depending on where you are staying.

•   Attractions: $10 to $25 per attraction, depending on what you decide to see.

This works out to an average budget of about $120 to $275 per day for individuals. A cash back or miles credit card could help you offset some of that cost.

For couples:

•   Hotels: $80 to $200 per day for mid-range hotels, depending on the location and amenities.

•   Food: $50 to $100 per day.

•   Transportation: Public transportation is $1 per ride for buses and $2.50 for trains in St. Louis. Day passes cost $5. If you will be flying to St. Louis, look into using an airline credit card.

•   Attractions: $20 to $50 per attraction, depending on what you decide to see.

This works out to an average budget of about $155 to $400 per day for couples. If you are struggling with the cost, look into book now, pay later vacations, but be careful about incurring too much high-interest debt.

10 Fun Must-Dos in St. Louis

There are so many fun things to do in St. Louis that narrowing it down is tough. However, there are certain things you can’t miss, especially if you’ve never been to St. Louis. Those attractions are included here, as are some hidden gems you may not have considered.

This list is culled from crunching the top ratings found online for the best things to do in St. Louis, as well as picking the brains of seasoned travelers who’ve been to this Missouri city.

1. Visit Gateway Arch National Park

It’s difficult to think of a single attraction that is a stronger focal point in a city’s identity than Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis. At 630 feet tall, the Gateway Arch is a feat of engineering and represents the connection St. Louis makes to the western United States. While scaling the Arch is the obvious highlight, there is also a museum on-site and plenty of walking trails around the monument. Tickets for the tram ride to the top and back typically range from $11 and up for kids to $15 and up for adults.

2. Go on a Ghost Hunt in the Lemp Mansion

The Lemp Mansion is a historic estate located in the Benton Park neighborhood. The mansion was home to the Lemp family, who dominated the local beer market before Prohibition. However, Frederick Lemp, who ran the William J. Lemp Brewing Co., tragically died of heart failure. After William died, three Lemp family members took their own lives. Now, you can go on a ghost hunt at the Lemp Mansion, which is an ode to the home’s troubled past. The tours are typically $25 per person.

3. Go on a Tour at Anheuser-Busch

If you love beer (and even if you don’t), going on a tour at Anheuser-Busch is a must when in St. Louis. Tours start at $15 per person, including experiences like seeing the famous Clydesdales, meeting the brewmaster, and some beer samples. The brewery also features a beer museum, a gift shop, and classes. If tours aren’t your thing, you can also visit the beer garden or restaurant on-site.

4. Check out Citygarden

Here’s one of the fun free things to do in St. Louis: If you enjoy modern art and the outdoors, you can’t leave without visiting Citygarden Sculpture Park. Located downtown, the park features various greenery, fountains, and most notably, an array of modern-art sculptures. There are 25 sculptures from 23 artists spanning 12 decades. This park allows dogs, which is perfect if you are traveling with pets. It’s also a fun thing to do in St. Louis with kids, and it’s wheelchair-accessible.

5. Enjoy Forest Park

Opened in 1876 and spanning 1,300 acres, Forest Park is one of America’s oldest and largest public parks. The park is so large that it contains several other major attractions, including the St. Louis Art Museum, the St. Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Science Center, and the Missouri History Museum. Admission to every one of these attractions is free, so you could easily spend multiple days just visiting Forest Park.

6. Explore the Soulard Farmers Market

Located on the grounds of the “Grand Hall,” the Soulard Farmers Market is an open-air market and one of the oldest farmers markets in the United States. It features various fresh meats, produce, and baked goods. It features 147 stalls and is open Wednesday to Saturday year-round. While an ATM is on-site, the farmers market recommends bringing low-denomination bills if possible.

7. Catch a Baseball Game

People are passionate about sports in St. Louis with baseball as the focus. Head to Busch Stadium to see the St. Louis Cardinals play. Even if you don’t love baseball, attending a game can be a great experience on a spring or summer evening. Grab a beer and hot dog, and soak in the crack of the bat hitting the ball and the oohs and aahs of the crowd. Credit card rewards sometimes give you cash back for entertainment, so don’t forget to earn extra points if you go to a game.

8. Traverse the Katy Trail

If you’re looking for an escape from the city, go for a walk or a bike ride on the Katy Trail. You can pick the trail up in St. Charles, just on the other side of the Missouri River. However, Katy Trail is the country’s longest developed rail/trail, spanning 240 miles between Machens and Clinton. It features 26 trailheads and four fully restored trail depots along the trail.

9. Take a Ride to Union Station

St. Louis Union Station was once a bustling rail station, transporting more than 100,000 people per day at one point. President Harry Truman, Joe DiMaggio, and Joan Crawford all came through the station back in those days. Now, the station is home to attractions like the St. Louis Aquarium and the St. Louis Wheel. Unlike the museums at Forest Park, these attractions aren’t free, but adult tickets start at $25 for the aquarium and $15 for the Ferris wheel. If you’re struggling with the costs, building a travel fund can help.

10. Visit the St. Louis Science Center

As mentioned earlier, the St. Louis Science Center is connected to Forest Park grounds and accessible via an aerial bridge in the park’s southeast corner. The museum has more than 700 interactive experiences within 10 galleries. Among those experiences are a planetarium and a four-story OMNIMAX® Theater. Note that while admission to the Science Center is free, the museum is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Getting Around

As mentioned earlier, trains and buses are very cheap in St. Louis, so using them is a good idea if possible. While there are many great areas in the city, some of the best areas to visit are Midtown, Forest Park, and Soulard. Whether you are traveling alone or traveling with family, St. Louis has a lot to offer.

The Takeaway

St. Louis is known as the gateway to the West, but this exciting city has no shortage of things to do. With everything from farmer’s markets to haunted mansion tours, from museums to hiking trails, St. Louis has all the entertainment you need — and then some.

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Is St. Louis good for tourists?

St. Louis is a great city for tourists, with free museums, outdoor parks, and the Gateway Arch. There’s more than enough to keep tourists entertained in the city.

What is St. Louis best known for?

St. Louis is known for many things, including the Gateway Arch, the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, and its various parks and museums.

How to spend 3 days in St. Louis?

Three days should give you enough time to see some of the city’s highlights. On the first day, you might visit the Gateway Arch, one of the city’s museums, and a brewery. On the second day, you could visit the botanical garden, Forest Park, and then go for dinner and perhaps see some live music. On the third day, you could explore Soulard, catch a baseball game, and if you prefer, see the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.

Photo credit: iStock/Sean Pavone

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