Welcome to St. Louis, Missouri, a captivating city nestled alongside the mighty Mississippi River! Prepare yourself for an exhilarating adventure filled with unforgettable experiences that won’t cost you a dime. Get ready to uncover the top 20 free activities in this vibrant city, where culture, education, and excitement await at every turn. So, join us as we embark on a journey of discovery, where St. Louis opens its doors to a world of endless possibilities and delightful surprises, all without breaking the bank!
#1. Visit The Gateway Arch
Standing tall as the world’s tallest arch and a symbol of our city, the Gateway Arch is an absolute must-see. While there is a cost to ascend to the top and enjoy breathtaking panoramic views, fear not, for there’s still plenty to experience without spending a penny.
Start by admiring the arch from the ground, marveling at its impressive design and significance. You can’t help but be captivated by its sleek curves and towering presence. As you stand in awe, take a moment to appreciate the history and symbolism this majestic structure holds.
But that’s not all! Beneath the arch lies a fascinating museum, and the best part is, entry is absolutely free. Immerse yourself in the exhibits that chronicle the story of St. Louis and the construction of this engineering marvel. Delve into the rich heritage, remarkable achievements, and the pioneering spirit that shaped our great city.
Afterward, step outside into the surrounding park area, where tranquility and natural beauty await. It’s the perfect spot for a leisurely stroll or a delightful picnic with loved ones. Breathe in the fresh river breeze as you relish in the stunning views of the Mississippi River and the city skyline.
#2. Explore Forest Park
Prepare to be amazed as you step into one of the largest urban parks in the entire United States, surpassing even the renowned Central Park in New York City. Forest Park is a sprawling oasis that beckons visitors with its boundless beauty and endless attractions.
As you venture into this expansive park, you’ll discover a wealth of captivating features that will leave you in awe. The Grand Basin, a stunning centerpiece of the park, greets you with its tranquil waters, reflecting the surrounding lush greenery and providing a picturesque setting for a leisurely stroll or a moment of quiet reflection.
Make your way to the World’s Fair Pavilion, a delightful structure that harkens back to the grandeur of the 1904 World’s Fair hosted in St. Louis. Here, you can soak up the historical ambiance while enjoying the park’s vibrant atmosphere. The pavilion serves as a gathering point for various events and festivities, offering a lively hub of activity.
If you’re an art enthusiast, don’t miss the opportunity to explore Art Hill, a picturesque slope that serves as a platform for open-air art exhibitions and performances. Admire the creativity of local artists or simply relax on the grassy hillside, taking in the artistic splendor that surrounds you.
Forest Park is also a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and active individuals. Lace up your running shoes or hop on your bike, and join the bustling community of joggers and cyclists who frequent the park’s scenic trails. Feel the invigorating breeze as you navigate the pathways, surrounded by the beauty of nature at every turn.
For families, Forest Park offers endless possibilities for fun and adventure. Pack a picnic and gather loved ones for a delightful outdoor feast amidst the park’s serene ambiance. Let the kids run and play in the expansive open spaces, creating memories that will last a lifetime.
#3. Stroll Through Citygarden
Nestled within the cityscape, Citygarden is a vibrant and eclectic blend of sculpture, architecture, and mesmerizing landscape design, spanning an impressive 2.9 acres.
As you enter this artistic haven, you’ll find yourself immersed in a world where imagination knows no bounds. Marvel at the 24 striking pieces of large-scale modern and contemporary sculptures, crafted by internationally renowned artists. Each sculpture tells a unique story, inviting you to explore the depths of creativity and contemplate the myriad of interpretations they evoke.
Citygarden offers much more than a mere art gallery experience—it’s an immersive outdoor sanctuary. Take a leisurely stroll through the pathways, surrounded by meticulously manicured gardens and serene water features. Every step reveals a new perspective, a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.
Photography enthusiasts will find themselves in heaven, as Citygarden provides countless opportunities for stunning selfies or capturing unforgettable moments amidst the art installations. Strike a pose with the sculptures as your backdrop, creating memories that will leave your friends and followers in awe.
Feel free to bring along a picnic basket and settle in one of the designated areas for a delightful meal surrounded by art. Savor each bite as you absorb the creative energy that permeates the space, making it a truly unique dining experience.
#4. Discover The Saint Louis Art Museum
Prepare to be immersed in a world of artistic wonders as we venture into the renowned Saint Louis Art Museum, nestled within the picturesque Forest Park. Here, art enthusiasts and curious visitors alike are treated to a treasure trove of creativity that spans centuries and continents.
As you step through the museum’s doors, you’ll find yourself surrounded by a collection that tells stories from five millennia, spanning six continents. With admission completely free of charge, you have the opportunity to explore over 30,000 works of art at your leisure. From ancient masterpieces to modern marvels, every corner of the museum holds a captivating tale waiting to be discovered.
Allow yourself to be transported through time and space as you wander through the carefully curated galleries. Marvel at the brushstrokes of renowned painters, be captivated by the intricate details of sculptures, and delve into the thought-provoking world of contemporary art. Each piece offers a glimpse into the artistic expressions that have shaped our history and culture.
Take your time to soak in the beauty and depth of the artwork, appreciating the skill and creativity of the artists. The museum provides an ideal environment for quiet contemplation, where you can connect with the emotions and narratives woven into each piece.
Beyond the art, the Saint Louis Art Museum itself is a work of architectural brilliance. The building’s grandeur and elegance enhance the overall experience, creating a harmonious blend of art and design. Every step reveals a new perspective, a new fusion of aesthetics that captivates the eye and invigorates the soul.
#5. Enjoy The Saint Louis Zoo
Get ready for a wild adventure as we make our way to the extraordinary Saint Louis Zoo! Nestled within the expansive beauty of Forest Park, this world-class zoological park not only captivates the imagination but also offers free admission for all visitors. Prepare to embark on a journey that brings you face to face with fascinating creatures from around the globe.
As you step foot into the zoo, you’ll be greeted by a symphony of sights, sounds, and scents. Lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!) await your arrival, ready to showcase their majestic beauty. From towering elephants to playful primates, from slithering reptiles to graceful birds, the diverse range of animals at the Saint Louis Zoo is sure to leave you in awe.
Explore the intricately designed habitats that provide a natural haven for the zoo’s residents. Witness the playful antics of penguins as they dive and swim, marvel at the graceful movements of dolphins as they leap through the air, or admire the vibrant colors of tropical butterflies in the immersive Butterfly House.
The Saint Louis Zoo is not only a place of wonder but also a center for conservation and education. Engage in interactive exhibits and educational programs that aim to raise awareness about the importance of preserving our precious wildlife and their natural habitats.
#6. Visit The Missouri History Museum
Step into the Missouri History Museum and embark on a captivating journey through time. Located in the heart of St. Louis, this remarkable museum is a gateway to the rich history and cultural heritage of the city and its surrounding region. With free admission, it invites you to explore a vast collection of exhibits that chronicle the stories, triumphs, and challenges of the past.
As you enter the museum, you’ll be transported to a bygone era, where historical artifacts and immersive displays bring history to life. Discover the early roots of St. Louis, from its Native American inhabitants to its role as a hub of exploration and trade along the Mississippi River.
The museum offers a wide range of exhibits that cover diverse aspects of history, including the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the Civil Rights movement, and the city’s vibrant cultural heritage. Engage with interactive displays, view rare artifacts, and listen to personal narratives that shed light on the experiences of those who shaped the city’s past.
One of the museum’s highlights is its rotating exhibits, ensuring that each visit offers something new and intriguing. From captivating temporary displays to thought-provoking installations, there’s always a fresh perspective to uncover and discover.
In addition to its permanent and temporary exhibits, the Missouri History Museum hosts a variety of engaging programs, lectures, and special events throughout the year. These events provide further opportunities to delve into the stories that have shaped St. Louis and its people.
#7. Experience The Magic House, St. Louis Children’s Museum
Although it’s not always free, the first Friday night of each month is a free family night at The Magic House. This award-winning children’s museum offers interactive exhibits designed to inspire curiosity and creativity.
As you step into The Magic House, be prepared to embark on an adventure like no other. Young minds are invited to explore hands-on exhibits that engage all the senses. From science experiments that spark wonder to art activities that unleash imagination, each exhibit is thoughtfully designed to foster learning through play.
Watch as your little ones become scientists, engineers, artists, and explorers, discovering new worlds and possibilities around every corner. Whether they’re building towering structures with blocks, conducting their own experiments, or putting on a captivating performance, The Magic House provides endless opportunities for children to learn, grow, and have a blast.
#8. Wander Around Lafayette Park
Take a leisurely stroll through the enchanting Lafayette Park, the first public park in St. Louis. Nestled amidst the city, this picturesque oasis offers a tranquil escape from the bustling urban environment. With its beautiful landscapes, serene lake, and surrounding historic Victorian houses, Lafayette Park invites you to immerse yourself in its timeless charm.
As you wander through the park’s pathways, let the captivating beauty of nature unfold before your eyes. Admire the meticulously manicured gardens, breathe in the fragrant blooms, and revel in the peaceful ambiance that envelops you. The park’s design reflects the influence of renowned landscape architect Andrew Jackson Downing, known for his contributions to 19th-century American park design.
Lafayette Park provides the perfect setting for a peaceful afternoon stroll, a rejuvenating jog, or a delightful picnic with loved ones. Find a cozy spot on the grass or beneath the shade of a majestic tree, and savor the moments of tranquility that this idyllic park offers.
As you explore further, you’ll discover the allure of the surrounding historic Victorian houses, which add a touch of timeless elegance to the park’s ambiance. Marvel at the architectural beauty and imagine the stories that these grand structures hold.
Lafayette Park serves as a gathering place for the community, hosting various events and activities throughout the year. From concerts to festivals, there’s always something happening that brings people together in celebration and camaraderie.
#9. Explore the Historic Bellefontaine Cemetery
Step into a place where history, art, and nature intertwine—the historic Bellefontaine Cemetery. As one of the nation’s premier rural cemeteries, it offers a captivating glimpse into the past while providing a serene and beautiful environment for reflection.
As you wander through the cemetery’s expansive grounds, you’ll encounter an impressive array of ornate tombstones, grand mausoleums, and captivating sculptures that pay homage to the lives and legacies of those who came before us. The cemetery’s rich history dates back to 1849, and it is the final resting place for many notable individuals who have left their mark on St. Louis and beyond.
Bellefontaine Cemetery is not merely a burial ground; it’s a place of art and natural beauty. The carefully landscaped gardens, tranquil ponds, and majestic trees create a peaceful atmosphere that invites contemplation and introspection. It’s the perfect setting for a peaceful stroll, connecting with nature, and paying respects to the past.
Throughout the cemetery, you’ll find numerous notable gravesites, including those of renowned figures such as William S. Burroughs, Adolphus Busch, and many more. Take a moment to honor their contributions and learn about their fascinating stories through guided tours or self-guided exploration.
The Bellefontaine Cemetery also hosts various events and educational programs that offer insights into the history, art, and cultural significance of this sacred space. From historical reenactments to art exhibits, there’s always something new and intriguing to discover within its hallowed grounds.
#10. Tour Anheuser-Busch Brewery
Get ready for a behind-the-scenes journey into the world of brewing as we visit the iconic Anheuser-Busch Brewery in St. Louis. Known for its rich brewing heritage and famous brands such as Budweiser, this historic brewery opens its doors to welcome visitors into a world of beer-making excellence.
Step into the heart of the brewing process as you embark on a guided tour through the brewery’s state-of-the-art facilities. Learn about the time-honored brewing techniques, the finest ingredients, and the meticulous craftsmanship that go into creating their world-renowned beers.
During the tour, you’ll have the opportunity to witness the brewing process in action, from the malting of grains to the fermentation and aging of the beer. Marvel at the massive brewing vats, inhale the aroma of hops, and witness the precision and dedication of the skilled brewmasters as they work their magic.
As you explore the brewery, you’ll also delve into the fascinating history and heritage of Anheuser-Busch. Discover the stories of the Busch family and their enduring commitment to quality and innovation. From the iconic Budweiser Clydesdales to the Budweiser Brew House, each aspect of the brewery reflects the passion and legacy that have made Anheuser-Busch a global beer powerhouse.
After the tour, enjoy a tasting session where you can savor a variety of their finely crafted beers, experiencing the flavors and nuances that have delighted beer enthusiasts for generations.
#11. Take in The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis
Prepare to be awe-struck by the architectural marvel that is The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. This majestic cathedral is renowned for its stunning design and is home to one of the largest mosaic collections in the entire Western Hemisphere. As you step inside, you’ll find yourself immersed in a world of grandeur and spirituality.
The cathedral’s intricate mosaics, meticulously crafted by skilled artisans, adorn the walls and ceilings, creating a breathtaking display of vibrant colors and intricate details. The sheer scale and beauty of these mosaics are sure to leave you mesmerized. Each mosaic tells a story, depicting scenes from biblical narratives and the history of the Catholic Church.
Visitors are welcome to explore this architectural masterpiece free of charge, though donations to support the upkeep and preservation of this cultural treasure are greatly appreciated. Take your time to marvel at the stunning artwork, bask in the ethereal glow of the stained glass windows, and experience a sense of serenity in this sacred space.
#12. Visit The Soldiers’ Memorial Military Museum
Pay homage to American service members at The Soldiers’ Memorial Military Museum, a solemn and poignant tribute to those who have served our nation. This historical museum offers a captivating journey through time, with exhibits dating back to the Revolutionary War.
Step into the hallowed halls and immerse yourself in the stories and sacrifices of the brave men and women who have defended our freedoms.
The memorial is open to the public free of charge, allowing visitors to gain a deeper understanding of our nation’s military history. Explore the galleries and displays that showcase military artifacts, photographs, and personal narratives, offering a glimpse into the challenges and triumphs of those who have served.
Through thoughtfully curated exhibits, The Soldiers’ Memorial Military Museum offers an educational and reflective experience. It honors the dedication, courage, and sacrifice of the individuals who have made significant contributions to our nation’s military legacy.
#13. Stroll Through The Missouri Botanical Garden on Free Admission Days
Step into a horticultural paradise at the Missouri Botanical Garden, a haven of natural beauty and tranquility. While admission is not always free, St. Louis City and County residents can enjoy complimentary entry every Wednesday and Saturday morning, allowing you to immerse yourself in 79 acres of breathtaking horticultural displays.
As you explore the garden’s vast expanse, you’ll encounter a myriad of delights. Admire the carefully curated gardens, each showcasing a unique theme and plant collection. Lose yourself in the serenity of the Japanese strolling garden, marvel at the Victorian elegance of Henry Shaw’s original 1850 estate home, and step into the iconic geodesic dome known as the Climatron, a tropical oasis teeming with exotic plants.
The Missouri Botanical Garden offers much more than just beautiful flora. It hosts a variety of educational programs, exhibitions, and special events throughout the year, providing opportunities for visitors of all ages to deepen their understanding and appreciation of the botanical world.
#14. Explore The St. Louis Science Center
Embark on a journey of scientific exploration at the St. Louis Science Center, where curiosity knows no bounds. This world-class science center offers a multitude of free galleries and exhibits that invite guests of all ages to engage with science in fun and interactive ways. Prepare to be captivated by the wonders of the natural world, technological advancements, and the mysteries of the universe.
Explore the various themed galleries, where you can delve into the realms of physics, biology, chemistry, and more. Marvel at the life-size animatronic dinosaurs that transport you back in time to the age of the dinosaurs, or step into the Discovery Room, where hands-on activities and experiments await eager young minds.
The St. Louis Science Center is not just a place for passive observation. It encourages active participation, allowing visitors to conduct their own experiments, engage in interactive displays, and unravel the secrets of scientific phenomena. Discover the magic of electricity, witness the power of tornadoes, or embark on a cosmic journey through the planetarium.
In addition to its exhibits, the science center also hosts fascinating presentations, live demonstrations, and special events that delve into the latest scientific discoveries and advancements. From interactive shows to educational workshops, there’s always something happening to ignite your curiosity and expand your understanding of the world around us.
#15. Visit The Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site
Immerse yourself in the life and legacy of the 18th U.S. President at the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site. Located in St. Louis, this historic site provides a glimpse into the personal and political life of Ulysses S. Grant, offering visitors a deeper understanding of one of the nation’s most prominent leaders.
The free admission grants you access to tour the main house, where Grant and his family resided during critical moments in American history. Step back in time as you explore the rooms and furnishings, and gain insights into Grant’s life as a military hero, president, and private citizen.
The site also features outbuildings that provide a glimpse into the daily lives of the Grant family, including the stables, icehouse, and chicken coop. As you wander through the grounds, you’ll encounter informative exhibits and displays that shed light on Grant’s military career, his presidency, and the impact he had on the nation.
Additionally, the visitor center offers a wealth of resources, including informative videos, artifacts, and interpretive exhibits. Learn about Grant’s contributions to the Civil War and the nation’s path to reconstruction, and gain a deeper appreciation for his enduring legacy.
The Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site serves as a reminder of the challenges and triumphs that shaped our nation. It invites visitors to reflect on the complexities of history, honor the contributions of great leaders, and understand the impact they had on our society.
#16. Enjoy Music at the Blues at the Arch Concert Series
Get ready to groove to the rhythm of the blues at the annual Blues at the Arch concert series. Every August, St. Louis comes alive with the soulful sounds of blues music in this free outdoor concert series. Celebrating the city’s rich blues heritage, these concerts offer a fantastic musical experience for everyone.
Underneath the iconic Gateway Arch, immerse yourself in the electrifying atmosphere as talented musicians take the stage and fill the air with soul-stirring melodies. From passionate vocals to soulful guitar solos, the blues will captivate your heart and transport you to the heart and soul of St. Louis’ vibrant music scene.
Whether you’re a die-hard blues fan or simply looking for a memorable night out, Blues at the Arch promises to be an unforgettable experience. So, grab a blanket or a lawn chair, bring your friends and family, and let the music move you as you sway and groove to the timeless rhythms of the blues.
#17. Check Out The Old Courthouse
Step into history at the Old Courthouse, a remarkable landmark where the landmark Dred Scott case was held. Today, this historic courthouse has been transformed into a free museum that offers visitors a glimpse into the rich history of St. Louis and its pivotal role in the westward expansion of the United States.
Explore the hallowed halls of the Old Courthouse and immerse yourself in the stories that unfolded within its walls. Discover the details of the Dred Scott case, which played a significant role in shaping the fight for freedom and equality in America. Through interactive exhibits, artifacts, and informative displays, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the struggles and triumphs of the past.
Beyond the Dred Scott case, the Old Courthouse Museum provides insights into the history of St. Louis itself. Learn about the city’s growth, its vibrant culture, and the individuals who played instrumental roles in its development. From exhibits on early settlers to the architectural significance of the building, the museum offers a comprehensive exploration of the city’s past.
#18. Discover The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis
Immerse yourself in the world of contemporary art at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. With free admission, this captivating museum showcases the meaningful art of our time through a series of rotating exhibitions. It’s a must-visit for contemporary art enthusiasts and those seeking a thought-provoking cultural experience.
As you step into the museum, prepare to be captivated by the diverse range of contemporary artwork on display. From paintings and sculptures to multimedia installations and performance art, each exhibition presents a unique perspective and invites you to engage in the dialogue surrounding modern society.
The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis is committed to supporting emerging artists and fostering innovation in the art world. By showcasing thought-provoking and boundary-pushing works, it serves as a platform for creative expression, cultural exploration, and social commentary.
With its ever-changing exhibitions, the museum offers a fresh and dynamic experience with each visit. Each artwork challenges conventional norms, sparks conversations, and encourages you to see the world through a different lens. It’s a space that celebrates creativity and invites you to engage with the art on a personal and intellectual level.
#19. Visit The Tower Grove Park
Escape into the natural beauty of Tower Grove Park, a vibrant urban green space that beckons visitors with its Victorian pavilions, lily ponds, and a stunning collection of over 300 species of trees and plants. This picturesque park is not only a haven of tranquility but also a hub of community engagement. Throughout the year, Tower Grove Park hosts a variety of free concerts, farmers markets, and festivals that bring the community together in celebration of nature and culture.
As you stroll along the park’s winding pathways, you’ll be greeted by the scent of blooming flowers, the gentle rustling of leaves, and the vibrant colors that surround you. Find a peaceful spot to relax or gather with friends for a delightful picnic amidst the lush landscapes. The Victorian pavilions provide charming settings for gatherings, and the lily ponds offer a tranquil backdrop for moments of reflection.
Tower Grove Park is not only a place of natural beauty but also a vibrant cultural hub. Throughout the year, the park comes alive with free concerts, featuring talented musicians from various genres. Indulge in the melodies that fill the air, soak up the festive atmosphere, and dance to the rhythm of live music.
In addition to the concerts, Tower Grove Park hosts farmers markets where you can peruse a bountiful array of fresh produce, artisanal goods, and local delicacies. Experience the vibrant energy of the community as you connect with local vendors, support sustainable practices, and savor the flavors of the season.
#20. Explore The St. Louis Public Library
Before we conclude our journey through St. Louis, we invite you to explore the stunning Central Library building, an architectural masterpiece that stands as a testament to human ingenuity and knowledge. The library offers free tours that will take you through its fascinating history and grand design, providing insights into its role as a hub of learning and literacy.
As you step inside the Central Library, prepare to be transported to a world of elegance and sophistication. The beautifully adorned interior, with its intricate details, soaring ceilings, and grand staircases, creates a sense of awe and wonder. Marvel at the exquisite craftsmanship and architectural marvels that make this library a true gem.
During the guided tour, you’ll learn about the library’s origins, its growth over the years, and its importance as a cultural and educational institution in St. Louis. Discover the wealth of resources it holds, from an extensive collection of books to digital archives and multimedia materials that cater to diverse interests and pursuits.
Beyond its architectural splendor and vast collection, the Central Library hosts a range of free exhibits, lectures, and events throughout the year. From art exhibitions to author readings, there’s always something happening that enriches the cultural fabric of the community.
As our journey through St. Louis comes to an end, we hope you’ve discovered the vibrant spirit, rich history, and diverse array of experiences that this remarkable city has to offer. From iconic landmarks to cultural gems, St. Louis invites you to explore, engage, and create lasting memories. Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, there’s always something new to discover, an adventure awaiting around the corner. So what are you waiting for? Start exploring St. Louis today!