22 Best Free Things to Do in St. Louis

Welcome to America's Newest National Park! Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis, Missouri is now the 60th national park and it has so much to offer in the way of culture and history. Here's everything you need to know about the park. #stlouis #nationalpark #gatewayarch

There are so many fun and free things to do in St. Louis, Missouri. Here are 22 of the best things to do, according to a local (aka me).

There are tons of reasons to visit the Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri. There’s art, there’s music, there’s beer, there’s food, there’s sports…whatever it is you’re interested in, you’ll find something in this underrated city to keep you busy. One of the BEST reasons to visit is all of the free things do in St. Louis.

I grew up just outside of St. Louis and let me tell you, I was spoiled for it. Most of the top attractions around here are free. We got to go to all of these places without worrying about admission fees or free days (granted, I was a child and wouldn’t have worried anyways). It wasn’t until I started traveling that I realized it’s not like that everywhere. In most cities, you have to PAY to go to museums and zoos and other attractions…

Yes, spoiled indeed.

We’re lucky to have so many awesome free attractions in St. Louis. While I’ve been to a lot of them, I fully intend to take advantage of being back home so I can go check out the rest.

So this is a call to all my fellow budget travelers: if you’re looking for a new city to explore here in the U.S., make St. Louis your next destination! I’ll be telling you more about it in future blog posts, but I’m starting here because I want everyone to see how affordable this wonderful city is.

Whether you’re planning to visit St. Louis and looking for budget-friendly attractions, or you’re a local looking for something new to do this weekend, this list is for you. I’ve got all the best free things to do in St. Louis right here.


free things to do st. louis


Best Free Things to Do in St. Louis


1. St. Louis Art Museum

A world-class art museum in Forest Park. There’s a wide range of exhibits housed inside of a World’s Fair building. The museum sits on Art Hill, overlooking the park.

    • Location: 1 Fine Arts Drive, Forest Park
    • Hours: Tue-Sun 10 am – 5 pm, Fri 10 am – 9 pm
    • Website
    • Note: Free parking available

2. Gateway Arch National Park

The newest National Park sits in downtown St. Louis. The focus is on the towering Gateway Arch, but the park also features the Old Courthouse, a museum, and walking trails.

    • Location: Downtown St. Louis
    • Hours: Grounds open daily 5 am – 11 pm, Arch daily 9 am – 6 pm (longer hours in summer)
    • Website
    • Note: The arch tram (to go to the top) requires a fee 

Read my Guide to the Gateway Arch


3. St. Louis Zoo

Considered one of the best zoos in the country, the St. Louis Zoo has great animal exhibits great for the whole family.

    • Location: Government Drive (Forest Park)
    • Hours: Daily 9 am – 5 pm, longer hours in summer
    • Website
    • Note: Free street parking around the park, or paid parking lot

4. Forest Park

One of the largest (and best) city parks in the country–it gives NYC’s Central Park a run for its money. You can walk, bike, golf, visit various museums & attractions, attend festivals, ice skate (in the winter), & more.

    • Location: Grand Drive, Forest Park, off Interstate 64
    • Hours: Daily 6 am – 10 pm
    • Website
    • Note: Attractions within the park have varying hours

5. Missouri History Museum

Learn about Missouri’s rich history, and especially St. Louis’, throughout the centuries.

    • Location: 5700 Lindell Blvd, inside Forest Park
    • Hours: Daily 10 am – 5 pm
    • Website
    • Note: Free Parking available

6. Grant’s Farm

Ride the tram to see historic sites & go on a “safari”, then interact with animals throughout the park. You can feed the animals for a fee.

    • Location: 10501 Gravois Road
    • Hours: April-October, hours vary by season
    • Website
    • Note: Paid Parking

7. Contemporary Art Museum

A beautiful gallery filled with contemporary art.

    • Location: 3750 Washington Blvd
    • Hours: Wed – Sun 10 am – 5 pm, Thurs/Fri open until 8 pm
    • Website
    • Note: Free street parking available

8. Pulitzer Arts Foundation

Art gallery with rotating exhibits.

    • Location: 3716 Washington Blvd
    • Hours: Wed – Sat 10 am – 5 pm, Fri until 8 pm
    • Website
    • Note: Free parking lot

9. Science Center

Cool, interactive exhibits for kids and adults alike. Science, space, and a bit of natural history.

    • Location: Off Interstate 64 in Forest Park
    • Hours: Mon – Sat 9:30 am – 4:30 pm, Sun 11 am – 4:30 pm (open until 5:30 pm in summer)
    • Website
    • Note: Planetarium require a fee

10. Cathedral Basilica

A beautiful Cathedral that welcomes visitors. Take a look on your own, or join a free tour. You can also check out the Mosaic Museum for a $2 donation.

    • Location: 4431 Lindell Blvd
    • Hours: Daily 7 am – 5 pm, Guided Tours available weekdays 10 am – 4 pm
    • Website
    • Note: Closed to visitors during events, weddings, & mass; Mosaic Museum requires $2 donation

11. Laumeier Sculpture Park

This 105-acre outdoor sculpture park is home to 60 large-scale works of art. There are multiple trails to explore the park, and the art is so cool to see in this beautiful park.

    • Location: 12580 Rott Road
    • Hours: Grounds open 8 am – Sunset
    • Website
    • Note: Open year-round

Read more about the Laumeier Sculpture Park


12. City Garden

An urban park located downtown filled with art, gardens, and fountains.

    • Location: Downtown St. Louis, 801 Market St
    • Hours: Daily sunrise – 10 pm
    • Website
    • Note: Parking available on street or nearby lots & garages

13. World Chess Hall of Fame

This institution celebrates the world of chess, featuring exhibits on its connection to culture, art, and history.

    • Location: 4652 Maryland Ave
    • Hours: Mon – Sat 10 am – 5 pm, Wed- Fri open until 9 pm, Sun noon – 5 pm
    • Website
    • Note: Paid parking nearby, $3 donation suggested

14. Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser) Brewery

Take a complementary 45-minute tour of the brewery to see the brewing process and the famous Budweiser Clydesdale horses. Other tours are available for a fee.

    • Location: 12th & Lynch St
    • Hours: Vary by season, check website for tour times
    • Website
    • Note: free tour is first-come first-served, other tours are available for a fee

15. Lone Elk Park

Take a quick driving tour through this park, or go for a short hike. The park is home to elk and bison, which you can see in designated areas. The World Bird Sanctuary is located here as well.

    • Location: 1 Lone Elk Park Road, Interstate 44 N Outer Road
    • Hours: 7 am – sunset
    • Website
    • Note: Best time to see wildlife is in the mornings

16. Castlewood State Park

Explore nature in this beautiful state park and go for a hike.

    • Location: Kiefer Creek Road, Ballwin
    • Hours: Year-round 7 am – dusk
    • Website

17. Delmar Loop

The Loop is a popular neighborhood/entertainment district with a lively atmosphere on weekends & during the summer. Lots to enjoy without spending money, like the St. Louis Walk of Fame, the Planet Walk, & free events throughout the year.

    • Location: Delmar Blvd, University City
    • Website
    • Note: Businesses & attractions on the loop will cost money

18. Grand Center Arts District

This is St. Louis’ main arts/culture district. Explore 17 galleries & museums, plus theaters, music venues, & more. Many places have free admission, and it’s a great place to be simply for the atmosphere.

    • Location: Centered around Grand Blvd in Midtown
    • Hours: Each place has varying hours
    • Website
    • Note: Attend the First Friday event for even more art

19. Moto Museum

This small museum has a private motorcycle collection on display for all moto lovers. It also functions as an event space, so it may be closed due to private events.

    • Location: 3441 Olive Street
    • Hours: Mon 9 am – 3 pm, Tue – Fri, 9 am – 4 pm
    • Website
    • Note: Call ahead to confirm it is open for viewing

20. Cahokia Mounds

This historic site is just a short drive from downtown. It was home to a pre-Coumbian Native American settlement, and it was the largest settlement of the Mississippian culture. You can walk the grounds, climb the mounds, and visit the interpretive center.

    • Location: 30 Ramey St. Collinsville, Illinois
    • Hours: Grounds open daily, Visitor Center Wed-Sun 9 am – 5 pm
    • Website
    • Note: Admission is free, but a small donation is encouraged

21. St. Louis Central Library

The St. Louis Central Library is located downtown, and it is an absolutely stunning building. You can wander through the library any time, and there is a free architectural tour on Mondays & Saturdays.

    • Location: 1301 Olive Street
    • Hours: Tours Mon & Sat at 11 am, noon, & 1 pm through summer
    • Website
    • Note: Only 1 Monday tour outside of summer hours

22. Jefferson Barracks Historic Park

This historic park is focused on Missouri’s military and civil war history. In addition to a large park with trails 7 picnic shelters, you’ll find museums & military exhibits to explore.

    • Location: 345 North Road
    • Hours: Park grounds open 8 am – sunset, facility hours vary
    • Website
    • Note: MO Civil War Museum requires a $7 fee

This is not an exhaustive list of free things to do in St. Louis. There are tons of small museums, parks, neighborhoods, activities, and historical sites in the area that won’t cost you a thing. I may add to this list in the future as I continue exploring my hometown, but these are definitely the top free attractions in St. Louis, the ones you don’t want to miss during your trip.

Once I write a blog post about the individual attractions, I will start linking them in the list. But for now I’m linking you to the official websites so you can get more information on each place!


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By Courtney Minor

Wandering around and writing about it.

6 comments

  1. Our granddaughter is visiting from Texas. Your free things blog re STL was great even though we live here.

    Like

  2. My son will be leaving soon to go back to College in Baton Rouge and I am trying to find a few days getaway (on a Budget) with him any suggestions.

    Like

    1. I’d recommend Kansas City for a quick trip. Filled with things to do, and pretty budget-friendly when it comes to cities (especially if you choose a hotel outside of the city).

      If you’re more interested in a road trip, you could drive down to the Ozarks Scenic Byway, and even head into Northwest Arkansas. Lots of natural scenery to see.

      Like

  3. Come see the Frank Loyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park! I think you will add it to your list of top destinations in STL. Docent led tours weekly at this remarkable Wright-designed residence, the only public Wright site in Missouri.

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