Wondering what activities and attractions you can’t miss in the Gateway to the West? Our guide to the best things to do in St. Louis is just what you need!
The historic “Gateway to the West,” St. Louis, Missouri, is an eclectic metropolis home to Midwest modesty, blues music, bangin’ food, and die-hard sports fans.
With over 200 years of history since its establishment, this city has become well-known for its broad range of accomplishments in music, sports, architecture, art, and culture.
In addition, there are tons of free attractions that tourists and locals alike take advantage of, from museums to historic sites.
The city houses many historic landmarks and was home to the famed general and United States president, Ulysses S. Grant. The rich St. Louis history makes for a refreshing, informational, and adventurous trip for history buffs and those looking to learn more about the vibrant city. But that’s not all.
St. Louis has been home to some of the world’s top blues and ragtime musicians. It is also home to the oldest symphony orchestra in the U.S.
And don’t forget about the food! St. Louis is a famous foodie city, recognized for mastering old favorites and city staples for a unique cuisine loved by all.
So check out our list of the best St. Louis attractions guaranteed to make your trip a unique and memorable experience!
READ NEXT: Heading to the Missouri capitol next? Here is our list of the best things to do in Kansas City, Missouri.
Table of Contents
- The Best Things to Do in St. Louis, Missouri
- 1) Stroll Through The Stunning Missouri Botanical Garden
- 2) Take In History & Art At The Saint Louis Art Museum
- 3) Learn About Local History At The Missouri History Museum
- 4) Visit The Place Of Champions At The St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum
- 5) Enjoy The Great Outdoors At Forest Park
- 6) Discover & Connect At The Saint Louis Science Center
- 7) Spend A Family Day At The Magic House, St. Louis Children’s Museum
- 8) Explore Downtown St. Louis
- 9) Observe The Renowned Game At The World Chess Hall of Fame Museum
- 10) Step Back In Time At The Campbell House Museum
- 11) Release your Inner Child at the St. Louis City Museum
- 12) Test Your Bravery On A Tram Ride Up To The Iconic Gateway Arch
- 13) Visit The Home Of The Impactful President At The Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site
- 14) Taste The Wonders Of The City On Saint Louis Food Tours
- 15) Find All Sorts Of Fun Attractions At The Historic Union Station
- 16) Go Out To A Ballgame At The Busch Stadium
- 17) Tour Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park, The Kraus House
- 18) Check out the National Museum of Transportation
- 19) Visit The Culture Gem of St. Louis At Laumeier Sculpture Park
- 20) See The Iconic Budweiser Clydesdale Horses At Grant’s Farm
- 21) Bask In The Stunning Architecture Of The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis
- Where to Stay in St. Louis, Missouri
The Best Things to Do in St. Louis, Missouri
The excellent travel destination of St. Louis, Missouri, offers plenty of fun and memorable attractions. From catching a Cardinals Game to exploring Forest Park and the Saint Louis Zoo, this city is a place of adventure, history, culture, and memories waiting to be made!
1) Stroll Through The Stunning Missouri Botanical Garden
Stretching across 79 acres, this peaceful oasis in St. Louis features one of the world’s largest collections of endangered and rare flora.
Often called Shaw’s Garden after the founder and philanthropist Henry Shaw, the Missouri Botanical Garden was founded in 1859, standing as the nation’s oldest botanical garden in continuous operation.
As a National Historic Landmark, the garden is a famous center for science education and botanical research. In the garden, stunning horticultural displays and historic architecture are scattered throughout the refreshing refuge from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Check out the Chinese Garden or the Japanese Garden. There is also a Children’s Garden for the young ones and the Tower Grove House, the original country home of the founder of the botanical garden, Henry Shaw.
Two other properties that the Missouri Botanical Garden owns outside the city limits are the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House and the Shaw Nature Reserve.
The Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House is committed to raising awareness of the natural habitats where butterflies thrive and live. In addition, the Shaw Nature Reserve spans 2500 acres as a premier educational and habit restoration site. Both are stunning attractions we highly recommend visiting!
- Address: 4344 Shaw Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63110, United States
- Hours: 9 am – 4 pm (Closed Mondays)
- Cost: $14
2) Take In History & Art At The Saint Louis Art Museum
An enigmatic structure in Forest Park, the Saint Louis Art Museum is one of the top art museums in the United States, featuring cultural objects, ancient masterpieces, and more.
Over half a million people visit this art museum a year for its world-renowned collection that boasts over 34,000 objects that span over 5,000 years of culture and history.
The museum was founded in 1879 and has since gone on to impact millions of lives since its establishment.
The Saint Louis Art Museum began with a collection of assorted plaster casts and electrotype reproductions in its beginning years and now, in the present, shares original works of art that span five millennia and six continents, making the museum the best of its kind.
If you’re a big art lover, also check out the Contemporary Art Museum!
- Address: 1 Fine Arts Dr, St. Louis, MO 63110, United States
- Hours: 10 am – 5 pm (Closed Mondays, closes at 9 pm on Fridays)
- Cost: Free
3) Learn About Local History At The Missouri History Museum
Operated by the Missouri Historical Society, the Missouri History Museum started in 1866.
Since its founding, the museum has expanded its repertoire and collection to become one of the most visited history museums in the nation, and its historic building became the first national monument to Thomas Jefferson.
As a result, visitors can step into the history of St. Louis’s founding to present-day occurrences and impacts throughout the museum.
In addition, the collection expands over 150 years of history, featuring one of the country’s largest collections of historical materials and artifacts of any regional history museum.
- Address: 5700 Lindell Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63112, United States
- Hours: 10 am – 5 pm (Closed Mondays, closes at 8 pm on Thursdays)
- Cost: Free
4) Visit The Place Of Champions At The St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum
Located in downtown St. Louis, the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum shares the spectacular history of players and personnel of the professional baseball team, the St. Louis Cardinals.
This unique attraction presents the largest team-specific collections of memorabilia and artifacts worldwide for visitors to witness impactful sports and local history moments.
Throughout the museum’s seven galleries is a chronological journey that explores the franchise’s birth, championship moments, top broadcasters, and more.
- Address: 700 Clark Ave, St. Louis, MO 63102, United States
- Hours: 10 am – 6 pm daily
- Cost: $12
READ NEXT: The Perfect 3 Days in Chicago Itinerary
5) Enjoy The Great Outdoors At Forest Park
Forest Park opened in 1876 and has become a prominent attraction for locals and tourists alike, making it one of the best things to do in St. Louis!
Often hosting significant events like the 1904 Summer Olympics and the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904, Forest Park features tons of cool attractions.
You can visit the St. Louis Zoo, which is a fun activity for the whole family. Or climb up Art Hill and have a picnic while admiring the views.
Follow the Dual Path system for either intense workouts or relaxing walks, or attend a local festival or event.
This park has a reputation as one of the most stunning urban parks in the world while being one of the greatest civic treasures in the city, attracting 13 million visitors yearly.
- Address: 5595 Grand Dr, St. Louis, MO 63112, United States
- Hours: 6 am – 10 pm daily
- Cost: Free
6) Discover & Connect At The Saint Louis Science Center
Founded as a planetarium in 1963, the Saint Louis Science Center combines a few buildings, including a planetarium and a science museum near Forest Park.
One of only three non-profit science museums in the United States, the center has shown its efforts and commitment by serving more than one million people every year, becoming one of the largest science centers in the world.
When visiting the Saint Louis Science Center, participate in over 700 interactive opportunities in ten galleries, watch an educational movie at the four-story OMNIMAX Theater, and check out the indoor-outdoor GROW agricultural pavilion and galleries, McDonnell Planetarium.
- Address: 5050 Oakland Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63110
- Hours: Monday, Thursday – Saturday: 9:30 am-4:30 pm, Sunday: 11 am-4:30 pm, Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays
- Cost: Free admission, some special events and exhibitions cost extra (check the website for more info!)
7) Spend A Family Day At The Magic House, St. Louis Children’s Museum
The Magic House is St. Louis Children’s Museum, where hands-on learning experiences are used to teach children of all ages by sparking imagination and intrigue through various interactive exhibits.
The museum was founded in 1979 in a small Victorian mansion in Kirkwood, Missouri. It became the region’s first children’s museum, growing to become an award-winning national landmark.
The quaint Victorian mansion started at 5,500 square feet, expanding to 55,000 square feet to welcome more learners, field trips, summer camps, scout programs, and family STEAM nights through its doors.
Since its establishment, The Magic House has become an award-winning education destination and was recognized as the #2 children’s museum in the United States.
- Address: 516 S Kirkwood Rd, St. Louis, MO 63122, United States
- Hours: 10:30 am – 5 pm (opens at 9:30 am on Tuesdays and Saturdays)
- Cost: $12.50
8) Explore Downtown St. Louis
Known for its hustle and bustle and famous attractions, downtown St. Louis Missouri is full of adventure, history, art, sports, live music, historic buildings, and great food!
Pick out the iconic Gateway Arch, the city’s symbol that soars over the Mississippi shore. Then, head to the Busch Stadium ballpark for hotdogs, popcorn, and a game. Hungry? Step on to Ballpark Village, full of sports bars and restaurants, or Washington Avenue, which features eateries serving Italian, BBQ, and Tex-Mex.
Reserve tickets at the Dome at America’s Center arena for popular events and performances, or book a performance of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.
Also check out the local architecture and history, particularly at the Old Courthouse.
On this trolley tour of the city, you can see all the most famous sites, local favorites, and hidden gems of St. Louis with informative commentary to learn more about the history and culture of this popular city.
9) Observe The Renowned Game At The World Chess Hall of Fame Museum
Celebrating the game of chess, the World Chess Hall of Fame educates others through its collection, preservation, exhibition, and interpretation of chess.
One of the world’s oldest and most celebrated games, chess is appreciated at this attraction through engaging exhibitions that encourage creativity and education.
The World Chess Hall of Fame homes the United States and World hall of fame for chess, honoring every inductee with a plaque and their listed contributions to the game.
Explore the permanent collection of scoresheets, chess sets, photographs, trophies, and more at the hall of fame, highlighting the spectacular events and significant players of chess history.
- Address: 4652 Maryland Ave #1, St. Louis, MO 63108, United States
- Hours: 10 am – 8 pm on Wednesday – Friday, 10 am – 5 pm on Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday, 12 pm-5 pm on Sunday
- Cost: Free
10) Step Back In Time At The Campbell House Museum
Established in 1851, the Campbell House was the home of a well-known entrepreneur and fur trader, Robert Campbell, and his family.
The Campbell House Museum stores hundreds of artifacts from the Campbell family, including furniture, letters, clothing, carriages, and photographs.
For history and architecture lovers, the Campbell House Museum is a must-visit when traveling to St. Louis. The museum and preserved home is a step into what the 19th century’s wealth looked like.
- Address: 1508 Locust St, St. Louis, MO 63103, United States
- Hours: 10 am – 4 pm Wednesday – Saturday, 12 pm – 4 pm Sundays, Closed Mondays and Tuesdays
- Cost: $10
11) Release your Inner Child at the St. Louis City Museum
One of the more unique things to do in St. Louis is visit the City Museum.
Full of interactive exhibits and fun installations, you’ll find yourself feeling like a kid again as you explore the museum. There are slides, tunnels, caves, and tons of cool things to see.
Most of the City Museum is made up of repurposed objects, from furniture to industrial objects. Wear comfy clothes and spend the day climbing, crawling, and exploring.
Often referred to as an “architectural playground”, this interesting museum is fascinating for people of all ages.
- Address: 750 N 16th St, St. Louis, MO 63103, United States
- Hours: Check the calendar as hours often change
- Cost: $20
Book your admission ticket in advance on Get Your Guide!
12) Test Your Bravery On A Tram Ride Up To The Iconic Gateway Arch
An iconic towering landmark at 630 feet, the Gateway Arch is one of the best things to do in St. Louis. It is an exceptional monument that draws one’s gaze and camera when traveling to St. Louis, Missouri.
Honing the record for the world’s tallest arch and Missouri’s tallest accessible building, this landmark features stainless steel formed into a weighted catenary arch.
The arch was founded by the National Park Service in 1935 in honor of Thomas Jefferson’s vision for the transcontinental United States. The Gateway Arch National Park includes the area around the Arch as well, including the Old St. Louis County Courthouse.
For a thrilling experience, take the four-minute tram ride to the top of the Gateway Arch from the visitor center. At the viewing platform you can overlook the Mississippi River and the surrounding scenery.
And on this guided tour of the Gateway Arch and Old Courthouse, including a photo shoot to memorize the experience, you can remember the day forever!
- Address: Gateway Arch, St. Louis, MO 63102, United States
- Hours: 9 am – 6 pm
- Cost: Tram rides to the top start at $15
13) Visit The Home Of The Impactful President At The Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site
The Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site, often called the White Haven, is located in downtown. It commemorates the presidency, military career, and impact of President Ulysses S. Grant.
A victorious Civil War general, Ulysses S. Grant not only saved the Union, but Grant also saved the President of the United States.
Grant met his future wife at her family home, White Haven, which has since been preserved and restored to be now called the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site.
At the National Historic Site, visitors can expect to spend at least an hour watching the orientation film leaping into the incredible history and impact Ulysses S. Grant has had on the United States.
You can also take a guided tour of White Haven, aged over 200 years old, and explore the park museum that homes a historic horse stable completed in 1872 along with six permanent exhibits.
- Address: 7400 Grant Rd, St. Louis, MO 63123, United States
- Hours: 9 am – 5 pm
- Cost: Free
14) Taste The Wonders Of The City On Saint Louis Food Tours
A popular foodie city, St. Louis is home to various cuisines embraced readily by locals and tourists alike!
The unique food staples of the city are widely known as “St. Louis Style,” where the Midwest menu conjoins impactful food creations that make for an outstanding experience for one’s taste buds.
Whether it be BBQ, Italian, pizza, pastries, and unique sandwiches, St. Louis has it and masters it for a one-of-a-kind, mind-blowing meal.
Check the website for a full list of their tours and prices.
READ NEXT: Heading east? Here is our list of the best things to do in Washington DC!
15) Find All Sorts Of Fun Attractions At The Historic Union Station
The Union Station is a National Historic Landmark and train station that first opened in 1894 as the largest in the world, featuring tracks and passenger service on one level.
Saint Louis was known back in the day as the gateway to the West, and in 1894, it became the gateway to all of America when the first train entered Union Station.
And after its opening, the train station became the busiest and largest passenger rail terminal in the world. Some notable names who walked the station include Joan Crawford, President Harry Truman, and Joe DiMaggio.
The present-day station hosts famous attractions, including the Carousel, the St. Louis Wheel, the Mirror Maze, the St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station, Mini Golf, and Ropes Course.
16) Go Out To A Ballgame At The Busch Stadium
The home stadium of the professional major league team, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Busch Stadium is an enigmatic stadium featuring 61 luxury suites, 3,706 club suites, and 44,494 seating capacity.
Situated in downtown St. Louis, the stadium presents a retro style that welcomes around four million fans and climbs each season.
The Busch Stadium’s home team, the St. Louis Cardinals, became the first team in nearly a century to win a World Series Championship during the inaugural season of a new ballpark.
Since 2011, the St. Louis Cardinals have played 61 playoff games, breaking the record. And you can see this top MLB team play at the Busch Stadium, surrounded by roaring fans and a thrilling atmosphere!
- Address: 700 Clark Ave, St. Louis, MO 63102, United States
- Hours/Cost: Check the MLB website for game schedules and tickets.
17) Tour Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park, The Kraus House
Designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park, widely known as the Kraus House, is nestled on 10.5 acres in Kirkwood, Missouri.
The home is widely recognized due to its design by one of the most widely famed American architects of the 20th century, Frank Lloyd Wright. The uniquely designed home features a 1,900-square-foot space and is the first building designed by Wright of five in the St. Louis area.
The Kraus House is an example of Wright’s democratic vision, in which the architect intended to provide spectacular architecture at affordable costs to middle-class Americans.
- Address: 120 N Ballas Rd, Kirkwood, MO 63122, United States
- Hours: Tours are available Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays (book online here)
- Cost: $20
18) Check out the National Museum of Transportation
Those who love history are spoiled for options in this city!
The 40-acre National Museum of Transportation was established in 1944 and houses lots of fascinating exhibits and displays relating to rail and transit.
Focusing on the history of transportation in the USA, this museum is the largest collection of its kind in the world. You can even go on trolley rides or mini-train rides.
- Address: 2933 Barrett Station Rd, St. Louis, MO 63122, United States
- Hours: 9 am – 4 pm
- Cost: $15
19) Visit The Culture Gem of St. Louis At Laumeier Sculpture Park
The Laumeier Sculpture Park stuns those that visit the 105-acre open-air museum and sculpture park.
Housing over 60 outdoor sculptures, the park is one of the first and largest sculpture parks in the United States. Internationally recognized, Laumeier Sculpture Park features more than 70 works of large-scale outdoor sculptures, serving over 300,000 visitors each year.
Explore the 1816 stone mansion with its indoor gallery and museum shop. Then, take in the seven main outdoor galleries in the stretching green space. The options are endless in this creatively inspiring park where imagination and dreams meet the great outdoors.
- Address: 12580 Rott Rd, Sappington, MO 63127, United States
- Hours: 8 am – 8 pm
- Cost: Free
20) See The Iconic Budweiser Clydesdale Horses At Grant’s Farm
A historic farm and landmark, Grant’s Farm is one of the best things to do in St. Louis. It was constructed by the famous U.S. president and general, Ulysses S. Grant, before being passed on to the Busch family.
The farm is settled on 281 acres and is preserved as the ancestral home of the Busch family. The historic farm homes have more than 900 animals and over 100 species from six continents, preserving the Busch family’s love for animals and wildlife conservation.
Visiting this trademark attraction of St. Louis, you’ll see buffalo, peacocks, kangaroos, and even the iconic Budweiser Clydesdales.
On the site of Grant’s Farm is the family mansion known as the “Big House” or “White Haven,” where Ulysses S. Grant resided with his wife.
- Address: 7385 Grant Rd, St. Louis, MO 63123, United States
- Hours/Cost: Check the calendar for events and hours as they rotate constantly!
READ NEXT: Exploring more of the Midwest? Check out our list of the best things to do in Minneapolis, Minnesota!
21) Bask In The Stunning Architecture Of The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis
Popularly known as the St. Louis Cathedral, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis represents the Church’s mission to open its doors to invite all who wish to welcome Jesus into their hearts.
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis is the oldest continuously running Roman Catholic Cathedral in the United States.
With roots dating back to 1764, the church is dedicated to King Louis IX of France, known throughout history as the “Crusading King,” and was later canonized by this very church.
The structure’s stunning massive mosaics collection and impressive architecture draw many travelers and locals to gaze upon its enriching design. Take a tour to learn more about the church’s history, design, and architecture throughout the years!
- Address: 4431 Lindell Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63108, United States
- Hours: 7 am – 5 pm daily
- Cost: Free
Where to Stay in St. Louis, Missouri
Now that we know the best things to do in St. Louis let’s look at the best places to stay! There are options for all budget ranges.
Best Budget Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri
Featuring affordable pricing and a comfortable stay, the Red Roof Inn St.Louis- Westport is less than an eight-minute drive from the St. Louis Lambert International Airport. Parking and Wi-Fi are free for accessible and desirable accommodations during your stay in St. Louis.
Best Mid-Range Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri
Fairfield by Marriott Inn & Suites St Louis South makes a great start to your day in St. Louis, with fresh and free breakfast options available daily. In addition, guests are offered free accommodations like Wi-Fi, a fresh hot breakfast, coffee or tea, access to the fitness center, indoor pool, dry cleaning service, and more for a one-of-a-kind stay!
Best Luxury Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri
A unique boutique hotel, The Moonrise Hotel is situated on the world-famous Delmar Loop, St. Louis’s most popular entertainment, dining, and shopping district, so that every guest that walks through its doors can experience an unforgettable experience that transcends time and space.
This luxury hotel blends modern design and quirky intricacy into one enigmatic stay. Stay on the top floor to overlook the Mississippi River and downtown.
DISCLAIMER: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you book accommodation, tours or buy a product, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us keep creating more free travel content to help people plan their holidays and adventures. We only recommend the best accommodations, tours and products that ourselves or our fantastic editorial team have personally experienced, and regularly review these. Thanks for your support, kind friend!