St. Louis is arguably the most famous city along the Mississippi River. It is renowned for its uniqueness, infusing an old-school appeal with modern-day flair. The Gateway Arch makes this city instantly recognizable.
Numerous iconic attractions will jostle for your attention here. Whether it’s the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra or the St. Louis Art Museum, the things to do in St. Louis are numerous and incredible!
15 Best Things to Do in St. Louis in 2023
This city doesn’t lack activities, with shopping, wining, dining, and hiking all available and accessible. You’ll love the music and art scene as they burst into life at nighttime, with many places of interest to explore.
The Gateway to the Wild West is St. Louis, and these are the 15 best things to do in the largest city in Missouri.
1. Visit the St. Louis Art Museum
The St. Louis Art Museum is your first port of call, and you’ll find this world-class attraction in the Forest Park area. Within its walls are 33,000 artworks from all over the world, dating eons of years.
The museum constantly updates its collections, and you can be lucky to witness some special exhibitions. It’s a fantastic destination to visit with the family, with hundreds of cultural artifacts, paintings, and sculptures to feast your eyes.
Depending on your interest, the museum collections are sectioned into Egyptian, Native American, African, American, and European masterworks from the 19th century to the Contemporary collection established in 2013.
Famished participants can dine at The Panorama or visit the Café. The museum also has a gift shop to buy various art-inspired souvenirs for friends and loved ones.
2. Enjoy a Game!
You need not be a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals to bask in the atmosphere of game night. Walk into the Busch Stadium and savor the arena’s electricity as the 11-time World Champions take to the field.
You can never truly experience the city’s beating heart like watching a game live at the Busch. Alternatively, you can drop by GCS Ballpark to watch the Gateway Grizzlies for a more personalized baseball experience.
Soccer fans can wait to take in an MLS game when the newly established St. Louis CITY SC takes to the pitch in 2023.
But if your holiday falls in the fall, you should head out to the Enterprise Center when the city’s ice hockey team — the Blues — heat the ice. St. Louis is an authentic sports town, and the love of the game runs through the veins of many locals in this city.
3. Visit Six Flags
There’s hardly a better way to get the blood pumping than a visit to Six Flags. With so many options on the cards, you might not know where to start.
Various thrill rides make your hair stand on end, like the Batman: The Ride, which takes you at insane speeds of up to 55 miles per hour as you soar through the Gotham sky.
The 11-story climb will make your heart drop to your stomach as you brace yourself for the 360-degree loop to make your head spin!
Other thrilling rides include the Big Kahuna opening on Memorial Day and the Dragon’s Wing — a 150-foot ride with a mix of hang-gliding, bungee jumping, and skydiving all at the same time!
There are also rides for the young ones like the Bugs Bunny Ranger Pilots that give kids the feel of flying in a real airplane. Six Flags also has various dining options with different foods to sample and many places to chill.
Whether you want fine dining or a light snack to refuel, there are plenty of food options for everyone. Some of the eateries at this destination include:
- 1904 Classic
- Batman Dippin’ Dots
- Chop Six
- Colonnades Grill
- Colonel Cobs
The attractions at Six Flags are designed to cater to persons with disabilities, which makes this St. Louis attraction even more wholesome and unique.
4. Summit Gateway Arch
The Gateway Arch is perhaps the most popular attraction in St. Louis. It is indeed the tallest monument in the United States, more than twice the height of the Statue of Liberty and 60 meters taller than the San Jacinto Monument.
The arch is 630 meters tall and 630 meters wide, but most people believe it’s far taller in its width. The Gateway Arch has a carousel-like tram that takes you to the top, and it’s an unforgettable experience worth sharing with loved ones.
Moreover, you can interact with a Sky Ranger to learn about the stars, how to spot an arch, and interesting celestial events.
The Gateway Arch also features a virtual tour that includes an expedition up the top of the monument, including the various cultural and historical aspects of the Gateway Monument National Park.
5. The Magic House Children’s Museum
The Magic House at St. Louis is the perfect destination for families holidaying with young kids. The Victorian architecture inspires wonder, and the entire environment will soothe your child to sleep each night.
There’s so much to do here, with all types of fun for toddlers and tweens. Your kids can go on an adventure with Molly of Denali to discover the hidden wonders of the Alaskan Native Life.
This activity includes taking care of sled dogs, flying a bush plane, or going ice fishing. Your kids can also get a first-hand experience of safari life – thanks to Kenya’s Kids.
This immersive and interactive program features a wildlife reserve, an African marketplace with authentic food from Kenya, an elephant orphanage, and the popular matatu. The Magic House is primarily a museum.
So expect to find many exhibits and artifacts, including artworks designed to tickle the curious mind and promote learning.
In addition, the museum aims to improve child creativity while engaging the young ones in various hands-on tasks that encourage collaboration and critical thinking.
6. Forest Park
Forest Park was established in 1876 and, in 1904, hosted the World Fair. Since then, the Park has maintained its status as one of America’s most iconic urban parks.
It surely ranks as one of the largest city parks in the United States, far larger than New York’s Central Park at 1,300 acres. Today, 12 million visitors come here every year, showcasing its popularity as a world-class destination for all and sundry.
You’ll love The Cascades, a 75-foot waterfall at the center of many romantic events like wedding proposals, picnics, and family photos.
Thanks to the Missouri Department of Conservation, hikers will enjoy the new hiking trail through the Kennedy Forest. The trails offer different levels of appeal for the professional hiker and newbie, and you can observe hundreds of bird species in the forest.
More importantly, Forest Park is the location of many St. Louis cultural institutions and attractions like the St. Louis Art Museum, the Missouri History Museum, St. Louis Zoo, Science Center, and The Muny.
You’ll also find other famous places of interest here, including the Jewel Box, Emerson Grand Basin, and the World Fair Pavilion. The Park has a diverse landscape, including Nature Reserves that boast wetlands, savannas, prairies, and forests.
7. Explore St. Louis Cuisine
Suppose you’re looking to discover the city’s culinary secrets. In that case, you need to attend the most renowned food tours – the Saint Louis Food Tours.
It’s nothing short of a culinary adventure as you taste and drink the city in ways that will explode your taste buds. The tour is suitable for people with disabilities, with enough food tastings to make up for lunch.
Suppose you’re a fan of Italian cuisine. In that case, you’ll enjoy discovering the hidden nooks and corners of the most prominent Italian neighborhood as you tour The Hill.
Some tasty treats you’ll savor include Toasted Ravioli and the famous St. Louis-style pizza.
The Hill Tour takes you back in time as you explore architectural and historical marvels. You’ll have up to seven different tasting experiences, including the Gelateria – the best thin-crust pizza in St. Louis.
8. Care for Animals at the St. Louis Zoo
The St. Louis Zoo is one of the few free zoos in the United States. It houses more than 14,000 animals, including 500 species from around the world. The zoo is widely known for its cutting-edge approach to wildlife conservation, animal care, and zoo management.
You can find animals like tigers, zebras, polar bears, and otters. It isn’t the biggest zoo at 90 acres, but it’s one of the best destinations for family hangouts in St. Louis.
You can enjoy unique experiences, including Behind-The-Scenes Tours to interact with the animals and get a first-hand experience of being a zookeeper.
You’ll get an up-close and personal experience of the animals, including feeding a giant tortoise or interacting one-on-one with the penguins. The St. Louis Zoo offers various guided tours that include:
- Anima Tours
- Animal Care Tours
- Geek Tours
You can buy tickets to amenities like the Adventure Pass and Zooline Railroad. In addition to the gift shop to buy animal-related souvenirs, you can purchase authentic artwork created by animals in the zoo!
9. Sample the Breweries of St. Louis
In case you missed the memo, the beer scene in St. Louis is a huge deal. USA Today once voted the city the Best Beer Scene, but it’s okay to take this with a pinch of salt. Beer in St. Louis is better experienced.
Other options include Alpha Brewing at Tower Grove. The best beers are found in the most unassuming places like 2nd Shift Brewing, with exceptional beers like the Cat Spit Spout and Hibiscus Wit.
The 4 Hands Brewing Company at Soulard pushes the envelope on what’s obtainable in beer craft. The brewery is known for partnering with other artists and St. Louis brands to make the most exceptional brews.
Some of the city’s favorites include Single Speed, Ripple, and City Wide. The brewery also has an expansive upstairs area where families can indulge in various games like billiards and arcade games for free.
10. Municipal Theater Association
Broadway lovers looking for a change of scene after a day of sightseeing can find exceptional entertainment at the Municipal Theater Association. The theater is located within Forest Park and has been the source of Broadway entertainment for the past 100 years.
It’s the best destination for those seeking a timeout from physical activities, allowing you to live a little and move your feet to some of the most famous classic hits.
Whether you want to sing along to Mary Poppins or the villainous Sweeney Todd is more your style, there’s always something afoot in the theater to make your heart sing.
11. Learn Missouri History at the Missouri History Museum
A visit to Forest Park will provide you with many awesome things to do in St. Louis because of the many widely recognized places of interest like the Missouri History Museum. Visitors can soak up the history and heritage of the city from its creation in 1764 up to today.
The museum is located in a Neo-Classical building dedicated to Thomas Jefferson. The suspended monoplane on the ceiling fills many visitors with wonder as they walk into the Grand Hall.
Charles Lindbergh flew the more famous sister — the Spirit of St. Louis, when he became the first man to fly nonstop through the Atlantic, winning the Orteig Prize.
Every artifact in the building has a history. You’ll find iconic baseball exhibits and items related to the World Fair in 1904.
The Missouri History Museum offers Youth and Family events and programs designed to improve the relationship between families as they learn about the museum. Kids will enjoy learning history at the Club House.
This amenity provides an avenue for kids to live the city’s history. Your young ones will dress up in period costumes, navigate a steamboat through the Mississippi River, and recreate a puppet show.
12. Missouri Botanical Garden
The Missouri Botanical Garden is a National Historic Landmark established in 1859. The 79-acre garden requires you to put on your most comfy shoes but is worth the walk.
You’re sure to find some of the most amazing plants and flowers you can see in the city. The educational signs at the Climatron building are beneficial as you learn more about the rubber, coffee, and cocoa plants.
While various gardens and flowers are blooming in different seasons, the cynosure of all eyes is the Japanese gardens you don’t want to miss.
Missouri Botanical Garden is unique because it’s small enough for you to explore on foot while large enough to take many hours for you to do so. More importantly, the entire structure is organized and easy to navigate.
The botanical garden is also the venue for several events, including kid days and wine nights. Pro tip: The Climatron is an excellent location for taking the best photos!
13. Visit the Union Station
A trip to Union Station is one of the most sought-after things to do in St. Louis. Like Forest Park, Union Station is also home to several places of interest like the St. Louis Aquarium, where you can observe sharks during feeding time.
Union Station is worth an entire day trip because of the numerous delights on offer. The Fire and Light Show is a daily marvel featuring dazzling icicle lights, dancing flames, and a 100-foot waterfall! The sight is a spectacle worth seeing.
You can also visit the Shark Canyon, a standout attraction at the aquarium. The canyon contains over 50 marine life species like surgeonfish, giant grouper, devil ray, and the sandbar shark.
Another fantastic attraction is the St. Louis Wheel, which showcases the choicest views of the city skyline from atop the 200-foot summit.
14. Enjoy a Bus Tour
An open bus tour around St. Louis is a fun activity and one of the best ways to see areas worth visiting later. The tour guides are informative, giving you insider knowledge of the city you wouldn’t find anywhere else.
Besides, you’ll get to travel to different exciting locations, including neighborhoods that you’re unlikely to see on your first St. Louis trip.
The tour guides are humorous, and the tour takes you through downtown, past Forest Park, before returning to the Casino. The bus is comfortable and gives you an excellent view to locate all attractions and points of interest.
The only drawback is the noisy ride, which could be unsettling for many people. That said, it ranks as one of the best things to do in St. Louis and is worth every penny!
15. St. Louis Science Center
The things to do in St. Louis won’t be complete without stopping by the Science Center. It’s a place to inspire young kids, enabling them to fall in love with science early.
The center houses many iconic collections and dinosaurs. It’s one of the largest of its kind in the US, with over 700 exhibits in the complex.
Some of the best amenities on the ground include the McDonnell Planetarium and OMNIMAX Theater, with various programs for attendees of all ages. The science center is free for everyone and a superb destination for kids to burn some energy while learning incredible things.
Things to Consider
St. Louis is the Midwest’s typical mid-size city with friendly locals ready to show you the best spots around town. However, if this is your first time visiting, it might help to keep a few things in mind.
St. Louis is one city where many iconic attractions are free to visit. You may get charged for parking and other experiences. However, the spirit behind free admissions to most destinations is to ensure even the least privileged can enjoy the best experiences provided by the city.
St. Louis is notorious for its morning and evening traffic, particularly during rush hour. However, off-peak periods see fewer motorists on the road. Whatever you do, ensure you keep the traffic in mind before heading out to your destination.
Everything is different in St. Louis, including hailing a taxi. You have three options if you want to take a cab; you can make a call, go online, or send a text.
That said, the city is putting the final touches on what’s a city-wide ride-finding app to compete with Lyft and Uber. Moreover, there’s an E-cab initiative designed to drive people down to and from short distances.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’d like further information about the things to do in St. Louis, here are the answers to a few questions:
Is there anything fun to do in St. Louis?
St. Louis has a wide range of museums, parks, and gardens, ensuring there are tons of reasons to visit this city. Families on vacation will love The Magic House, St. Louis Zoo, and Forest Park.
How do I spend a day in St. Louis?
You can spend a day visiting the free attractions all over the city. These places of interest include the St. Louis Museum, Science Center, and St. Louis Zoo, amongst many others.
What is St. Louis famous for?
St. Louis is famous for breweries, baseball, delicious cuisine, and the World’s Fair. However, the Gateway Arch is the most iconic attraction in the city.
Is Downtown St. Louis safe for tourists?
St. Louis compares favorably with any other major US city for safety. However, visitors need to stay alert and be careful of their surroundings.
Is St. Louis known for BBQ?
St. Louis is undoubtedly up there with the best BBQ cities in the US. Beyond BBQ, the city is famous for its pork steaks, snoots, burnt ends, and pulled pork.
So, What Are the Best Things to Do in St. Louis?
St. Louis is a city throbbing with excitement and bubbling with good vibes. You can feel the positive energy wherever you go, from the Botanical Garden to Union Station. The city is one destination that tries to make you feel at home.
You’ll find a host of budget-friendly attractions, complimentary, world-class amenities, and a cultural scene the kind you’ve never seen. Visitors to this city are often amazed by the entertainment options the Gateway to the West has to offer.