Saint Louis, Missouri is a beautiful city in a beautiful region. If you find yourself near this historic city, there are many fun things to do in Saint Louis, Missouri this weekend.
For openers, Saint Louis boasts a large downtown area with uncrowded streets, interesting museums, and a phenomenal MLB complex. It also hosts the famous Gateway Arch monument (one of the most recent adoptions into the US National Park system), a nationally recognized botanical garden, and some of the best BBQ restaurants in the USA.
Thomas Jefferson brokered the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 for an astonishing four cents per acre!
The population of Saint Louis is a reasonable 354,000. The greater metropolitan area is 2.8 million.
Saint Louis was the first U.S. city to host the modern Olympics.
Anheuser Busch (Budweiser) has called Saint Louis home since 1852.
The Saint Louis Cardinals have won more World Series than any team, sans the Yankees.
A Saint Louis radio station was the first in the nation to play Sugar Hill Gang’s, “Rapper’s Delight.”
Some famous Saint Louisans include: T.S. Eliot; Maya Angelou; Joseph Pulitzer; Chuck Berry; Tina Turner; Vincent Price; Redd Foxx; Betty Grable; Tennessee Williams; and Kevin Kline.
Packed with history and teeming with parks, this underrated city makes for a surprising and affordable getaway. In fact, you may run around so much you’ll need a vacation from your vacation.
Our family spent five days here and each day we kept a packed itinerary. Below are the six things we found to be especially noteworthy during our stay in Saint Louis. We hope you enjoy!
Must-Do attractions are typically the reason we’ve decided to visit.
As you approach the City Museum, it looks like an an antiquated department store met an oversized junkyard and built a life together. Which, with the help of artist Bob Cassilly, is basically what happened.
Created in 1997 and housed in the former International Shoe Company building, this inimitable museum is a one-of-a-kind experience for the whole family. There is nothing like it on earth. It might just be the coolest thing you’ve ever done.
The building is five floors of industrial relics organized into the world’s most interesting playground. Hidy-holes, ladders, and slides enter and exit rooms through the walls, ceilings, and floors.
Dragons, whales, and dinosaurs mingle with skateboard ramps, pianos, and pinball machines to form a demented wonderland that invites every man, woman, and child to get on their knees and crawl into some dark opening leading to who-knows-where.
The tiniest crack or doorway leads somewhere — you will rarely find a dead end.
If you see a swimming pool you can probably find a pathway under it.
If two railings are spaced far enough apart to fit your body between, you might just find a birdcage atop a series of tree branches ten feet off the ground. Have a seat — you might be the first person to sit there in weeks or months.
There are over 50 slides in the building. Some slides are short and silly. Some are over a hundred-feet long. In the back of the building is a slide ten-stories high! No joke. It takes for-ev-er.
Have you ever crawled through a tube of iron fencing suspended 70′ off the ground? Would you like to? It is one of the best things to do in St. Louis. You really haven’t lived otherwise.
Many spaces are simply too tight for an average adult to manage. Just let those kiddos crawl into the center of the tree trunk and disappear out of sight — they’ll come sliding out of the wall in the next room in a few minutes.
Be sure to go down the stairs by the giant squid. It leads to the caves in the basement, which are super cool.
And it goes without saying that you have to explore the outdoor area. The front yard is free, but there is an additional fee to go up on the roof. The rooftop has hours of operation dependent on staffing — it was closed by the time we arrived.
If there was one thing that you absolutely shouldn’t miss, assuming you have children or are child-like, the City Museum in St. Louis is an adventure unlike any other. It is not only the most fun thing to do in Saint Louis, Missouri, it is one of the most far-out things to do in the United States of America.
Formerly known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, Gateway Arch National Park is one of the most prominent features of any US city, akin to the Statue of Liberty, Space Needle, or Golden Gate Bridge. That alone makes it one of the best things to do in Saint Louis, MO this weekend.
A design contest for the memorial was held in 1947 and over 150 architects rendered their impressions. A lesser-known, Finnish-American architect named Eero Saarinen submitted the winning entry, a massive stainless-steel arch symbolizing the city’s reputation as “Gateway to the West.”
It took about two years to complete the project (1965) and cost about $15,000,000.
The Arch is exactly as tall as it is wide at 630′. It is comprised of 5,200 tons of steel and 38,000 tons of concrete, and it can sway as much as 18″ in winds of 150 mph.
The arch houses two elevator-type devices, one on each side of the arch. It takes about four minutes to get to the top. Eight barrel-like compartments hold as many as six people (see above right) — the elevator is revolutionary.
The viewing area at the top can hold over 100 visitors at a time (above left).
Plan to spend over an hour reading about the Gateway Arch project, as well as St. Louis history, the chronicles of westward expansion, and the conflicts with Native Americans at these developing times. It is equal parts impressive, interesting, and saddening. The tribute to the Native Americans is excellent.
Gateway Arch is our nation’s smallest National Park at 192 acres. It was given the designation on February 22, 2018, becoming our 60th N.P. Three more National Parks have been since added.
Should-Do attractions receive a strong recommend.
The Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis was founded in 1859 by Henry Shaw.
Today, the garden is a National Historic Landmark. It features 79 acres of horticultural displays, including indoor conservatories and formal and international gardens.
The Climatron at the Missouri Botanical Garden (last photo) was built in 1960 as the world’s first climate-controlled geodesic dome designed as a greenhouse. The Climatron houses tropical plants and fruits, cascading waterfalls, as well as several Chihuly glass sculptures.
Missouri Botanical Garden is also home to the largest traditional Japanese Garden outside Japan.
Other than the Climatron and Japanese Garden, we found the most interesting and beautiful gardens to be the Boxwood Garden, Lehmann Rose Garden, Butterfly Garden (because Monica loves butterflies), and English Woodland Garden.
One of the most interesting features at the Missouri Botanical Garden was The Stumpery. A garden built of and around extirpated stumps, these oddly shaped tree remains are arranged in ornamental fashion, their cavities packed with ferns and ground cover.
Some consider this to be one of the top three botanical gardens in the world. While we can’t vouch for that level of accolade, we can say with certainty that this is absolutely, without question, one of the most fun things to do in Saint Louis, Missouri this weekend.
Related Article: The 20 Best Things to Do Near Kansas City
Just minutes from downtown reside 1,300 acres of sculpted landscape, creeks and trails, lakes and fields, and beautifully designed buildings, all backdropped by the city skyline.
St. Louis boasts more free major visitor attractions than anywhere in the U.S. outside of the nation’s capital. Four of the major ones, The Saint Louis Art Museum, Science Center, Zoo, and History Museum, reside in the civic treasure of Forrest Park. Each of these are one of the most fun things to do in Saint Louis, MO this weekend.
Dedicated on June 24th, 1876, Forest Park was made for “the rich and the poor, the merchant and mechanic, the professional man and the day laborer, each with his family and lunch basket, can come and enjoy his own … all without stint or hindrance … and there will be no notice put up to ‘keep off the grass.”
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Forest Park is considered one of the best city parks in the USA, and is the sixth most visited nationwide.
Some of the highlights include (besides the before mentioned free venues): the Muny (an outdoor music theatre with free shows); the photogenic Jewel Box (pictured at the top of this section); the Dennis and Judith Jones Education Center; the beautiful World’s Fair Pavilion (photo below); the Albrecht Nature Playscape; and the Pagoda Circle (below, below right). Here’s an awesome map!
Forest Park also has golf courses, athletic fields, a tennis center, miles of paths for biking and jogging, and a vast assortment of festivals and concerts.
This might be the greatest of all the best things to do in St. Louis because of the sheer volume of high-quality activities. One could spend three days or longer perusing all the free museums and beautiful components of the park.
We’ve barely scratched the surface of Forest Park, and on our next trip to St. Louis will make it a focal point of the adventure.
Saint Louis does ribs better than everyone else. Or so they say.
We went on a little BBQ crawl around town to see if this was true and who does it best. We figure you can’t go wrong chasing the perfect BBQ plate, so this must be one of the best things to do in St. Louis.
A brief search on the internet will bring up two names as the consensus top spots: Bogart’s Smokehouse and Pappy’s Smokehouse. We also found a third called Sugarfire with strong reviews and a perfect location in downtown Saint Louis.
On a side note: We also hit the top two BBQ places in Kansas City, and are working on article titled, Battle of the BBQ — KC vs STL. Coming soon!
Pappy’s was the best. Bogarts was also very good. Sugarfire had some delicious elements to their menu, but they came in third here.
Why was Pappy’s the best? First of all, we ordered ribs, burnt ends, and brisket, with sweet potato fries, corn, and beans. Every single thing was divine. They had the best ribs (by far) and brisket, the second best burnt ends, the best beans and the best sauce. We didn’t order the fries or corn at the other restaurants, and they were amazing.
We’ve eaten the best BBQ in several significant BBQ-centric cities and Pappy’s stands with the best of them.
Bogart’s Smokehouse is owned by the same group that owns Pappy’s, so it is no wonder they are both amazing. They had the best burnt ends — Pappy’s were amazing, but Bogart’s does them different and better. Their ribs were stocky little things, meaty beyond belief. They were a step down from Pappy’s, but very good. The beans were sweeter than anywhere else we dined in Missouri.
*It is worth noting that Pappy’s Smokehouse was packed within 30 minutes of opening for lunch, and Bogart’s had plenty of empty seating at the same time of day.
Sugarfire is on Washington Avenue in downtown STL, which makes it easy to find (close to City Museum). There was a surprising amount of parking in the area, something we aren’t used to.
Where Sugarfire shined was in their sides. We had the french fries, chili, and cheesy potatoes. Each were heavenly and we finished them all despite being stuffed to capacity. When I visit Sugarfire again in the future, I will order the Brisket Dip with fries and cheesy potatoes, and I will consider myself a winner for the day.
The Cardinals are arguably the best overall franchise in US professional sports. We’re serious. The history is undeniable, the fans are second to none, and the dedication this city has given to a single sports team is rivaled by only the San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz, and Green Bay Packers.
As great as the Yankees are, they own tremendous advantages over teams like the Cardinals.
To date, the team has won 11 World Series championships, 19 National League pennants, and 12 division titles. Their Hall of Fame includes some of the greatest players to ever grace the game: Musial, Hornsby, Pujols, Slaughter, Smith, Gibson.
In 1953, the Cardinals were for sale, and the owners considered selling the team to investors from Milwaukee. Adolphus Busch, of Budweiser fame, was approached twice about purchasing the team. Eventually they convinced him the team could be his biggest Budweiser advertisement ever and the rest is history.
The league wouldn’t allow Adolphus Busch to name the stadium Budweiser Stadium, so he used the family name, calling it Busch Stadium.
Two years later Busch Beer debuted, and he mostly got his way.
The current stadium is actually the third Busch Stadium, and like most newer stadiums, it is spectacular.
The St. Louis Cardinals appear to own a few blocks of downtown real estate. There is a fantastic museum that is included with the price of the tour ($20), and a bar/restaurant/shopping complex called Ballpark Village, as well.
The Ballpark Village is another one of the best things to do in Saint Louis, at least on game day. The museum is full of fantastic items. You can swing Stan Musial’s bat, and be the play-by-play announcer for famous Cardinal moments.
The tour guides were incredible at Busch Stadium. Clearly fans of the team and the game as well, they gave the A-Z rundown on most everything you could want to know.
Some of the highlights were: The clubhouse and dugout; the owners’ suite; the Cardinals Club buffet (all the WS trophies are on display); and of course, the ball field.
We have found baseball stadiums to be a really great way to kill an hour or two. Baseball fans shouldn’t miss this historical opportunity to learn about one of the great franchises in sporting history.
Stop by Ted Drewes! A local institution since 1929, Ted Drewes is known for its frozen custard. If you’ve ever had a Dairy Queen Blizzard, Ted Drewes invented the treat decades earlier. It’s called a concrete and it is delicious. The flavors are so plentiful you might want to review the menu ahead of time. Everyone in our family ordered something different and every one of us happily devoured it.
Ted Drewes is definitely one of the most fun things to do in Saint Louis MO this weekend.
Saint Louis is a mid-western town that doesn’t get enough credit. We’ve never heard anyone say they were vacationing in St. Louis. Have you?
The town gets credit for it’s St. Louis-style ribs, and most folks recognize the Gateway Arch and the Cardinals. That’s about where the curiosity ends. It doesn’t help that the city carries a reputation of crime problems.
The parks alone made it worth the stay. Also, St. Louis has the added bonus of having less traffic and commotion than a large, well-known city might have. And we never felt unsafe, quite the opposite, milling around town during the day.
You might not want to cancel your trip to Hawaii to go to Saint Louis, but if you’re in the area, or are looking for an affordable place to explore that has a handful of incredible attractions, St. Louis would be a good addition to the list of considerations.
Thank you for stopping by our website! We are the Hoffmann family, a full-time RV family that has split residence in Seattle, Washington and San Antonio, Texas. We have special needs children that we homeschool, and work travel assignments for the Veteran Affairs Hospital. If you would like to learn more about us, check out our Start Here and Biography pages. In the meantime, God bless and travel happy!
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