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Best Free Midwest Attractions: Missouri

Some of Missouri's biggest travel draws are free, including museums, parks and a zoo.
  • Free stuff in St. Louis

    Forest Park in St. Louis is a premier destination for free attractions. Larger than New York's Central Park and chock-full of activities, this sprawling green space attracts locals and visitors. A shuttle bus connects many of the park's museums and attractions.

    Among the standout free attractions here are the St. Louis Zoo, the Missouri History Museum, the St. Louis Art Museum and the St. Louis Science Center (see next slide for details).

    Pictured: Missouri History Museum.

    Forest Park

     

  • Don't-miss sights in Forest Park

    St. Louis Zoo Lush landscaping makes this top-notch zoo (left) as pleasant as it is popular. Highlights of a zoo visit include River's Edge--a spacious home for Asian and African animals with underwater viewing of hippos--and the Penguin and Puffin Coast.

    Missouri History Museum Engaging exhibits explore the city's colorful history, including Lucky Lindy's record-breaking flights and the 1904 World's Fair.

    St. Louis Art Museum During the World's Fair, this Beaux Arts-style building held the Palace of Fine Arts. Today visitors come for a collection that spans millennia and includes works by Picasso, Monet and van Gogh.

    St. Louis Science Center Dynamic exhibits, including an Omnimax theater and life-size T. rex, engage kids and adults alike.

    Know of other free things to enjoy in Missouri? Add them in the Comments section below!

    St. Louis Zoo

    Missouri History Museum

    St. Louis Art Museum

    St. Louis Science Center

  • More to do in St. Louis

    Museum of Westward Expansion While you'll have to pay if you want to ride to the top of the landmark Gateway Arch, the museum underneath it is free. Exhibits explore the city's role as gateway to the frontier.

    Grant's Farm The Budweiser Clydesdales and 1,000 other animals roam the historic preserves. Shows featuring elephants and other animals are held several times daily. Admission is free, though parking is not.

    Museum of Westward Expansion

    Grant's Farm

  • Missouri State Parks: free

    All Missouri State Parks are free! Our favorites are the dramatic formations at Elephant Rocks (left) and the mansion ruins at Ha Ha Tonka.

    The giant granite formations at Elephant Rocks, 90 miles southwest of St. Louis, were formed about 1.5 billion years ago when hot magma cooled into crystalline red granite. Huge weathered boulders are accessible today by several trails.

    Ha Ha Tonka, a Lake of the Ozarks park, gets its name from a Native American phrase meaning "laughing waters." Visitors can hike to the dramatic hilltop ruins of a 1905-era mansion that caught fire in 1942.

    Missouri State Parks

  • Free art in Kansas City

    Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art The acclaimed new Bloch Building houses contemporary and African art and photography, while the original, stately Nelson-Atkins Building (pictured) shows other popular exhibits, including the new Egyptian galleries. Outside, the 22-acre Kansas City Sculpture Park includes 12 Henry Moore sculptures. Free guided tours and audio guided tours offer visitors different ways to explore the museum

    Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City The 1,000-piece collection features works by Andrew Wyeth, Georgia O'Keeffe and others.

    Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

    Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

  • Greetings in Kansas City

    Hallmark Visitors Center Hallmark Cards started in Kansas City and employs 4,300 there. At the visitors center, you'll find works by Grandma Moses and Winston Churchill, Christmas ornaments and clips from Hallmark Hall of Fame TV programs and company commercials.

    Hallmark Visitors Center

  • Historical exploration

    Museum of Anthropology, Columbia On the University of Missouri-Columbia campus, this museum has exhibits on Native American cultures across North America and Missouri history from 11,200 years ago to the present. Murals by Columbia artist Robert Casati evoke the setting for each region.

    Pictured: A totem house post from Alaska

    Museum of Anthropology

    Know of other free things to enjoy in Missouri? Add them in the Comments section below!

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