Every Midwestern city has its gems, but St. Louis takes the crown when it comes to free things to do. Here are some of the best deals (but do factor in parking fees) in St. Louis.
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St. Louis Arch
Gateway Arch
| Credit: Gateway Arch

Gateway Arch National Park

Pose for pictures beneath St. Louis' iconic arch (at 630 feet tall, the nation's tallest monument) at Gateway Arch National Park. The recently renovated Museum Under the Gateway Arch is free, as are ranger-led tours both on the Arch grounds and inside the museum. You'll have to pay if you want to ride to the top of the Arch, though.

Saint Louis Zoo
Saint Louis Zoo

Saint Louis Zoo 

Go early to the St. Louis Zoo, considered one of the top zoos in the nation. Some 14,000 animals live on its 90 acres. Admission is free, though visitors do have to pay for extras, such as Sea Lion Show, Zooline Railroad and Conservation Carousel.

The Muny 

Come early to snag one of the 1,400 first-come, first-served free seats in the last nine rows of St. Louis' beloved Forest Park amphitheatre. Make it a date night with musical classics or bring the kids for family shows. Entrance to the free seats opens at 7 p.m.

Ballpark Village

Ballpark Village

If you want to see a St. Louis Cardinals game with fans without paying for a seat, head across the street from Busch Stadium. The Ballpark Village entertainment complex (including a Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum and Cardinals Nation restaurant) left the old ball stadium's diamond intact so fans can run the bases and watch games on the big outdoor screen. 

Saint Louis Science Center

Saint Louis Science Center 

Delve into the mysteries of space, try your hand at dinosaur excavation, go head-to-head with a round of mindball, or clock the speed of drivers rushing below you on the skyway across Interstate-64—all without charge at the Saint Louis Science Center, one of the only free nonprofit science centers in the country.

Saint Louis Art Museum 

Art and history lovers won't want to miss this free three-story museum—built as the Fine Arts Palace for the 1904 World's Fair. Explore items such as Egyptian mummies, Turkish rugs, and works by Picasso, Van Gogh and Max Beckmann.

Missouri History Museum 

Dig into the stories of the 1904 World's Fair, Charles Lindbergh's transatlantic flight, Cardinals baseball and breweries in the free Missouri History Museum, built as the first national monument dedicated to Thomas Jefferson.

Forest Park
Jewel Box

Forest Park

Besides the free museums, leave time to stroll or bike in Forest Park, one of America's biggest urban parks (bigger than NYC's Central Park). Picnic by one of the lakes, catch a free play, or check out the Jewel Box, a vintage tropical greenhouse that's only $1 admission or free on Monday and Tuesday mornings.

Riverfront Trail 

Enjoy an 11-mile stretch of the Mississippi River and public art along this trail running from the Gateway Arch to the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge.