Top Things to Do on a Budget in St. Louis
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.