If you’ve recently moved with kids to one of the military bases in the St. Louis area, such as Scott Air Force Base, you’re in luck. There are so many fun things to do that are low-cost or free in the area. Our family was fortunate enough to live in St. Louis for 11 years. Here’s a roundup of some of our favorite ways to enjoy The Lou:
The Magic House
The Magic House is an amazing interactive, hands-on children’s museum. With its charming Victorian exterior and its activities for every age, the Magic House offers something for everyone. It’s also a Blue Star Museum participant, so in the summer, admission is free. During the school year, admission is half off for military families.
The St. Louis Zoo
Recently voted America’s Top Free Attraction and Best Zoo, the St. Louis Zoo is home to approximately 17,000 animals. Set in beautiful Forest Park, zoo admission is free for all guests year round. There is a cost for the train and carousel. Some of our favorite attractions include the penguin habitat and the insectarium.
The Muny is a unique and beloved St. Louis treasure. Also located in Forest Park, it’s an open-air musical theater offering great shows all summer. Some free military tickets are available, and regular tickets are very low cost. Also, every night there are free seats available, located in the very back of the amphitheatre. Be sure to grab something to eat at The Boathouse nearby or go for a ride on a paddle boat before the show.
St. Louis Art Museum
The St. Louis Art Museum offers free admission to visitors year round. It also hosts family Sundays with hands-on art activities and a family tour of the galleries. To keep little ones entertained, try purchasing post cards with artistic works prior to your visit or in the museum gift shop, and then lead kids on a treasure hunt to find the paintings.
The St. Louis City Museum is a one-of-a-kind, 5-story play land made of recycled building materials. Part playground, part eclectic fun house, the museum includes tunnels, slides, tree houses, and pretty much anything you can imagine. One of our very favorites, the City Museum must be seen to be believed. Discounted tickets are available through your base ITT office.
The Anheuser-Busch family created Grant’s Farm. When you arrive, you take a short tram ride through a mini-safari and end up in a small area where you can feed goats, see an animal show ,and get up close with other animals. Don’t go home without saying hello to the famous Clydesdales across the parking lot. There is a fee for parking, but no entrance fees.
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis
Located in the Central West End, the Cathedral Basilica is a historic Catholic Cathedral made entirely out of mosaics on the interior. It is breathtaking and feels like it should be somewhere in Europe instead of the city of St. Louis. Admission is free.
Eckert’s Farm has several locations on the Illinois side of the river. You can ride on the tractor and pick your own apples, peaches, strawberries, pumpkins and whatever else is in season. Our kids love the tradition of picking fruit every season, and we would always visit the Millstadt, Illinois, location in the fall for its haunted hayride and bonfires.
Missouri Botanical Garden
In addition to beautiful gardens, the Missouri Botanical Garden houses an amazing children’s garden complete with a tree house, climbing structures, and water play. Admission to the garden is half off for military. Be sure to check out its seasonal festivals and events as well.
We loved our time in St. Louis. Whether you’ve made your home there for a while or you’re just passing through, there’s adventure to be found for everyone. Be sure to check out this site for more information about participating Blue Star Museums https://www.arts.gov/national/blue-star-museums.