St. Louis – A City With Engaging Free Attractions

IMG_7343-215x300As we turned the corner, we caught a glimpse of the baby. She was fuzzy, gray, and had the cutest little trunk! This was the first time we had ever seen a baby elephant. Priya was with her mother and a couple of other elephants using her trunk to eat dry hay just like the big elephants!

The St. Louis Zoo was a wonderful springtime destination – the weather was perfect, the admission was free, and there were lots of baby animals all over the zoo! In addition to baby Priya, there was a 2-year-old elephant, a whole litter of babirusas (Indonesian pigs that have tusks coming out of the top of their snouts),  young black rhinoceros, a young camel, a baby takin (a shaggy antelope-like goat), a young giraffe, and a banteng calf (a red, Asian wild cow). My daughters loved seeing the “cute little babies” even if they weighed more than 300 pounds! In addition to all of the baby animals, we found some other unexpected surprises during our 3 days in St. Louis.

Day 1

  • The Missouri History Museum as the name implies is dedicated to the state’s history. After a delicious lunch at their restaurant overlooking Forest Park, we checked out an interesting exhibit celebrating St. Louis’ 250th anniversary featuring 50 people, 50 places, 50 images, 50 moments, and 50 objects.
  • We then went across the park to the St. Louis Art Museum which had a wide assortment of artwork including an exhibit on Impressionists and one of Degas’ famous little dancer statues.
  • The day finished with a visit to a relative’s neighbor’s house where we got to feed a flock of chickens in their backyard. This was literally our first taste of urban farming – we were treated to a breakfast of their tasty eggs the next morning!

Day 2

  • We started the day at the iconic Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (otherwise known as the St. Louis Arch). After watching a very retro-looking movie about the challenges of building the arch in the 1960s, we took a tram ride up to the top in a 5-seat pod which was definitely not made for claustrophobics. The view from the little windows at the top of the arch was incredible! The city and the surrounding area is pretty flat so we could see for miles around us.
  • We then got to meet a sloth, an anteater, an armadillo and many other critters that afternoon at the World Aquarium which got its own post!

Day 3

  • The morning was filled with all sorts of animals at the St. Louis Zoo including the Insectarium filled with insects and other creepy, crawly invertebrates. We could’ve easily spent an entire day there!
  • IMG_7777-300x226The second half of our day was at the beautiful Missouri Botanical Garden. After a guided tram ride to familiarize ourselves with the gardens, my daughters took lots of pictures of the tropical plants in the domed Climatron building. They were fascinated by the exotic plants including various flowers, palms, pineapples, bananas, cacaos (used to make chocolate), cashews, vanilla, and papayas that we usually only see on the grocery store shelves.

On our way to the airport we made an hour-long stop at the spectacular St. Louis Cathedral Basilica. The outside of this enormous church is reminiscent of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice, Italy. However, the inside is mostly in a Byzantine style with 83,000 square feet of mosaic! The brilliant colors, detail, and overall craftsmanship in the 41,500,000 glass tessare in mosaics was breath taking. We left St. Louis eagerly anticipating another visit!


  • Skills: Visual acuity, fine motor, curiosity, gross motor
  • Preparation: Check out their websites ahead of time to see if they have any special events. If you’re going in the spring, you should dress in layers since the temperature varies from day to day.
  • Cost: Everything mentioned with the exception of the St. Louis Arch and the Missouri Botanical Garden had free admission! You can see the arch for free, but we paid for the tram ride to the top ($10 for adults and $5 for children 3-15) and the movie about how the arch was built ($7 for adults and $2.50 for children 3-15). The Missouri Botanical Garden charges $8 for adult, while children ages 3-12 are free.
  • Time & Energy: We easily could have spent a few more days in St. Louis. There were other sites we wanted to see and we could’ve spent more time at most of the places we went.
  • Contact Info: 

Missouri History Museum (
Saint Louis Art Museum (
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (The St. Louis Arch) (
Saint Louis Zoo (
Missouri Botanical Garden (
St. Louis Cathedral Basilica (

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