Whether you’re a high roller or an average Joe on a budget, there’s something magical about the word “free”. Everyone, no matter his or her income, adores getting something gratis. Take a look at our favourite St. Louis attractions, none of which will cost you a penny.
Free doesn’t have to mean boring or unimpressive, in fact in St. Louis it is totally the opposite. Things to do in St. Louis for free include the city’s major cultural institutions – he highly acclaimed Saint Louis Art Museum, the St. Louis Science Center with its unique Boeing Space Station and the Missouri History Museum, originally built as the first monument to President Thomas Jefferson.
They are all located in Forest Park, the city’s crown jewel 1300-acre park, almost double the size of New York’s Central Park. Although fees may apply to special exhibitions at each attraction, general admission is absolutely free.
St. Louis prides itself on the fact that outside of Washington DC, the city has more free world-class attractions than any other American city, even the Gateway Arch, the nation’s tallest manmade monument, has an aspect that is free.
The Westward Expansion Museum chronicles 100 years of St. Louis history right beneath the Gateway Arch. Otherwise, visitors pay a small fee to ride the tram up the 630-foot tall monument for sweeping views of downtown St. Louis and the Mississippi River.
Other free attractions in downtown St. Louis include the Basilica of St. Louis, King of France (“Old Cathedral”), St. Louis’ oldest church; the Old Courthouse, where the Dred Scott decision helped fuel the path to the Civil War; Soldier’s Memorial military museum and Citygarden, a new urban garden that delights children with fountains they can wade in and adults with fascinating, sometimes off-beat, sculptures.
Nearby, visitors can tour the massive Cathedral Basilica Saint Louis (aka the New Cathedral) housing the largest collection of mosaics outside of Rome.
Free, too, is Grant’s Farm, the ancestral estate of the Busch family of beer-brewing fame, where visitors can enjoy animal shows, take a tram ride through Deer Park, visit the Bauernhof area and the Clydesdale stables and view the historic “Hardscrabble”, a cabin, built by Ulysses S. Grant and his friends for his bride, Julia Dent, a St. Louis area resident.
For lovers of the great outdoors there are plenty of things to do in St. Louis. The area has a great network of biking, jogging and hiking trails, including the Riverfront Trail which takes visitors from the base of the Gateway Arch seven miles north to the Chain of Rocks Bridge. The bridge, featuring an odd 30-degree curve, was once part of the historic Route 66. It’s now closed to cars but provides a bike-and-pedestrian link between St. Louis and Illinois across the expanse of the Mississippi River.
Beyond Forest Park, 100 city and county parks beckon visitors with a wide array of activities from Suson Park with a farm that visitors can tour and Lone Elk Park where visitors can drive their vehicles through a wildlife refuge area to view bison and elk, to Laumeier Sculpture Park, filled with fascinating giant outdoor sculptures.
Free fun in St. Louis gets even better in 2014 as the city celebrates its 250th anniversary with a year-long “Birthday Bash” of free events that will turn the “Gateway to the West” into “Cakeway to the West.”
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Have you been to St Louis? What was your favourite free/low-cost experience? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Written by Kathie Sutin