We love big vacations with the whole family, but vacations cost a lot of money so sometimes we settle for smaller weekend getaways. This time around we wanted something in the midwest, ideally within a 5 hour drive of us in Iowa, and somewhere we haven’t explored with the kids. The St. Louis area checked all of those boxes.
While we only had two full days to really explore the city, there are several days’ worth of fun things to do there. It’s a great place to visit, especially with kids! We didn’t have time to fit in each experience we wanted to, but I will share a list of a bunch of other activities you could check out while you’re there.
We looked at a couple of different hotels and ultimately decided to stay in downtown St. Louis at the Drury Inn at the Arch. We were looking for something with both a pool and a hot tub, fairly close to the attractions in the heart of St. Louis. Another bonus we loved was that they had hot breakfast AND happy hour drinks and snacks!
There are great views of the arch from the hallways and some of the rooms, which made for bonus entertainment for the kids. One of the best things about the hotel is that it’s situated right on the Mississippi River!
Most of the activities we did could be done on a rainy day, because they were indoor. We started our first day at City Museum. If you have kids between ages 4 and 15, I highly recommend trying this out! Younger kids could enjoy it too, however, it’s a lot of climbing in tight areas. If you can’t get into the small areas with your kids, it may be hard to keep an eye on them.
The “museum” is basically an enormous (several story) indoor playground filled with slides, tunnels and caves. It’s also filled with some really amazing works of art! There is also an outdoor area, and (I believe) they host special events and birthday parties. There’s an admission fee to get in (as with most activity places!), but it’s worth the price of admission. My kids agree that this is one of the best places that the city offers.
We spent our second morning swimming and enjoying the St Patrick’s Day parade, which was a great way to explore more of the downtown area. After that, we headed over to Union Station, which is an amazing indoor/outdoor attraction filled with fun activities such as rides, the St. Louis aquarium, restaurants, a Ferris wheel, mini golf and so much more! We did several of the fun attractions and ate lunch at the Soda Fountain, which I highly recommend!
I would definitely consider Union Station to be a “must see” place to visit in St. Louis. The fire and light show in the evening is also a cool experience. One thing to keep in mind about Union Station is that there is a lot of outdoor activities, but also some indoor fun, so it’s a great place to enjoy rain or shine.
Before we took off for home on Sunday morning, we decided to walk over and see the Gateway Arch National Park. We opted out of actually going up in it as my girls don’t love heights. We only spent about 20 minutes walking around the green spaces by the Arch, because it was chilly outside. If the weather was nicer, I could definitely see spending much more time there. I heard from others that you take a ride up to the top, and then you can look out the windows to enjoy the view of St. Louis. If you decide to go inside, be sure to order your tickets online ahead of time, as they can sell out fast on a busy day!
I don’t have a lot to add to this category. In fact, to be completely honest, I have nothing to add to this category. With young, energetic kids, we don’t eat out a lot, and when we do it’s usually somewhere quick. We packed some food to bring with us on the go, and we also used the hotel’s breakfast and happy hour to hold us over. Our girls like to snack, so we did a lot more snacking than actual meal eating. However, I do know that St. Louis has a lot of really cool places to eat & drink (and it’s home of some fantastic barbecue!), so be sure to do your research on local restaurants.
Since we only had two days to spend in St. Louis, we weren’t able to visit all of the places that were recommended to us. However, I don’t want you to miss out, so here’s a list of places that we didn’t have time to visit. I wish we would have had time for more activities, as so many of these places have great reviews. There are also several historic sites and historic houses to check out.
You could definitely turn St. Louis into a long weekend visit or even a full week’s vacation! We would consider it to be a city in the midwest worth visiting. If you’re road tripping there with kids, be sure to check out my list below for all of our tried and true road trip must haves.
Have you been to St. Louis? Do you have anything to add to the list? Let us know what mini trip we should take next!