Planning a Staycation in St. Louis

St Louis Staycation - Apron Strings & other things


Our family looks forward to vacation time every year. Some years it’s been a big, cross-country, 2-week camping trip. Other years it’s an extended stay with far away relatives. But sometimes, we plan a ‘Staycation.’ A Staycation might be just the thing to fit in a tight budget, or maybe you have only a few days free here and there rather than a full week all at once. Possibly you have not seen the sights in your own home town because you always take vacation time to leave town!

Staycation St Louis Arch - Apron Strings & other things

One of our favorite Staycations has been in St Louis. This city has something for everyone! And very family friendly, too. And easy on the pocket book as well. St Louis offers many attractions that are free, which gives a family the opportunity to splurge a little on an extra activity or two. The Westward Expansion Museum in the lobby of the Gateway Arch is free, and extensive.  You can spend your time there learning the history of Missouri and how our country expanded westward. You can also see how the Arch was built and for a fee, you can travel in a capsule to the top and get a bird’s eye view of the city.

Forest Park has many attractions with no admission. The zoo is a family favorite. You can pay to park in the parking lot, but there is curb-side parking throughout the streets of Forest Park, but there is no charge to enter the zoo. You’ll want to set aside a full day to enjoy all there is to see, swim with the fishes, ride the zoo train, talk with the animals, head underwater to play with the sea lions.Staycation St Louis Zoo 2 - Apron Strings & other things

The St Louis Art Museum also has free admission. You’ll find an amazing collection of art from all periods of history, as well as rotating exhibits. As a child I enjoyed taking in a show at The Muny every summer. What a thrill to see musicals and theatrical productions on stage in the outdoor opera house – we took a picnic supper and enjoyed the show from the free seats, always remembering to bring our opera glasses binoculars. Be sure to take in a show this summer! And don’t miss the Missouri History Museum. Even growing up in the area, there is always something more to learn about our history.


Staycation Botanical Gardens - Apron Strings & other things

The Missouri Botanical Gardens is a backdrop for a full day of fun with gorgeous blossoms, sculptures, and architecture. The Children’s Garden was a huge hit in our family, with the adults as well as the children. Mom especially enjoyed the old fashioned kitchen garden and the pincushion gardens while the kids had a grand time running through the maze garden and Victorian knot garden. A day spent at here is a botanical history lesson. (There is an admission fee, and an extra charge for the children’s museum. Check their website or call for specials)

All Aboard! Sound the whistle, ring the bell, the train is coming through! At the Museum of Transportation you will become the engineer of huge steam locomotive. The children can slip into the role of their favorite Boxcar Children characters. You’ll step back into motor history, walking past cool cars and inventive vehicles and wagons that have put in for the long haul. (There is an admission fee, but well worth it. Be sure to ask about a yearly pass – a great value for the family!)Staycation Transportation Museum - Apron Strings & other things


How about the World Aquarium? Have you been there yet? You may not be able to get to the ocean this year, but you can get up close and personal with sealife here.   Or the City Museum where you can climb and slide and explore and discover and be amazed? (Again, there is an admission charge for each of these, so start that vacation fund!)

You can spend a day wandering the ground of Grant’s Farm. The petting zoo is always a hit with the kids. You’ll meet unusual birds and animals and the Budweiser Clydesdale horses! Did you know this attraction is built on the Anheuser ancestral property, but was also farmed by Ulysses S. Grant. (There is a parking fee which includes a tram ride into the park, but no charge to enter)

Staycation Grant's Farm - ApronStrings & other things  The hands-on, interactive displays at the Science Museum (Myseum) will keep the whole family occupied with a ton of educational fun (at no cost!) and you can walk the skywalk to the planetarium for a look at the stars and space travel. A trip downtown will take you to The City Gardens where you’ll find water fountains and art and fun for everyone. The Laumeier Sculpture Park is sure to please the artlover in the family, with it’s beautiful and interesting display of sculpture and artwork.

This is only the beginning. There is so much more to do, like amusement parks and sporting events and museums and theater. To help with the planning of your St Louis Staycations you will find  ideas and helpful information at Explore St Louis website.




This post is the second in our Summer Family Fun Series. Be sure to visit the others joining in this series for some added summer fun!


Also sharing this post at The Happy Homemaker and some of these wonderful places.

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  1. Excellent timing! We have a family trip planned there soon. Any recommendations on local places to eat while we are there?

    • oh my, the food in St Louis is amazing! We like the Old Spaghetti Factory down on Laclede’s Landing (not far from the Arch) and for authentic Italian you’ll want to visit The Hill, maybe Cunetto House of Pasta. And you won’t want to miss Ted Drewe’s Frozen Custard – yum!
      We always take a picnic when visiting the zoo and museums at Forest Park. The lake there and the grounds are the perfect place to stretch out and relax even in the middle of the city.
      Have a wonderful time!

  2. St. Louis is somewhere I have always wanted to visit and now I want to even more! Looks like a great place for a Staycation!

    We just had a Workcation. And probably need to have another. If you don’t already know, that’s when you take vacation time from work to fix things at home (paint, ect) They aren’t nearly as fun as a Staycation.

    PS. Cute pic in the hat and sunglasses!!


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