5 Fun (and Free!) Things to do in St. Louis

The St. Louis Gateway Arch
The St. Louis Gateway Arch

At the end of July/beginning of August, I headed to St. Louis to hang out with my sister for a long-needed four day weekend. She’s been in St. Louis for 6+ years, and I hadn’t made the trek out there (bad Steph!) except for a lunch last summer when I was driving a car from Oklahoma to Philly. I’m so glad I finally rectified this situation.

St. Louis Water Meter
St. Louis Water Meter

Devoting the first weeks of my full-time travel catching up with my family has been really great. Besides my sisters being the coolest ever (the other owns a bright blue tiny house and the cutest matching convertible), they also have great taste in vacations. Val has long bragged about how much fun St. Louis is, and how nearly everything worth doing is free. So I asked her to show me a good time, sans spending money, and see what we could get up to.

Anheuser-Busch Brewery Tour

When my sister was a broke law school student, she says she used to go on this tour for the free beer (there are two) that come with the tour. After learning a ton touring a whiskey distillery in Ireland, I thought touring a brewery would be really cool. This one is fantastic, because unlike most others, the tour here is completely free. (There are more extended tours you can pay for if you choose).

Hanging out with the Budweiser Clydesdales in St. Louis
Hanging out with the Budweiser Clydesdales in St. Louis

We got there and had fifteen minutes to hang out in the Visitor’s Center before starting the tour. Once we were underway, we got to see some of the Budweiser Clydesdale’s in their paddock and stables. I love the Budweiser Clydesdales! I saw them in Philly about a year ago.

After going through the history of Anheuser-Busch and how the beer is made, they take you back to the beer garden, drink ticket in hand. The garden is a pretty nice place to hang out. When we were there, there was a band playing music and lots of people who were there just to eat lunch and drink.

Anheiser-Busch Beer Garden
Anheiser-Busch Beer Garden

Even though I tend to lean more toward craft and local brews, this tour was really enlightening and a fun way to spend an afternoon. Highly recommend!

St. Louis Art Museum

Like the Nelson-Atkins in Kansas City and the Minneapolis Institute of Art in Minneapolis, the St. Louis Art Museum is a world-class institution that is always free to the public.

The St. Louis Art Museum
The St. Louis Art Museum

Located in Forrest Park on the beautiful Art Hill, the building itself is a Beaux Arts temple built for the St. Louis World’s Fair.

A Chuck Close in the Contemporary Arts wing at the St. Louis Art Museum
A Chuck Close in the Contemporary Arts wing at the St. Louis Art Museum

The European and Modern Art collections are wonderful, but I got lost in the African and Native American collections, which were gorgeous. There were these dresses in the Native American wing decorated with Elk Teeth that could have been in the pages of Vogue.

Art Hill in St. Louis
Art Hill in St. Louis

Two hours is a good chunk of time to see the collection, but, if it’s not raining like during our visit, leave some time to enjoy Art Hill.

Walking at the top of Art Hill in St. Louis
Walking at the top of Art Hill in St. Louis

Cahokia Mounds State Park

Cahokia Mounds State Park is just over the river in Collinsville, Illinois. Crossing the river gives great views of the St. Louis Arch and downtown, so it’s worth keeping your camera handy (in the passenger’s seat, obviously).

Monks Mound at Cahokia
Monks Mound at Cahokia

Since Cahokia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (and my 25th!), I wrote up all about my visit here. A note on costs: admission to the park is free. We paid to rent audioguides, but this is not necessary to enjoy your visit as there are multiple educational signs with informtion around.

Educational Sign at Cahokia
Educational Sign at Cahokia

Contemporary Art Museum

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The entrance to the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis

The Contemporary Art Musuem in St. Louis (CAM) is a small museum dedicated to the ::shock:: contemporary arts. From their website:

 Our mission is to create meaningful engagement with the most relevant and innovative art being made today. With a dynamic array of changing exhibitions, CAM provides a thought-provoking program that reflects and contributes to the global cultural landscape.

This was a cool 30 minute visit. I loved it. During my visit, my favorite piece was a room with three projector screens showing up close footage of farm trucks while cows mooed on the soundtrack. I could have sat there for an hour. My little brother thought it was the worst thing we made him do. It’s definitely NOT for anyone who thinks they’d rather have a migraine than look at Contemporary Art. But for the art lovers and open minded people of the world, this is a cool spot to do a quick walk through.

Gateway Arch

When the words “saint” and “louis” are paired, an American mind immediatly conjures up an image of the Gateway Arch. So it should be incorpoted somehow into your visit. Going up in the Arch costs money (although it’s pretty cool), but simply chilling in the park and looking up in marvelous wonder is 100% free.

Bonus: The St. Louis Zoo

While those are 5 fun and free things I have done in St. Louis, here’s one that absolutely worth a mention that I have not personally done. The St. Louis Zoo was recently named the “USA’s Best Free Attraction” by USA Today readers. So if you like zoos, or free things other people think are top-notch, or if you like seeing adorable sea lions jumping and kissing, check out the St. Louis Zoo. But you might want to hurry, because they are currently exploring whether to insitute admission fees.

So these are my 5 Fun (and Free!) things to do in St. Louis. Plus a bonus. If you have any to add, please share in the comments below!

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