Free St. Louis Spots to Enjoy Summertime

With children being out of school, many area residents seek ways to stay active and engaged. Take advantage of the several free activities in and around St. Louis.

Even with the heat, and families can explore St. Louis. Following are some places that offer free admission. How can downtown institutions afford free admission? Years ago, voters in St. Louis and St. Louis County approved a special zoo-museum district supported by a property tax.

Starting locally, Eureka-Wildwood Patch readers recently voted the following two parks as their favorites:

  • in Eureka
  • in Wildwood

There are other free spots in the broader St. Louis region, too.

Purina Farms in Gray Summit

  • Open Tuesday through Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. now through Labor Day
  • Dedicated to animal enthusiasts, with performing pets, barnyard pals and prestiguous purebreds
  • Includes outdoor canine competition areas
  • Voted one of the top seven local family events of the year by local St. Louisians

Shaw Nature Reserve in Gray Summit

  • Located at Missouri Route 100 and Interstate 44
  • Free to Missouri Botannical Garden members and children 12 years old and younger ($5 adults, $3 students and seniors who are 65 years and older)
  • Open year-round from 7 a.m. until sunset. Visitor Center hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. The Bascom House is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Sunday. The reserve is open to hikers every day, but the Visitor Center and Bascom House are closed on most major holidays.
  • During July, explore the Reserve on your bicycle! Take a ride along the Trail House Loop Road and park your bike at the Whitmire Wildflower Garden parking area, the Maritz Trail House, or the wetland parking area to continue your tour on foot. Shaw Nature Reserve has seven miles of bike-friendly gravel roads where you can enjoy the amazing wildflowers and wildlife along your ride.

Saint Louis Zoo

  • Open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday for summer hours
  • Open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday
  • Additional zoo atractions for small fee ranging from $3 to $5 per person 
    • Children's Zoo is $4 per person. Free admission the first hour the Zoo is open. Children under 2 are free.
    • Conservation Carousel is $3 per person. Free admission during first hour of operation. Children under 2 are free. All other persons require admission. All proceeds support the Saint Louis Zoo's conservation programs.
    • Zooline Railroad is $5 per person, per round trip ticket. You may leave the train, visit exhibits and re-board. Children under 2 are free.
    • Movie is $3 per person.
    • 4-D Motion Simulator is $3 per person. Children under 2 are free. All other persons require admission.
    • Stingrays at Caribbean Cove featuring Sharks is $3 per person; $1.50 for Zoo Friends members up to Zoo-Goer level. Members at the Family Level and above may use their Anywhere Plus passes for admission. Children under two are free. Free admission during first hour the Zoo is open.
    • First Bank Sea Lion Show is $4 per person. Children under 2 are free. Zoo Friends members may redeem their Anywhere passes for timed tickets.

Saint Louis Art Museum

  • Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Open late on Fridays until 9 p.m.
  • Closed Mondays
  • Admission and parking are free
  • Enjoy masterpieces by Claude Monet, expressionists' landscapes, historical portraits
  • Admission is free every day; admission to featured exhibitions is free on Fridays
  • New exhibition coming July 13 through Oct. 21:  New Media Series—Laleh Khorramian: Water Panics in the Sea

The Old Courthouse

  • Located at 11 North Fourth Street in downtown, this is where the Dred Scott case originated
  • Open daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Galleries detailing St. Louis history
  • Exhibits of fur traders who founded the city
  • See transportation revolution during Victorian Age

The Missouri Botannical Garden, with an incredible collection of plants and world leading plant research, is free to children 12 years and younger. Adults pay $5 each.

YOUR TURN:  What other free admission spots would you suggest?

Jo Beck July 08, 2012 at 12:02 PM
Don't forget the numerous St. Louis County parks, especially Suson Farm Park in South County-
Denise Bertacchi July 08, 2012 at 12:37 PM
The Science Center doesn't change admission and parking is free on the old planetarium side.
Julie Brown Patton July 08, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Thanks, Jo and Denise, for those additions. Keep'em coming!


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