I have a unique perspective of St. Louis.
I was raised in a small town in southern Missouri, where “ain’t” is in fact a word and the local Wal-Mart was the hangout spot due to the lack of attractions in the town.
Because of being raised in a small town, I see St. Louis as this ever changing and evolving mecca of entertainment.
So, I got to thinking, what would I have liked to do if I were raised in St. Louis? Where do my friends take their children on lazy Sundays? Do St. Louisians and their children ever get bored?
The answer was a resounding “no.” Here are 50 things St. Louisians have discovered to combat a monotonous, small-town way of life.
2. Travel back in time. Just north of downtown lies Crown Candy, an anachronism that takes you to the 1950’s. Jukeboxes adorn the restaurant and your children’s mouths will water when the Deluxe Sundae is served!
3. If you would like to stay entrained for hours, as well as learn something new, visit the St. Louis Science Center! And while you’re there, explore the 5 story, massive OMNIMAX Theater and its latest show, ROBOTS!
4. Let your imagination go wild at the City Museum, where they always have something new to do, like the recently opened climbing area that has been closed for four years. Because the museum is open until one in the morning on weekends, the adults can go back and play big people style.
5. Get out on a rainy day and explore the St. Louis Art Museum, where many family programs are offered in the summer.
6. No matter how you pronounce it, Laumeier Sculpture Park is just incredible. Whether you want to be an art connoisseur or a nature buff, Laumeier has more than 100 acres for you to run, jump, hike, and climb (of course, all interlaced with amazing sculptures).
7. Go to a Cardinal’s game (I would have put this first on the list, but seven is my lucky number and I can be a bit superstitious #worldseries2014)!
8. Head over to Fitz’s Root Beer for an amazingly fun lunch. If you get there early enough, you can request a table near the bottling line. That will keep the kids hypnotized until the food is served! (Added bonus: the kid meals are delivered in a mini car!)
9. We all need a little fried chicken every now and then and when that crave comes on strong and suddenly, make your way over to Hodak’s. After, you will agree they serve the best chicken in St. Louis.
10. Take a tram ride through Grant’s Farm, where you’ll see free roaming bison, antelope, and zebra! While there, be sure to visit the Budweiser Clydesdale Stables, where up to 15 foals are born each year!
11. If you’re itching for a theme park, look no further than Six Flags St. Louis. If it’s particularly hot (which it usually is in Missouri) walk on over to Hurricane Harbor and enjoy one of the country’s largest wave pools!
13. For an especially unique tour of the city, grab your bike and helmet and join in on the Moonlight Ramble. If your kids aren’t up for a twenty-mile tour, a ten-mile tour is offered.
14. Learn all about the history of St. Louis at the Missouri History Museum. Be sure to check the schedule to see which bands are performing (for free!) during the museum’s Twilight Tuesdays concert series!
15. Head down to the riverfront and travel to the top of the Gateway Arch! Although they are currently giving the grounds a facelift, the Arch is still open.
16. Explore four floors of hands-on activities at the Magic House St. Louis Children’s Museum! And don’t forget to check out their Sand Castle Beach!
17. See a show at the Fox Theatre. If the show schedule doesn’t interest you, take a tour of the beautiful building!
19. Take a short drive down to Kimmswick. While strolling around this lovely town, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the many antique shops and historic buildings. (Be sure to eat a slice of pie for me at the Blue Owl!)
22. I have been told that you are not a true St. Louisian unless you have stood in line for a famous Ted Drewes frozen custard. Your kids will thank you. The universe will thank you. You will be thanked.
23. Check out Purina Farms, where visitors can milk a cow, watch a canine competition, or play in a hayloft. (Back where I’m from, we do this every day, so let me know if you need some help!)
24. St. Louis is proud to have its own one-ring European circus! Circus Flora made St. Louis its home in 1987 and have been amazing families ever since.
25. Are you in the mood for some exploration? Does your child dream of being an archeologist? You can pan for gold, dig for fossils, or take a riverboat ride while visiting Meramec Caverns.
26. The Wolf Sanctuary is an amazing place dedicated to the preservation of rare and endangered wolves. Be sure to call ahead to take the half-mile walking tours, as the sanctuary closes during the breeding season.
27. See a show at America’s largest and oldest outdoor theater – The Muny. If you’re not in the mood to pay for premium seats, the theater offers 1,500 free seats in the last nine rows of the theater (But get there early! They fill up fast!).
28. If water parks are your thing or if the weather is just too hot to handle, you’re going to love Raging Rivers. (Personally, my thing is the Endless River.)
29. Along with their spectacular concert program, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra offers several casual family concerts throughout the year, free community events, and amazing holiday concerts. There’s something for everyone at the symphony!
30. St. Louisians find themselves counting down to the Fourth of July. Why? Because the celebration is huge! Fair St. Louis has so much food, so much music, and an amazing firework display show! Keep in mind that this year will be in Forest Park instead of at the Gateway Arch due to construction.
31. Fresh produce is always a good idea, especially when it comes to you and your kid’s health. Knowing exactly where your food comes from saves you and the environment! So scoot on down to the oldest farmers market west of the Mississippi – Soulard Farmer’s Market. I hear the peaches are even good enough for Bill Clinton…
32. Frontyard Features is a travelling organization that shows family-oriented movies under the stars, which is perfect! Just call and request your movie and they’ll! They even have the summer’s ironically biggest hit – Frozen! Keep them in mind for outdoor screenings of the Cardinal’s, too!
33. If a moment of silence it what you’re after, the Butterfly House is perfect. Take a quiet stroll through the 8,000 square foot Conservatory Garden. It’s designed to ensure a natural and safe habitat for nearly 60 species of butterfly!
34. Visit an ancient civilization at Cahokia Mounds! Cahokia’s population at its peak in the 1200s was among the largest cities in the world, and its ancient population would not be surpassed by any city in the United States until the late 18th century. Today, Cahokia Mounds is considered the largest and most complex archaeological site north of the great Pre-Columbian cities in Mexico!
36. Pick peaches, strawberries, blackberries, and apples at one of Eckert’s Country Farms. It might be a ways off…but you can even cut down your own Christmas tree during the holiday season!
37. Explore St. Louis by water by riding a riverboat on the Mississippi River! The Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher Riverboats offer many different types of cruises, including a sightseeing cruise your whole family can enjoy!
38. If you find yourself fainting in the Missouri heat in the heart of downtown, cool off at in Citygarden. Your kids can play in the fountains while you take in some of the amazing sculptures lining the grounds!
39. The St. Louis Central Library is breathtaking, and it doesn’t even matter if you like to read or not!
40. The World Bird Sanctuary is a one-of-a-kind wildlife experience! The Sanctuary is both a unique St. Louis attraction and entertaining environmental education opportunity!
41. Creve Coeur Lake is absolutely breathtaking, with waterfalls and a sandy beach! You can rent bicycles and boats, take a rowing class at the St. Louis Rowing Club, and even swing from tree-to-tree with their Go Ape tree adventures!
42. You can’t miss the Pin-Up Bowl, a nostalgic bowling alley and martini lounge; kids are welcome here before 6 p.m. A full kitchen serves up an assortment of tasty foods, with everything from Campbell’s soups to freshly baked pizzas and even Pop-Tarts.
43. Run away and join the circus for the evening at Moolah Shrine and Circus!
45. Does a sweet tooth run in your family? Park Avenue Coffee boasts the best of one of St. Louis’ famous desserts – Gooey Butter Cake! For the adults, Park Avenue has the best coffee in town!
46. Looking for a rock to climb but can’t find any in the city? Travel down the road a way to Elephant Rock where boulders more than 600 tons and 20 feet tall create the perfect spot to run, jump, and climb.
47. Have you ever seen a youth opera? Talk about impressive! The Opera Theatre of St. Louis offers a variety of educational programs catering to youth and young artists including various opera camps, artists training programs, and youth operas.
48. Discover what is in your own backyard at the Powder Valley Nature Center! You will have a chance to beehives, wildlife feed/viewing area, a 3,000-gallon aquarium, a huge tree house, a Missouri Monarch deer mount, and venomous snakes and bears in Missouri!
49. Ronnie’s 20 Cine is probably a place you used to go as a kid…and now your kids can make their own memories there! With a fantastic “Drive-In” theater, a huge arcade, and comfortable seats, it is great for kids and their parents!
50. St. Louis’ Old Courthouse is part courthouse house, part museum. Embrace history in restored courtrooms and view exhibits and murals depicting historic events. Special exhibits change on a regular basis, so there’s always something new to discover at the Old Courthouse, which is only a two-block walk from the Gateway Arch!
Click here to see our latest Behind the Minds, all about summer activities for kids! Here from a panel of experts from the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the Center of Creative Arts (COCA), and the Mathews-Dicky Boy’s and Girl’s Club!
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