The St. Louis Zoo is a world-renown zoo founded in 1910 that has free admission. Open every day of the year except Christmas and New Year’s Day, the zoo is located in St. Louis’s Forest Park.

The easiest way to get to the Zoo is to drive there and park in either the North or South zoo parking lot. There is free parking available on the streets/roads of Forest Park’s interior, but these spots tend to fill up quickly, so you would need to arrive early in morning if you’re looking to park there. Even with high parking prices of $15 per vehicle, the North and South parking lots will sometimes get completely full during the summer months. The city’s MetroLink does not stop directly at the zoo, but you can take a bus or seasonal trolley from the closest MetroLink station to the zoo.

Once inside the zoo, feel free to set out in any direction, as there is no set path through the zoo. What you’ll find in the zoo is that animals are housed in natural settings, like the River’s Edge and Red Rocks areas of the zoo. Getting around the zoo is easy, as all footpaths are paved, and very well maintained.

Food and drink options abound once you’re inside the zoo, but like many other major tourist attractions, the prices can be on the high side. You can bring coolers and picnic baskets inside the zoo. Some visitors pack a picnic lunch and cooler in their vehicle, and picnic outside the zoo on the Forest Park grounds for lunch.

If you visit in the summer months, plan on facing high temperatures and large crowds. The zoo usually places large-size misting fans and other cooling stations during peak summer temperatures. Visiting the zoo in spring or fall will usually provide a better experience, as you can both avoid large crowds and potentially have more pleasant weather.

If the weather does turn unfavorable, there are several indoor options. First, the Living World building hosts exhibits, a cafeteria, and the Zoo’s main gift shop. Penguin & Puffin cost is a walk-thru indoor door exhibit that is kept between 45 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. The Herpatarium, Insectarium, and Jungle of the Apes exhibit are other indoor options.

There are many things specifically for children too. The dedicated Children’s Zoo offers kids the chance to get up close to various animals, and integrates some playground aspects too. There is normally a $4 fee to enter the Children’s Zoo, but if you arrive during the first hour of the day, it’s free. Same thing applies to the seasonal Sting Ray petting pool; a $3 admission is charged unless it’s during the zoo’s opening hour. Other highlights for kids include a large size carousel that costs $3 per person. There is a $10 “Safari Pass” that permits one entry to these attractions and other paid zoo features.

One of the highlights for young & old alike is the St. Louis Zooline Railroad, a miniature railroad system. It costs $5 per person for a round trip ticket that takes you one and a half miles through the zoo, with four stations along the way (1 round trip ticket is included in the Safari Pass). The Zooline Railroad operates year-round, weather permitting.

The St. Louis Zoo is world renown for some of its animal research and conservation efforts, as well as the protection of endangered species.  The zoo also regularly adds new exhibits and updates existing ones, such as the recent addition of  an open-air sea lion exhibit featuring an underwater viewing tunnel. Visit the Zoo’s official website at www.stlzoo.org for more information.