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Don't miss the City Museum. It's like no other place in the world. Created by visionary scultptor Bob Cassilly and housed in a converted shoe factory, it's full of wonders inside and out. It's not really a museum -- it's a work of art and an amusement park for the body, mind, and imagination. Plan to spend most of a day here.
Kids and parents will love the Saint Louis Zoo. Set in Forest Park, it’s home to over 9,000 animals and is one of the most visited zoos in the country. Admission is free. It even has a special Children’s Zoo for the young ones. On a nice day, enjoy a picnic in the surrounding park or climb around on the giant sculptures in the nearby Turtle Playground.
The St. Louis Science Center is located at the edge of the park. Although it has some outdoor exhibits surrounding its planetarium, most of them are indoors, so it is a good choice on rainy or very hot days. Admission is free, as is parking near the Planetarium building and around Forest Park.
The Magic House, also known as the St. Louis Children’s Museum, is very popular for young children. Its unique exhibits will keep kids entertained for hours. A recent Zagat Survey has found it to be the nation’s top attraction in terms of child appeal, surpassing even Disneyland. Admission is $7 for adults and children.
The Missouri Botanical Garden, the world class botanical garden and research facility just south of Interstate-44 in the Shaw neighborhood (the Botanical Garden is locally called 'Shaw's garden' , after its founder, Henry Shaw. Do not confuse this with Shaw park in Clayton, which is a city park for the suburb of Clayton), is not only an oasis for nature lovers and gardening fans, but has a recently opened Children's garden. This garden is open during the spring through fall. The Botanical Garden is free for members, with a reduced rate for city residents, and free for children. The children's garden has an additional fee, but is free for children under 2. For more information on current exhibits (such as the yearly orchid show, the Christmas floral display, Japanese Festival, etc), visit the garden website www.mobot.org.
Grant's Farm, the ancestral home of the Busch family (of Anheuser-Busch brewery fame) and onetime homestead of Ulysses S. Grant, is an especially good activity for families with young children -- and it's free! (parking, however, costs $11 per car). Begin with a tram ride through a wildlife preserve (Deer Park) where hoofed animals such as elk, deer, and exotic cattle roam. Then, visit the small, beautifully landscaped zoo (Tier Garten); take in an animal show and feed the sheep and goats. Over lunch, relax at the Bauernhof, where the adults can enjoy free samples of Anheuser-Busch products (two beers per person). End your trip with by viewing the magnificent Clydesdales at the Clydesdale Barn. This is a great attraction for small children -- you can get it all in before naptime -- plus the adults can enjoy a slight beer buzz in the sunshine with happy children!
Take a trip back in time and visit Crown Candy Kitchen in Old North, about a mile from downtown St. Louis. Crown Candy is an old-time soda fountain featuring sandwiches, soups and salads, homemade candy, and a variety of ice cream desserts.
If you are looking for a good playground for an hour or two, you'll find many to choose from in St. Louis. Suggestions include the universally accessible playgrounds (fun for all kids) at Forest Park and Tilles Park.
Family Day Trips:
Another great family destination is Hannibal Missouri, about two hours north of the St. Louis area. Here you can tour the boyhood home of Mark Twain, explore Mark Twain cave and take a riverboat cruise.