As you can see from my previous days' posts, we spent several days this past week in St. Louis, Missouri. It is one of our favorite cities to visit as a family. In fact, the kids want to go every year. We always seem to do the same things, even though there are tons of things to do that we have never gotten around to doing. It is a fun-filled city and the activities are cheap and, oftentimes, FREE! If you are a car drive away, St. Louis is a FRUGAL vacation destination. Here's what to do once you get there ...
Hotel. First, I recommend staying in a hotel NOT in the downtown area. They are super-pricey there and staying out a bit doesn't add much to your drive time. We have stayed in an extended stay 20 minutes out of downtown and, this time, we stayed at a Drury Inn near Forest Park, which is the zoo area. That being said, stay in a Drury Inn if you can. The one at the Convention Center downtown is actually not too expensive, in comparison to other hotels, so if you want to stay downtown I would choose it. Why Drury Inn? FREE parking, FREE big hot breakfast, FREE evening buffet, FREE cocktails in the evening, FREE popcorn and soda all afternoon, FREE indoor pool, FREE internet. We probably saved $200 on this trip just in free food at the hotel.
St. Louis Zoo. It has FREE admission and is a great zoo! Parking is $12.00. But, there is FREE parking on the street OR you can park at Turtle Playground on the street and walk over. I wouldn't pay for parking. When inside, you do have to pay for the sea lion show, the infant animal zoo, the train, carousel, stingray petting area, etc. You can purchase an armband for $10 per person that would get you into all of those things. This time we just went to the sea lion show so didn't purchase the armband. It was $4 per person. Other than a couple of bottles of water, and a couple of stuffed animals, we didn't spend any money. You can bring in a full cooler if you want, so bring your own drinks and snacks.
Turtle Playground. I mentioned this briefly above. It is right across the street from the zoo. It is just a playground with huge turtle and snake sculptures that the kids can climb on. My kids love it, and we go every time. And, it's FREE! We took our lunch there one day.
St. Louis Science Center. It has FREE admission. Parking is $10.00. You can park on the street for FREE (very limited) or park by the Planetarium and it's FREE in that lot. Admission to the Planetarium movies is separate ($5.00 per adult, $4.00 per child), but the movies are cool so worth it, in my opinion. We lucked out this trip with it being the 50th anniversary of the Planetarium, so entrance was only 50 cents per person! We bought a snack there, but otherwise didn't spend any money.
The Gateway Arch. You have to go to the Arch. Admission to it and the Museum of Westward Expansion located within are FREE. If you want to go up in the Arch, it is $10 per adult and $5 per child. Go HERE to get a coupon for Buy One Adult Get One Child Free.
The Metrolink. Ride the Metrolink. It's cheap and fun!! This is where having a hotel out of downtown is easy. Our hotel was by the zoo. We parked our car in FREE parking at the Forest Park station and rode the Metrolink to the Arch one day. Both ways it cost a total of $8.90. We saved gas and the kids had a blast!
City Museum. This is the most expensive thing we ever do on our trip. Admission is $12 per person, and the roof is an extra $5 and the aquarium is an additional cost, as well. If you go on Friday or Saturday night after 5:00 p.m., it's $10 per person and is open until midnight. That's what we did this trip. It is the funnest place you will ever go to ... both for kids and parents alike. I can't even describe it. You have to go there to believe it. You have never been anywhere in your life where adults act more like goofy kids. That, alone, is worth the admission.
Other things. Of course you can go to a St. Louis Cardinal's game, or a hockey game. We always say we are going to go to Grant's Farm (which has FREE admission, other than parking) but never make it there. You can tour the Anheuser-Busch plant, ride the Becky Thatcher riverboat, go to Union Station, eat at Hard Rock cafe, and tons of other things. I don't know that we will every accomplish all we want to in St. Louis.
Our goal is always to experience as much history and do as many FREE things as possible. And, we always want to eat at a local hangout. In St. Louis it's Fitz's. They make and bottle their own rootbeer and sodas. It's not necessarily cheap or free, but it's GOOD and fun! And you can get a FREE rootbeer float by going HERE. I do not recommend getting one per person. They are HUGE! I'd just get a couple and share them.
As you can see, we spent very little money for a four-day vacation, in comparison to many vacations. And, it must be fun because my kids want to go back every single year. If you are looking for a fairly FRUGAL vacation destination for your family, or even as a weekend for you and your spouse, check out St. Louis!!
Linking this post up at Blogging Through the Alphabet with Marcy at Ben and Me.
I am also linking this post up with Laura at Loving and Learning on the High Plains.