Travelers with lean pockets and wide interests should include St. Louis at the top of their “To Go” list. The stomping ground of literary giants Tennessee Williams and T. S. Eliot, St. Louis has a rich urban culture.
St. Louis is the hub of the Midwest, and Forest Park is the hub of St. Louis. The original site of the 1904 Olympics, Forest Park now provides fun free of charge.
You might want to make the St. Louis Zoo your first stop. Zagat.com rated the zoo as the nation’s best, above the famed San Diego Zoo (U.S. Family Travel Guide). Zookeepers house more than 5,000 animals and create award-winning animal habitats while still maintaining free public admission. Slide through the otter exhibit in the acrylic slide, and pet the parrots perching on the zookeeper’s arm. Hug the penguins when the weather is especially cold and they’re allowed to wander outside their habitat.
Music and Ballet
The Municipal Opera and Ballet (affectionately called “Muny” by locals) perform Broadway musicals during summer months at the largest outdoor amphitheater in North America. Former New York City Ballet director Gin Hiroshi directs performances, and each performance offers 1,500 free seats.
Around the corner, the St. Louis Museum of Art gives visitors free access to the Claude Monet Water Lily series. While you’re there, take note of the museum’s architecture designed for the 1904 World’s Fair by Cass Gilbert (also the architect for the US Supreme Court building).
History buffs will enjoy the Missouri History Museum, complete with detailed exhibits on Charles Lindbergh (think Spirit of St. Louis).
The nearby Science Center houses a Boeing Space Station and an 80-foot Zeiss Planetarium. Solar-system lovers will enjoy the daily meteor shower and eclipse demonstrations.
For life-science fans, nearby Washington University houses magnificent botanical and sculpture gardens and a steamy, glass-plated Butterfly House featuring over 44 fluorescent butterfly species.
For additional information on free activities in St. Louis: