St. Louis: Make Your Dollar Go Further

St. Louis is known for welcoming families of all ages with open arms. Here’s a handy guide to help you see this piece of the Midwest on a budget.

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From piles of fun restaurants to a growing network of museums, St. Louis is a city that opens its arms wide to families. Even if you’re on a budget — aren’t we all? — there’s plenty to see and do here in this corner of the Midwest without spending a fortune. If you’re planning to visit the Gateway to the West with the family in tow, add these stops to your list.

Feed the Fam

Nobody likes a hungry carload — ever. Fuel your family up for some sightseeing adventures with a stop at one of these affordable St. Louis favorites.


Voted “Best Breakfast in Missouri,” Rooster is a European-style café with a sort of country-meets-urban flair. Kids go crazy for the Ham and Jam Biscuit while the grownups tend to love the crepes.

Sauce on the Side

You can’t get fresher than a place where everything’s made from scratch. At Sauce on the Side, the Italian specialties are made right onsite. This is a great place to choose something fun and interesting from the eclectic menu — think Figgy Piggy Calzone or the Cock-a-Doodle Noodle.

Crown Candy Kitchen

An ice cream shop, candy store, and restaurant rolled into one, Crown Candy Kitchen isn’t kidding around when it claims to have something for everyone in the family. Try the Turkey Bacon Melt at this old-fashioned shop, washed down with a creamy malt and maybe even some candy to go.

Must-Visit Attractions

Attractions are the name of the game in this centrally located city on the Mississippi. Put one — or all — of these popular spots on your vacation to-do list.

City Museum

Most interactive museums appeal mainly to kids, but City Museum just might be the exception. With miles of tunnels, more than 30 slides, a cave, and a roof with a Ferris Wheel (just to name a few fun things), this museum has just as much to offer the adults as the kiddos. In fact, you probably can’t squeeze everything into just one visit — but you can sure give it your best shot!

Close up view of man's hands playing guitar at National Blues Museum in St. Louis.

National Blues Museum

Teach your kids all about Blues history — and soak in the best yourself — at the National Blues Museum. With interactive exhibits, knowledgeable guides, and an impressive layout, this museum does a good job of presenting the history and legacy of Blues music in a way that is never boring.

Free Family Fun

Turns out, you don’t have to spend a dime to have a good time. Get out and explore St. Louis with a visit to some of these hot spots.

Distant view of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis on a sunny day.

Gateway Arch

You can’t visit St. Louis without a stop at the iconic Gateway Arch. It stands as a proud symbol of westward expansion, and it is definitely a sight to behold. You do have to pay to go to the top, but it’s only a $3 park entrance fee to get up close and personal at ground level. The updated Museum at the Gateway Arch has interactive exhibits that explore the area’s history and the arch’s building and significance.

St. Louis Zoo

When it comes to amazing zoo adventures, it’s hard to beat the award-winning Saint Louis Zoo. Toss in the fact that zoo admission is free — and always has been — and it pretty much becomes an unbeatable attraction. Special shows and exhibits sometimes require tickets, but the bulk of the experience costs you nothing — and earns you some pretty amazing squeals of delight. What else would you expect from the recent winner of “Best Zoo” and “America’s Top Free Attraction?”

Gateway Mall

Don’t let the name fool you. This isn’t a shopping mall. Gateway Mall is a linear park running right through downtown. Walk the fountains along this greenspace and stretch your legs after your visit to the Gateway Arch.

Colorful water feature at Citygarden in downtown St. Louis.


An urban escape in the heart of downtown, Citygarden is not your typical park. You can view large public sculptures as well as a video wall, all while the kids play in the fountains — with Mom and Dad’s permission, of course!

Laclede’s Landing

Enjoy riverfront entertainment on the banks of the Mississippi River at Laclede’s Landing. It’s worth a visit just to stroll along the city’s historic riverfront, but there are also plenty of shops and restaurants if you’re in the mood for a little light spending.

St. Louis is the perfect spot to make new memories with your family. For even more ideas, check out this guide to budget-friendly family dining in St. Louis.

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