May 28th – Being A Tourist (On the Cheap)

May 28th – Being A Tourist (On the Cheap)

Today’s prompt for Blog Everyday in May is to “Share tips to be a tourist in your hometown or city.” My tips are going to be around my hometown of St. Louis, MO. Hopefully this post will give me some great ideas to share with our German family and friends who will be visiting St. Louis in August for our wedding! I’m going to focus on attractions that are free or cheap, because those are my favorite kind. And plane tickets are expensive, so people might not want to pay an arm and a leg to go see stuff when they’ve shelled out a bunch of money to fly over. So without further ado – my favorite free and cheap things to do in St. Louis!

1. The St. Louis Zoo

St. Louis Zoo
I’m shorter than a llama.

St. Louis has a pretty amazing zoo – and there is no admission fee. There are a few attractions within the park, and the closest parking lot has a fee – but if you’re willing to walk you can get free parking. The children’s section is really fantastic, even if you’re not a child anymore, and while it normally has it’s own fee, if you show up the first hour the zoo is open, you can get in for free.  Totally worth it if you can handle getting there before 9:00 AM (the zoo opens at 8:00 AM in the summer).

For maximum fun, I would suggest checking the schedule for the different shows and feedings. The sea lions in particular are really fun to watch.

2. Grant’s Farm

Grant’s Farm is another attraction with no admission fee, but a fee for parking. If you’re willing to walk about a kilometer, there is some free parking to be found – though I’m not 100% that it’s not on private property. Just don’t park in front of someone’s house.

Grant’s Farm is similar to the zoo, but it’s smaller and has some free beer for adults. It’s owned by Anheuser-Busch (hence the complimentary beer), and the Busch family has a mansion hidden away on the property that you can spot if you through the trees if you go to one of their Christmas attractions. There’s a large park where many animals roam – bison, cattle, deer, zebras – and before you reach the rest of the park you take a tram ride through. During the tram ride, you pass by a cabin that used to be the home of President Ulysses S. Grant. You get a nice history lesson during your tour as well.

After the tram, you arrive in the Tier Garten (German influence FTW) where there are many animal exhibits and an area where you can pay to feed baby goats. Totally worth it, they are adorable. If you have small children, you may want to go in with them as the goats are perpetually “starving” and lack the self-awareness to not trample tiny humans trying to feed them.

Grant's Farm Goats
Photo by Dave Herholz

After the Tier Garten is the Bauernhof (again, more German!) where they have food and some stables with horses. This is where you can pick up samples of AB if you are of age. When I went there with the Verlobter, he tried some Bud Light Lime and though it tasted like mineral water with some limey-beer flavor.

The Bauernhof Photo by Rick Mester
The Bauernhof
Photo by Rick Mester

When you’re finished, you take a tram back to the exit and avoid the gift shop – since we are travelling on the cheap this time.

3. St. Louis Science Center

The St. Louis Science Center and the Zoo are both located in Forest Park, which also has other wonderful free attractions like the St. Louis Art Museum and the Missouri History Museum. There are two entrances for the Science Center, though. One entrance is inside the park with a small, but free parking lot and some nearby street parking. The other entrance, and most of the museum is just outside the park and has a larger parking lot that charges a fee. I’m sure you can guess which entrance I always go to.

St. Louis Science Center
This one. The free one.
“Mcdonnell planetarium slsc” by Steven M. Ley

The entrance inside the park is the “old” Science Center and contains a planetarium and some kiosks to buy tickets to special attractions, if I remember correctly. There’s not much there. You then go through a tunnel, over the highway on a bridge, and then through another tunnel again to get to the main park of the museum. Like everything else, the Science Center has parts that cost money, specifically the Omnimax (it’s an IMAX, but round) and special temporary exhibits that are held in a giant domed tent. But there is plenty to do and see for free.

Dinosaur St. Louis Science Center
Like large, animatronic dinosaur murder scenes.
“Dinosaur Diorama at Saint Louis Science Center” by AfricanGeo

So those are my top three free/cheap things to do in St. Louis! What are some fun free/cheap things to do where you are from?

 

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