Explore St. Louis

20 Free (or Nearly Free) Things to Do in St. Louis

St. Louis prides itself on a longstanding public ethos: free attractions. We tax ourselves and attract deep-pocketed benefactors to make sure that even the least advantaged of our citizens have easy access to our best cultural institutions, and you are the beneficiary of our generosity. Sure, you can pay for parking and a special experience or two, but admission to all of the following is free.

Several of the attractions are in Forest Park, which is bigger than New York's Central Park at around 1,300 acres where you can easily spend an entire visit. You can also learn about chess, the economy, science and animals and more than you ever thought possible about European motorcycles.

So dive right in and take advantage of St. Louis' amazing generosity. It's free!

Saint Louis Art Museum

One of the top comprehensive art museums in the U.S. features exhibits from nearly every period and national origin, with extensive holdings in pre-Columbian and German art, and an outstanding collection of American art from 1800 to 1945. The museum maintains a full schedule of lectures, tours, films and performances.

Saint Louis Zoo

One of the top zoos in the U.S. houses more than 16,000 animals, many of them rare and endangered. Admission to the zoo and most exhibits is free. Admission to some ticketed exhibits are free the first hour the zoo is open. Adventure Pass (covers many ticketed attractions) $12.95. Open daily, 9 am-5 pm. 

Saint Louis Science Center

Investigate, explore, and engage with science through fun and interactive learning experiences. Seven hundred-plus interactive experiences, live science demonstrations and special exhibitions, plus the exhibit Grow! that follows food from field to table. Plan to spend at least half a day.

Missouri History Museum

Museum features three levels, restaurant, gift shop and exhibition galleries showcasing regional history and traveling exhibitions. Open daily, 10 am-5 pm; Tu, 10 am-8 pm. Free admission. 

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis

Completed in 1914, the cathedral’s gray granite Romanesque exterior gives way to a breathtaking white and yellow marble Byzantine interior that glows with the largest collection of mosaics under one roof in the world. Open daily, 7 am-5 pm. Museum and shop open M-Sa, 10 am-4 pm; Su, noon-4 pm.

Pulitzer Arts Foundation

Arts institution is housed in a minimalist building by Tadao Ando. Exhibits are accompanied by frequent programs. Admission is free. Open Th-Su 10 am-5 pm, F until 8 pm.

Old Courthouse

Built from 1839-1862, the Old Courthouse (part of the Gateway Arch National Park) features restored courtrooms, history exhibits and the beautifully decorated dome. Free admission. Open daily 8 am-4:30 pm.

Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site

The home in south St. Louis County where Ulysses S. Grant lived off and on during his adult life is open for tours daily, 9:30 am-4 pm. Grounds include five carefully restored historic structures and Visitor’s Center.

Purina Farms Visitor Center

Purina Farms’ visitor center offers plenty of hands-on contact with cats, dogs and farm animals, a full-sized barn, hayloft play area, theater, pet center, canine demonstrations, refreshments and gift shop. Admission is free, reservations encouraged.

Laumeier Sculpture Park and Museum

Some 60 pieces of contemporary sculpture by artists of international stature are arranged throughout the 105-acre facility, one of the nation’s major contemporary sculpture parks, plus exhibits in the Adam Aronson Fine Arts Center. Free admission. The park is open daily from 8 am to sunset.

Citygarden

Two downtown blocks west of 8th St. between Market and Chestnut feature 25 sculptures by major international artists, winding paths, water features, seasonal decorations, and a forest of trees. Free.

Anheuser-Busch Brewery & Biergarten

Tours of the world-famous brewery run the gamut from free to $25 (totally worth it). Guests 21 or older may try samples of A-B products. Tour hours: M-Sa, 10 am-4 pm; Su, 11:30 am-4 pm. Reservations requested. Great gift shop. The Biergarten offers more than 15 beers on tap, beer flights, brewmaster tastings and food.

World Chess Hall of Fame

Nonprofit collecting institution explores the dynamic relationship between art and chess through exhibitions, interpretive programs and performances in the 3-story museum.

The Economy Museum

The award-winning museum inside the historic Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis will immerse you in a one-of-a-kind experience that explains the economy, and your role in it, in a fun and interactive way.

Moto Museum

Rare and vintage motorcycles from European manufacturers, 1900-1975, many with an interesting story or notable pedigree. Free admission, donations accepted. Open M, 9 am-3 pm; Tu-F, 9 am-4 pm; call first—there may be a private event.

National Great Rivers Museum

Constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers as a component of the Melvin Price Locks and Dam, the handsomely designed museum features an exhibit gallery, a multi-purpose classroom, a theater and a gift shop. The museum tells the story of the people, nature, and wildlife that have shaped the Mississippi River.

Holocaust Museum and Learning Center

This outstanding museum features exhibits on pre-Nazi Jewish life in Europe, the Holocaust, liberation and establishment of the Jewish state of Israel. Free admission. Open M-Th, 9:30 am-4:30 pm; F, 9:30 am-4 pm; Su, 10 am-4 pm.

Saint Louis University Museum of Art

Selections of art and artifacts from the university’s permanent collection, including the MacLennan Collection of Asian Art, the Collection of the Western Jesuit Missions, and works by prominent artists. Free admission. Open W-Su, 11 am-4 pm.