With gas prices so ridiculously high, you should consider taking advantage of the many fun, free events in St. Louis.
As a lifelong resident of St. Louis, I know that we often take the availability of free activities for granted. After spending 6 years assisting people that are relocating to St. Louis identify the right community and home for their lifestyle and needs, I’ve come to appreciate that most cities do not offer the plethora of free or very low-cost activities that we have available to us.
So save your pennies for the gas tank, and check out some of my favorite summertime activities that won’t cost you a cent.
1. St. Louis Zoo:
The St. Louis Zoo is considered by many to be the best zoo in the country. The Chicago Tribune ranked it as the best Midwest zoo and Zagat ranked the St. Louis Zoo as #1 in the U.S. in it’s Family Travel Guide. Plus, most zoos have high admission fees and our zoo is FREE. You can even make the day completely free if you opt to park along the winding streets of Forest Park rather than paying for the paid lots adjacent to the entrances. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy at the tables in the zoo or take a break and enjoy your lunch in the park, and you can even avoid paying for high priced concession food. So stop by for the day, or for just a few hours, and enjoy a true gem.
2. Outdoor Summer Concerts in the Parks:
Probably my favorite summertime activity, you can’t beat an evening of live music in one of our many parks. Bring a picnic dinner and a bottle of wine, and settle in for the evening.
Earlier this week, I tried to find a comprehensive list of all of the free concert series and couldn’t find one. So, I made one up myself. Take a look at yesterday’s post that sorts the concerts by day of the week so you can easily see your options for a spontaneous night out. (Update: See current year schedule)
3. Movies around Town:
I have to admit that I have not made it to one of these community movie nights yet, but it is definitely on my list of things to do for this summer. There are a number of places you can check out an outdoor movie under the stars.
4. Farmer’s Markets:
Granted, you’ll need some self control to not spend money when you visit the farmer’s markets. But if you look at it like window shopping, visiting a farmer’s market is a fun way to see what is grown by our local farmers. You can also find pastries, packaged goods, coffee, flowers and lots of other local products at the markets. The largest of our area farmer’s markets is located at Soulard which has a playground adjacent to the vendors. Tower Grove Market has free live music and yoga, and the Kirkwood Farmer’s market has live music beginning at 10:00 am on selected Saturdays. I’m planning on hitting as many of them as I can this summer to pick my favorites. If you have a favorite, leave me a comment below with your vote on the best in the area.
5. Forest Park:
Forest Park is one of the largest urban parks in the country with 1,293 acres (which makes it 500 acres larger than New York’s Central Park). Designed as a park for the people, many of the city’s cultural institutions are found in the park and offer free admission. In addition to the Zoo, you will also find free admission at the St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis Science Center and History Museum. There are also acres of grassy spaces and picnic sites, plus 7.5 miles of trails for biking, walking and rollerblading. One of my favorite spots to stretch out on a blanket with a good book is Art Hill (the hill located in front of the Art Museum with a great water view).
6. Parks and More Parks:
There are dozens of neighborhood parks throughout the St. Lous region. But if you are looking for something different, you might want to check out one of our larger park treasures.
Creve Coeur Park
We just love our festivals in St. Louis. A few that fall in the next few months include the Great Forest Park Balloon Race, Fair St. Louis and St. Louis County Fair & Air Show.
8. Take a Hike or Bike Ride:
Regardless of where you live, there is a trail for you to hike or bike only minutes away at one of our area parks. St. Louis County has launched a 30/30 Hikes program to combat obesity and encourage fitness. This program identifies 30 trails throughout St. Louis County that take about 30 minutes to complete.
Or, you might want to visit one of the more well know trails such as Grants Trail and Katy Trail. For a complete list of area trails, visit Trailnet.
9. Live Theater for Free:
St. Louis has a lot of great live theater, but we do have a couple of great options for those of you that want to enjoy some theater without the paying ticket prices. Both are also a great way to introduce kids to theater. Shakespeare in the Park offers a green show just before the performance which gives a quick and understandable ‘Cliff Notes’ version of the play to help the kids (or anyone) understand the story so it is easier to follow along with the slightly challenging dialog. Bring some lawn chairs and a picnic dinner, and enjoy the show in Forest Park. You’ll need to hurry, the show is being performed nightly through June 15 (excluding Tuesday nights).
Another option is to see one of the musical shows at the Muny Theater. Get there early, the free seats go quickly.
10. Brewery Tours:
We do love our beer in St. Louis. If you have never taken a tour of Anheuser-Busch or Schlafly Microbrewery, you should add them to your summer ‘to do’ list.
Plus a few other things to add to your list:
Cahokia Mounds (free admission but donations requested)
Grants Farm (free admission but parking costs $6 per car)
Purina Farms (reservations required)
Missouri Botanical Gardens (free admission on Wednesday and Saturday before noon, and during the Whitaker Music Festival)
If I left off one of your favorite free activities, please add it to the list in the comments below. Or leave a note voting for your favorite.