Everyone is looking for a great deal when searching for things to do when traveling. It’s inevitable that many tourist attractions around the world will hike their prices, which for the consumer means the dreaded reality of forking out crazy amounts of money for something they may later regret. St. Louis, Missouri is certainly a city that has an abundance of attractions worth visiting, but I am delighted to say that much of the city has remained reasonable in terms of their pricing, so it’s possible to find cheap attractions in St Louis.
St. Louis is a beautiful city with much to see and experience. Whether it’s a journey to the top of the Gateway Arch, or perhaps heading over to Busch Stadium to watch your beloved Cardinals, there is always something to do. But what about those aforementioned ‘cheaper’ attractions, where on earth are they you may be asking?
It’s all about digging a little deeper and thinking outside the box. After reading this post, I hope to have introduced you to a couple of alternative attractions and perhaps you will be convinced to pay them a visit the next time you visit the Gateway City.
Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House
Admission – $6 (Adults), $5 (Seniors 65+) and $4 (Children 3-12)
St. Louis may be the home of the Cardinals but I want to start out by recommending an attraction that is way out of left field but still an amazing choice for all the family. Sophie M. Sachs Butterfly House is an exhilarating experience for all ages and I guarantee that all the family can reap the benefits of paying this hidden gem a visit.
Located in Faust Park, visitors can enjoy a gentle stroll through the park to the Butterfly House and after paying the bargain admission prices, explore the glass conservatory that houses a wide variety of butterflies from around the world.
Butterflies native to countries such as Madagascar, Costa Rica and the Philippines can be found fluttering away to their hearts content inside this temperature controlled environment.
As you enter the conservatory, the guide warns you about the 80-85 degree temperature along with a high humidity level which is the perfect environment for tropical butterflies to thrive. Of course, it’s a little steamy inside for visitors so be prepared to sweat a little! But I can assure you the experience of thousands of butterflies flying around as you walk through the trail is worthwhile.
Except for the temperature and humidity, be aware of your surroundings and where you step because many of the butterflies enjoy spending their time on the paths. With such a colorful display of butterflies, it’s a relaxing environment to just walk around and consider how these species would be reacting in their natural habitats.
The Butterfly House is a great way for children to learn about different species and of course it’s not just the butterflies that are on display. A plethora of plant varieties are available inside the conservatory and have been carefully selected for the butterflies to enjoy interacting with.
The Old Courthouse
Admission – FREE
In 1935, the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial was designated a national historic site and of course today the most iconic of landmarks here is the Gateway Arch. The journey to the top of the Arch is a worthwhile experience, but if you are looking to explore the deep history and heritage within St. Louis, check out the Old Courthouse which is part of this memorial.
The courthouse may not have the same reputation as a global landmark as the Gateway Arch, but it is still an important structure of both historical and architectural significance. The history of his building dates back to the 1830s when the first foundations were put in place, but it is 1846 when the Old Courthouse became most famous.
The Dred Scott lawsuit was initially not considered to be newsworthy but it didn’t take long for this case to reach the US Supreme Court. The Scott case was essentially about freedom from slavery and lead to the start of the Civil War!
The ornate design of the Old Courthouse is certainly an inviting spectacle for visitors, both on the inside and exterior. We took a brief self-guided tour prior to our journey to the Gateway Arch, but there are guided tours available so be sure to check with the information desk.
Admission – FREE
In my opinion, the BEST free attraction in St. Louis has to be Forest Park! There is just so much to do here and yes, that’s right everything is pretty much FREE. You could quite easily spend several days here exploring all of the freebies, ranging from St. Louis Zoo which is definitely near the top of the best zoos around (regardless of whether it is free or not) to the St. Louis Art Museum which has a variety of exhibits on display.
From ancient Egypt to modern day art, the Art Museum is an intriguing collection of global masterpieces and admission is free every day. There are a myriad of permanent collections and seasonal temporary exhibitions are popular attractions for visitors. If you are an Art History critic or perhaps someone who just enjoys wandering around art galleries, this is a must-see location.
Meanwhile, Forest Park is alive and kicking with a plethora of other entertaining activities. The Muny is a spectacular outside amphitheater seating 11,000 and frequently sells out when productions are taking place throughout the year. Tickets may not be free but they are well worthy of their value!
Forest Park’s World Fair Pavilion is yet another picturesque setting with this majestic open-air Mediterranean design offering breathtaking views of the park. Imagine having a picnic overlooking Forest Park – I don’t know about you but I’m sold on this!
Admission – FREE
Home of Budweiser, St. Louis offers visitors the opportunity to tour the Anheuser-Busch brewery. Whether you are a lover of Budweiser or just want to experience the infamous Clydesdales grazing, this is a popular free attraction for all the family.
We have experienced this tour on several occasions and each time we learn something a little different. Each tour guide will give their own perspective on the history of Anheuser-Busch and the entire process of brewing beer in St. Louis.
The experience is memorable and of course the highlight is at the end when you have the opportunity to sample Anheuser-Busch’s finest brews!
St. Louis Neighborhoods
Admission – FREE
Are you ready to get on your walking shoes and start exploring some of the hidden gems throughout St. Louis? The Gateway City is divided into a number of distinctive neighborhoods, each with their own unique characteristics that make them an attractive location to explore.
Exploring each of the 79 neighborhoods may be a little optimistic, but there are some key areas that are not to be missed. The Hill is a popular spot for Italian connoisseurs, while Delmar Loop is an attractive destination if you want to catch a movie or entertain yourselves watching live music.
Historic downtown may well be the focal point of St. Louis. Prior to our visit to the Old Courthouse and Gateway Arch, we spent some time walking around and taking in the architectural brilliance of the residential buildings and commercial zones. This is also home to the St. Louis Cardinals Busch Stadium and Edward Jones Dome, home of the St. Louis Rams.
There is nothing quite like seeing how a city has been developed and what better way to see this than by climbing to the top of the Arch and peering down on the central business district.
Each time we visit St. Louis, we experience something unique that just makes us want to return! I love being able to explore the myriad of cheap attractions in St. Louis and I hope that we have inspired you to check out some of these also.
A weekend getaway that incorporates a combination or all of the above attractions would be a pretty cheap weekend for all the family. Kids will enjoy the Butterfly House and Forest Park, and of course the adults can sample a few beers at Anheuser-Busch!