Family Road Trip: St. Louis

When I was young our family always planned family road trips. It was a great way to experience and see new things. One of my goals for our children is taking them to as many states as we can. This year we decided to cross Missouri off our list and road tripped to St. Louis.

A trip to St. Louis is about 5 hours driving. This was the perfect amount of time for two toddlers.

Hannibal, Missouri

Hannibal, Missouri is about 3-hours from Des Moines and depending where you are heading in St. Louis it is about 1-hour and 45-minutes to St. Louis. This was a perfect place for us to stop, grab lunch and stretch our legs a bit.

Hannibal is the boyhood home of Mark Twain and known as the setting for the classic novels including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Even though my kids are not old enough to know about these classics, Hannibal is also located on the bank of the Mississippi River with beautiful views.

We spent a couple hours eating lunch at Mark Twain Brewing, walking across the train tracks to see the Mississippi River and drove to the top of Lover’s Leap. Afterwards, we hopped in the car to finish our trip to St. Louis. The kids napped the rest of the way!

Lodging

There are several different options for staying in St. Louis. Our family decided to reserve an Airbnb (affiliate link). We had never done this before and it ended up being the perfect option for us!

Since there were three adults and two kids we reserved an entire home. The home we chose was a great choice, because the family also had young kids. There were toys available for my kids to play with, a bunk bed for them to sleep in, full kitchen, TV, hot tub and a super cute backyard for us to unwind at the end of the day.

We also saved lots of money by choosing to use Airbnb. The first day we arrived we bought groceries for dinner and breakfast. I packed snacks to have throughout our stay. For lunch we planned on eating out when we were out exploring. Highly recommend Airbnb!

St. Louis Zoo 

I cannot say enough great things about the St. Louis Zoo and it’s FREE! There are a few things you will pay additional money for including:

  • Parking: $15 per vehicle
  • Adventure Pass: $12.95 per person, BUT if you have a Blank Park Zoo or any other zoo membership you can receive 50% off the pass making it $6.47
    • The Adventure Pass gets you in to the Children’s Zoo, Zooline Railroad, Carousel, 4D Theater, Sea Lion Show and to pet the stingrays. Definitely worth the money!
  • Drinks & Snacks: Of course, if you want to purchase any food and drink that is additional. We did bring in water bottles and snack with no issues. We also chose to eat lunch in the zoo.

The day we visited the zoo, it was pretty hot. We spent about 4 hours exploring. The zoo is bigger then the Blank Park Zoo, but not as big as the Omaha Zoo. It is also fairly shady and they provide several mist fans throughout the park to cool off at.

Tower Park Grove

Tower Park Grove is a large park located in St. Louis and was not far from our Airbnb. The park consists of playgrounds and wading pools, farmer’s markets, walking trails, fields for recreation activities and much more including events. The weekend we were visiting the Sauce Magazine Food Truck Fridays was going on. We decided to enjoy dinner in the park and check out some local food trucks.

They had a lot of great local options including some local breweries. The kids also enjoyed running around the open fields and stomping in the creeks.

City Museum

Whoa! The City Museum. This attraction deserves its very own blog post, which I will be publishing soon, but it definitely is a must-see!

We spent an entire day climbing, playing and exploring the City Museum. Costs include:

  • Parking: There are several parking garages around the City Museum and all vary in prices depending on how close you are. We were just about a block away and paid $15.
  • Admission: We paid for our tickets when we arrived $12 per person + Roof access was an additional $5 per person. The roof is open weather permitting, so make sure you go on a nice day! You can also purchase tickets ahead of time online, which look to be a bit more expensive. Check it out here.
  • Drinks & Snacks: There are several places to grab food and drinks while there. You *could* bring in your own water bottle and snacks, but with all the climbing you want to try and limit how much you are carrying around.

Few quick notes, that I will go into details in my next post:

  • Bring in very minimal.
  • Wear tennis shoes.
  • Write your phone number on your children’s wristbands.
  • If you purchase roof top access, start at the top and work your way down.

Grant’s Farm 

Grant’s Farm has been around since 1954 and is a 281-acre ancestral home of the Busch family, names after Ulysses S. Grant who used to work on the land.

The farm is full of animals and fun things to do. It is also FREE! Some additional costs include:

  • Parking: $12 per car
  • Fun Pass: $5 per pass includes; 1 carousel ride, 1 snow cones, 2 goat feeding bottles. Definitely worth it!

The highlights of Grant Farm included riding the camel, feeding the adorable baby goats bottles and attending the elephant show. We spent a morning exploring, but you could definitely spend more time.

The Budsweiser Clydesdales are kept in the corner of the parking lot. Before we left, we made sure to wander over and visit them.

The Gateway Arch

Time didn’t allow for us to ride to the top of The Gateway Arch. We did park to get out and wander around so we could catch our obligatory photo in front of this monument.

It is highly recommended to purchase tickets online, because they do sell out. Check out the details here.

Food

There are a lot of great options to eat in St. Louis. We didn’t eat out a lot to save money, but some places we did check out were:

St. Louis, Missouri is a great option for a road trip whether you spend 3-days, 5-days or an entire week , there is plenty to see and do!

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