Gateway Arch Tips: Visiting the St. Louis Arch
If you’re headed to St. Louis, Missouri, you’ll definitely want to know all the Gateway Arch National Park tips to make your trip a success. The Gateway Arch is a must-see attraction for all ages in the city of St. Louis. Many think it’s just a ride to the top of a beautifully built arch to view St. Louis, Missouri, but there is so much more to it. You can easily spend half a day running through the green space, walking through the interactive museum, and riding on a riverboat cruise – in addition to riding to the top of the arch.
I am all about being prepared before you travel with kids. Travel tips and tricks are my best friend. Here are the details and useful Gateway Arch tips you’ll need to know.
History of St. Louis’s Gateway Arch
The idea for the St. Louis Gateway Arch began in 1935 when Thomas Jefferson had a vision of a transcontinental United States. He dreamed of the westward expansion of the United States. After many years of careful planning, the construction of the stainless steel arch began in 1963 and was completed in 1965. The story behind the construction of the Gateway Arch is just as fascinating as the beautiful structure. The Gateway Arch was built to represent and celebrate those who shaped this area of America. If you are interested in watching a video about the construction of the Arch was built, make sure you stop at the Tucker Theater in the Gateway Arch Visitor Center. Movie tickets are an additional cost.
Gateway Arch Tram Ride
The tram ride to the top of the St Louis Arch is the main attraction. The views of downtown St. Louis are breathtaking and the experience of riding to the top in the tram cars is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. My kids did not know what to expect and still talk about the suspense of riding to the very top in the tram capsule. Make sure you have your cameras with you. The views of St. Louis are fun, even from a small window, and you can take some really fun pictures from the observation deck.
Pro Tip: When it’s time to get your St Louis Arch tickets, be sure to purchase them ahead of time! The tram ride sells out early and often.
St. Louis Riverfront Cruise
If you are looking for a fun and unique way to take in the Gateway Arch check out the St. Louis Riverfront Cruise. Not only do you get to see the Arch, but you can also hear some history of St. Louis on this one-hour tour. We really enjoyed the relaxing view up top. They also offer other fun riverboat cruises such as Skyline Dinner Cruise (date night?!), Sunday Bruch Cruise, and more.
The Park and Green Space
One of my best Gateway Arch tips is to bring a lunch and blanket and enjoy the view of the Mississippi River and the arch from below. The Gateway Arch sits right on the banks of the Mississippi River and provides beautiful scenery and views from the bottom as much as it does from the very top.
People are drawn to the beautiful green space and park that surround The Gateway Arch. We saw many families enjoying picnics, playing catch, and running around.
The Gateway Arch Museum
When you visit The Gateway Arch, be sure to visit the museum which is located underground on your way toward the tram ride to the top. The museum traces the story of everyone who made America possible, from Native Americans to pioneers and rebels. History buffs will love this interactive museum is filled with history and grabs the attention of all ages. You do not need to purchase a tram ride ticket to walk through the museum, but you will need to go through security. Hungry? Make sure you stop at the Arch Cafe for a snack and drink.
The Old Courthouse is currently closed and undergoing renovations, but it also sits on the park grounds and is within walking distance from the Arch. A lot of history has been held in the oldest building and is definitely worth visiting. It is where several Supreme Court cases were held such as the Dred and Harriet Scott case, where Virginia Minor fought for her right as a woman to vote, and where hundreds of African American slaves filed for their freedom
Gateway National Park Service
Did you know The Gateway Arch is part of the National Park Service? If you are a family who loves to check off lists and track where you have traveled, make sure you grab a National Park Passport Book. The Gateway Arch gift shop sells them in their store for $9.95. Get it stamped and make it official! This is a great way to track all your wonderful experiences across America. Ask about the Junior Ranger Program while you are visiting!
Gateway Arch Tips: Know Before You Go
- One important thing to note rides to the top of the Gateway Arch sell out quickly. Purchase your tram tickets before you arrive. If you know which day you are visiting, purchase your ticket beforehand. They also offer several packages which may include the St. Louis Riverfront Cruise and the Documentary Movie.
- Give yourself plenty of time before your tram ride. To get to your tram ride you need to go through security and you’ll walk through the museum. Make sure you have plenty of time to take in all the history before riding to the top. It adds to the experience!
- Go to the bathroom before you get in line. Once you give your ticket and are through there are no bathrooms. Depending on how busy it is, you can be in line for 30 to 45 minutes. Plan ahead.
- The Gateway Arch is a National Park and you will go through security and metal detectors before going through. Make sure you do not have anything on you that may be taken away.
- You can spend an entire day exploring everything this national historic landmark has to offer. Plan accordingly!
Other Top Things to See and Do in St. Louis, Missouri
- Plan a day to play and explore the City Museum.
- Make a visit to the Saint Louis Zoo. Free admission!
- Catch a Cardinals game at Busch Stadium.
- Explore, hike, and play in Forest Park. One of the best places to play in St. Louis.
- Take a ride on The Wheel at St. Louis Union Station. You can see the Arch and other great views from the top of the Ferris wheel. There are so many fun things to do at the St. Louis Union Station.
Frequently Asked Questions
11 North 4th Street St. Louis, MO 63102
Yes, you can touch the side of the arch and it makes a super fun photo opp too!
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Arch, St. Louis Arch. The museum is also referred to as the Museum of Westward Expansion.
There are parking lots located at the Stadium East Garage. View a map and learn more. You can also use public transportation.
Yes! They have Summer hours which start the Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. They are only closed on Thanksgiving.