Tuesday, May 18, 2010

St. Louis With Kids: Top Ten Can't Miss Destinations

St. Louis is home to wonderful attractions for families and kids of all ages to enjoy.  Some, like our many playgrounds, ice rinks, water parks, and shopping centers, are much like those found in cities across the country.  But others are truly unique, one-of-a-kind destinations that you won't find anywhere else.  They're the places that make St. Louis special, and make it such a great place for families to visit and live.

1. The St. Louis Zoo.  Sure, other cities have zoos, but only the St. Louis Zoo combines a world-class animal experience with free admission.  It's nearly impossible to see all the animals on one visit, but that's no big deal.  It's free, you can always come back tomorrow!    

2.  The St. Louis Science Center.  Rated as one of the top five science centers in the country, The St. Louis Science Center is home to more than seven hundred hands-on exhibits, as well as the Omnimax Theatre and the James S. McDonnell Planetarium.  It isn't my personal favorite, but then I don't really like science . . .

3.  The Magic House.  One of my favorite places, The Magic House is a great place for kids to play and explore.  You'll find tons of hands-on activities geared to every age group; even babies and toddlers can join the fun!

4.  Grant's Farm.  In my opinion, Grant's Farm is a St. Louis must.  At the historic farm, which was once owned by Ulysses S. Grant, you'll  take a tram ride alongside animals like bison, deer, and buffalo.  And, according to the website, they still offer complimentary samples of Anheuser-Busch products.  (Translation:  free beer.  Need a better reason to visit?)

5.  The City Museum.  The City Museum is, well, unique.  It's a self-described "eclectic mixture of children's playground, funhouse, surrealistic pavilion, and architectural marvel" that you just have to see to believe!

6.  Anheuser-Busch Brewery.  Obviously, kids under twenty-one aren't going to get to sample the beer.  But Anheuser-Busch is a St. Louis institution, and tours of their brewery offer a fascinating learning experience.  Plus, you can stop by the stables and see the infamous Budweiser Clydesdales.

7.  The Muny.  Nothing says St. Louis more than the Muny.  The nation's oldest and largest outdoor theatre is a summer tradition for young and old alike.  This summer, you can enjoy classic musicals like Cats and The Sound of Music, as well as the Muny premiere of Titanic: The Musical.

8.  Missouri Botanical Garden.  The Missouri Botanical Garden is home to a variety of beautiful plants and flowers, and is also considered "one of the world's top botanical and conservation institutions."  One of it's biggest draws for families is The Children's Garden, which opened in 2006, and offers over two acres of outdoor exploration and fun for the garden's littlest visitors.

9.  The Butterfly House.  Located in Faust Park, The Butterfly House offers visitors the opportunity to walk through an entire garden of freely flying butterflies.  And as an added bonus, if your kids aren't interested in the butterflies, Faust Park has a great playground and is home to The St. Louis Carousel. 

10.  The Gateway Arch.  No other city can boast anything close to the Arch.  Where else can you ride six hundred and thirty feet into the air to see a breathtaking view of the Mississippi Riverfront below?  Okay, full disclosure, I've never actually done this and don't ever intend to lock myself in a tiny box and ride that far away from the ground, but I've heard that, if you don't have claustrophobic and slightly paranoid tendencies, this is pretty cool.

Next time your kids are bored and you're looking for somewhere interesting to go, you don't have to look too far.  Just remember what amazing places we have right in our own backyard!

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