Family Road Trip Guide: St. Louis

City Museum, Gateway Arch, sports, animals and toasted ravioli lure families to The Lou

Known as the Gateway to the West, the giant stainless steel Gateway Arch in St. Louis symbolizes the start of westward expansion in Lewis and Clark days. Today, families visit St. Louis for the awesome City Museum, sporting events, arts, hands-on animal opportunities and a variety of delicious eats, including famous toasted ravioli.

Getting to St. Louis, Missouri

Jump in your Ford and drive 7.5 hours or 530 miles west on I-70, passing through Indianapolis, and you’ll arrive in St. Louis, Missouri. 

What Families Love About St. Louis, Missouri

Photo credit: Cortney Fries

St. Louis is a great spring break or summer destination for metro Detroit families.

The 630-foot-high Gateway Arch is the tallest monument in the United States. Your family can take a four-minute tram right to the top and gaze out the windows at the city 63 stories below. The Museum at the Gateway Arch features innovative and interactive galleries celebrating America’s pioneering spirit, yet also balances the positive with the negative impacts of westward expansion. In the warmer months, you can enjoy riverboat cruises on the Mighty Mississippi.

City Museum is a huge draw for families. More like a funhouse than a museum, this 10-story playground is made of found and repurposed objects. Kids literally go bananas for all the tunnels, slides, ramps and nets. Insider tip for parents: wear comfy pants and shoes so you can play, too. Be prepared — you will likely lose sight of your children as they traverse through miles of tunnels, so it’s wise to decide on a regrouping spot. You could literally spend all day in this wacky, wild place. 

Photo credit: Cortney Fries

Grant’s Farm was built by Civil War General Ulysses S. Grant and has been owned by the Busch family (yes, of Anheuser-Busch brewing heritage) since 1903. A visit to the farm includes opportunities to see beautiful Clydesdale horses and more than 900 animals that find refuge in the vast, picturesque landscape. March weekends provide opportunities, such as a Deer Park Animal Feeding Tour. On March 17, 2023, and March 26, 2023, take advantage of the All-Star Lunch Meet and Greet. Celebrate with an Easter Bunny brunch and egg hunt on April 1, 2023.

Sports fans will find games galore in The Lou. March means the St. Louis Blues will be on ice. The Cardinals’ home opener is March 30, 2023. The XFL season has started, so catch a St. Louis Battlehawks football game at The Dome. 

St. Louis Forest Park neighborhood encompasses the St. Louis Zoo, St. Louis Science Center and St. Louis Art Museum. Union Station is home to The St. Louis Wheel, the St. Louis Aquarium, mini golf, a carousel, ropes course and a mirror maze. Take a spin on the Ferris Wheel, then be enchanted by the train-themed entry at the aquarium.

The Magic House, a children’s museum in the suburbs, is great fun for younger kids. Spend the day at Ryze Adventure Park for a climbing tower, little ninja course, mini golf and yard games. Six Flags St. Louis opens April 1, 2023. Upcoming shows at The Fabulous Fox Theater include “Tootsie” and “Wicked.” Located at City Foundry, the Alamo Drafthouse movie theater delivers multi-course meals to your seat. High-tech mini golf with food and drinks is the vibe at the recently opened Puttshack. 

Where to Stay in St. Louis, Missouri

Angad Arts Hotel, a boutique hotel where you can book a room color based on how you want to feel, will make your eyes light up from the moment you enter. Art uplifts every corner and enlightens spirits. Be free in a blue room. Rev up your power in a red room. Ignite your curiosity in a yellow room. Green is all about rejuvenation. In the spring, live music by local talent entertains guests on the rooftop. 

A stay at Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark puts you near Ballpark Village, the Arch, Union Station and City Museum. If you’d like to overnight next to Forest Park, where the zoo and science center are located, choose The Royal Sonesta Chase Park Plaza. St. Louis Union Station Hotel is a nice choice within walking distance of The Wheel, aquarium and Soda Fountain.

Where to Eat in St. Louis, Missouri

The City Foundry food hall offers a wide variety of dining options and shops. Families with tastes for different dishes will definitely enjoy each being able to select their personal favorites. When in St. Louis, you simply must try toasted ravioli. STL Toasted serves up sweet and savory varieties like buffalo chicken and salted caramel apple cobbler. 

Soda Fountain at Union Station slings over-the-top Freak Shakes, burgers and hot dogs in a diner setting. Visit Soulard Market for fresh bread, produce, meat and seafood. Open Wednesdays through Saturdays year-round, there are 147 stalls, plus a park, playground and plaza. Mexican street food with a modern twist is what Mission Taco Joint is all about. The Kirkwood location has an arcade that kids and kids-at-heart will love.

Imo’s Pizza is the place to try St. Louis-style pizza. What is St. Louis-style pizza? With a cracker-like crust, it’s topped with melty Provel cheese (a combo of Swiss, cheddar and provolone) and cut into squares. To be honest, it’s far from my favorite, but I always like to try the food each city is known for.

The Art Bar on the rooftop of the Angad Arts Hotel serves seasonal cocktails and snacks. Commonwealth, the upscale restaurant at the Angad Arts Hotel, dresses the walls with interesting art made of materials like salt and rust. Plates of juicy steak, seafood and dessert topped with colorful sauces are like works of art themselves. Try Commonwealth’s pancakes in the morning. The perfect mix of salty, sweet and buttery, top a stack with lemon glaze and see smiles all around.

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Cortney Fries
Cortney Fries
An award-winning travel journalist, Cortney Fries (pronounced "freeze") has been writing about family travel for over a decade. She knows that parents planning trips are looking for all members to have fun and make lasting memories. Cortney believes that you should definitely try anything that makes you slightly nervous.


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