St. Louis is a city that begs for more than 24 hours to explore it, but you can see a lot if that’s all you have.
My family visited this summer for a quick 24-hour adventure while on our epic road trip (check it out #ohmyepicroadtrip). It wasn’t our first visit – we’d been there in the winter and enjoyed some indoor activities and a cool day at the zoo.
This time, our mission was to see the outdoor things that aren’t ideal (or open) in the winter. To plan it, I started with a bucket list of fun things to do in St. Louis. Explore St. Louis and Four Seasons St. Louis hosted us on our visit.
Here’s the resulting 24-hours of fun in St. Louis:
Fun Stop 1: Missouri Botanical Garden
We arrived early in the morning to Missouri Botanical Garden. If visiting in the summer, you pretty much have to do this; by midmorning, it gets hot and humid in St. Louis.
Highlights for our children included the 14-acre Japanese Garden and koi pond and children’s garden. The Japanese Garden is one of the largest in North America, and it tired us out.
If you visit before Aug. 21, you can also see a cool glass sculpture exhibit called Garden of Glass inside the Climatron. It’s pretty in the day and kids definitely will like the water features. If you can time it, though, I suggest visiting in the evening to see it lit up. FYI: This exhibit is an additional charge to the gardens.
We spent a good two hours at Missouri Botanical Gardens and didn’t get to see it all. It’s large! Read what we thought the kid-friendly highlights were here.
Lunch: Blueberry Hill
We headed to The Loop to dine at an iconic restaurant called Blueberry Hill on Delmar Avenue. It’s not the closest thing to the gardens, but I wanted to see this cool neighborhood and I love Chuck Berry.
FYI: Chuck Berry fans can look for his star on the sidewalk in front and find a statue of him across the street.
The restaurant is full of memorabilia and will help pass the time while you wait for your burgers to be cooked. They’re known for their hamburgers, so order one to find out why.
If you have time, you can ride one of the trolleys that pass by Blueberry Hill.
Fun Stop 2: Sundae experience at Four Seasons St. Louis
We spent our afternoon at our hotel, the Four Seasons St. Louis. First, the kids got to go into the kitchen of the hotel restaurant, Cielo, and make gelato sundaes with the executive pastry chef. The hotel offers two types of food experiences for the kids: pizza making or gelato, and well, we’re all sugar fiends, so it was an easy choice for us. They are FREE for children under the age of 12, and I recommend trying to schedule it before you arrive.
Once the kids had enough of their sundaes, we hit the rooftop pool to wind down.
Dinner: Pappy’s Smokehouse
For top notch Memphis-style barbecue in St. Louis, we headed to Pappy’s Smokehouse. Word was that food can run out at Pappy’s so, we got there early. It was a short wait for our meal, and well worth it.
Our evening ended right after dinner because the inevitable happened: One kiddo started feeling sick. We had factored in enough time for an evening trip to the Gateway Arch, and it would’ve timed out perfect. Tours of the Arch can be booked ahead of time, and I’m told early evening is a great time to do it. If you’re planning a 24-hour whirlwind tour like ours, aim for 8 or 8:30 p.m. to go to the Arch.
Breakfast: Cielo at Four Seasons St. Louis
Nothing beats a meal with a view, so the next morning, our breakfast was at the rooftop restaurant, Cielo, at the Four Seasons. This place has a nice view of the Gateway Arch. I recommend the fresh squeezed orange juice and chicken and waffles.
Fun Stop 3: City Museum
We’re no strangers to City Museum – it’s quite possibly my favorite museum in the entire world. However, this was our first time visiting when the rooftop was open. For an additional charge, you can play up top in the summer season (which includes a school bus hanging over the edge of the building, a ferris wheel, and a number of crawly spaces).
It’s hard to describe the City Museum, so just trust me when I say you need to visit with or without children. It’s an architectural marvel/playground/tunnel labyrinth. It’s beautiful and overwhelming, and taking just three hours to explore (like we did) is not enough. Plus, there’s a circus there.
But, wouldn’t you know it, the other child started feeling sick and since we were due at our next stop in a few hours, we had to cut our visit short.
Want a St. Louis adventure for your family?
Read more about our trip! Here are some more posts about St. Louis with young families in mind:
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