St. Louis, Missouri, is a vibrant city full of rich history, delicious food, and plenty of family-friendly activities to keep everyone entertained. If you’re visiting St. Louis and staying near Union Station, you’re in luck. This bustling transportation hub is surrounded by some of the city’s best attractions, restaurants, and accommodations, making it the perfect home base for your family adventure. I visited this spring and have so much to tell you about!
Disclosure: I was hosted by Explore St. Louis and the Gateway Arch. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own. This post may contain affiliate links.
In this blog post, I’ll guide you through the best things to do near Union Station for traveling families. From fun outdoor activities to educational museums, there’s something for everyone in this lively area of St. Louis. Let’s get started!
Exploring the area around Union Station: A guide for families
There are plenty of fun and exciting things to do around Union Station in St. Louis that families will love. The building itself, Union Station, is located at 1820 Market St. in downtown St. Louis. There’s a beautiful hotel located in the building, St. Louis Union Station Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton, making it a great home base for exploring the surrounding neighborhood.
For a unique and educational experience, head to the St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station, where you can see a variety of marine life up close, including sharks, rays, and sea turtles. The nearby St. Louis Wheel is also a must-visit attraction, offering spectacular views of the city from a 200-foot-tall observation wheel.
If you’re looking for outdoor activities, head to the nearby Forest Park, where you’ll find walking trails, playgrounds, and even a zoo. The City Museum is another popular destination for families, offering an interactive indoor playground made from reclaimed materials. Sports-loving families will love the proximity to several stadiums, including two that are within walking distance (CITYPARK and Enterprise Center).
And of course, no trip to St. Louis would be complete without trying some delicious local food, so be sure to check out the many restaurants and cafes in the area around Union Station.
Family-friendly attractions near Union Station
From fascinating museums to sky-high views, there’s something for every member of the family to enjoy. Here are some of the top family-friendly attractions near Union Station.
The St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station is an impressive aquarium featuring more than 13,000 animals from all over the world, including sharks, stingrays, and sea turtles. You can even pet a shark, Doctor fish, stingray and jellyfish in the Touch Tank exhibits! The aquarium has a play area for younger kids, as well as fantastic hands-on interactives.
The St. Louis Wheel is a 200-foot-tall observation wheel that offers breathtaking views of the city skyline. Each enclosed gondola can hold up to six people, making it a fun and safe way to experience the city from above.
The City Museum is an incredibly unique and interactive space made from reclaimed materials like old airplanes, buses, and construction equipment. Kids can climb, crawl, and slide their way through the exhibits, which also include an aquarium and a ball pit. It’s a madhouse and exhausting to visit, and I absolutely love the place.
Tip: If weather permits, try to get to the rooftop for some really unique adventures and great views of the city. Also, bring knee pads because those tunnels will do a number on everyone’s knees.
Fun outdoor activities for Kids & adults
If you and your family enjoy spending time outdoors, you’ll find plenty of fun activities near Union Station in St. Louis from parks to gardens. Here are some of the top outdoor activities for kids and adults near Union Station.
Located just a few minutes from Union Station, Gateway Arch National Park is home to the iconic Gateway Arch, which offers stunning views of the city from 630 feet up. There are also plenty of outdoor spaces to explore, including the Riverfront. If time allows, and your kids are a little older, your family may enjoy a riverboat cruise down the Missouri River.
Forest Park is a massive urban park that offers a variety of outdoor activities, including walking trails, playgrounds, and the St. Louis Zoo. The zoo is a beloved attraction for both locals and visitors alike. Located in Forest Park, the zoo features a variety of animals from around the world, including lions, tigers, and bears. It’s a great place to spend a day with the family, and there’s always something new to discover.
The 79-acre Missouri Botanical Garden is located just a short drive from Union Station and features a variety of themed gardens, including a Japanese garden, a Victorian garden, and a children’s garden. When we visited with our kids a few summers ago, it was really hard to get them to leave the children’s garden!
Tip: Bring a change of clothes for each kid when visiting the Missouri Botanical Garden.
You don’t have to leave Union Station in order to have a lot of outdoor fun. If you’re staying at the hotel on-site, the outdoor pool may be enough. But even so, the Union Station campus includes a putt-putt golf course, playground, and an hourly Fire and Light Show on the water. It runs from noon to 9 p.m. on the hour.
Attractions for sports fans near Union Station
If you’re a sports-loving family visiting St. Louis, you’ll be happy to know that there are plenty of activities and attractions that will keep you entertained. Here are some of the best things to do in St. Louis for families who love sports:
If you’re a baseball fan, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to see a game at Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals. Even if there’s no game happening, you can still take a tour of the stadium and learn about its history.
It’s located next to Ballpark Village, a lively entertainment district that is perfect for sports-loving families. The complex features a variety of restaurants and bars, as well as a large outdoor screen for watching games. The view of Busch Stadium from the rooftop bar at Budweiser Brewhouse in Ballpark Village is particularly impressive.
Tip: Be sure to get a picture next to the iconic St. Louis Cardinals insignia.
One of the newest MLS teams plays their games just a block away from Union Station. St. Louis City’s inaugural season is 2023, and they already have a very excited fan base. Seating at the stadium is great, since it’s designed to place all seats super close to the action on the pitch.
Kids will like the Fan Zone in front of the stadium where you’ll find all sorts of activities and even face painting. For kids who get overwhelmed by the noise (and there will be a lot of it), the stadium has a sensory room.
Enterprise Center, home of the NHL St. Louis Blues, is also within walking distance of Union Station. When we went to a game in April, a few lucky kids got to participate in an on-ice game during one of the breaks.
Tip: All St. Louis stadiums and arenas require see-through bags.
Museums & educational sites near Union Station
If you’re looking for museums and educational sites for kids near Union Station in St. Louis, you’re in luck. This area is home to a variety of fascinating museums and educational sites that will spark your child’s curiosity and love of learning. Here are some of the top museums and educational sites for kids near Union Station.
The St. Louis Science Center is located in Forest Park and features hands-on exhibits, a planetarium, and an IMAX theater. Kids will love exploring the interactive exhibits and learning about science and technology. A fun thing to do is watch the cars drive under the Skybridge that extends over Highway 40/Interstate 64.
Also located in Forest Park, the Missouri History Museum offers a variety of exhibits and programs that explore the history of St. Louis and Missouri. Kids can learn about the state’s early inhabitants, famous Missourians, and important events in the state’s history.
Tip: Museums like Missouri History Museum and the St. Louis Science Center have free admission! Even the St. Louis Zoo has free admission.
Located just a few blocks from Union Station, the National Blues Museum is dedicated to preserving and celebrating the history of blues music. Kids can learn about the origins of the blues, listen to recordings, and even try their hand at playing some blues instruments.
The museum at the base of the Gateway Arch is also good addition for this section. The fully-accessible museum appeals to kids as well as adults since there are a lot of interactive areas and touch-screens. It explores U.S. history from pre-colonization to the building of the Arch.
The Magic House is a children’s museum in Kirkwood, just a short drive from Union Station. It features a variety of exhibits and interactive activities that encourage kids to explore, learn, and play. Most children’s museums, I’ve found, have exhibits geared toward kids about ages 9 and younger, though with my kids, they’ve always liked them even when they were aging out of that range.
Tip: If you’re taking your kids to an MLS soccer game, pair it with a visit to The Magic House, which recently opened “St. Louis CITY SC Soccer Training Center.”
Best places to eat & drink near Union Station
When it comes to finding the best places to eat and drink near Union Station in St. Louis, you’ll have no shortage of options. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite or a sit-down meal, there’s something to suit every taste and budget. Here are some of the top places to eat and drink near Union Station.
The Pitch is a new sports bar & grill connected to Union Station, making it super convenient. The emphasis is on soccer, hence the name, but they show all sports. You even have control of some of the TVs. It’s probably a little too busy to go there on a game day with your kids, but you may like it as a brunch option.
You can try some of the most popular eateries in St. Louis in one easy spot…if you have a ticket to a City soccer match. CITYPARK has 25 local vendors in the stadium. Fans voted to include Balkan Treat Box and Steve’s Hot Dogs as two that have exterior access, so even if you don’t have a ticket, you can still try the food.
The Foundry’s Food Hall is a fairly new option with enough food options to please the whole family. When I went, there were 16 kitchens to choose from like kid-pleasing chicken fingers, wood-fired pizza, fried ravioli, and of course, ice cream.
If you’re in the mood for some mouth-watering BBQ, head to Pappy’s Smokehouse, located just a short drive from Union Station. The popular restaurant is known for its slow-smoked meats and delicious sides. Granted, it is Memphis-style barbecue, so if you crave St. Louis-style, look elsewhere.
Accommodations near Union Station: Where to stay with your family
If you’re traveling to St. Louis with your family and planning to stay near Union Station, you’ll have plenty of options for accommodations. Here are some of the best places to stay with your family near Union Station.
The obvious choice is the historic St. Louis Union Station Hotel, which is located inside the Union Station building. There have been some updates since I last stayed there in 2018. Luxurious accommodations with unbeatable easy access to Union Station attractions like the aquarium. It has a seasonal outdoor pool. Reservations
Don’t miss the pretty 3D light show in the Grand Hall of the hotel. It’s held every hour on the hour in the evenings. It’s not too long, so even kids with the shortest attention span will sit through it.
I’ve stayed at one other absolutely gorgeous hotel in downtown St. Louis: The Four Seasons. From the rooftop pool and restaurant, to the kid-centric offerings, it’s an ultra lux family-friendly option. Reservations
FYI: Most hotels will charge for overnight parking in downtown St. Louis.
Drury Inn St. Louis Union Station – This family-friendly hotel is located just a few blocks from Union Station and offers comfortable accommodations at an affordable price. The hotel features an indoor pool, free breakfast, and a complimentary evening reception. Reservations
Embassy Suites St. Louis Downtown – This all-suite hotel is located in downtown St. Louis, just a short walk from Union Station. The hotel features spacious suites, a fitness center, and a complimentary breakfast buffet. Reservations
Hampton Inn St. Louis-Downtown at the Gateway Arch – This hotel is located in the heart of downtown St. Louis, just a short drive or walk from Union Station. The hotel features an indoor pool, complimentary breakfast, and a fitness center. Reservations
Courtyard St. Louis Downtown/Convention Center – This modern hotel is located just a few blocks from Union Station and offers comfortable accommodations in a convenient location. The hotel features a fitness center, indoor pool, and on-site restaurant. Reservations
Transportation Options: Getting Around St. Louis from Union Station
There are a variety of transportation options for getting around the city. St. Louis has a light rail system called MetroLink that runs throughout the city and is a convenient way to get around. The Union Station MetroLink stop is located just steps from Union Station, making it an easy and accessible option.
The city also has a bus system called MetroBus that serves the entire city. There are several bus stops located near Union Station, so it’s easy to catch a bus and get to your destination.
Services like Uber and Lyft are widely available in St. Louis, and they can be a convenient and affordable way to get around the city. You can easily request a ride from Union Station and be on your way in minutes. Taxis are also available, although they can be more expensive than ride-sharing services.
Enjoy Your Family Adventure Near Union Station
St. Louis is a wonderful destination for families, and Union Station is an excellent starting point for exploring all that this city has to offer. From family-friendly attractions to outdoor activities, museums, and delicious dining options, there is something for everyone in St. Louis. By staying near Union Station, you’ll have easy access to all of the best things to do in the city, as well as convenient transportation options for getting around. Whether you’re visiting for a weekend or a week-long family vacation, St. Louis and Union Station are sure to provide you with unforgettable memories and experiences.