One Day in St. Louis, Missouri

The riverfront in front of the Gateway Arch

I recently went on a business trip to St. Louis, Missouri and it was my first time to the “Show-Me State”. I had just one day to enjoy St. Louis outside of my usual work meetings, so I had to figure out what to do.

Check out my itinerary below!

One Day Itinerary in St. Louis

My second question was – why is it called the Show-Me State? Apparently, this nickname means several things but is based around the idea that Missourians are “stalwarts, perhaps somewhat stubborn and with a dedication to common sense”.

Morning – St. Louis Zoo

You could spend the entire day at the St. Louis Zoo if you wanted, but plan for 2-3 hours. Best of all, this zoo is completely free! Come early to beat the crowds and heat. I loved the stingrays at the Caribbean Cove (extra fee) and gators in what seems like a huge enclosure!

If you want to support the Zoo, check out special exhibits and attractions like the Sea Lion Show and Zooline Railroad.

Afternoon – Forest Park

Forest Park is a huge park, actually 500 acres larger than Central Park in NYC. The St. Louis Zoo is inside it, so once you’re done there you can wander around at the park. The World Fair was held here in 1904, so you know this park is going to be big!

Not sure what to do? Check out the fish hatchery, museums, summer concerts, golf course, jogging trails, tennis courts, and more. Check out this map to see it all. There’s also the Forest Park Explorer, a bus that will shuttle you around the area. Fees are $1-$2 Mon-Fri and free on Saturdays and Sundays.

Evening – the Gateway Arch

The Gateway Arch is iconic in American History. I recommend visiting in the evening after dinner but before sunset! The Arch is quite stunning in person and difficult to take photos of due to its size. It lays between a government building and the riverfront. This trip is a great way to finish off your day in STL.

The Museum

Underneath the Arch is a free museum! You will need to go through airport-style security so be prepared for a wait during busy times. While I’m not a history buff, this museum is quite cool and worth checking out.

From their website – “Trace the story of the Native Americans, explorers, pioneers, and rebels who made America possible. Featuring 201 years of history within six themed exhibit areas, this innovative and interactive museum celebrates America’s pioneering spirit and explains the westward expansion of the United States with an emphasis on St. Louis’ role in that era. The galleries span from 1764 to 1965 with topics covering Colonial St. Louis, Jefferson’s Vision, Manifest Destiny, The Riverfront Era, New Frontiers, and Building the Gateway Arch.”

The Tram

There’s a 45-60 minute tram that goes around the arch that I didn’t end up going on, but heard it’s quite an experience! I recommend waiting to buy your ticket until you arrive. The tram rides start at $16 per adult and you can add on admission to their documentary movie and a one-hour riverboat cruise.

You will need to enter through the museum to get to the tram, so be sure to allow extra time!

PC: GatewayArch.com

Riverboat Cruises

If you want to see the Arch from a different perspective, check out these cruises on a 19th-century replica paddlewheel riverboat. They have day and night cruises that have been taking tourists out on the water since 1964. Cruises start at $19 per adult, and specialty rides like “A Comedy Wedding” are available. See all the cruise options here.

Book That Ticket!

We recommend staying at an Air B&B in the city or a nearby suburb like St. Charles (A 30-minute drive from downtown St. Louis). We like to use Southwest to fly!

Book your Air B&B using this link and get $20 off your first booking!

So what are you waiting for? Start your trip to St. Louis today!

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