St. Louis with Teens: A Perfect Family Day

St. Louis with Teens: A Family Vacation


Traveling to beautiful St. Louis with teens can be fun, educational, and relaxing. This Midwestern city is perfect for memorable family vacations.

There is more to St. Louis than many people realize, and the city offers many different venues for teens and their unique preferences. Many activities are also free or extremely affordable, making the city especially alluring if you are planning to travel with several teens. Depending on when you head to "the Lou," as it is affectionately called by locals, you may run into blazing hot weather or zero degree temperatures. Therefore, here are some indoor and outdoor offerings for your perfect family day in St. Louis with teens.

For breakfast, head to Hammerstone's (2028 S. 9th Street, 314-773-5565), located in the Soulard District. This local eatery has a very friendly staff and is popular in the neighborhood for nightlife and breakfast. Get there early. Fair warning: do not go there during Mardi Gras with kids. Soulard hosts the second largest Mardi Gras in the nation. Have your teen try the Hammer Swinger's Slinger ($6), but make sure your teen has a gut of steel. This breakfast prize is a large helping of typical breakfast fare topped with chili, onions, and jalapenos. This dish is not for the faint of heart or those prone to heartburn. More traditional breakfast fare is also available at very affordable prices, starting at $4.25. Hammerstone's opens at 6:30AM Mon-Fri, 8AM on Saturday and 9AM on Sunday, and breakfast is served until 11AM. Outdoor dining is available on the restaurant's charming patio.

After breakfast, why not take a drive to Forest Park? Forest Park, the pride of St. Louis, can be found nestled between Oakland Avenue and Lindell Boulevard and covers 1,293 acres, which makes it approximately 500 acres larger than Central Park in New York. The great thing about Forest Park is that any museum or organization that wants to be located there has to be free or have a free day.

Do you have a tech geek among your teens? Take them to the St. Louis Science Center (5050 Oakland Avenue, 314-289-4400) which offers free admission to the non-special exhibit areas. Hours are Mon-Sat 9:30AM-5:30PM, Sun from 11AM-5:30PM during the summer and Mon-Sat 9:30AM-4:30PM, Sun from 11AM-4:30PM in the fall and winter season, which begins September 7.

The St. Louis Art Museum (One Fine Arts Drive, 314-721-0072) is free every day (admission fees do apply to special exhibits). With works by such masters as Monet, any visitor that I have taken to the museum from out of town has been impressed. The Art Museum is closed Monday and is open Sun and Tues-Thu from 10AM-5PM and Fri-Sat from 10AM-9PM.

Have a history buff in your group? The Missouri History Museum (500 Lindell Boulevard, 314-746-4599) is also located in the park and offers free general admission every day. Don't let the name fool you. This museum does not just cover the history of Missouri, but highlights the history of several time periods and several countries and boasts numerous world class exhibits. The History Museum hours are 10PM-6PM daily during the summer, except Tuesday, when the museum opens from 10PM-8PM. In the fall and winter season, the museum is open daily from 10PM-5PM and on Tuesdays from 10PM-8PM. As an extra tip, be sure to check the Forest Park website before you come. Many races such as the Susan G Komen Race and other events are held in Forest Park regularly and can make it absolutely impossible to get anywhere fast in the park on event days.

Of course, no visit to Forest Park or St. Louis would be complete without heading to the world-renowned St. Louis Zoo (One Government Drive, 314-781-0900). The zoo is completely free to most visitors. However, if it's a hot St. Louis day, they'll charge you an arm and a leg if you purchase a bottle of water. Here's an insider's tip: many locals actually pack a lunch in a cooler, keep it in the car, head into the zoo, and then come out for lunch since it's free to walk right back in. This seems to be common in St. Louis, so make sure to use Forest Park's numerous picnic areas. However, because this free zoo has amazing exhibits and animals, everyone within a 200-mile radius flocks to it on a nice weekend, which makes parking a real "bear." The zoo is open from late May to early September on Mon-Thu from 8PM-5PM and on Fri-Sun from 8PM-7PM. Winter hours are 9PM-5PM daily. Check the website for holiday closures and special events.

Although you could spend all day at the park, why not head to a St. Louis sporting event in the afternoon? If you will be in town from April to September, check out a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game. Tickets are relatively inexpensive if you stop at any Schnucks grocery store. Tickets at this local grocery chain start at $16 per person depending on who the Cardinals are playing. Buy the tickets at Schnucks instead of standing in line at the stadium. Schnucks is the Starbucks of the St. Louis area, offering many locations to choose from, most of which are open 24 hours. Hint: Don't even try to buy Cubs vs. Cards tickets at the last minute, so make sure they are playing another team. However, if you happen to be a lucky Cubs vs. Cards ticket holder, you'll get to experience another wonderful St. Louis tradition. Regardless of which game you choose, you will have a memorable time at the ballpark on your family vacation in St. Louis with teens.
The St. Louis City Museum (701 North 15th Street, 314-231-2489) is another must on your list of things to do in St. Louis with your teen. Don't let the name fool you. This museum is not your traditional museum and features a three-story slide, tunnels to crawl through, plenty of places to get lost, a world aquarium, an oddities area that teens will enjoy, and even a bar for the grown-ups to unwind with a drink after a long day on your family vacation in St. Louis. What is most impressive about the museum is their use of the outdoor space. Make sure to look for the sawed-in-half school bus hanging from the roof. The outside rooftop area is the coolest area of the museum with ball pits, a climbing apparatus, and other fun structures to explore. Also new this year is a vintage clothing shop for the teen that likes to dress a bit differently. Some clothes only cost a dollar. To get into the museum, admission is $12, but only $10 after 5PM on the weekend, so plan to go then. However, the rooftop is an extra $5, and that's where your teen will want to be. Hours are Mon-Thu 9AM-5PM, Fri-Sat 9AM-1PM and Sun 11AM-5PM. The museum is closed on Monday and Tuesday from September to March.


After the game and a visit to the museum, have some St. Louis style pizza downtown at Maurizio's Pizza (1107 Olive Street, 314-621-1997). St. Louis style pizza is traditionally a very thin crust pizza and is only served in 16" pies at this restaurant. Other crusts are available in different sizes, though. Try the pizza with some ranch or French dressing for dipping on the side. If that sounds gross, ask your teen to try it for you. What teen doesn't like dipping things in dressing? If your teen also doesn't eat on schedule with the rest of the world, check out their late night buffet that starts at 11PM and carries on until the wee hours of the morning. Maurizio's is open daily from 11AM-3PM and also offers a lunch and dinner buffet for teens who want to try a little bit of everything.

Now that you are armed with information and tips to have the best family vacation of your lives in beautiful St. Louis, get your teens ready for a great time in "the Lou."

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