5 free things: St. Louis

Lots to do as Gateway City marks 250 years

 

Associated Press

St. Louis is turning 250 this year, and visitors who want to join in the celebration can find plenty to do without spending a dime.

The Gateway City was founded by Pierre Laclede and Auguste Chouteau on Feb. 15, 1764. A series of anniversary events are planned throughout the year, including a reenactment of the founding on Feb. 15 at the Laclede’s Landing area on the Mississippi Riverfront downtown.

Amid the hoopla, there’s plenty to do for free, including visits to one of the world’s biggest breweries, two popular animal attractions, a science center and a towering monument that has come to define St. Louis.

•  Gateway Arch: The Arch, built as a monument to westward expansion, stands 630 feet tall along the banks of the Mississippi River. For a fee, visitors can ride a tram to the top of the Arch and gaze over downtown St. Louis to the west or the cornfields of Illinois to the east.

But many attractions at and around the Arch are free. That includes the Museum of Westward Expansion in the basement of the Arch, focusing on life in the West in the 1800s. Visitors can also wander the expansive Arch grounds, where a multi-million dollar upgrade project is under way and expected to be completed by 2016.

Also free are visits to the Old Courthouse in downtown St. Louis, site of the famous Dred Scott case that played a role in eventually freeing the slaves.

•  Anheuser-Busch Brewery Tour: The Busch family sold Anheuser-Busch to the Belgian brewer InBev in 2008, but the massive brewery remains an integral part of St. Louis, making some of the nation’s best-selling brews, including Budweiser and Bud Light.

Visitors not only get a glimpse of how the beer is made but see the Budweiser Clydesdales, kept at stables on the brewery site.

The complimentary tours are open to visitors of all ages — but only those 21 and older can taste the finished product after the tour. Younger visitors get soft drinks. Reservations are required.

.

•  Grant’s Farm: The 281-acre Grant’s Farm is owned by the Busch family. It got its name because the property was founded as a farm by Ulysses S. Grant, the Civil War general who later became the nation’s 18th president.

The farm, in St. Louis County just south of the city, is home to more than 900 animals. Among them: Another group of Budweiser Clydesdales.

Reservations are required.

•  St. Louis Zoo: The St. Louis Zoo in sprawling Forest Park is considered one of the best in the nation, and one of the few that with no admission fee. Funding comes from a cultural tax district, though fees are charged for some special attractions.

The zoo is home to more than 18,000 animals, including some rare and endangered species. A “Zooline Railroad” takes visitors to various locations.

The zoo’s origins date to the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, when the city purchased the Flight Cage from the Smithsonian Institution.

•  St. Louis Science Center: The Science Center, also part of Forest Park and funded through the same cultural subsidy as the zoo, is among the few free science centers in the United States. It was founded as a planetarium in 1963. Today, the center includes more than 750 exhibits in 300,000-plus square feet of space, making it one of the nation’s largest science centers.

The center features an enclosed walkway over Interstate 64 in which visitors can monitor the speeds of cars traveling below.

The center itself is free, but fees are charged for admission to some special exhibits and planetarium shows. An Omnimax Theater also charges for admission.

Read more Travel stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">A life in ruins:</span> Posters at the Hacienda Napoles ranch tell the story of slain Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, once the head of the Medellin drug cartel.

    Colombia

    In Colombia, a playground with a past

    Wandering through a decaying doorless archway, I encounter a young boy crouching on a floor of broken tiles and rubble, beneath a framed newspaper front page from May 1984. “Lara B Assassinated,” the headline blares. “State of Siege.”

  •  
Passengers on the Harmony V go on a birding adventure in a pirogue on the Gambia River, home to more than 500 species of birds.

    Gambia

    Up the river in West Africa

    The radiant sun was starting its late-afternoon descent, and I was gliding on glassy water through a Gambian archipelago of tropical rain-forest islands in a brightly painted boat, a converted ferry with an upper deck and even a soft-drink bar. Propped against pillows with my feet up, I was as comfortable as Cleopatra on her royal barge.

  •  
A communal area of the lodge at the Bivvi in Breckinridge, Colo., which opened in December.

    Travelwise

    Wow. Are you sure this is a hostel?

    On my first night in Cleveland last year, I fell asleep spooning my backpack. I maneuvered my laptop beneath my pillow and leaned my favorite red boots against the wall by my feet. For the first time in more than a decade, I was overnighting in a hostel, and I didn’t know what to expect.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK



  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category