Day Trip Ideas in St. Louis

You don't always have to spend an extended amount of time in a city to experience it, sometimes you only have a day away but you want to make the most out of your time, especially when it comes to student groups.

We totally get it, that's why we offer day trip options, setting up a completely customizable day trip adventure for you in the city of your choosing.

Of course, we always have suggestions to fill your day, and with this blog series, we are going to explore our favorite day trip options in America's most popular cities.

Today we are exploring all your options in St. Louis, the 'Gateway to the West'!

Take a look, decide what you like and what you don't, then give us a call and customize your own day trip adventure!

#1. Arch Extravaganza

Spend your day in St. Louis at the most iconic landmark in the state of Missouri, the Gateway Arch. The nation's tallest national monument, the Arch is a symbol of St. Louis' station as the Gateway to the West, the motion of westward expansion from the civilized east coast to the undiscovered western frontier. The Gateway Arch rises powerfully from the riverfront Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in downtown St. Louis to a towering 630 feet, cutting an imposing silhouette against the city skyline. A quick tram ride the top affords guests an incredible bird’s eye view of up to 30 miles in any direction on a clear day. Be sure to stop at the Museum at the Gateway Arch, a newly redesigned museum experience that allows you to explore 6 galleries that represent 200 years of American history.

Next head down to the riverfront and take a Gateway Arch Riverboat cruise, a 'journey back in time' aboard the Becky Thatcher or Tom Sawyer steamboats! You can take a one0 hour sightseeing tour then head to the dockside Arch View Cafe for lunch, or perhaps stay for a Skyline Dinner Cruise!

STL Skyline Stockfresh Public Domain

STL Skyline Stockfresh Public Domain

#2. The Lou's Zoo and Gardens

One of our absolute favorite things to do when we visit the city is to spend the day at the St. Louis Zoo and Missouri Botanical Garden, these two attractions sure to keep you busy and entertained all day long!

The St. Louis Zoo sits within Forest Park on a 90-acre site, the zoo home to more than 19,000 animals across 655 species. The St. Louis Zoo isn't just one of the nation's finest examples of a zoological park, it's also one of the only premier zoos to not charge general admission! Visit to see all your favorites including African lions, Sumatran tigers, snow leopards, Asian elephants, and hippos swimming around in their tanks. Next head to the Missouri Botanical Garden, just about 10 minutes away from the zoo, and spend your afternoon among the 79 acres of gorgeous native and exotic species. Enjoy over 4,800 trees throughout as you visit the  Chinese Garden, the Japanese Garden, Ottoman and English Woodland Gardens, and the Victorian District. Walk through the Climatron before you go, a gorgeous tropical rainforest conservatory under a large glass dome.

Missouri Botanical Garden Credit Danielle Bopp

#3. Cardinals Country

If you are visiting St. Louis during baseball season there is no way you can skip out on a Cardinals game at Busch Stadium, a true St. Louis tradition!

Grab a ticket to the game, sit back, relax, and cheer on the Cardinals as you take in the exciting ballpark atmosphere. Tours of Busch Stadium are offered year-round, allowing you to check out the World Series trophies in the Champions Club, explore the locker rooms, and imagine yourself a big-leaguer in the Cardinals Dugout! Spend the rest of your day at Ballpark Village next to the stadium. Considered to be a world-class dining and entertainment district, this spot can accommodate groups of 10 all the way up to groups of 5,000. Better yet, it's open year-round, not just during the 81 home games the Cardinals play each year. Grab a bite to eat, do some shopping, or take in a concert or show while here!

© Ballpark Village St. Louis. Photo by Zach Dalin Photography

© Ballpark Village St. Louis. Photo by Zach Dalin Photography

#4. STL Museum Day

There are quite a few really great museums with St. Louis, a few of our favorites being the City Museum, St. Louis Science Center, and Missouri History Museum.

The City Museum is housed in a recycled 600,000 square foot shoe company, this constantly evolving “museum” is a wonderful, eclectic fusion of post-apocalyptic playground, midway funhouse, surrealistic treehouse pavilion, and more than four stories of architectural marvel created from ordinary, unique and amazing found objects. City Museum boasts fun features like cool salvaged bridges, archaic construction cranes, “actual miles” of tile, and two abandoned planes! The St. Louis Science Center holds more than 700 hands-on exhibits, a premier destination for any group dynamic. Wander on your own through the exhibits, participate in educational programs, or sit back and watch the simulated night sky pass overhead at the planetarium. Last but not least you have the Missouri History Museum, showcasing such fun exhibits as Seeking St. Louis, a continuing exhibit that looks at more than 200 years of St. Louis history, as well as the 1904 World’s Fair: Looking Back at Looking Forward exhibit on the famous World’s Fair that was held in St. Louis in Forest Park over a hundred years ago.

St. Louis City Museum Pixabay Public Domain

#5. Downtown Foodie Paradise

There are several iconic St. Louis foods you should try during your day-trip visit, including Ted Drewes, Imo's Pizza, Jilly's, Juniper, and Lombardo's.

Start your foodie journey at Imo's Pizza for The pizza you will find here is the ‘original St. Louis style pizza’, a thin, crispy, Provel-topped masterpiece that simply cannot be replicated anywhere else. For dessert head to Ted Drewes, a popular local Frozen Custard eatery with over 80 years of experience making iconic concretes, sundaes, and shakes. You MUST get the most iconic St. Louis treat at Lombardo's, a big hefty plate of toasted ravioli! Make some dinner reservations at Juniper later, a popular St. Louis eatery serving high-end southern cuisine and even higher-end southern charm. End your food-driven journey at Jilly's Cafe and Cupcake Bar, a true STL treat serving up creative cupcakes, sandwiches, salads, and handmade ice cream.

Fried Ravioli on White Plate With a Bowl of Marinara Sauce Stockfresh

#6. Six Flags Fun 

You can easily spend an entire day at Six Flags St. Louis, a theme park with quite literally something for everybody! Six Flags strives to be inclusive with kiddie park rides for the younger visitors, slow carnival classics for the nostalgics in all of us, and major thrill rides for the daredevils. Go head to head with major comic book villains in Justice League: Battle for Metropolis, scream your heart out on the classic Screamin' Eagle or loop the loop on the major curlicue coaster, Ninja.

Families wanting something a bit slower while here will enjoy rides such as the Colossus Ferris wheel, the classic Grand Ole Carousel, the pendulum swing of The Joker, Inc., and much more. If you enjoy water rides, though, make sure you don't miss out on Hurricane Harbor, the park's very own and very exciting waterpark. Open only during the summer months, Hurricane Harbor pulls out all the stops on your favorite log flumes, wave pools, lazy rivers, and super slides!