1. We stayed at the Drury Inn - free breakfast and free 5:30 kickback. If you're not familiar with the "kickback", it's a light meal for the evening. They had mostly kid friendly food - hot dogs, nachos, mac and cheese, chicken strips. For the adults, they give you a ticket for three drinks from the bar. We got six little margaritas for us each night and six free meals during our stay.
2. The City Museum - We went with my daughter's Girl Scout group. They raised a pile of money selling cookies this year! Since my husband and I helped chaperone the trip, the troop covered our admission along with our daughter. I was planning on paying for my son's admission but didn't have to. A nice gentleman in the parking lot gave us two armbands for FREE that his group couldn't use. There were two armbands because one of them was for the rooftop attractions. This is an extra cost beyond the general admission.
Lots of crazy climbing on the rooftop
3. Fitz's Restaurant
Where else can you see root beer being bottled while you eat? It was no more expensive to eat here than it would have been to go out to one of our local restaurants. This was one of the two meals we ate out for while we were there. It was very reasonably priced for a city restaurant.
They have a "bottomless" mug you can order that can be refilled as many times as you want with their root beer, black cherry, orange, or cream soda. We tried the root beer and black cherry. Both were delicious!
You can watch them bottle their homemade root beer while you eat.
4. The Zoo - I had researched everything online and knew we would have to pay to park at the zoo, but admission would be free. When we arrived on Sunday the lots were all full. Uh-oh! It turned out to be a blessing. We found a free parking place just a short distance by the art museum, saving us $15. The Zoo was amazing. We had never taken our kids to a zoo this large. They really enjoyed it. Cost: Zero. Okay, so that's not entirely accurate. We spend money on souvenirs and riding the train, but I felt better about that since there was no admission or parking to pay for on top of those.
The elephants were very active the day we were there. We saw Mama Elephant swimming with her two babies.
They have warm and cold weather penguins.
5. American Girl - Okay, this one was not cheap. It could have been if I had said no to buying anything, but then what's the point of going? I justified this by telling myself we had saved money in so many other places and that she won't be young forever. We bought three outfits for her doll (that she received for her birthday three years ago) and had lunch in the bistro. The boys were happy to visit the enormous mall that is adjacent to American Girl and eat at Cheeburger Cheeburger.
Every girl should get to go once.
Kit Kittredge got her own chair.
6. The Science Center - Admission is also free here. You have to pay for extras like the Omnimax movies and Planetarium. We got four free tickets to any of the Omnimax movies with our hotel stay at the Drury when I booked online. We chose Flight of the Butterflies. It actually choked me up a little when the scientist finally proved the butterflies were migrating at the end.
7. The Arch - Even though we saw it several times as we were tooling around St. Louis (the reaction of my kids was priceless the first time they saw it), we still made a trip down to actually visit it. The line to go up was very long, so we settled for walking around and getting a few pictures. This was fine by me. My husband and I had traveled to the top on a trip we made before we got married (and there was no way I was ever going to do that again).
This is how I prefer to see the Arch. From the OUTSIDE!
There are so many other things to do in St. Louis, but alas, it was time to come home. We packed a lot in during the long weekend but not so much that it felt frantic or rushed. Ironically, we didn't make it to Six Flags this time, but maybe we'll make it back in the fall.