Top Free Things To Do In Missouri
Larger than New York City’s Central Park, St. Louis' Forest Park brims with free activities. Engaging exhibits at the Missouri History Museum explore the city's colorful history. The St. Louis Science Center has a planetarium, flight simulators and life-size T. Rex. Among the St. Louis Art Museum's 33,000 pieces are works by Picasso and van Gogh. At the St. Louis Zoo, lush landscaping makes the zoo as pleasant as it is popular; highlights include River's Edge—a spacious home for Asian and African animals with underwater viewing of hippos—and the Penguin and Puffin coast. And then there's the rest of Forest Park's 1,293 acres: Lawns, lakes and trails to explore by foot, bike, boat or skates.
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Citygarden (pictured) Lush foliage and public art define this urban oasis just west of the Old Courthouse. Download the app for stories behind the artwork in this family-friendly mecca of sculpture, splash fountains and greenery.
Anheuser-Busch Brewery Tours Free 45-minute tours go through the brewhouse and the 1885 Clydesdale stables and end with product sampling.
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (pictured) One of the leading art museums in America packs in more than 34,000 pieces. Borrow an MP3 player in the lobby for a free audio tour about the collections, architecture and sculpture garden.
Hallmark Visitors Center Self-guided tours give a behind-the-scenes look at the artists, writers, sculptors and painters who bring cards to life at KC-based Hallmark, the world’s largest greeting card company.
Harley-Davidson Vehicle and Powertrain Operations Rev up with a one-hour factory tour to see how motorcycles are born. Watch a video before exploring the 358,000-square-foot facility to see assembly in action. Tickets are first-come, first-serve, so arrive early.
The Money Museum During a self-guided visit to this wing of Kansas City’s Federal Reserve Bank, you can design currency then e-mail a copy to yourself to print at home. Kids will get a kick out of the bags of shredded money the museum hands out as souvenirs.
- Courtesy of the University of Missouri Museum of Art and Archaeology
University of Missouri sites At the Museum of Art and Archeology (pictured), two floors provide a compact look at human history with exhibits on subjects like ancient money and modern art. The campus itself is a botanical garden, with thousands of plants in 18 themed gardens.
Stephens College The Historic Costume Gallery displays selections from the university’s 13,000-piece collection of ethnic and everyday clothing dating from the 1800s to today.
Missouri state parks
All 52 Missouri state parks are free. Among our favorites:
Ha Ha Tonka (pictured) This park bordering Lake of the Ozarks gets its name from a Native American phrase meaning "laughing waters." Visitors can hike to the dramatic hilltop ruins of a 1905-era mansion that caught fire in 1942.
Elephant Rocks The giant granite formations at the park, 90 miles southwest of St. Louis, were formed about 1.5 billion years ago when hot magma cooled into crystalline red granite. Huge weathered boulders are accessible today by several trails.
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Branson Landing, Branson (pictured) Visitors crowd the lakefront of Lake Taneycomo for a 120-foot fountain show with fire cannons, special effects and music. The spectacle starts at noon each day (weather permitting), then runs every hour on the hour. Check the website's special events page for more free entertainment.
Missouri State Capitol, Jefferson City On a limestone bluff above the Missouri River, this 1924 Capitol in Jefferson City impresses with Thomas Hart Benton’s murals and a museum about state history.