There are, I believe, three free big zoos in the country. This (and Lincoln Park in Chicago) are so amazing for the price tag. We spent M-F in STL with friends and we came to the zoo twice and still didn't see everything! My kids aren't even huge animal fans and yet, they loved it.
In Numbers: Free admission for all, but parking in the lot at the main entrance does cost. To save some cash, get there early and park along the road, which is free. It will be a bit more walking, but save you a bunch! Plus, the lot does fill up on nice days, so you might end up walking anyway.
For Kids: The exhibits are so well maintained. They will love the animals, interacting and shows. My kids loved climbing in the children's zoo and the animal show. My son really enjoyed petting and brushed the extremely tame goats. Our friends treated us to a train ride and we rode the carousel, so it was definitely an awesome experience.
For Adults: Such a nice day and place. Great staff, so friendly and so much to see. It will be worth your effort.
Tips: It's pretty hilly! I recommend taking the nicer stroller. If you arrive between 8-9am, the Children's Zoo (brush goats, animal shows, playground) and carousel are free. Get there early to save on those and get them out of the way.
The St. Louis Zoo is free! I have been to so many zoos since having kids and I can’t recall a single one of them that was free. However, there is a train, a children’s zoo and a carousel that you can buy tickets for separately. The train and carousel weren’t running when we were there in January, but the children's zoo was open and it was definitely worth the money. The kids got to feed guinea pigs and get really close to a sloth, meerkats and a tree kangaroo. This was probably our favorite part of the zoo, but that may have been because a lot of the animals were inside for the winter so we couldn't see them. Our other favorite spot was the interactive and playful sea lions - they would follow you around, it was so funny! The penguins and the Insectarium were also really nice exhibits.
Generally, it is a very large and beautiful zoo and you could easily spend an entire day there. We enjoyed ourselves even in the middle of winter.
The Zoo for me...is a retreat, its personally my favorite place to go when I need to have a moment and be reminded of God's beautiful creations. As other reviews have indicated this is a world class zoo, world class meaning in the top 20 of all zoos in the entire world and its main exhibits are free to go to. Parking is $15 and worth the expense. Parking on the street can be dangerous...as both entrances are on major streets that curve around and have no sidewalks. Given the day, you could be parking nearly a mile away. We have done this several times, you just need to be aware of what you are 'up-against'.
The Zoo includes areas that are an extra expense including the Sting Ray exhibit, Carousel, Children's Zoo, Discovery Zone and the Movie Theater, but everything else is included as *free*. I grew up in the Northwest and was an annual patron of Point Defiance and Woodland Park Zoos located in Washington state. Not just the fact that its free but in my opinion the St. Louis Zoo attractions are better. Especially the Elephant, Hippo and Sea Lion exhibits...not to be missed!
The Children's Zoo - has a building as you enter to your right that I just learned about. Its definitely worth popping in. They have animals you can pet including gerbils, snakes, and other reptiles. Fun exhibits to check out like the jelly fish tanks, bird sanctuaries, and porcupines for the kids to look at up close and personal! Great for cold or humid days.
The Zoo also has a great selection of shops and eateries including a Build-A-Bear workshop located at the center of the park, they offer one-of-a-kind zoo animals you can stuff and dress. So fun for the kids! A great memory for a birthday.
My favorite place to eat is the cafeteria just as you enter off the North entrance. Its right next to the bathrooms, shop, movie theater and discovery zone. They also have the best food options (I think).
The walking paths are spacious and never feel congested. A few times, I've saddled the kids up early, taken my jogging stroller, and ran/jogged the zoo. That is super fun and the kids LOVE it! They are my hardest trainers by far..."Faster mommy! Faster!"
There is also a wonderful bird sanctuary on the opposite end of the park near the giraffes.
The zoo is affiliated with the local Children's Hospital which came in useful when my son toppled out of the radio-flyer onto the cement. There was an on-call physician that bandaged him up on the spot. Very nice!
Overall this is a great way to spend a day in St. Louis!
I have been to San Diego and several others on your list, and I'd have to say that the St. Louis zoo is the best! It beats San Diego by the number of animals, number of species, and is nearly as large (it has over 90 acres whereas San Diego has 100). To me that's an advantage: more things to do and less walking, meaning the kids are less cranky! However at the San Diego zoo you are going to pay $166 to admit a family of 4! While there is pay parking at the STL zoo, you can park free on the street, and there is plenty of parking since it's located in St. Louis' Forest Park, which also happens to be the biggest city park in the country and has lots of other attractions, including one of the country's best art museums next door (it's free too!). The children's zoo sets this zoo apart from others, and while it does have an entry fee, it is FREE during the first hour that the park is open. Most days the zoo opens at 8am. The zoo is open every day except Christmas and New Years. The railroad going around the park also has a minimum fee, $5 per person, but it's nice if you have cranky kids who are hot and/or tired of walking. The breeze while on the open-air train cools you down and the ride gives you time to rest. There is also a Safari pass which is $10/person, which gets you in to everything, including the railroad, childrens zoo, and a few movies, which are also good places to calm and cool cranky, hot kids (and us adults, too!). Even if you get the Safari pass, you are going to pay $40 for 4 people, meaning San Diego is 4 times as expensive! Bottom line, I think St. Louis has the best zoo in the country, without even considering that it's FREE. And the overall trip to St. Louis is really inexpensive! Hotels and restaurants are relatively cheap, as are gas prices, and many attractions here are free, including not only the zoo, but the art museum (one of the best in the US), science center (also one of the best in the US), history museum, (all the prior are located in Forest Park), and the Anheuser-Busch brewery tours (even this is interesting for older kids and young adults, you get to see lots of cool machines and pet the Clydesdale horses), Grants Farm (very cool, very unique, not really a farm), Wild Bird Sanctuary, Cahokia Mounds, Audubon Bird Sanctuary (in suburb Alton, IL), National Great Rivers Museum (also Alton, IL, you can actually walk out on the dam that crosses the river!), St. Louis basilica (largest mosaic collection in the world), Laumeier Sculpture Park, nearby Transportation Museum is not free but fun for kids, Gateway arch museum (tickets to the top of the arch cost money and there is usually a long wait, though, but the park surrounding it is also worth the visit!), Pulitzer Foundation for the arts. I could go on. Another good thing to check out is the MO Botanical Garden, which costs, but is one of the best in the world! Most people are suprised that St. Louis is such a large city. About 3 million people, making it larger than Denver, Pittsburgh, Portland, etc. It is also just a 4 or 5 hour car or train ride from Chicago, or 1 hour by plane. also 5 hours from Memphis, KC, or Indianapolis. Given that St. Louis is right in the center of the country, you can get there from anywhere in the US via plane in less than 2 or maybe 3 hours, or 4 hours max from the west coast. That can be a big advantage with cranky kids, and ticket prices are also reasonable since the only airline with a hub there is Southwest. Even though the metro area has 3 million people, it's pretty easy to get around, and traffic is not bad at all!
The zoo is great. Its free admission. The parking, food and gift shops are very reasonable. My son and I spend the whole day every time we go. The zoo is always clean and the staff is friendly any time we have needed help or had a question. We do a membership every year, this is by far one of the best attractions in the area!!
The St Louis Zoo is located in the historic Forest Park area making it easily accessible from anywhere in the greater St Louis area. The zoo itself is free, but parking in one of the adjacent cars runs $15/day (or $30 for a bus or RV, and I had an argument with the attendant who classified my 12-passenger van as a "bus" even though it is clearly a passenger car! Grrr...). The zoo is spread out over 90 acres- so wear your walking shoes and bring along a stroller or backpack carrier for the little ones!
The St Louis Zoo has a fantastic collection of animals- including lions, tigers, bears (oh my!), camels, elephants (there was one born in April and one that was just a 2-year old "toddler"!), zebras, hippos, and more! There is an area set aside as the "children's zoo" (additional admission fee) that has petting areas, and great exhibits on red kangaroos and meerkats. Be sure to see the new sea lion exhibit (there are showtimes posted throughout the zoo), and the primate area where you can see the chimps, orangutans, and gorillas.
Zoo keepers are often found near the exhibits to tell you more about the animals and answer your questions. We also enjoyed a ride on the zoo-themed carousel, and we took a round-trip ride on the zoo train so that we could see everything (the kids loved the two tunnels!).
Food is about what you would expect- the usual offering of kid fare like chicken nuggets, pizza, and hot dogs, as well as salads and sandwiches. We also took an ice cream break mid-way through the day to cool off! It would be a good idea to bring along your own water bottles and just fill them up at the water fountains to save a few dollars on beverages!
We loved our visit to the St Louis Zoo- and would definitely recommend it as a fun outing for other families!
*My family and I received complimentary Zoo Safari passes allowing us admission to the children's zoo, the carousel, and train ride as part of our T-Roo American Road Trip. But as always, all opinions expressed here are my own!
Free to get in to zoo but you have to pay to park. You have to pay for any extra things you do there but you can buy a pass for like 10 dollars a person and can do all the extra things if you have the time. We went just for one day and we should have had at least two days to do everything there. My kids loved it! Tons of animals!
We absolutely loved the Saint Louis Zoo! It was the perfect amount of walking for our 6yr old and 3 yr old, while I carried our infant in a ringsling. The zoo is free to get in, but you have to pay for parking. However, we were able to find a spot about 1/4 mile away and it was free, so husband dropped us off at the entrance and met up with us a little while later. They have benches to take breaks all over the zoo, The animals were lively and lots of attractions and interactive shows and learning opportunities. The train that takes you all around the zoo has a small fee but well worth it. The kids enjoyed this excursion very much. Will visit again!
We go to the St. Louis Zoo just about every year. We love this zoo and always have a great time. It is always clean and they have a great variety of animals and things to do. They have a great play area in the children's zoo but you may want to take some extra clothes for the little ones if they play in the water!! I would recommend this zoo to anyone!
St. Louis is home to lots of fun, free attractions. The zoo is one of their best! If you get there early enough and don't mind walking, you can park along the road and avoid the parking fee. Also, the Children's Zoo is free the first hour the zoo is open (park by the Living World entrance to get there faster). As long as you are in before that first hour is up, you are good to go. This is a great option for families with lots of children. Pack a lunch and drinks... there are plenty of places to picnic. The food is very pricey (as can be expected), but you can bring whatever you want in to the zoo. The penguin house and the new underwater exhibit are must sees!
This is one of the best zoos I have ever been to. It is located in Forest Park in St. Louis, Missouri and is FREE! They have so many animals with large pathways for strollers and large groups to fit through. The food is decent, but overpriced as you find at most attractions. Parking can be a challenge, so get there early or be prepared to walk. But, did I mention...it's FREE!
The zoo was clean and didn't smell! The kids had a lot of fun! And so did the parents! It was crowded, but everyone had kids so everyone was understanding and polite. The penguins were so used to human attention they seemed to enjoy showing off for the camera's! It was nice to cool off from the heat a humidity, but the kids got cold fast. The Cheetah's were not out, which was a HUGE disappointment for our 10 year old, her favorites. But over all it's a wonderful place. You can get free parking if you are lucky by finding an open spot along the road. But we felt the $12 parking fee was well worth the time saved finding a spot, and the zoo is funded by the parking. Well worth it!
One word: free!! This zoo has SO many animals, you could easily make it a two-day trip. The zoo is extremely kid-friendly. Plenty of snack stands and restaurants, but we always save money by taking our own food. I recommend buying the zoo cups. You get $1 refills forever with the cups. The Children's Zoo and train rides each cost a little, but they are sooo worth it. If you get there early enough (before 9am), you get in to children's zoo free. If you're going to be in or around St. Louis, you can't miss the zoo!
We love our zoo in St. Louis, because it is free and has more animals than we have seen at other zoos around the country. Parking is expensive but you can find plenty of free spots if you are willing to walk. Make sure you have your walking shoes on because there is a lot of walking but well worth it for the selection of animals they have. My kids favorite is the Penguin house because they always get splashed by a penguin. It is also a great place to go cool off when it is a very hot day.
The great thing about this zoo is that admission is free for everyone. Even so, it is know as one of the best free zoos in the country; and a pretty good zoo even when compared with those that charge admission. There are all types of great exhibits and some fun inside places to check out like the penguin and reptile houses. Lots of good places to eat and shop as well!
This zoo is absolutely amazing!! I loved the train rides and the price was fair for parking. The people there were very nice and the animals looked happy! It does tend to get quite warm in St. Louis, so don't forget to stay hydrated! Hope you enjoy visiting it!I sure did!!
I went to this zoo and loved it! There were all different types of animals that I found so interesting. I loved the Bald Eagle. I will say to make sure you drink plenty of fluids if you go on a hot day! It's a zoo so I know your kids will love it so much!
We have been to many zoos, including Omaha and San Diego and this is BY FAR my favorite, partly because it is free, but mostly because it is so well done. They do such a good job making the animals accessible (safely, of course) while also keeping them in a realistic habitat. All the zoo staff is friendly and helpful and there is more to do in a day that you could possibly do. Make a trip to St. Louis just to see it. Our family does!
It was a fun place to visit. Tons of attractions and plenty to do. You do have to pay for extras like a train ride or certian exhibts. And don't forget about parking, but if you get there early enough you can generally find a spot in the park nearby and just walk over.
very nice zoo . very big .have to walk very long long.. in between small trains also. but not or cant be seen or completed in one day that too with kids hmm bit difficult but they will have good fun by seeing all animals, birds and all. kids enjoy lot ,have food also there .dinosaurus, wild animals, crocodiles ,monkeys,butterflies ,fishes all.. nothing no like. good one.