FREE Family-Friendly Activities for Every Day This Summer in St. Louis

We love exploring our beautiful city, especially during the summertime. From concerts and movies to festivals and tours, we’ve got you covered with 93 free things to do in St. Louis with the whole family this whole summer.

ART APPRECIATION
  1. Discover First Fridays in Grand Center, a remarkable array of visual arts in St. Louis’ premier neighborhood for culture and entertainment (first Friday of every month).
  2. Enjoy collection tours, art-making and live music as part of the Saint Louis Art Museum’s SLAM Underground (last Friday of every month).
  3. Take part in painting with painters, creating with potters, writing with writers, acting with actors, dancing with dancers and more, all while listening to live music at The Foundry Art Centre’s 2nd Thursdays (second Thursday of every month, June 11 – October 8).
FARMS, ZOOS & WILDLIFE SANCTUARIES
  1. Enjoy animal shows and petting zoos as you get up close with antelope, zebras, bison and more at Grant’s Farm.
  2. See beautiful birds of all kinds at the World Bird Sanctuary.
  3. Head out to Purina Farms where you can pet barnyard animals, plays with dozens of cats and dogs, take part in hands-on activities and watch animal demonstrations.
  4. Get your fill of “lions, tigers and bears, oh my!” at the Saint Louis Zoo.
FESTIVALS & FAIRS
  1. Celebrate 15 years of Shakespeare in the Park with their performance of “Anthony and Cleopatra” (May 22 – June 14).
  2. Enjoy a weekend full of food, music, art and entertainment at the annual Taste of St. Louis at the Chesterfield Amphitheater (September 18 – 20).
  3. Come out to the Saint Louis Art Fair to enjoy one-of-a-kind artwork from across the county and live entertainment (September 11 – 13).
  4. Indulge yourself in everything bacon at Baconfest (August 16).
  5. Celebrate the 98th Annual St. Louis Greek Festival featuring live music and Greek folk dancing (September 4 – 7).
  6. Put on something green and head over to the Missouri River Irish Fest for music, dancing and more (May 22-24).
  7. Sink your teeth into some of the best wings in the area at Midwest Wingfest (September 4 – 5).
  8. Cheer on participants of the Race for the Rivers canoe and kayak races (August 29).
  9. Show your patriotism and celebrate Flag Day as Boy Scouts decorate the entrance to the Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower in Hartford, IL with flags. First 60 visitors receive a flag (June 14).
  10. Enjoy some of the biggest, ripest, juiciest peaches at Pere Marquette’s Peach Festival (August 9).
  11. Connecting families and cultivating heritage, the Louis African Arts Festival has fun for the whole family with hands-on activities for children, authentic African cuisine and a unique marketplace of jewelry and clothing (May 23-25).
  12. Celebrate fall at the South Grand Fall Fest, featuring everything from food demonstrations and street performers to performances by local schools and a DIY craft zone (September 19).
  13. Come out to Tower Grove’s Picnic in the Park boasting an exciting line-up of activities for the whole family including a petting zoo, balloon artists, face painters, food trucks, live music, art exhibits and more (May 31).
  14. Love strawberries? Check out Kimmswick’s Strawberry Festival full of strawberry-themed everything (June 6 & 7).
  15. Celebrate summer with live music, food and drink at Riverfront Park for the River & Lights Festival (second Friday of every month).
  16. Slip into your boots and head on down to the Madison County Fair with motorcycle races, livestock competitions, carnival rides, good eats, live music, demolition derbies and more (July 21 – 26).
  17. View hundreds of vendors featuring handmade crafts while enjoying live music at Festival of the Little Hills on Main Street St. Charles (August 21 – 23).
  18. Get your fill of horseradish at the Horseradish Festival in Collinsville, IL (June 5 – 7).
  19. Celebrate the confluence of the three major rivers – Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois – during the Great Rivers Festival (May 30).
  20. Learn about one of the world’s most fascinating birds, the hummingbird, as part of Pere Marquette Lodge’s annual Hummingbird Festival, including art vendors, live music and children’s activities (June 7).
  21. Breathe in the sweet aroma of fresh-baked apple pie at the Apple Festival at Pere Marquette (September 13).
  22. Have your little one catch a bluegill and learn all about them and other fish native to our area at the Two Rivers Family Fishing Fair at Pere Marquette State Park (June 6).
HANDS-ON LEARNING & EDUCATION
  1. Learn about the benefits of incorporating native plants into your landscaping and how to plant and care for them at the Gateway Greening/Audubon Society’s Native Plants Workshop (August 22).
  2. Let your imagination soar with hands-on fun at the St. Louis Science Center.
  3. Unleash your inner engineer at the Frisco Train Store’s 15-foot train table with four layers of track and bridges.
  4. Join a summer reading club at the St. Louis Public Library.
  5. Walk the entire solar system – from the Sun to Neptune – along the Delmar Loop Planet Walk.
MOVIES
  1. Grab some chairs and head down to Art Hill’s Outdoor Film Series featuring Back to the Future, Jaws, Clueless, and Sound of Music (July 10, 17, 24 & 31).
  2. Throw down a blanket and camp out under the stars at Glazebrook Park during Godfrey’s Movie Nights in the Park Series (June 12).
  3. Catch up on your favorite classics at Movie Night at Ritz Park on South Grand featuring Jurassic Park, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Sandlot, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Part 2 (June 19, July 17, August 21, September 18).
MUSEUMS, FOUNDATIONS & HISTORIC SITES
  1. Discover unique and beautiful pieces of art at the Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis.
  2. Walk the Saint Louis University Museum of Art, a four-story French revival mansion featuring more than 40 of the most famous 20th century icons, including works by Chuck Close, Pablo Picasso, Francis Bacon and more.
  3. Learn about the importance the Mississippi and other rivers have played in the growth and development of St. Louis at the National Great Rivers Museum in Alton, IL.
  4. Feed your inner gearhead at the Moto Museum off Olive Boulevard.
  5. Take a step back in time at the Missouri History Museum, from the city’s founding in 1764 to Miles Davis, Cardinals baseball history and everything in between.
  6. Check out exhibits of art and architecture at the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts.
  7. Picnic and take in the sights of more than 80 works of contemporary sculpture at Laumeier Sculpture Park and Museum.
  8. Explore the Saint Louis Art Museum, which was once the Fine Arts Palace of the 1904 World’s Fair.
  9. Walk where Lewis and Clark once did at the Camp River Dubois Lewis & Clark Illinois State Historic Site, view a replica of the 1804 winter encampment and watch special reenactment events.
MUSIC
  1. Get your groove on at Missouri Botanical Garden’s Whitaker Music Festival (Wednesdays, May 27 – July 29).
  2. Enjoy afternoons and evenings of music courtesy of STL Symphony’s Community Concert Series.
  3. Round up the kiddos for a night of fun and entertainment at Tower Grove Park’s Summer Children’s Concert Series (June 10 – August 12).
  4. Grab your lunch (or pick some up at the available food trucks) and head to Lunchtime Live, downtown’s premier outdoor lunchtime party featuring live music (every Friday).
  5. Looking for a fun night of music and entertainment in St. Charles? Walk the cobblestone streets of downtown St. Charles for Music on Main (every third Wednesday).
  6. Spend a warm summer night enjoying the sounds of the Alton Muny Band at Riverfront Park (June 4).
  7. Join thousands of fellow St. Louisans at the Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce Summer Concert Series for live music and nighttime entertainment (Tuesdays, June 2 – August 11).
  8. Enjoy live music among the animals at the St. Louis Zoo’s Jungle Boogie Concert Series (Fridays, May 22 – August 28).
  9. Looking for live music and good eats? Come out to Food Trucks in Frontier Park (June 16 & August 18).
  10. Bring your chairs, food and beverages to Lake Saint Louis’ Summer Concert Series full of music, dancing and fun (select Saturdays, May – September).
  11. Get ready to jam at Grafton’s Music in the Park (Thursdays, June 4 – August 6).
  12. Head out to Belleville, IL for a toe tappin’ good time at Eckert’s Summer Concert Series (select days, May 22 – September 5).
  13. Since 1976, the Compton Heights Concert Band has been performing free concerts in St. Louis. Bring a blanket and gather around the bandstand (Sundays and Mondays, June 28 – August 3).
  14. Snag some snacks and head out to Heman Park in University City for a night of music under the stars as part of their Starlight Concert Series (Mondays, June – August).
OTHER ENTERTAINMENT
  1. Relax and unwind with a one-hour yoga session at Busch Stadium (select dates April 8 – October 3)
  2. Browse more than 50 dealers with goods ranging from antiques and glassware to tools and furniture at the Grafton Riverside Flea Market (fourth weekend of every month, May – October).
  3. Bring your classic, antique or just plain cool ride up to the Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower in Hardford, IL for an evening car cruise (June 6).
  4. Melt your troubles away with Yoga at the Ritz (Saturdays, April 25 – October 3).
  5. Make a difference in the community by lending a hand through one of hundreds of volunteer opportunities available through STLVolunteer’s Summer Volunteering Guide.
  6. Ford enthusiast? Join hundreds of other local fans and their classic rides at the Blue Oral Rally in Hermann (May 21-23).
  7. See all the latest fashions at the South Grand Fashion Show (July 12).
OUTDOOR EXPLORATION (HIKING, CAMPING & MORE)
  1. Spend a weekend hiking, fishing, biking, camping and more at Route 66 State Park in Eureka.
  2. Spend a sunny afternoon picnicking in beautiful, historic Forest Park.
  3. Hike part of Powder Valley’s 112 acres of oak hickory forest or explore their Conservation Nature Center for a fun, educational experience.
  4. Take an afternoon to explore Maeystown, IL, a picturesque 19th century German village boasting historic homes, restaurants, specialty shops and scenic hiking.
  5. Unbury the history of a thriving ancient metropolis, Cahokia Mounds, which rivaled the largest cities in Europe at its time.
  6. Spend a sunny day spotting deer and bison at Lone Elk Park.
  7. Fish, boat, camp and hike along the same grounds American Indians once did at Horseshoe Lake State Park.
TOURS
  1. Got a sweet tooth? Take a tour of the Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate Factory and score a yummy sample.
  2. Learn about and tour the home of ragtime legend Scott Joplin.
  3. Visit St. Louis’ iconic Anheuser-Busch brewery, learn about the brewing process and see the famous Budweiser Clydesdales.
  4. Tour the historic Old Cathedral, constructed in the early 19th century.
  5. Prepare to be amazed by the world’s largest collection of mosaics at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.
  6. Take a step back in time and discover the fascinating history behind one of St. Louis’ famous families at Lemp Mansion.
  7. Tour Schlafly Bottleworks and learn about the history of beer in St. Louis.
  8. Learn about the nation’s 19th-century judiciary system at St. Louis’ historic Old Courthouse and take part in a trial reenactment.
  9. View the largest outdoor shrine in North America, Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows.
UNIQUE TO ST. LOUIS
  1. Score one of 1,500 free seats available at every summer Muny performance (first come, first served).
  2. Walk the halls and visit the shops inside St. Louis Union Station, what was once the largest and busiest passenger rail terminal in the world.
  3. Stroll through Citygarden, splash in the fountains, and download the free app for a self-guided, informative tour.
  4. Explore the historic Soulard Farmers Market.
  5. Watch dozens of balloons take flight at the oldest and most well-attended hot-air balloon event in the world, the Great Forest Park Balloon Race (September 18 – 19).
  6. Stroll Hollywood-esque sidewalks along the Louis Walk of Fame on Delmar Boulevard.
  7. Pay respect to many famous St. Louis icons including William Clark, Adolphus Busch, Thomas Hart Benton and William S. Burroughs at the Bellefontaine Cemetery.
  8. Throw on some red and explore impressive Ballpark Village, home to 250,000 square feet of retail shops, restaurants and entertainment venues.
  9. Spend the Fourth of July at Fair Saint Louis, featuring live music, educational activities, air shows and spectacular fireworks (July 2 – 4).
  10. Browse local fresh produce, crafts, baked goods, plants and flowers, handmade soaps, jewelry, artwork and pottery at the Alton Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market (June 10).

United Way of Greater St. Louis is not a sponsor of these events.

Abby Downs
Abby Downs is the communications coordinator in the Marketing and Communications Department of United Way of Greater St. Louis.

Comments (46)

  1. Rebecc says:

    While I do think this is a great list, there should be a section of “cheap but not free” things. Unless it’s changed recently, there isn’t an admission fee to Grant’s Farm but there is a fee to park. Just saying – it’s still cheap and fun but not free.

    • Abby Downs Abby Downs says:

      Great idea! We’ll have to consider making a “Cheap but Not Free” activities list in the future. Thanks for the suggestion.

  2. Tina says:

    Is that BaconFest date really right? I thought that was last year’s date and the website or Facebook page don’t seem to be updated for this year.

    • Abby Downs Abby Downs says:

      That’s a good question, Tina. According to their website, http://www.stlbaconfest.com/, it’s set for August 16. Whether this is truly this year’s date, we’ll have to keep our eyes and ears peeled for more info. Thanks for your interest.

  3. Dani says:

    This would be so much easier to read if there was a big calendar with the events placed on the appropriate dates after listing all the descriptions. It’s too scrambled up and out of order for me right now

  4. fishgaro says:

    Thanks for this wonderful list. I’ll bookmark it. You can add Chesterfield Amphitheatre. They host free movie nights under the stars at dusk on Fridays in June.

  5. Beth says:

    Abby-this list is GREAT! Thank you for the time you took putting it together! Can’t wait to enjoy several of these activities this summer ☀️

    • Abby Downs Abby Downs says:

      We’re happy to help make your summer fun and budget friendly, Beth. Thanks for the nice comment!

  6. John Hopkins says:

    Hi Abby! Thanks for compiling this great list my family and the guys at St Louis ARC will definitely put the items on this list to some good use. Take care and great job!

  7. Heather Mueller says:

    Great list Abby. Next year you may want to include the free concerts in the park at Creve Coeur Park in Maryland Heights.

  8. Rodney Dorsey says:

    As a visitor to the Greater St Louis area, I am happy to see a list of free and inexpensive events me and my family can attend and explore in and around the city. Thank you for your time and effort…I do agree that a Google calendar would make it even better for the future. Again great job

    • Abby Downs Abby Downs says:

      Adding a Google calendar is definitely something we’re looking into for the future. We’re glad to hear you and your family will find the list of use. Happy summer!

  9. Kristy says:

    Is there a list for 2016? I would like to bring some exchange students over spring break and I’m looking for ideas. Free and inexpensive things would be great. Thanks

    • Abby Downs Abby Downs says:

      Hi, Kristy: Thanks for your interest. While the festival dates change year to year, a majority of the general activities are ongoing. Hope this helps and you all have a great spring break!

  10. Julie Collins says:

    Lafayette Park has great concerts and movies in the park – always free! You can bring a picnic, lawn chairs, whatever. Kids love the movie nights. Very family-oriented and a lot of fun.

    • Abby Downs Abby Downs says:

      Trisha: Thanks for your interest. While we don’t have an updated list for 2016, a majority of the general activities are ongoing. Hope this helps. Have a great summer!

  11. Darla Turner says:

    Thank you so much for this list! There are things on here that I had no idea about. So thankful!!

  12. Tom Berning says:

    You do a great job of answering questions and just being positive, even when the comments are not. GREAT JOB!

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