Art & History Museums
Forest Park is often called the "heart of St. Louis." Designed by the same landscape architect behind New York City's Central Park, this park covers 1,371 acres and houses several St. Louis institutions, including the Science Center, Art Museum, Zoo, and History Museum. General admission to each is free, and parking is free everywhere in the (large) park except the zoo lot. There's something for everyone at the Saint Louis Art Museum (including suits of armor and mummies), and the History Museum has three permanent exhibitions on Missouri's history, as well as two thematic exhibitions that rotate periodically.
Bonus: If you're an art lover, you can also check out the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, Contemporary Art Museum, Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum (at Washington University), Museum of Contemporary Religious Art (at Saint Louis University), the St. Louis Mercantile Library (at the University of Missouri–St. Louis) or one of the many galleries located throughout the city.
Free – $
See the famous Budweiser Clydesdales and enjoy beer samples during free tours of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. If you want to go deeper than the complimentary tour, you can purchase tickets for a Day Fresh or Beermaster tour.
Bonus: If you're not a Bud fan, there are plenty of local craft breweries to check out, like 4 Hands, Urban Chestnut, Civil Life, and Schlafly. And Brick River Cider Company is great for hard cider fans!
Missouri Botanical Gardens
The Missouri Botanical Garden is the oldest continually-operating botanical garden in the United States. Its 79 acres include a Japanese strolling garden, Henry Shaw's original 1850 estate home, and one of the world's largest collections of rare and endangered orchids. During the summer, the Whitaker Concert Series is held in the gardens every Wednesday evening with free admission. And just like at Opera Theatre, bringing your own picnic is not only allowed, but encouraged!
The Cathedral Basilica contains one of the largest collections of mosaics in the Western Hemisphere. The Basilica is open daily from 7 a.m. – 5 p.m., with guided tours available weekdays from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Visit their website for more information!
Bonus: If you love history and architecture, you may also enjoy an architectural walking tour of downtown St. Louis. Tours are generally scheduled on Saturday mornings at 10 a.m., but special tours are available for groups of five or more.