If we plan to pass near St. Louis, we always make time for a visit to the St. Louis Zoo. General admission is free, though there is a cost to park. There are separate fees for some of the attractions: Riding the carousel is $3/person, the sea lion show is $4/person, the children’s zoo is $4/person, the stingray exhibit is $4/person, and the Zooline railroad, which you can hop off and on all day, is $7.95/person. Children under 2 are free for all the above attractions. An Adventure Pass that covers the above attractions is available for sale; members of zoos on the AZA reciprocal list can buy up to four adventure passes for half-price.
You can enjoy some of these attractions without paying extra, however! The stingray exhibit and the children’s zoo are free for the first hour the zoo is open, and the carousel is free for its first hour of operation.
The St. Louis Zoo is home to over 14,000 animals, and everyone will have their own favorites. Ours is the penguin exhibit. Visitors enter a chilled building and walk through the center. On either side of the walkway are penguin habitats, giving visitors the chance to see the penguins up close. Because there are no barriers other than the clear front of the water tanks, there is a strong odor in the exhibit. This didn’t stop us from hanging out and spending time watching the penguins- and in Curly’s case, sketching them. A sweater or light fleece jacket is a must-have if you plan on spending time in the penguin house-it’s kept at a temperature comfortable for penguins, not people!
Another favorite exhibit was the bird house. The kids loved seeing native birds, and interpretive signs helped us identify and learn about specific species.
Whichever exhibit is your favorite, free admission means you can go again and again, and take your time exploring and learning!