Earlier this month, I flew to St. Louis to run the GO! St. Louis Half Marathon with a friend. I also got to play tourist in this town with my friend’s family, spending the afternoon after the race at the Gateway Arch. It’s definitely a must-visit, but more so for the many ways you and your family can enjoy the Gateway Arch. Here are 10 of my favorites:
1. Take a Sightseeing Cruise. Hop aboard a riverboat at Gateway Arch Riverboats for a one-hour sightseeing cruise. You and your kids will learn all about the Gateway Arch, as well as the history of St. Louis and the Mississippi River.
2. Ride the Tram to the Top of the Arch. For beautiful panoramic views of St. Louis, buy a ticket for Journey to the Top to ride a tram to the top of the 630-foot tall Gateway Arch. Believe it or not, you can see up to 30 miles on a clear day.
3. Get into the Child’s Pose. Every Saturday between May 3 and June 28, head to the Gateway Arch at 9 am for a free one-hour yoga class. Bring your own yoga mat and be sure to print out a free parking voucher online before you go (search Special Events by class date to obtain your parking pass).
4. Explore the Museum of Westward Expansion. Your kids will love checking out the Conestoga wagon, stagecoach and teepee, among other displays at the Museum of Westward Expansion. Located just under the Arch, children will learn how early pioneers and explorers forged our nation.
5. Earn a Junior Ranger Badge. Stop by the information desk to pick up a Junior Ranger activity booklet. Your child will work on various activities in the booklet (depending on his or her age) to earn a badge from the park ranger upon completion. Junior Ranger patches can be purchased in the gift shop.
6. Watch a Movie. There are two movies running to help you learn more about the Gateway Arch, as well as the expedition of Lewis and Clark. Monument to the Dream focuses on the construction and symbolism of the Arch. Lewis and Clark, Great Journey West, highlights the explorers’ adventures.
7. Take a Walking Tour. Between May 31 and June 30, take an Arch Grounds Walking Tour to learn more about the Gateway Arch. Tours leave at 10:30 am each day. Or, take an Architecture Tour or a Visual Arts Tour, both of which start at the Arch and make their way through three miles of St. Louis.
8. Go on a Scavenger Hunt. You and your kids will love learning more about pioneers, exploration and the Gateway Arch by going on a scavenger hunt through the Museum of Westward Expansion. Print out the scavenger hunt sheet and make 12 stops around the museum. You can also print the answer key.
9. Go for a Run. Explore the Gateway Arch as a family by running on one of four short running trails. The trails range from .4 miles to 1.7 miles so this is doable for even the littlest members of your family. Or, take a walk or a bike ride along the trails.
10. Take a Helicopter Tour. Enjoy the views of the Arch from up above by taking a helicopter ride with Gateway Helicopter Tours. The cost is $35 per person, but the ride is only three minutes, which may be enough to see the Gateway Arch and St. Louis Riverfront from the sky.
As a bonus, since the Gateway Arch is operated by the National Park Service, you can save money on the films and tram tour during Fee Free Days, such as the National Park Service’s 98th Birthday on August 25. On these days, you’ll save the $3 park entrance fee that’s tacked onto each tram and movie ticket.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary overnight stay at the Drury Plaza Hotel at the Arch in St. Louis. However, all opinions expressed here are my own.