St Louis Zoo
Location: 1 Government Drive; St Louis, MO 63310
Price: Admission is free
Smashed Penny Machine: Yes, several located throughout the park
The St Louis Zoo is a very large zoo. It is located in St Louis’s historic Forest Park just off of I-64 a little West of downtown. Admission to the zoo is completely free. There are several attractions in the zoo that cost an additional fee: Railroad ($7.95/all-day pass), Sea Lion Show ($4), Children’s Zoo ($4), Stingray Petting ($4/person, $1/food cup), Carousel ($3/ride; adults must pay to accompany child), 4D Theater ($5) – if you are planning on doing more than one get an Adventure Pass ($12.95/person) at the front gate that gives you access to each of these. There is also a $15 fee for parking at either zoo parking lot. The zoo is part of Forest Park so you can park your car anywhere parking is legal in the park for free. However, parking near the zoo fills up very quickly on weekends and in the summer.
We entered the zoo at the South Entrance. If you are wanting to purchase the Adventure Pass, you’ll do that at the windows before you enter the zoo. There are bathrooms just to the left of the gift shop (also to your left). A map kiosk and an information booth is just to your right. We headed to the right to the historic area of the zoo. The hill is a pretty steep climb so I always choose to tour this part of the zoo either first thing or later in the afternoon to avoid hiking it in the heat of the day. There are two indoor exhibits here: the reptile house and the monkey house. Both are good ways to spend time if the weather isn’t cooperating with you.
We worked our way counter-clockwise through the zoo. Because we had arrived a little later than we had originally planned (traffic coming into the zoo – this was the first day in weeks where the Midwest wasn’t melt your face hot with 900% humidity so the zoo was VERY busy), we stopped at East Refreshments on the top of Historic Hill for a lite lunch. We split a cheese burger basket and a chicken strip basket between the four of us. Both came with a side of fries and a small drink. It was plenty of food to share and was reasonably priced (for a zoo) costing us just under $20. The seating here is all outdoors and partially shaded at noon.
One thing I would highly suggest is investing in a Zoo sipper cup. Currently they are $10.99 per cup with $1.00 refills. If you park in the parking lot, you will get a $1 off coupon to use. Also these cups NEVER expire. So if you are like us and live semi close (we visit about once a year), you can bring the cup back and still get $1.00 refills. We buy just one cup and share it but there are discounts if you buy multiple cups at a time.
Our favorite exhibits when the weather gets warm are the penguin/puffins coast and the polar bear. Both have indoor viewing. Penguin and Puffin Coast is kept at a temperature that the penguins like so it’s always nice and chilly inside (just a warning exiting this exhibit you are dropped right into the middle of a gift shop theme park style). Sea Lion Sound also has indoor viewing (a tunnel under the enclosure). Check your times on your map, if you are within 10 minutes of the next Sea Lion feeding don’t go into the tunnels. The Sea Lions go to where they’ll be fed waiting on the keeper and you can’t see them from within the tunnel. Both of these attractions can see lines during busy visit days. Waits typically aren’t more than 10-15 minutes.
We ended our day with a ride on the Zoo Train. The train makes a full loop of the zoo (including 3 well-lit tunnels). There are stops in all the major areas of the zoo (Historic Hill, Red Rocks, Lakeside Crossing, River’s Edge, The Wild, Discover Corner) and tickets are good for all day riding so you could use the train to travel around the zoo. On busy days the waits to board can be fairly long (we waited about 30 minutes).
Overall: There is a lot to see and do at the St Louis Zoo. Its 100% worth the stop if you are in the area or can make a day trip of it. Plan to spend a minimum of 3 hours here to see everything. We love this zoo and make a tradition of coming over every year.