The St. Louis Zoo offers free admission. The tips offered below will help you save money on everything else while you’re there.
A free visit to the St. Louis Zoo is seldom a reality. It is free to enter the St. Louis Zoo but most of the popular activities and exhibits within the St. Louis Zoo are not free. It is possible for visitors to the St. Louis Zoo to have a fun-filled day for free but it is unlikely.
Taking the time to read about some little known Zoo facts can make your visit closer to free.
Your visit to the St. Louis Zoo will start with parking unless you use public transportation. Free parking is available on the Forest Park streets surrounding the St. Louis Zoo. Paid parking is available on the St. Louis Zoo North and South lots for $10 per day or $20 for buses, motor homes and RVs (South Lot Only). Free street parking around the St. Louis Zoo fills up early in the morning so arriving early is key to getting a free parking spot for your day at the St. Louis Zoo.
Visitors should make certain not to miss watching the Sea Lions at Feeding Time. When you arrive at the St. Louis Zoo just ask when the feeding time will be or stop by the exhibit and check the sign. Arriving a few minutes early will guarantee a great location to watch this free show.
The cost for food and beverages at the St. Louis Zoo can add up quickly. Fortunately for visitors, the St. Louis Zoo allows visitors to bring in food and drinks. Families with strollers or wagons are often seen with coolers stowed around the kids. A quick snack or cool beverage can be just the thing to revive a tired group. Many of us bring full picnic lunches that we either eat at tables inside the St. Louis Zoo or enjoy at one of the picnic tables located around Forest Park.
For families, it is helpful to know that children under 2 are admitted free to most of the attractions and exhibits that require a fee.
Many of the exhibits and attractions at the St. Louis Zoo require a purchased ticket. Prices range from $2 to $5. The St. Louis Zoo offers early visitors a special bonus. During the first hour after opening, visitors to the Zoo enjoy the Children’s Zoo, Dinorarus and the Conservation Carousel for free. Unfortunately it is unlikely you’ll have enough time enjoy all three of these within an hour so if one is more important to your family head there first. Enjoying two for free is very possible if you choose the Conservation Carousel first and then head for one of the others since you just have to be inside before the first hour is over.
If you are a new visitor to the St. Louis Zoo you may think that you’ll need to purchase tickets to the special exhibits and attractions in order to experience a full day of fun. The truth is that the St. Louis Zoo is so large and has so many free exhibits that you could spend more than a day just looking at the free ones.
The attractions and exhibits at the St. Louis Zoo that charge a fee are:
The Children’s Zoo ($4)
Conservation Carousel ($2)
Dinorarus ($1.50 – $3)
Zooline Railroad ($5)
Sea Lion Show ($3)
Wild Ride Motion Simulator ($3)
3D Movie ($4)
Nearly all visitors to the St. Louis Zoo enjoy a ride on the Zooline Railroad. Any visitors with kids should also plan to see The Children’s Zoo and the Sea Lion Show. Kids also love the Conservation Carousel so be prepared for a ride if they spot it.
Remember that the Children’s Zoo, Conservation Carousel and Dinorarus are free for visitors during the first hour the St. Louis Zoo is open each day.
If you want to keep the cost of your St. Louis Zoo visit as low as possible plan to arrive early, get free parking on the street, stop at the Conservation Carousel and then head for The Children’s Zoo or Dinorarus. That will start you off saving the $10 parking and up to $6 per person.
If you don’t expect to arrive early enough to enjoy the free hour at opening there are still ways to save on your ticket prices.
The St. Louis Zoo offers a Safari Pass for visitors to the Zoo. A Safari Pass is good for one day only. The current cost of a Safari Pass is $10 per person. Visitors purchasing the St. Louis Zoo Safari Pass receive a wristband that admits them to the Children’s Zoo, the Zooline Railroad, the Conservation Carousel, the Sea Lion Show, the Wild Ride Motion Simulator and the 3D Movie. If purchased separately your cost would be $21 per person. Truthfully, most visitors don’t do all of these things during one visit to the Zoo but even if you only do three of these activities the Safari Pass has saved you money.
Another option for family visitors is to purchase a St. Louis Zoo membership. The Zoo-Goer Membership level at the St. Louis Zoo allows members 36 passes that can be used The Children’s Zoo, the Zooline Railroad and the Sea Lion Show. It also includes a 10% discount at St. Louis Zoo gift shops and at some of the food and beverage locations within the Zoo. It also includes free parking six times per year. If you plan to park in one of the St. Louis Zoo parking lots you can pay your parking fee and you will be able to apply the fee toward the membership cost. Currently the Zoo-Goer Membership cost is $60. If you plan to park and are a family of four who will not arrive for the free bonus hour and plan to visit all three of these attractions than you would pay $58 out of pocket. If you have five or more in your group who all want to visit all three of these than you will save money by purchasing a membership even if you do get free parking. A membership also allows discounted entrance to Dinorarus.
The St. Louis Zoo also offers a Family Membership level. Purchase of this package is currently $80. The Family Membership includes 48 passes. This level of membership offers all the benefits of the Zoo-Goer and includes the option of passes for the Conservation Carousel.
If your family is planning to visit the St. Louis Zoo, take time to plan your visit. Knowing the various packages available and when extras are free can make a big difference in how much your free visit to the St. Louis Zoo ends up costing.
No matter how it adds up, the St. Louis Zoo is worth the visit – you’ll be seeing one of the top zoos in the country.