If you’re looking for a cool place to take the RV is summer, look no further. Whether you’re full-timing, going for the ultimate summer road trip, or simply want to get away from the weekend, St. Louis, Missouri is your place.
Sure, this isn’t the most obvious place to add to your summer bucket list, but based on the experience my family had recently, it’ll definitely earn its place there. This city is beautiful, diverse, and packed with stuff to do.
Want to know why you should hit up the Gateway to the West this camping season? Read on!
1. Easy on the wallet
In my humble opinion, St. Louis is one of the most budget-friendly cities in the US. The cost of living in this city is minuscule when compared to other popular cities such as San Francisco, Chicago, and NYC. On top of that, the place is filled to the brim with amazing free things to see and do.
The St. Louis Zoo is one of the best zoos we have ever visited. It has all kinds of unusual animals including a nice penguin exhibit. The cost to enter? Absolutely nothing!
Other free attractions include the awesome St. Louis Science Center, the St. Louis Art Museum, Missouri Botanical Garden, and the Missouri Museum. The MUNY is another fabulous option during the summer when they do outdoor musical productions and offer 1500 seats per show free of charge. Show up early though, because those seats go fast!
2. Great camping options
Of course, you’ll be bringing your RV along on your St. Louis adventure, and that means you’ll need to find a suitable place to park it. Luckily, there are options for every kind of camper in the St. Louis area. Here are a few favorites:
State park camping is best for those who prefer to be in the middle of nature. These parks are typically very budget-friendly and are great for campers who want a true camping experience.
There are several state parks surrounding St. Louis, but the closest and one of the nicest is Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park. This park is gorgeous and offers plenty of hiking opportunities. It’s also a mere 45 minutes outside of the city, meaning you can have the best of both worlds when staying here.
Dry camping in the city, (aka “city-docking”) is the perfect option if you’re on a super tight budget and only have a few days to stay anyway. Generally speaking, it’s hard to find places that’ll let you drop your trailer or motorhome off while you explore the city, but with a little searching, you may find some locations that’ll allow it.
Hollywood Casino St. Louis is one of those rare gems that does allow full-fledged city-docking and doesn’t mind if you drop off an RV for the day. This is really just a parking lot, and they do require visitors to let the hotel know they’ll be staying and give the casino some business (even eating a meal there would be fine), but it’s free and near attractions!
Last but not least is the typical private park. These are found all around the St. Louis area, and most are wonderful places to stay.
However, some are better than others, and one of the best is St. Louis West KOA. This campground is clean, friendly, and has all the usual amenities. That said, it is on the pricey side.
3. Rich history
Not many people realize that St Louis has an incredibly rich history. This city was once considered the Gateway to the West, as it was the last “big city” stop for pioneers headed into untamed wilderness. For this reason, there is a ton of great history surrounding the city, including the fact that it was the starting and ending point for the Lewis and Clark expedition of the early 1800s.
You can dive into the history of the city by visiting the aforementioned Missouri Museum and the Old Courthouse. Both offer free admission, and both are fascinating and educational places to spend a few hours.
If you’ll be visiting with kids, I highly recommend reading a bit about St. Louis history before your trip in order to give them something to relate back to during your visit to these museums.
Speaking of kids, you’ll find during your visit that St. Louis is an incredibly kid-friendly place. There are also tons of attractions aimed specifically at families and kids that they’ll love even more.
Let’s begin with The Gateway Arch. This iconic attraction is a must-see for anyone who visits St. Louis. A visit to this monument is a wonderful reminder of the role St. Louis played in westward expansion and a great lesson in geometry and architecture, but it is also extremely fun. Riding to the top of such a tall structure and looking down on the city is exciting and something the kids will remember forever.
The St. Louis Zoo was mentioned before but needs to be brought up again as it is the perfect family-friendly activity in St. Louis. Seriously, this zoo is a must-see. The sheer number of animals available for viewing is impressive and the staff is top notch.
Another great attraction for those with young kids is the Magic House. This children’s museum features and entire kid-sized town where young visitors can experiment with being an adult by changing tires, running a restaurant, or working as a cashier.
Finally, no article about St. Louis would be complete without mention of City Museum. This place is absolutely incredible and is fun for kids and adults alike. Rather than a traditional museum, this attraction is more akin to a playground—a gigantic playground that is, with secret tunnels, countless slides, and several different themed rooms (including a cave and an under-the-sea section). There is a mini train that kids can ride on, along with a ten-story slide.
Don’t get me wrong, City Museum is educational in that it requires visitors to exercise problem-solving skills left and right, but it is far from traditional.
5. Perfectly sized city
My final point is simply that this city is the perfect size. It’s big enough to be considered a “big city” and has the numerous attractions, public transit, and big-name sports team to go along with that distinction. However, it is actually on the small end of big cities, meaning traffic jams are fewer, people are friendlier, and the overall vibe is not nearly as rushed as other large cities.
There you have it, folks! These are the top 5 reasons we love St. Louis. We hope you visit soon so you can see how wonderful it is for yourself!