St. Louis Attractions

Saint Louis Zoo

The most important thing you need to know about the Saint Louis Zoo is that the only thing stopping you from touching a penguin is one 70-year-old security guard trying to watch 30 people at once. You walk into the cave, past a live polar bear, and on either side there will be islands full of penguins! Big, small, tuxedo, the whole sha-bang! Around those islands is a little moat of water that’s only blocked off by a plexiglass wall that goes up to your belly button, so if you lean forward you are literally face-to-beak with a live penguin mid-swim! Then, in the next room they have puffins, which are basically penguins mixed with toucans. The two best birds, mixed together… it’s pretty wild. As if that wasn’t already solid enough, there’s a RED PANDA BEAR!! That’s in addition to all the basic zoo stuff, like tigers, bears, kangaroos, a monkey den, and Dippin’ Dots. Plus, every section is landscaped like the part of the world the animals live in. And admission is FREE!

— Griffin Plattner, M1

Once named the top free attraction in America, the Saint Louis Zoo boasts over 600 species of animals.

Forest Park is one of the gems of St. Louis, with countless scenic views.

Forest Park

If you don’t yet know about Forest Park, stop now and Google it, because one article won’t do it justice. Designed in the late 1800s, it has over 1,300 acres of beautiful scenery and nature, complete with museums, a science center, an outdoor theater,
golf courses and tennis courts, a great zoo, and all the trails for outdoor recreation you could possibly want. And, best of all, most things are free. In addition, concerts and other unique St. Louis traditions are hosted in the park throughout the year. Washington University is lucky to have such a resource in its backyard. Forest Park is the perfect counterbalance to the stress that accompanies medical school. After a long day (or week), go for a run or walk or bike ride around the park. You will feel totally removed from the daily grind of classes or the hospital. There is little that is more relaxing than that.

— Alex Yahanda, M1

City Museum

Interested in sliding down a 10-story slide? Crawling into the gaping mouth of a giant whale? Clambering through dimly lit caves and mazes in the ceiling? City Museum is the place to go! An experience for the explorer of all ages, City Museum hosts an eclectic whirlwind of activities, themed interactive décor and architectural ingenuity. It is entirely reconstituted from recycled material and reclaimed buildings, and promises hours of captivating entertainment; this I can promise you! I have thus far brought three visiting family members at different intervals to the Museum and STILL have yet to explore all that it has to offer. The City Museum will also definitely be one your first experiences in the city of St. Louis! As a potential or committed WUSM student you will have visited at least once during Second Look Weekend and/or during an evening of your first-year orientation.

— Natasha Kafai, M1

Embrace your inner child at City Museum as you climb around in an enormous jungle gym for adults.

Missouri Botanical Garden

The Missouri Botanical Garden is one of St. Louis’ many outdoor jewels, located a quick 10-minute drive south of campus near Tower Grove Park. The Garden is one of the oldest and most extensive in the country, featuring winding paths through trees, flowers and plants from around the world. (The Japanese Garden is my personal favorite). You will also find beautiful sculptures, ponds and an indoor Climatron. Admission is cheap ($4 for St. Louis residents), and the Garden has a surprisingly fantastic gift shop that sells the most adorable cacti. The Botanical Garden hosts excellent special events year-round, including weekly outdoor concerts in the summer, a beer festival in the fall and a light show in the winter. I’m not a botany enthusiast by any means, but I still enjoy going to the Botanical Garden once or twice a year for a relaxing afternoon outdoors (and some great people watching).

— Noah Eby, M1

The Chinese and Japanese Gardens at the Botanical Gardens are popular sites to visit year-round.

You haven’t gotten the full St. Louis experience until you’ve taken a touristy picture in front of the Arch.

The Gateway Arch

There’s nothing more iconically St. Louis than the Gateway Arch, so don’t let your time at WUSM fly by before actually making the trip to see it up close. It makes for a fun afternoon of playing tourist in your own city or of showing visiting friends around. Although currently undergoing some major renovations, visitors soon can once again climb into the tiny little elevator pods that take you up to the top. From there you can see a great view of the city and take some sweet photos. Back at the bottom, you can explore the museum and catch a documentary about why St. Louisans felt compelled to build a giant inverted weighted catenary arch on their riverfront.

— Sarah Mayer, M1