The St. Louis Zoo really needs to be at the top of your list if you’re visiting St. Louis. We live Tennessee and have a membership at Nashville Zoo which we love. I was skeptical that the St. Louis Zoo could be better or different than our beloved zoo, and I was pleasantly surprised.
The zoo is huge. We didn’t come anywhere near seeing it all the day we went. I don’t even know that we saw half! You almost need to look at a map before you go and plan what you want to see the most that day, then plan on coming again in the future to see everything else.
My niece was our amazing tour guide for the day. She grew up in St. Louis and lives right outside of St. Louis so they have been fairly regularly. We were able to see some of the animal feedings and interactions with the trainers which was really neat.
There is a train that routes around the entire zoo, which is a real lifesaver and can save you many footsteps. You do need to know it is popular! We had to wait between 5 and 20 minutes each time we rode the train.
Go early. Arriving when the zoo opens will allow you to avoid crowds. It was definitely more crowded toward the end of our time than when we got there. I would also say to go on a weekday. We have not been on the weekend, but I can imagine it would be more crowded on those days.
The zoo is free! What the what? They could easily charge for admission or membership but they don’t.
They DO make money. Food, train rides, carousel, souvenirs and all the extras will cost you. Particularly the animal encounters. To save money you may want to consider packing your own lunches and snacks. We totally tailgated in the parking lot!
Animal encounters. I want to go back to the St. Louis Zoo for this reason alone. While we were there, we noticed several zoo patrons getting to have special experiences that the rest of us weren’t. When we saw the sea lion show, there was a young lady in the audience who was able to go behind the scenes and work with the sea lions. They trained her to do some tricks with them. I was honestly jealous! But then we read anyone could do them if you pay!
At the children’s zoo I saw a little girl who got to go back where the food is prepared for the animals and she was able to handle an baby owl. I want to handle a baby owl!
We did the stingray experience which ended up being the coolest part of our visit. You get to feed them and pet them! I was a little nervous about it but if you follow their instructions and do it correctly, you will not get stung. And the baby rays were so adorable!
There are SO many experiences offered and animals you can see up close and personal: big cats, giraffes, sloths, penguins and more. The good news is that anyone can do these. You have to schedule them in advance and there is a cost. We will definitely book one of these experiences next time we go!