As a mom, I feel a certain obligation to make my children’s summer vacation epic. I remember as a child being anxious to go back to school just 2 weeks into summer vacation because I was bored. I don’t want my kids to go into another school year having just lounged around the house watching TV and eating too many potato chips, so I make a dedicated effort to do as many fun things as possible, while not going into debt.
As we wind into the final weeks of the summer and the budget has been tapped out by “Pretty Princess” Camp, Six Flags season passes and $14 day passes to the water park, weekend day trips focus on being fun and most importantly free. Fortunately there are a lot of great options in St. Louis, especially for the younger group; Purina Farms is a favorite.
Located in Gray Summit, MO, it’s around a 30 minute drive from St. Louis, but once you’re there, it’s an incredible hands on learning experience and play time with a petting area in the barn where kids can get up close with baby pigs, chicks, and a super fluffy bunny! They have cow milking demonstrations where kids (and adults) are given the opportunity to milk the cow. Other animals you’ll find in the barn are horses, sheep, calves, and a donkey. Upstairs are mini tractors on a hay course for the little ones to race, a tunnel maze through bails of hay, and a great rope swing.
Of course it wouldn’t be Purina Farms, a.k.a. giant pet food company, without your domestic animals too. Besides the 3 story cat house, probably the most exciting part of the visit is the dog show. Workers bring their own pets to complete agility courses, choreographed Frisbee routines, and even doggie diving. Most of these dogs are rescues, which makes their feats even more incredible. You can usually catch a standard dog show in the arena too, where you’ll find breed competitions with overly primped pooches.
Of course, if adorable animals aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other great free, or nearly free things to do in and around the St. Louis area like: playing in the fountains of City Garden, climbing into the tree pod at Laumeier Sculpture Park, investigating DNA at the Science Center, visiting the Clydesdale horses at Grant’s Farm, exploring the local wildlife at Powder Valley Nature center, spotting buffalo at Lone Elk Park, or visiting the spotted owl at World Bird Sanctuary. Of course, there is always the best free Zoo in the country to peruse as well!
What’s that? You say you don’t have kids but still want some great free activities? How about an AB Brewery Tour with free samples? Classic and modern art pieces at the recently renovated Art Museum? Local and national history at the St. Louis History Museum? The options are vast, so grab your fanny pack and get out for a little stay-cation at some of St. Louis’ great free attractions!