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Best way to spend 5 l/2 hours at Forest Park, misc. ?s

sandy, utah
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Best way to spend 5 l/2 hours at Forest Park, misc. ?s

My husband, 3 kids ages 16, 19 and 22 and myself will be driving to St. Louis the evening of July 8th after touring the Springfield area. As soon as we get to St. Louis I thought we'd drive straight to the Gateway Arch Riverfront for some pictures and maybe go up the arch. Is there free evening parking near the arch? P.M. at the Hampton Inn near Forest Park. I'm wondering how best to allott our time (9, or earlier, to 2:30, in Forest Park the next day. Should we get there before 9 am when the zoo opens for some photo ops (where are the best ones?). If we arrive right when the zoo opens at 9 are there exhibits we should skip because the animals probably won't be visible? We're planning on parking at the free lot at the art museum and going in the closest zoo entrance. What are the must-sees and any suggestions on exhibit order at the zoo and minimum amount of time we should spend there? The St. Louis Art Museum and the Missouri History Museum also sound interesting. What would my kids like best or could we quickly go through each museum in about an hour? How much of a walk is it from the zoo to each museum? Or should we drive to the history museum from the art museum, hoping there's still an empty parking stall available? I'm assuming the St. Louis Science Center is for younger kids and we could probably skip that. Also, any suggestions for a quick and reasonably priced lunch in Forest Park based on our time constraints? We need to be at the nearby Cathedral of St. Louis at 2:45 for a tour and will leave for our 6 pm flight home to SLC after that. Thanks for any suggestions.

Saint Louis...
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1. Re: Best way to spend 5 l/2 hours at Forest Park, misc. ?s

Don't write the Science Center off yet. Your kids may like to do a Segway tour through Forest Park. There is also an IMAX theater that shows some decent films.

http://www.slsc.org/content.aspx?id=401

You could eat at the Forest Park Boathouse. Lunch will be around $10 pp. The Central West End neighborhood near the Cathedral has a St. Louis Bread Co (a.k.a Panera) with outdoor tables. Meals are $8-$10 pp.

St. Louis, Missouri
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2. Re: Best way to spend 5 l/2 hours at Forest Park, misc. ?s

I park on the street between the zoo and Art Museum for free. Arriving early is great - the animals get up with the sun, so don't worry about that. The first tier attractions for me are the chimps, the Rivers Edge (the Hippo pool is cool) and the Penguins. If you're kids are boys, they'll like the little insect house (not sure about the name...). My wife finds it very creepy - it's convenient to the Rivers Edge and can be quick (there is a buttefly house there too for Mom).

I recommend the history museum. Some nice displays on the 1904 World's fair and the history of St. Louis and its riverfront. It's definitely a modern museum - they continually update their displays. Parking might be a problem on a Saturday afternoon, otherwise it's not bad. The Art Museum is impressive, too, with works by Monet, Rembrandt...you could at least spend a half hour walking through while you're there, even if you just make it around the first floor. Modern works are upstairs (I say skip that part).

Saint Louis...
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3. Re: Best way to spend 5 l/2 hours at Forest Park, misc. ?s

Downtown parking meeters are free after 7:00 PM. For the Arch, I would look for parking on Market St near Keiner Plaza area. There should be plenty of good picture opportunities on the walk to the Arch.

For your day in Forest Park, the Zoo should open at 8. The new Stingray exhibit is free from 8-9 AM, So I would try to get there first. For other exhibits / animals it is hit or miss.

I agree with the suggestion for lunch at the boathouse, but it can get crowded so you may have to get there a little early.

The other museums are good, and it really depends on your kids' interests as to which ones they would enjoy. You may want to consider splitting up, because there is a lot to see in each one.

sandy, utah
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4. Re: Best way to spend 5 l/2 hours at Forest Park, misc. ?s

Thanks for the heads up about the zoo opening at 8 am effective 5/22. That will give us an extra hour to play before our flight home.

5. Re: Best way to spend 5 l/2 hours at Forest Park, misc. ?s

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