The best known attraction in St. Louis is, hands down, the Gateway Arch. And no matter what people say, you don’t have to be a tourist to go visit it. Kids love seeing the Arch up close–its just so…dang…big.
The Gateway Arch is part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, which makes it a National Park. It’s been there since the 1965 and it’s 630 feet tall and 630 feet wide with about 190 tons of stainless steel. And yes, it does sway in the wind. But just a little bit.
Arch Construction Disruption!
Also, the Arch grounds are experiencing a lengthy remodeling project that making visiting the Arch…interesting. Right now the visitor’s center is located in the Old Courthouse next door–see the cool domed building in the photo? That’s the courthouse. You’ll need to visit there first for your tickets and to check out the museum exhibits. The underground museum is closed for construction, so the only thing you’ll see is the tram entrance and the new gift shop.
The old parking garage to the north of the Arch has been torn down to make room for more green space and cool park features. You now need to park downtown. I did the math once, and the length of your walk is the same if you park at the Stadium East garage. So no biggie.
Can I get Free Tickets?
Yes, there are coupons available for free kids tickets! Kids are anyone under 15, and children 2 and under are always free. There are two kinds of tickets: a Journey to the Top ticket for people who want to ride to the top of the Arch, and entrance only ticket for people who just want to enter the basement and poke around the gift shop. Since the museum (temporarily located in Old Courthouse) is free, there’s not much reason to enter the Arch unless you’re riding the tram.
The “entry only” tickets are $3 for adults over 16 and free for anyone under 16. Tram ride tickets are $10 for kids 3-15 and $13 for adults over 16. You need one or the other, not both tickets. You can now use COUPON CODES when you buy your tickets online.
Parking is also going to cost you, especially since the city decided to get rid of free street parking on weekends. I recommend the Stadium East garage, but you might score a metered spot along Market Street or nearby.
Of course you could always visit the Arch without going inside, in which case you’d only pay for parking. But what fun is that?
The Arch gets pretty crowded during the summer months when there are a lot of out-of-town visitors. The best time for locals to visit the Arch would be during the winter, spring and fall. Or just be ready for a crowd if you go in the summer!
Security is tight at the Arch (something about it being a national landmark and all that) so expect airport level security. You’ll go through a metal detector and can not bring anything pointy and menacing–like a pocket knife–into the Arch.