Think a visit to the St. Louis Science Center is going to cost a bundle? It doesn’t have to!
What’s Free at the Saint Louis Science Center?
- Admission to the Science Center is FREE.
- Parking at the Forest Park entrance is FREE.
- Main gallery exhibits are FREE
- Science demonstrations are FREE
Yes, there are tickets to buy if you want to see a movie in the OmniMax Theater or visit whatever special traveling exhibit is currently on display. There’s also a charge for the Planetarium star show, the Discovery Room for little kids and the flight simulators for big kids. Other costs you could run into (or try to avoid) is the Build-a-Bear store, the gift shop full of science toys and the café. There’s also toy tractors to ride (for a fee) at the outdoor GROW exhibit.
That might sound like a lot, but seriously, most of the exhibits–and tons of hands-on-activities–are free. You can spend hours at the Science Center without spending a dime.
Where is the Science Center’s Free Parking?
The free lot is inside Forest Park at the Planetarium, at Clayton Ave and Faulkner Drive. This is the oldest part of the Science Center–the original building–and is connected to the new building by a tunnel and skywalk across Hwy 40/64. You can only access the tunnel from inside the Planetarium.
As you can see from the Google satellite image above, the free lot is pretty small. But it’s worth the $10-12 savings to take a peek.
If there are no spots available inside Forest Park, you can get to the main lot in about 5 minutes. Just take Clayton to Hospital Drive, right on S. Kingshighway, then right again on Oakland Ave.
There’s even links to all the statues and monuments in the park, like the Apotheosis of St. Louis (AKA King Louis IX front of the Art Museum), Senator Blair (who watches the park’s western entrance at Lindell) and a Spanish cannon named The Inspector.
How can I save on Food at the Science Center?
There’s no outside food allowed INSIDE the Science Center, but there are a couple places to purchase food. The Science Cafe and EZ Pizza offer meals year round, the Loft has theater style snacks year round, and the Fermentation Station (outside by GROW) is open seasonally. I can recommend the snacks–they’re pretty huge and what we’ve tried was tasty–but most of the food is overpriced and reheated concession stand fare.
Your best bet is to pack a picnic, leave it in your car, and pop out to enjoy it after (or in the middle) of your visit. There are picnic tables by the Science Center front entrance and near the outside dinosaurs on the Planetarium side. There’s also plenty of green space on Planetarium side to spread out a picnic blanket. Just don’t wander onto the archery range.
Why is the Science Center free?
The St. Louis Science Center is part of the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District, which is supported by a property tax of about 28 cents per $100 assessed valuation (as of 2017) from St. Louis City and County residents. So if you live in the city or county and have a home valued at $100,000 (if my math is correct) you’ve already paid $280 to support the Science Center, the Zoo, the Art Museum, the Missouri History Museum and the Botanical Garden. So feel free to enjoy a free visit!