Visiting the St. Louis Aquarium & Union Station With Kids
We live just a few hours from the St. Louis Aquarium and Union Station, so it’s an easy day trip for us to take as a family. We’ve been twice since they opened, so here’s all the info you need for your visit!
St. Louis Aquarium – Quick Details
Cost: The cost is $25/adult, $18/kids and free/2 & under. You can buy a combo pass for the aquarium, ferris wheel, mirror maze, mini golf and carousel for $45/ adults and $35/kids 2+. That saves you close to $20/person if you’re planning on doing all the activities.
Parking: There is plenty of parking on site. Remember to get your tickets stamped at the aquarium, and parking is only $5 when you exit!
Strollers: The aquarium is stroller-friendly. All the other activities have places to park your strollers before you get on.
Entry Times: When you purchase tickets, you choose a time – 15 minute increments – to enter. On busy days – weekends, holidays, and summer – they do sell out, and you do have to enter during your time slot. We were there during a school weekday, and no time slot sold out, so there was a sign that said ‘accepting all times.’
What’s at the St. Louis Aquarium
They’ve added quite a bit since we went in 2020, and we had a great time with everything!
Train Ride Experience:
When you first enter the aquarium, you board a ‘train’ that takes you on a ride through St. Louis, up in the air, and then underground to see all of Missouri’s underwater life. Camden kept asking “Is this real?” over and over.
The otters are my favorite. You can view their underwater swimming area downstairs and they’re so playful! There’s also an interactive show featuring the otters downstairs, and when you head upstairs, there are feeding shows and critter chats in the above-ground portion of their enclosure.
There is one touch tank downstairs, featuring ‘kissing fish.’
You can watch an employee hold food over the spitting fish tank and see the fish spit to knock down their food. Upstairs there are 3 touch tanks: starfish/sea snails, sting rays/sharks, and MOON JELLIES (jellyfish).
Cam could have spent hours (he did spend almost an hour) going between the 3 tanks and petting them.
Kid’s Play Area:
There is a long water table for the kids to play in by the touch tanks upstairs. Also, there’s an entire kids’ play area, with crawl tunnels, ocean-themed play options, coloring, dress up and more.
Probably Camden’s favorite tank to look in was the shark tank. You can view it from three peepholes on the way to it, and then watch from a floor to ceiling glass wall. After that, you’ll walk through the octopus and jellyfish on the way to the exit.
We thought we’d only be there about an hour, but Camden and Lawson loved it all so much that we were there almost 2 1/2 hours!
Other Activities at Union Station
The St. Louis Wheel
We rode the huge St. Louis wheel during an off time when school was in session. When you purchase tickets, it says you’ll go around 3-4 times, but since it was practically empty, we got to go around 7 times! If you’re enjoying the experience, that’s a great surprise!
Camden is at that beautiful age where every carousel is the neatest thing ever. Both he and Lawson enjoyed it. It was just like any other carousel we’ve ridden; nothing special, but perfect for the littles. ($5/person)
There’s a cute little mini golf course next to the carousel and playground. It’s included in the combo ticket, or it $10/person. We didn’t play because the boys were tired.
FYI: No strollers are allowed in the mirror maze.
The mirror maze is World Fair themed, and it leads you to a few different rooms with interactive activities. It was okay – I was glad it was included in the combo ticket, because I’m not sure it was really worth $8/person on its own.
The ropes course is inside Union Station; when we were on the second floor of the aquarium, we were watching people climb through it. There is apparently also a small, low to the ground, toddler course as well. It looks neat! ($15/person & $5/under 5)
Free Activities at Union Station
Koi Fish Pond + Fire Show
Camden loved watching all the big koi fish in the huge pond and walking the boardwalk around the border. You can pay extra for fish food, but watching them is free. There are lots of deck chairs around to sit and enjoy. We brought our lunch and sat by the pond to watch the fish while we ate.
The playground is train themed, and perfect for kids under 8. There is a train with climbers and slides, and then one to pretend to drive.
A couple of benches are set up there, so parents can sit down and watch (if you’re not chasing a 1 year old all over!)
When you enter the building at Union Station, there’s a conservation center to the right. It’s mostly informational, but take a look where the tables and chairs are. There are fish coloring pages and crayons. Color your fish, then slip it into the machine and watch your fish come to life on the screen! This was a huge hit with Camden and sort of a hidden gem – so don’t miss it!
Eating at the St. Louis Aquarium & Union Station
We actually brought our lunch, so we sat in the beach chairs by the huge koi pond and watched the fish while we ate. There is also fire show once an hour, so that was some extra fun entertainment.
You can’t take food into the aquarium, but the parking lot is right there, so we just went back and grabbed our insulated bag after we were done at the aquarium.
There are numerous restaurants onsite, like Landry’s (you can see in the photo above) – an upscale seafood joint – and a 1950’s diner. Near the carousel and wheel, there’s a taco truck that looked delicious; and each taco was $3-4, so pretty reasonable.
We grabbed coffee, cookies, and stuffed cupcakes from Cookies & Cupcakes, located right outside the aquarium. The cookies and cupcakes were so good – the lemon cooler was amazing! – and the coffee was decent.
Worth the Trip!
Overall, we spent about 4ish hours at the St. Louis Aquarium and Union Station, but if we’d played mini golf and done the ropes course, we could have spent a lot more time there! If you’re headed to St. Louis or live within day-trip distance, it is definitely worth a visit!