Are you getting ready for memorable family adventure at Gateway Arch National Park?
Our ultimate family guide has you covered!
Discover top tips, must-see attractions, and everything you need to know to plan an incredible family visit to Gateway Arch National Park.
St. Louis Arch Location
The St. Louis Arch is located in downtown St. Louis along the banks of the Mississippi riverfront.
This incredible monument stands tall and its unique location, slightly elevated on a hill, adds to its iconic and symbolic look.
The Arch is just 1.5 miles from Busch Stadium, 2.5 miles from Union Station, and 3 miles from the City Museum.
CHECK OUT THE CITY MUSEUM: St. Louis City Museum
St. Louis Arch Parking
On the Gateway Arch website, it suggests utilizing the InterPark Stadium East Parking garage.
This garage is located at 200 S Broadway Street.
At this garage, visitors can park for up to 5 hours for a total of $9.
Make sure to get your parking validated inside of the visitor center at Gateway Arch National Park if you did not pre-pay for it here.
The walk from this parking garage will take you about 10 minutes.
St. Louis has additional parking lots for visitors to use as well, but they will not be at this discounted rate.
DISCOVER HOTELS NEAR THE ARCH: Drury Plaza Hotel St. Louis as the Arch
Best Time to Visit the St. Louis Arch
There are pros and cons for visiting the Arch during different times of the year.
Summer is the most popular time to visit.
If you are visiting during baseball season, I suggest planning around the Cardinals’ home game schedule unless you are planning to go to a game too!
Fall is also a gorgeous time to visit St. Louis as well as the Spring.
Wintertime in St. Louis can be hit or miss.
St. Louis can have some mild weather during the wintertime but it can also be cold and snowy.
My favorite times to visit St. Louis are on summer weekdays as well as in the fall.
FAMILY FUN IN ST. LOUIS: The Best St. Louis Family Vacation
Tickets and Admission
Tickets are on a timed system and especially with kids, it is best to know what time you are going up so you can arrive right on time and do not have to wait around.
Admission rates vary depending on the date of the visit.
For adults tram ride tickets are typically between $15-19 and for children ages 3-15, rates are between $11-15.
If you do not want to ride the tram to the top of the Arch, you can still enjoy the Gateway Arch National Park experience.
It is free to go into the visitor center, browse the gift shop, and explore the museum.
Gateway Arch National Park Security
All visitors must enter the Gateway Arch through the west entrance which is the side facing the Old Courthouse, located on Fourth Street.
There is security at the Arch similar to at an airport but way less involved.
The day we were there it was not very busy so we made it through quickly but during busy times, it is suggested to allow about 30-45 minutes to get through security.
We went through security with our stroller, and it was super easy.
If you do have a stroller or wheelchair you will need to take the elevator down to the lower level versus using the escalator.
I will tell you that it is a little bit confusing knowing what floor to go to in the elevator so maybe ask before you get on.
Family Friendly Attractions at the Arch
Gateway Arch National Park sets itself apart from the other national parks across the country with its unique charm.
What makes it truly special is its ability to offer a wide range of family-friendly attractions that cater to various ages and interests.
Tram Ride to the Top
The tram ride to the top of the Gateway Arch is something truly special for everyone.
Stepping into the tram pod gives you the feeling that you are boarding a futuristic rocket.
It is super cool and will be something the kids will surely remember.
The breathtaking views at the top of the Arch are incredible.
The kids had a great time pointing out all the various sights in downtown St. Louis visible from the top of the Arch and were amazed how small everything looked down below.
It’s also truly fascinating to experience what it is like inside at the very top of the Arch.
We thought it felt more spacious inside than it appears from the outside.
Museum of Westward Expansion
The Museum of Westward Expansion inside of the Gateway Arch Visitor Center is truly incredible!
I was so impressed by this museum, and it is absolutely free!
The museum features six themed exhibit areas that offer a fascinating experience for visitors of all ages.
My kids loved exploring this museum and were amazed by the life-size statues, life-like animals displays as well as other large scale displays including a covered wagon, stagecoach, cabin, and more.
These immersive exhibits and interactive areas really bring history to life for the kids and for visitors of all ages.
You can spend time in the museum while you are waiting for your tram time or after your visit up to the Arch.
You can also visit the museum for FREE without even paying for a ticket to go up into the Arch.
The Gateway Arch National Park also has a great gift shop with tons of souvenirs.
This is also where you can get your National Park Passport stamped if you have one.
One of my favorite things about visiting Gateway Arch National Park is the green space.
This expansive area is perfect for a range of activities, whether it is a leisurely picnic, playing catch or kicking a ball, simply relaxing, and or gazing up at the clouds with the iconic Arch in the backdrop.
Gateway Arch National Park also has scenic walking trails and paths perfect for families looking to explore on foot or bike.
On one memorable visit to the Arch, we brought along our scooters from home, and the kids had an absolute blast riding around the Arch grounds.
On a beautiful day, the outdoor space surrounding the St. Louis Arch is an absolutely fantastic place to enjoy a portion of your day.
Another unique way to enjoy the area near the Arch is to take a cruise on the Mississippi River.
Seeing the Arch from the Mississippi River is a special experience in itself.
Riverboat cruises run daily March through November.
Make sure to purchase tickets ahead of time to reserve your cruise time.
If you buy the tram and cruise combination tickets, you can save $2 plus if you have the America the Beautiful Annual Pass, adults can save an additional $3.
Family Friendly Amenities at the Arch
- The Arch Cafe is located in the visitor lobby of the Arch right next to where you board the trams is a fantastic option for a snack or even lunch. They have lots of family friendly food options including a kids menu.
- The visitor lobby of the Arch has many tables to sit at if you are waiting for your time to board the tram, need a refreshment, or simply want to take a break.
- The walkways and paths surrounding the Arch as well as the visitor lobby are stroller friendly. The one downside is there is no direct path next to the steps down towards the riverfront which is where you can find the national park sign.
What to Expect on the Tram Ride to the Top of the Arch
When you walk in to the boarding area, they will give you a number that tells you what tram car you will be on and let you know exactly where to stand.
Before you board there is a 5-7 min movie, and then they take each group’s picture.
The tram car is fairly small.
It can fit 5 seated people inside each car or “pod” but there is not a lot of room for movement especially if it is all adults.
I went up with three of our boys and the four of us did have enough space.
The ride takes 4 minutes to go up and 3 minutes to go down.
I will admit I was very anxious about going up as I do get a little nervous in tight places.
It was also very hot outside so I was nervous about being super hot in the tram car.
I ended up having a good experience riding to the top.
Most of the ride you can see interior steps out your tram car windows so that made me feel better.
What to Expect at the Top of the Arch
At the top of the Arch you will have ten minutes to enjoy the views and take pictures at the top.
It is definitely enough time to see what you want and get your pictures.
They do give you a 1-2 minute warning before it is time to descend.
The views from the top of the Arch are incredible.
It feels like you have more room up there than you would think.
From the ground looking up, the windows look so small but they don’t seem quite as small when you are inside of the Arch.
The boys loved climbing the ledge next to the windows and seeing the views.
If you can, I would suggest purchasing tickets to ride the tram to the top and taking your kids too.
It is a fun and unique experience and a memory you will definitely cherish.
Finding the Gateway Arch National Park Sign
I always love getting family pictures or at least kid pictures in front of the sign at every national park we visit.
To find the Gateway Arch National Park sign, you will have to take the steps down outside of the Arch towards the riverfront, and you will find the sign there.
If you have a stroller or wheelchair there is a paved trail down as well.
It is a longer walk than doing the stairs but definitely a beautiful one and worth it if you want a picture next to the sign.
Tips for a Smooth Visit to the St. Louis Arch
- Check to see if the Cardinals have a home game or if there are any other major events happening downtown St. Louis. This will help you prepare for parking, higher hotel rates, and larger crowds.
- Pre-purchase your tickets for the tram ride to the top or any other attraction combination you may be interested in.
- If you have younger kids, bring a stroller as there is quite a bit of walking to and from the Arch and in the area in general.
- Unless you are one of the first tram times of the day, make sure to be at the Arch approximately 45 minutes ahead of your scheduled tram time to allow enough time to get through security.
- Give yourself enough time in your schedule for the day to spend some time at the Museum of Westward Expansion. If you arrive early to go through security and have some extra time before you need to board the tram, this is a good time to enjoy this museum as well as afterwards!
- Make sure to get a picture with the Gateway National Park sign.
- To make the most of your visit to the Arch consider extending your stay by spending a night or two at the Drury Plaza Hotel St. Louis at the Arch (our favorite) or another nearby hotel.
10 Awesome Things to do at Gateway Arch National Park
- Take a family selfie
- Walk, ride bikes, or scooter around the Arch
- Have a picnic on the grass
- Play frisbee or ball
- Check out the interactive Museum at the Gateway Arch (it is free)
- Visit the gift shop
- Take the tram to the top of the Arch
- Take a picture in front of the Gateway Arch National Park sign
- See the Arch from a riverboat cruise
- Enjoy the 10 minute virtual reality experience
Visiting Gateway Arch National Park is definitely a unique and memorable experience.
It is also such a beautiful sight and a fantastic place to hang out and enjoy the great outdoors as well!
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May you love your adventure! KW