I’m a sucker for a beautiful building and the St. Louis Union Station checked all the boxes for both an incredible visit and amazing stay.
There are so many fun things to do at St. Louis Union Station for all ages and interests from history to entertainment throughout the entire Union Station development.
This National Historic Landmark opened in 1894, 29 years after the Civil War and became one of the busiest train stations in the world over the next few years.
The Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis played a big role in helping make the station a safe interchanging traffic hub as the “Gateway to the West” in the United States.
Thanks again to St Louis Union Station for hosting my visit. All opinions are my own. This article contains affiliate links.
1. Admire the Architecture in the Grand Hall Lounge
There is plenty of comfortable seating in the Grand Hall Lounge that helps you appreciate the late 1800s architecture of the beautiful building even more.
You definitely need to walk throughout the space to truly appreciate all of the details including gold leaf detailing, mosaics and art glass windows.
The arches reach 65 feet at its tallest point in the room.
You can grab a drink or small bite at the long bar or at one of the tables within the Grand Hall.
The 90 ft long bar has plenty of room to seat multiple groups of guests.
2. Stand Under the Whispering Arch
Near the staircase to the Grand Hall there is a Whispering Arch that is fun for guests to try.
This immediately reminded me of the Whispering Fountains at the Cincinnati Museum Center.
Each person stands on one side of the arch, one person faces the wall and whispers and the sound travels the arch for the other person to hear.
3. Go on a Scavenger Hunt
You can learn more about the building’s history in a fun interactive way on a scavenger hunt.
Ask the hotel front desk for the scavenger hunt paper that will provide you with clues to help you discover interesting details in the station hall that you might have otherwise overlooked.
I loved learning more about the this stain glass window featuring New York, St Louis and Sacramento.
Guests can also request a brochure with additional information about the building.
4. See the Model Train in the Grand Hall Market
The Grand Hall Market has a large model train display inside the 1920s themed Starbucks.
There are large viewing windows surrounding the train display to make it easy for guests of all ages to enjoy.
The architectural detail within the market is also stunning.
You can also find unique souvenirs and grab and go snacks and drinks.
5. Watch the Grand Hall Light Show at Union Station
It’s hard to believe that the Grand Hall inside St. Louis Union Station could become more BEAUTIFUL but it truly is during the Grand Hall Light Show.
The 13 different light projections shows make each viewing a unique experience that’s even more magical!
We were fortunate to see several different shows over the course of our stay at the hotel.
It was really nice to catch one last show before going to bed each evening.
The free shows for the general public run on the hour from 5pm-10pm daily.
I would highly recommend watching more than one because each one is so unique.
The only exception for schedule interruption is when the venue is rented for private events. You can check the Grand Hall Light Show schedule here.
6. Experience Unique Exhibits and Hands On Animal Encounters at the St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station
201 S 18th St, St. Louis, MO
The St. Louis Aquarium does a great job of creating magical experiences from the moment that you enter the aquarium.
Guests start their visit to the St. Louis Aquarium by taking a virtual train ride before exploring the aquarium exhibits.
The virtual experience is truly one of a kind with incredible special effects that make you feel like you are traveling through St. Louis and beyond.
A typical visit to the St. Louis Aquarium takes between 1-3 hours so plan accordingly.
The aquarium has 13,000 animals and 257 aquatic species native to rivers and oceans of the world.
The aquarium does allow service animals inside the aquarium in case you are visiting with a guest with special needs.
One of the wonderful things about the St. Louis Aquarium is all of the unique Animal Encounters and touch pools.
You’ll also want to check the schedule for the animal ambassador stage during your visit where you can learn more about one of the animals in the aquarium.
I’ve visited MANY aquariums over the years and it was nice to see several one of a kind exhibits and encounters for guests that I hadn’t experienced before.
My fingers were nibbled on by red garra fish also known as Doctor fish in one of their touch tanks. And no, it didn’t hurt at all.
I also got to feed a turtle which was another first for me at an aquarium.
7. Take a Behind the scenes tour of the Aquarium
You can see another perspective of the aquarium that isn’t open to the public during a 45 minute guided behind the scenes tour.
During the tour you’ll learn more about the aquarium animals and their habitats, what they eat and how they make saltwater in the facility.
Final stop on the tour is a walk across the rope bridge that spans Shark Canyon.
8. Visit the Conservation & Education Center at St. Louis Union Station
The Conservation & Education Center has free admission and is located next to the St. Louis Aquarium.
The Center focuses on local waterways, conservation and educating guests on how plastic litter affects rivers and oceans through interactive science-based exhibits.
9. Watch the Fire and Light Show on the Lake at St. Louis Union Station
The fire and light show is one of the exciting new additions at St. Louis Union Station for guests to enjoy
The show daily is every hour on the hour, from 12pm- 9pm.
Spectators will be in awe of the fire, water and music show featuring dancing lights, a 100 foot long waterfall and flames reaching 25 feet in the air.
10. Enjoy the Views From the St. Louis Wheel at St. Louis Union Station
The Ferris wheel has climate controlled gondolas with glass windows that can seat up to 8 riders inside.
During the 15 minute ride you’ll make 3-4 rotations over the St. Louis skyline up to 200 ft in the air.
I loved seeing the beautiful colors reflect on the buildings during our ride around sunset. The St. Louis Wheel is in operation every day of the year.
11. Try the Ropes Course
The indoor ropes course is a great way to challenge yourself on 30 obstacles covering 90,000 cubit feet of climbing space.
Thrill seekers will definitely want to experience the SkyRail. The 100 foot long zip lines takes guests 50 feet above the lobby of Union Station.
If you are traveling with younger guests under 48″ tall the Sky Tykes miniature course is a great option.
*All participants are required to wear closed toed shoes and guests 12 and under must be accompanied by a paid adult who is 18+.
12. Explore the Mirror Maze
If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground the Mirror Maze is a nice option.
The attraction incorporates the essence of the history of one of the iconic attractions at the 1904 World’s Fair reimagined within the maze.
Guests will wander the curiosities of their Fun House, be tested on their World’s Fair knowledge through interactive experiences, try to find their way through a labyrinth of mirrors.
Save on Multiple Attractions at St. Louis Union Station
You can save on multiple attractions at the St. Louis Union Station with a combo ticket.
13. Dine at the Train Shed
201 S 18th St, St. Louis, MO
The Train Shed is a great place to enjoy a meal that also goes with the train theme.
The restaurant has ample seating at the bar, inside and outside on the patio when weather permits.
I have a few recommendations for you starting with appetizers.
The deviled eggs are delicious and have chive and paprika with a piece of bacon on top.
I also decided that I wanted to try a few St. Louis food staples.
We started with the Toasted ravioli appetizer made with beef, parmesan and a marinara dipping sauce. Toast ravioli is just deep fried ravioli and it’s wonderful!
The rumor is that the appetizer originated by accident when a ravioli fell in the fryer at an Italian restaurant in the Italian-American neighborhood of St. Louis called The Hill.
For my entree, I tried the Bbq pork steak made with Root Beer BBQ and served with potato salad and broccoli salad.
There are plenty of additional entrees on the menu including salmon served with a lemon dill yogurt.
For dessert we split the Gooey butter cake. A German baker is credited to the discovery of Gooey Butter cake in the 1930s when he mixed up the proportions of the ingredients for a coffee cake.
The dessert is dense and delicious!
14. Ride the Carousel
The carousel features horses and exotic animals.
There are animals that move up and down during the ride or guests can choose a stationary seat.
15. Play a Round on the 18- Hole Mini Golf Course
The 18-Hole mini golf course is great for all skill levels and is ADA accessible.
16. Play Structure at St. Louis Union Station
Families with younger children will definitely want to check out the playground and structure that looks like a train.
17. Enjoy a Freakshake at the St. Louis Union Soda Fountain
201 S 18th St, St. Louis, MO
After all of those adventures you deserve a sweet treat!
Stop in at the Soda Fountain for an over the top milkshake, ice cream shake or float, and classic diner staples.
There is both indoor and outdoor patio seating for guests. If you sit outside you can people watch and catch a glimpse of the fire and light show while you dine.
Keep in mind that the shakes are HUGE and you’ll most likely not be able to finish a whole one, especially if you eat dinner before.
18. Enjoy a Great Stay in Downtown St. Louis at the St. Louis Union Station Hotel
You can enhance your stay even more by sleeping at St. Louis Union Station Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton. Many of the properties for the Curio Collection are unique historic hotels.
The guest room renovations of the historic hotel honor the history of the building paying tribute to rail with modern comforts.
As an added bonus you can walk from your hotel room to all of the attractions at St. Louis Union Station listed above. You can even use your hotel key to open the gate inside the building to access the attractions on the other side.
The hotel has received a 4 out of 5 overall score from reviews on TripAdvisor.
Amenities at the St. Louis Union Station Hotel
Amenities at St. Louis Union Station hotel include a fitness center, room service, swimming pool, free wifi and award winning service
Make sure that you check out the vintage neon signs inside the fitness center.
There is a pool for hotel guests to enjoy at St. Louis Union Station Hotel. It took me a little while to find it because it’s tucked away between two buildings that were a different section of hotel.
Is the St. Louis Union Station Hotel Pet Friendly?
All of the rooms are pet friendly.
There are additional charges of $50 per stay if you choose to bring up to two pets weighing up to 80 pounds.
Tour of Room in St. Louis Union Station Hotel
I stayed in the Clock Tower in the Grand Hall East Wing section of the hotel. There are different sections to choose from based on your hotel room needs and preferences.
My King Studio room was very spacious and stylish.
The bathroom for my room was very large with plenty of counter space.
I loved that I could see a view of the Gateway Arch from the window of my room.
The hotel rooms in our section of the hotel were in the former ticket agent offices and paid tribute to building’s unique railroad history.
The door to my hotel room named a specific agent who previously worked in the building.
It was also nice to take a closer look at the vintage photos of the train station in the height of it’s popularity as a train station displayed above my bed.
Make sure that you check out the original glass floor at the previous terminal entrance for the Grand Hall section of the hotel too.
Save on booking your stay at the St. Louis Union Station Hotel here.
19. Dine at Station Grille Union Station Hotel
If you want a fine dining experience, Station Grille inside the Union Station Hotel is a nice option. The restaurant was formerly the space of a restaurant by Fred Harvey during the height of train travel.
He made the dining experience efficient for train passengers by taking their order while they were still on board the train.
When passengers arrived at the restaurant their meal was ready. His former restaurant was also the inspiration for the movie “Harvey Girls” with Judy Garland.
Private Events at St. Louis Union Station
There are several spaces in St. Louis Union Station that can rented for private events, meetings and weddings including rail cars.
The air conditioned rail cars are definitely a unique option for a special occasion or gathering.
20. Attend a Special Event at St. Louis Union Station
There are several special events throughout the year at the St. Louis Union Station geared toward adults and kids. During our visit, there were additional vendors in front of the ferris wheel on a Friday night.
If you visit during the holiday season, younger kids will love the St. Louis Polar Express train ride.
Where is St. Louis Union Station Located?
St. Louis Station is located at 1820 Market Street, St. Louis, Missouri.
The hotel is located less than 20 minutes from the St. Louis International Airport and a 5 minute drive to Busch Stadium 1.1 miles away.
Where to Park for St. Louis Union Station
You have a few options when it comes to parking at St. Louis Union Station. There is valet parking available in front of the hotel entrance.
If you prefer to be closer to the ferris wheel, park by entering the lot from Market Street from 18th or 20th Street.
Learn More About Historic Union Station
Check out St. Louis Union Station website for additional information.
Ready for Even More Unique Things to Do in St. Louis?
Check out my article on Fun and Unique Things to Do in St. Louis for additional ideas/