Explore the Gateway Arch With Kids-Everything You Need to Know

RV travel is more than camping at RV resorts and getting away from the hustle and bustle of life. It is also a great way to travel around America and see its iconic sites. Therefore, as we traveled home from Yellowstone National Park, we decided to spend a few days in St. Louis and enjoy the iconic Gateway Arch National Park. The Gateway Arch with kids is a great way to learn history and enjoy amazing views. 

In addition, we were surprised to learn that there are many great things to do as a family in the area. Of course, you can ride to the top of the arch. In addition, make sure to visit the Old Courthouse and take a scenic walk along the Mississippi River. Be sure to visit the museum as you enter the Gateway Arch NP. Here you will experience untold stories of the founding of St. Louis, multiple perspectives of westward expansion, and accessible artifacts and tactiles commemorating America’s pioneering spirit.

Gateway Arch National Park
Gateway Arch National Park Entrance Sign

Gateway Arch National Park Location 

The Gateway Arch National Park is located in the heart of downtown St. Louis on the Mississippi River. Interstate Routes 44, 55, 64, and 70 all converge near the park. Once you enter St. Louis, you can’t miss the Arch in the skyline. The National Park Service website has exact directions if needed.

National Park Historic Facts

  • Gateway Arch is the nation’s smallest national park with only 91 acres
  • At 630 feet tall it is also the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere
  • The Gateway Arch was completed on October 28, 1965
  • Designated as the “Gateway Arch National Park” on February 22, 2018 
  • The National Park reflects St. Louis’ role in the Westward Expansion of the United States during the nineteenth century. 
  • It is a memorial to Thomas Jefferson’s role in opening the West, to the pioneers who helped shape its history, and to Dred Scott who sued for his freedom in the Old Courthouse.
  • The stainless-steel-faced Arch spans 630 feet between the outer faces of its triangular legs at ground level, and its top soars 630 feet into the sky. 

Best Things To Do At Gateway Arch N.P.

Gateway Arch National Park
Gateway Arch Museum Entrance | Photo Courtesy Gateway Arch Foundation

Explore the Museum & Visitor Center Under the Gateway Arch

An essential aspect of visiting the Gateway Arch with kids is to take some time. and learn the history of the area. The Gateway Museum is a perfect location for this. The museum at the Gateway Arch is located underground beneath the Arch.  It features a grand entrance facing Luther Ely Smith Square and the Historic Old Courthouse. 

The underground Visitor’s Center museum features six themed exhibits highlighting 200 years of the area’s history from 1764 to 1965.  It includes interactive story galleries that guide visitors through time, from the founding of St. Louis in 1764 to the building of the Gateway Arch, completed in 1965. The new museum describes the westward expansion period of the United States with more perspectives from the cultures involved.

Be sure to also stop by the National Park Service visitor center and pick up a Jr Ranger program activity book. These activities are a great way to learn all about the Gateway Arch and the Old Courthouse. 

Ride the Tram to the Top of the Gateway Arch 

Viewing Space At The Top of The Arch

Of course, you can’t visit the Gateway Arch without taking the tram ride to the top of the Arch. A rife to the top of the Gateway Arch with kids is probably the most memorable part of the visit.

However, you should know a few things before taking the ride to the top.

We highly recommend making reservations ahead of time for the tram tour. The tram tickets sell out well in advance during the busy summer months. Some same-day tickets are available first-come, first-served. However, we wouldn’t recommend taking the risk. You should also try to book a time about 60 minutes or so after your planned arrival time.  This will allow enough time to go through security checkpoints, watch the park film, and walk through some exhibits before you go up the tram ride. 

Gateway Arch National Park
Bush Stadium As Seen From the Arch

You are first shown a brief movie on the history of westward expansion and the Mississippi River, before the skinny doors open, revealing bright-white orbs behind each.

Each elevator orb can sit up to five people. You will enter the orb through a small rectangular opening. 

The ride to the top of the arch takes about 4 minutes. Once you get up there you can find a viewing window, and enjoy the view.  Park rangers are stationed at the top to answer questions and are very knowledgeable.  

Taking a trip up the Arch is definitely worth it. Even if it is just to check it off your bucket list. 

Explore the Old Courthouse 

Old St. Louis County Courthouse

This National Park also protects the Old St. Louis Courthouse.

This historic courthouse was the site of the first two trials of the pivotal Dred Scott case in 1847 and 1850. This is one of the most important cases ever tried in the United States and was a decision that would help change the history of our country. It was also where Virginia Minor’s case for a woman’s right to vote came to trial in the 1870s.

You can tour this historic structure and visit the restored courtrooms to learn more about our 19th-century judicial system. 

Our Experience 

As a family, we could visit the Gateway Arch National Park all in one afternoon.

The museum was large and had some great information. However, the kids lost interest rather quickly inside the museum. However, it was probably the anticipation of riding to the top of the Arch.

The view from the top was amazing. Although it was relatively crowded in the viewing area, we had no problems. There were Park Rangers up there, and they helped move things along.

The courthouse was a great stop as well. However, it was a relatively quick tour.

We highly recommend adding this National Park to your list of places to see while traveling the country. Visiting the Gateway Arch with kids is a great way to explore and learn about St. Louis.

We love to hear from our followers. Please leave a comment below. 

Have you visited the Gateway Atch National Park? How was your experience? Do you have any tips for RVing in the St. Louis area? 

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About Us

We are a  family of four who travels all around the country in a small RV.

So far we have RV camped in 33 different States, visited 14 National Parks, and 17 National Park Sites. 

Being self-proclaimed National Park Geeks we are on a mission to see as many as possible!  

We hope our blog will inspire other families to spend time together, and create lifelong memories. 

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