Getting Around St. Louis
The best way to get around St. Louis is to drive or use MetroLink. Metro's efficient light rail system offers stops throughout the city, though locales removed from the main tourist areas are generally harder to reach (if at all). Meanwhile, having your own set of wheels – which you can rent from St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL) – will ensure you can get to all of St. Louis' must-visit sights, but this convenience comes at a cost: You'll have to pay $1.50 to $25 for every two hours of parking in the downtown area on top of daily car rental fees. Metro's network also includes MetroBus routes and the downtown and Forest Park trolleys, but their longer travel times make them less convenient. Hailing a taxi or renting a bike are other options, but cabs are pricey and biking is not recommended during the cooler months.
A rental car isn't the cheapest way to travel, but it's worth considering if you plan on exploring multiple parts of the city. Getting to kid-approved sights like Grant's Farm and The Magic House is only possible with a car, plus St. Louis' tourist-friendly signs make it easy to find popular landmarks. Keep in mind, though, that road congestion is likely during rush hour on weekdays, and parking fees apply at most street spaces and public lots. To help you find parking no matter where you're going, consult the Get Around St. Louis website. Car rentals are available at car rental booths at the airport.
The two lines that comprise Metro's light rail system make it easy to get from point A to point B if you do not have a car. Both the Red and Blue MetroLink lines have stations by attractions like the Gateway Arch, Busch Stadium and the Saint Louis Science Center, and the Red Line also travels to and from the airport. However, neither line stops in popular neighborhoods like The Hill and Soulard or in suburban cities like Kirkwood and Grantwood Village.
MetroLink schedules vary by day, but generally, the Red Line starts service around 4:15 a.m. or 5 a.m. and ends at 12:45 or 1 a.m. The Blue Line typically operates from 4:30 or 5:15 a.m. until 12:30 or 12:45 a.m. A standard fare for either line costs $2.50 per adult and $1 for each senior and child between 5 and 12. Two-hour and one-day passes (valid for unlimited rides on MetroLink and MetroBus) are also sold for $1.50 to $7.50 per person. All tickets can be purchased at ticket vending machines at each MetroLink station. Some tickets do not come pre-validated, so if yours does not have a time stamp, be sure to validate it at one of the red machines before boarding.
For regions that are not MetroLink accessible, you may be able to use Metro's bus system. Offering 70-plus routes on the Missouri and Illinois sides of the Mississippi River, MetroBus is one of the best ways to get to regions like The Hill, Soulard and Tower Grove. But remember, this mode of transportation is time-consuming and may not be able to reach farther locales.
If you do decide to use the bus, expect to pay $2 per adult and $1 for each senior and child between 5 and 12. This fare can be paid in cash on board each bus, though exact change is required. Metro's two-hour and one-day passes, which range from $1.50 to $7.50 per ticket, are also valid on all buses. Timetables are available on Metro's MetroBus Schedule page.
Travelers who plan on spending the bulk of their time visiting central sights should consider using the trolley. Also operated by Metro, this mode of transportation is available in two areas – downtown and Forest Park. The Downtown Trolley runs daily every 20 minutes and makes stops outside Busch Stadium and the City Museum, among other attractions. Its schedule can be found on Metro's 99 Downtown Trolley page. The seasonal Forest Park Trolley network – which features two color-coded routes – is available from May 1 through Sept. 3 between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Its trolleys depart every 15 to 30 minutes. Trolley tickets are valid for unlimited rides within a day and will set you back $2 per adult and $1 per senior and child between 5 and 12. On Sundays, Forest Park Trolley rides are free.
Unlike most major American cities, St. Louis does not have a traditional bike-sharing system. However, in April 2018, the city approved permits for two station-free bike-sharing companies: LimeBike and ofo. These companies offer bicycles that can be found and reserved using a GPS locator on a smartphone app. When you're done using your bike, simply park it between the sidewalk and the street or at a public bike rack. Fees for LimeBike rentals start at $1 per 30 minutes (or $0.50 for students and faculty); ofo rentals will set you back $1 per hour.
Taxis are available throughout St. Louis and its suburbs, though it's easiest to find one at the airport, by the America's Center Convention Complex or outside major hotels. You can also hail one by phone or by using affiliated smartphone apps. Exact rates vary by company, but most taxi rides start at $3, with an extra $2 added per mile traveled. Additional charges generally apply for multiple passengers, and rides starting at the airport will incur an extra $4 charge. Uber and Lyft are available here as well.
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