The Best Gateway Arch National Park One Day Itinerary (2024)

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Want to know the best Gateway Arch National Park one day itinerary? We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know!

You may be surprised to learn that Gateway Arch is even a National Park.

It doesn’t quite fit the image most people have in mind of a National Park since it’s right in the middle of the city of St Louis and is not very big.

Most of your visit to this National Park will actually take place underground!

You can see our full experience at Gateway Arch in this video on our YouTube Channel.

Gateway Arch National Park One Day Itinerary

When you get here, there is plenty of parking in nearby parking garages for just a few dollars.

From there you’ll walk a couple blocks until you come across the entrance sign.

We were here in January and the weather was surprisingly nice.

The sun was warm and it was not windy at all.

There were actually times where we took our coats off while we were outside.

Gateway Arch National Park entrance sign

Gateway Arch Entrance

There is a huge grassy area surrounding the arch and there were quiet a few people and families out for walks.

The entire walk up to the arch has great photo ops.

It’s also a great area for picnic lunches.

Gateway Arch National Park

Once you make it up to the arch, you’ll start to make your journey underground.

In the visitor center lobby you can purchase your tickets to the top.

The tram ride to the top is $12 for adults and $8 for children.

If you have the National Park pass, the tram ride is only $9 per adult.

You can add on some other activities to these tickets like a one hour St Louis Riverfront Cruise and/or the documentary movie.

Once you have your tickets, you’ll go through security.

It works essentially like airport security and you can’t bring in any kind of weapons, including pocket knives.

After security you’ll get your photo taken at the green screen, with the option to later purchase those photos.

Gateway Arch National Park Museum

Then you’ll make your way further underground.

Here there is a museum, cafe, and gift shop.

You could probably spend about an hour going through the museum.

We were in a hurry since we took the soonest tour time as possible, but you can also take the time afterward to explore the museum.

Gateway Arch National Park Museum

When it was time for our tour we got in line and waited with the guide to see if anyone else would show up for that tour time.

Luckily, no one else did and we got a private tour!

The tour guide took us in to watch a cute video about the development of the Gateway Arch.

From there we went to the pods that would take us to the top.

Going To The Top Of Gateway Arch

I had no idea what to expect.

I though it would just be like an elevator ride to the top.

Instead, you’re inside a little pod and as it gets pulled up to the top, it adjusts itself so that you’re always upright.

It moves at a pretty decent speed and was kind of scary.

You don’t see the outside at all, so you can’t tell where you are.

pod to the top of the Gateway Arch

The Top Of The Gateway Arch

Once we were at the top, we were able to roam the whole area.

Generally when there are others you have to stay in your own area, but we got lucky with no other visitors.

This may have just been a covid thing though.

top of the Gateway Arch

We stayed up there until the next group came up.

Then we had to take the next pod down.

The view was really cool on both sides.

One side looks over the city, while the other looks over the river.

Once we made our way back down we stopped in the cafe so JP could get some coffee.

We also stopped in the gift shop for a souvenir ornament.

We noticed on our way out that they had a replica of the tram pods so you could see how small it is and decide if you want to do it or not.

I don’t know why we didn’t notice it before.

sample pod

That’s pretty much it for the Gateway Arch National Park!

We visited in just a couple of hours, but when the add-ons are available and you take your time in the museum, you could spend at least half your day here.

Where To Stay Near Gateway Arch National Park

Being right in the middle of downtown, there are a ton of hotel options within walking distance of visiting Gateway Arch.

These are the most highly rated hotels.

✅ Drury Plaza Hotel St. Louis At The Arch

Drury Plaza has a near perfect customer rating, making it an excellent choice for staying near the arch.

It is literally a 2 minute walk to the walk, so it’s also the most convenient place to stay.

?? Click Here To Book Your Stay At Drury Plaza Hotel St. Louis At The Arch Today!

✅ The Pennywell St. Louis Downtown – A Hilton Hotel

This historic hotel is beautiful.

The rooms are renovated and modern, while the architecture and common areas maintain the historic charm.

?? Click Here To Book Your Stay At The Pennywell St. Louis Downtown – A Hilton Hotel Today!

Where To Eat When You Visit Gateway Arch National Park

Pappy’s Smokehouse has been consistently rated as the best ribs in America and best bbq in Missouri.

I personally love their side of corn of the cob because of how it’s roasted.

They also have really good pulled pork sandwiches.

pulled pork sandwich from Pappy's Smokehouse in St. Louis, Missouri

Frequently Asked Questions About Visiting Gateway Arch National Park

Planning a trip to a national park can be overwhelming and you usually end up with more questions than answers.

These are the most frequently asked questions we see about Gateway Arch National Park.

☑️ How Long Do You Need At Gateway Arch?

If you’re really on a time crunch, you can visit Gateway Arch in about 2 hours.

That’s just enough time to take your tour to the top and make your way back down, while also browsing through the museum along the way.

There are additional tours and experiences you can add onto your ticket where you might spend closer to 4-6 hours here or if you want to have a picnic lunch on the lawn you can do that too.

☑️ Can You See The Gateway Arch Without Paying?


It’s right in the middle of St. Louis, so you can see it from the outside without having to pay any entrance fee.

You only have to pay to go inside and see the museum or go to the top of the arch.

☑️ How Early Do You Need To Get To Gateway Arch?

There’s not any particular time you need to arrive to see the arch.

The park grounds are open from 5 am – 11 pm all year.

During the Summer, the museum and rides to the top of the arch are available from 9 am – 8 pm.

In the Winter, they close at 6 pm.

The last ride to the top of the arch will always be one hour prior to closing.

So as long as you plan your visit in those parameters you’ll be good.

☑️ How Much Does It Cost To Go Up The Gateway Arch?

The tram ride to the top is $12 for adults and $8 for children.

If you have the National Park pass, the tram ride is only $9 per adult.

More Fun Things To Do In Missouri

I highly recommend visiting Branson, Missouri if you’ve never been.

They’re known for their entertainment, but they also have many outdoor activities, and a great theme park.

Conclusion: Gateway Arch National Park One Day Itinerary

This Gateway Arch National Park one day itinerary can be done in as little as two hours, or you can take all the time you want.

Being right in the middle of St. Louis, there’s so much more to do in the surrounding area.

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Gateway Arch National Park One Day Itinerary