A visit to St. Louis brought me back to a city I fell in love with over 15 years ago. While the landscape hasn’t changed much, the sheer number of world-class attractions and upscale offerings has grown into something phenomenal! Between these, free museums, and world-famous beer, my list of things to see and do keeps growing. Here are the things to love about St. Louis, Missouri, that I found most noteworthy.
St. Louis, Missouri, has a big city feel and plenty of top-notch attractions to substantiate that claim. The Saint Louis Zoo offers six areas where you can see distinct animals of that nature, such as penguins, apes, and polar bears in The Wild; big cats and camels in Red Rocks; and elephants, capybara, and painted dogs in River’s Edge. Admission is free, but you can pay $12.95 for an adventure pass to do some pretty cool add-ons. These include riding the zoo line railroad, visiting the children’s zoo, watching the sea lion show, and seeing the zookeepers feed the penguins and sea lions.
My favorite St. Louis attraction is the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site. This is where Hiram Ulysses (S., which stands for nothing) Grant, 18th President of the United States, first laid eyes on his bride, Julia Dent. He ended up buying the historic house (White Haven) from her family and lived there, raising their family, from 1854 to 1859.
Today, White Haven is a National Historic Landmark and a National Park. You can tour the house and the enslaved people’s quarters, as well as stroll the gorgeous grounds.
Tip: An Uber ride from the city is about $20 each way.
The most recognizable St. Louis attraction is the iconic 630-foot Gateway Arch National Park, and most likely, one of the most recognizable landmarks in the whole country. Before undergoing a considerable facelift and redesign in 2018, the arch was known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.
You can take a tram (pod-like seats) to the top of the photo-worthy arch and have excellent views of the city from the viewing platform. The Gateway Arch is near the place where Lewis & Clark started their Expedition and offered gorgeous views of the Mississippi River from the back.
2. St. Louis Beer
Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company is almost synonymous with America, and certainly one of the things to love about St. Louis. The #1 beer in the world, Budweiser, is headquartered and created here. This $10 billion a year business (founded in 1852) can be toured with the Budweiser Brewery Experience.
You’ll learn how the beer is brewed (a signature seven-step process), see the Beechwood Aging Cellar, learn about beer technology and timeless traditions, and even sample minutes old beer onsite. The beer is unbelievably good, and fresh! Tickets for the 75-minute tour are $5 and sell out fast.
While learning about beer is exciting, seeing the Budweiser Clydesdales in the paddock and stables is even better. My tour started with them because our guide said that typically the tour guests are too anxious to see the horses and cannot concentrate on the beer. You don’t have to drink beer to enjoy this tour, though tasting the freshly made Bud Light on tap might change your mind.
Anheuser Busch is home to three National Historic Landmarks. Save time to enjoy the Biergarten’s premium beers and food.
Fun Fact: Stella Artois, Goose Island, Michelob, LandShark, and Rolling Rock are all owned by Anheuser Busch.
3. Stellar Accommodations
There are two hotels I love to stay at in St. Louis. The first is the city’s landmark, the Chase Park Plaza Royal Sonesta Hotel. Step back into the Hollywood Golden-Era in his historic and glamorous hotel with spacious rooms, three signature restaurants, luxury amenities, and an outdoor city pool that has welcomed Hollywood legends and US Presidents.
The art-deco hotel also features an elegant, historic theater (Chase Park Plaza Cinemas) that runs five films daily and has a 30-minute theatre organ presentation by Gerry Marian for the past 20 years. Staying at the hotel is one unique St. Louis experience you won’t want to miss. The Chase Park Plaza Royal Sonesta is located in the Forest Park neighborhood, making it walkable to many St. Louis attractions.
The second hotel I love is the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis. This five-star property is a great place to indulge in getting pampered and near the Lumiere Place Casino and entertainment district. Luxury hotel rooms include quality linens, floor to ceiling windows, marble bathrooms with Terry bathrobes, and a chaise lounge.
The Four Season’s Sky Terrace is a gorgeous space on the 8th floor with a splash pad, outdoor pool, and epic views of St. Louis. It is about a 15-minute walk to the Gateway Arch from here.
4. St. Louis Museums
One of the coolest things about St. Louis is that museum admission is free. Yep, totally free! I recommend visiting the St. Louis Art, Contemporary Art, Missouri History, and Westward Expansion Museums. The St. Louis Art Museum has over 5,000 years of cultures represented in their space and several masterpiece paintings. Be sure to check out the Louisiana Purchase Exposition pieces and 1904 World’s Fair artifacts at the Missouri History Museum.
Inside of the Museum of the Gateway Arch (Museum of Westward Expansion) are rare Lewis & Clark exhibits, 201 years of history, and exhibit showcasing St. Louis’s role in exploring the west. You can opt to take the tram (pods) inside the Arch that go 630 feet in the air for a stunning aerial view of the city and historic Old Courthouse.
For those looking for more obscure offerings, check out the World Chess Hall of Fame, Missouri Civil War Museum, and National Blues Museum.
5. Delicious Food
With nearly 3 million people living in the greater St. Louis area, it is no surprise that the restaurant scene is top-notch. Plus, you don’t have to spend a fortune to have a great meal in the city.
I like Mission Taco Joint, a super-casual street-taco eatery. Try the Guacamole and Tiki Drinks. A second Mexican restaurant to try is the fun and casual El Burro Loco, serving delicious Arroz con Pollo and fantastic margaritas.
The Chase Club and The Preston, at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel, are both delicious for Short Rib Mac and Cheese and Chilean Sea Bass, respectively.
Enjoy a homemade pasta meal, such as Tortellini with Cream or Rigatoni with Wild Mushrooms, for under $20 from Bar Italia Ristorante. For epic Missouri barbecue and tasty side dishes, Salt + Smoke is your best bet. Boasting bourbon, bbq, and beer, this delicious restaurant has four locations. Try the St. Louis Cut Ribs, and Sweet Pepper Potato Salad, but whatever you do, start with the Burnt Ends Toasted Raviolis, the iconic dish of St. Louis.
St Louis: A Midwestern Powerhouse
I think you could visit a new attraction or restaurant in St. Louis every day for years and still not see it all. Prepare to be wowed in this Missouri city, one of the greatest in the whole country. I hope you’ll love these things about St. Louis just as much as I did.
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