Once the jumping-off point for westward-bound pioneers, this major metro now has plenty of cool places to play and stay. Check out our trip guide for what to do, where to eat and where to stay.

By The editors of MidwestLiving.com
March 19, 2013

Due to possible coronavirus-related travel restrictions, please check destinations' websites for the current status of attractions, events, restaurants and lodgings.


Anheuser-Busch brewery tours Visitors can choose from five tours, including the Beermaster Tour and a free general brewery tour. budweisertours.com

Big Muddy Adventures Set out on the mighty Mississippi and Missouri rivers by canoe, kayak or paddleboard for a guided exploration. Twice-monthly Full Moon Floats include a chef-created gourmet campfire dinner. 2muddy.com

Busch Stadium Perennial World Series contenders, the Cardinals play in front of 46,000 fans in the retro-style stadium. For more celebrated moments, visit the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum in Ballpark Village. cardinals.com

Cherokee Antique Row One of the city’s most vibrant stretches comprises a cultural mash-up of retro boutiques, genteel antiques shops, Mexican bakeries and paleterias, coffeehouses, and a saxophone museum. explorestlouis.com

Citygarden Download the app for stories behind the artwork in this 2.9-acre family-friendly mecca of sculpture, splash fountains and greenery. citygardenstl.org

City Museum Yes, it’s surreal, but the mishmash of a ball pit, caves, a playground with an airplane and a serious exhibit on architect Louis Sullivan somehow works. citymuseum.org

Food tours Savor Saint Louis and EAT Saint Louis both offer neighborhood walking tours that mix samples of the city's culinary scene with history and architecture info.

Forest Park Larger than New York City’s Central Park, Forest Park brims with free and low-cost attractions, including the Missouri History Museum, the Saint Louis Art Museum, a science center and top-rated zoo. forestparkforever.org

Forest Park

Gateway Arch National Park Take a tram ride to the top in a Jetsons-like pod for 30-mile views and check out the fully reimagined history museum, part of a $380 million renovation. nps.gov

Kiener Plaza The 1.9-acre park west of the Old Courthouse reopened last year with a new fountain, event space and splash pad, part of the Arch renovation project. stlouis-mo.gov

Grant’s Farm The former home of the Busch family now is a favorite family attraction, with animals (including more than 50 of the Budweiser Clydesdales), farm shows, camel rides and a carousel. grantsfarm.com

Missouri Botanical Garden Explore 79 acres of gardens and conservatories. Highlights include a 14-acre Japanese Garden and Dale Chihuly’s glass sculptures. missouribotanicalgarden.org

The Muny The outdoor theater celebrates its 102nd season in Forest Park with continued work on $100 million in improvements. muny.org

National Blues MuseumGalleries transport visitors through the decades with decor and blues music from around the country. Put together your own blues song on interactive stations. nationalbluesmuseum.org

Old Courthouse One of the nation’s first iron domes crowns the courthouse where Dred Scott sued for freedom in 1846. Exhibits and a video cover the impact of the case. ​nps.gov

Pin-Up Bowl Score big fun bowling and drinking martinis in the retro alley in the Delmar Loop. pinupbowl.com

Saint Louis Art Museum This free museum's $130 million East Building focuses on modern and contemporary art like Ellsworth Kelly's Spectrum II. slam.org

Saint Louis Art Museum

Soulard The district takes pride in its annual festivals and huge Mardi Gras parade. The city’s largest farmers market is open Wednesdays through Saturdays. soulard.org

St. Louis Aquarium At Union Station The new two-story aquarium is the center of a $187 million family entertainment complex that also includes a 200-foot-tall ferris wheel. stlouisaquarium.com

Stifel Theatre Returned to its 1934 Art Deco glory, the former opera house hosts entertainers like Trevor Noah and the Blue Man Group. stifeltheatre.com

World Chess Hall of Fame Play a round on the oversize board outside the museum before exploring interactive exhibits about chess’ impact on history and culture. worldchesshof.org


Bailey's Range Choose from about 20 burgers made with beef, chicken, bison or veggies—plus boozy shakes—in a funky former Bell Telephone building. baileysrange.com

Balkan Treat Box The brick-and-mortar location of a wildly popular food truck serves specialties such as cevapi (grilled meats) and pide (Turkish flatbread with toppings) in the suburb of Webster Groves. balkantreatbox.com

BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups Downtown, you'll find great catfish nuggets, gumbo and sweet potato fries. bbsjazzbluessoups.com

The Benevolent King James Beard semifinalist Ben Poremba got his kitchen inspo from his Moroccan mom for this new venture-surely the only one in town listing craft cocktails and hand-rolled couscous. thebenevolentking.com

Blondie's Coffee, Wine and Dessert Bar The destination for pastries and dessert in a loft setting also serves breakfasts and lunches. blondiesstl.com

Blueberry Hill Head to the Delmar Loop music club to enjoy hickory-seasoned burgers, 18 draught taps, 64 bottled beers and shows in the Duck Room. blueberryhill.com

Bridge Tap House and Wine Bar A story-tall wall of wine indicates what might pair best with cheese, charcuterie and inventive entrees at this downtown spot. thebridgestl.com

Charlie Gitto's (on The Hill) It’s famous for toasted ravioli, said to have been created in St. Louis. Service and from-scratch items, like six-layer lasagna, are two reasons for its longevity. charliegittos.com

Charlie Gitto's (on The Hill)

The Civil Life Brewing Company The microbrewery serves drinks like The Angel and the Sword Ale along with snacks and sandwiches. Come for Taco Sundays in warm months and Soup Sundays in cooler ones. thecivillife.com

Clementine's The booze-filled “Naughty” part of the ice cream menu tempts with flavors like Chocolate Cabernet. But nonalcoholic Gooey Butter Cake might bring you over to “Nice.” clementinescreamery.com

Crown Candy Kitchen Luscious sundaes and heart-stopping BLTs keep this 1913 spot going strong. crowncandykitchen.net 

Fitz's Bottling Company Soda jerks pull root beer from the tap and create giant ice cream floats. See Fitz’s 1940s bottling equipment in the Delmar Loop spot. fitzsrootbeer.com

Gaslight The big draw to this bar? A professional recording studio in the back of the lounge. Sip craft cocktails and nibble tacos while seeing artists perform. gaslightstl.com

Gus' Pretzels Locals line up at 6:30 a.m. for pretzels, some stuffed with bratwurst, salsiccia or hotdogs. Sauces and cheese toppers make them even better. guspretzels.com

Kounter Kulture Locally sourced ingredients, such as Blind Star Farm eggs and Missouri beef, go into steamed buns, ramen and other Asian creations. The brick-and-mortar carryout joint (with outside seating) grew out of a Tower Grove Farmers Market stand. kounterkulturestl.com

Molly's in Soulard Alligator rangoon is popular at this place known for Cajun and Creole food and live music. mollysinsoulard.com

SweetArt An artist-chef couple runs a vegan-friendly cafe where you can nibble from-scratch breakfast and lunch treats while admiring colorful paintings. sweetartstl.com

Lona’s Lil Eats The vegan-friendly Fox Park neighborhood gem is a favorite for fresh Asian fare, like giant rice-paper wraps, noodle bowls and dumplings. lonaslileats.com

Nathaniel Reid Bakery Pound cakes, pastries and other treats are works of art at this Kirkwood spot. nrbakery.com

Olive + Oak The Webster Groves bistro shines with steaks; comfort dishes like catfish with red beans and rice; and a solid selection of sides, such as blistered peppers and roasted beets. oliveandoakstl.com

Nixta Contemporary Mexican cuisine-such as tacos with confit pork belly and pineapple pico-shines in a retrofitted garage bay in Botanical Heights. nixtastl.com

Pi Pizzeria Each of the four locations spotlights local ingredients to top specialty and create-your-own pizzas. pi-pizza.com

Rooster Downtown The European-influenced cafe near the Garment District serves buttery crepes and eggy French toast all day. roosterstl.com

Salt and Smoke This hipster ’cue star has expanded into four neighborhoods; ribs are to die for, and the unexpected popovers tend to get a double-take. saltandsmokestl.com

Trattoria Marcella Italian comfort foods fill the menu at this family restaurant. trattoriamarcella.com

Savage Chef Logan Ely’s tasting menus (snacks, six-course and 12-course) are among the most Instagrammed in town, with vegetable-forward and artistically presented dishes. savagestl.com

Vicia Dishes emphasize creatively prepared vegetables (and proteins), such as Missouri wheat berries with grilled broccoli and goat cheese. viciarestaurant.com

Winslow's Home A 1926 building that was originally a general store has become a gift shop-cafe. Try the spinach, egg and cheese breakfast burrito or a brisket sandwich. winslowshome.com


Angad Arts Hotel Why stop at bed size? This new 146-room boutique hotel in the Grand Center Arts District invites guests to book a stay by emotion, with color schemes to match—or stoke?—your mood. angadartshotel.com

Chase Park Plaza Hotel Stay in a landmark with a pool, and walk to nearby Forest Park. chaseparkplaza.com 

Dwell 912 The two-story apartment in an 1885 home has its own entrance, a balcony and full kitchen. dwell912.com

Drury Plaza Hotel St. Louis at the Arch Families love amenities like free popcorn and soda, a pool, free breakfast, and a prime downtown location. druryhotels.com

Embassy Suites St. Louis Downtown Contemporary suites feel like roomy apartments steps from the convention center. embassysuites3.hilton.com

Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis Enjoy Arch views, a spa, and gourmet restaurant Cinder House, with South American-inspired dishes. fourseasons.com

Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark Rooms and the rooftop bar, 360, provide views of Busch Stadium and the Arch. hiltonstlouis.com

Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark

Hotel Ignacio Reflecting its artsy neighborhood, the hotel's hallways and 49 rooms have artistic touches like oversize photographs. hotelignaciostl.com

Magnolia St. Louis A $15 million renovation freshened the 1924 downtown hotel but left cool vintage touches, like crystal chandeliers. magnoliahotels.com

Moonrise Hotel From the rotating orb on the roof to photos of space on the walls, a lunar theme pervades this boutique hotel near Blueberry Hill. moonrisehotel.com

St. Louis Union Station Enter the luxury hotel through the Grand Hall, where guests can grab a cocktail or watch 3-D light shows on the vaulted ceiling. curiocollection3.hilton.com

St. Louis Union Station Hotel

For more information explorestlouis.com