Two-Day Getaway to St. Louis
Talk about a great deal: Gorgeous free museums balance a lively professional sports scene. Pretty parks, the blues, ethnic foods and great breweries await in St. Louis neighborhoods.
Start your day at the Gateway Arch to ride up in a Jetsons-like pod.
The Old Courthouse shares the moving story of Dred Scott and how his patient fight for freedom from slavery influenced the entire nation.
Choose a theme-behind-the-scenes, farm-to-table-and sample dishes at noteworthy restaurants on StL Culinary Tours.
A major restoration returned the Peabody Opera House to its Art Deco glory; entertainers have included Jimmy Fallon and the Blue Man Group.
For dinner, classic Cajun and Creole spices flavor jambalaya and alligator at Molly's in Soulard.
Unwind in a cozy room at the St. Louis Union Station Hotel; the luxury 1894 property is within walking distance of the MetroLink.
After indulging in the hotel's breakfast buffet, walk around the nearby Citygarden (download the iPhone app to hear the stories behind the artwork).
Downtown, you'll find great catfish po'boys, gumbo and sweet potato pie at BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups.
The 79 acres at the Missouri Botanical Garden provide an oasis from the city's bustle; stroll the serene Japanese Garden and look for Dale Chihuly's striking glass sculptures.
Free tours at Anheuser-Busch show the how-to of beer making.
Attention to detail at Charlie Gitto's reveals itself in the service and from-scratch items like three-pepper cream seafood pasta or six-layer lasagna; but always start with toasted ravioli-rumored to have been created in St. Louis.
More information: (800) 325-7962; explorestlouis.com
Five Great Places to See for Free in Forest Park
Missouri History Museum Opening June 25, 2015, Route 66: A St. Louis Street examines how the motels, custard stands and tourist traps along the world-famous road tell the story of this city. (314) 746-4599; mohistory.org
Saint Louis Art Museum See works by Picasso and van Gogh; dine on elegant lunches at Panorama, which has floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Forest Park. (314) 721-0072; slam.org
Saint Louis Zoo Six zones encompass a wide range of environments, including Sea Lion Sound, a butterfly garden and a Caribbean Cove. The River's Edge is popular for its Asian and African animals and underwater viewing of hippos. (314) 781-0900; stlzoo.org
Saint Louis Science Center Among the highlights are a life-size T. rex and a planetarium. Try your hand at the controls of a flight simulator. (314) 289-4424; slsc.org
The Jewel Box Fifty-foot-tall glass walls open to floral displays in this greenhouse known for its fountain. Free on Mondays and Tuesday until noon. (314) 531-0080; stlouis-mo.gov
Bring the kids
Yes, it's surreal, but the mishmash of a ball pit, the world's largest pair of men's briefs and an exhibit about architect Louis Sullivan seems to work for kids and adults alike at City Museum. Don't miss the Enchanted Caves and 10-story spiral slide. (314) 231-2489; citymuseum.org
Busch Stadium TheCardinals, perennial World Series contenders, play in front of 46,000 fans. The retro-style stadium has great views of the action, and fireworks follow every home run. For more celebrated moments, visit the Cardinals National Hall of Fame in Ballpark Village. (314) 345-9500; stlcardinals.com
Blueberry Hill Hickory-seasoned burgers, 18 draught taps and 62 bottled beers draw crowds to this popular club in the Delmar Loop. Hit the jukebox for a familiar tune, or wait for rock 'n' roll star Chuck Berry-he plays here once a month. (314) 727-4444; blueberryhill.com
The Muny This theater stages outdoor musical productions in Forest Park. The 2015 summer season includes My Fair Lady, Grease, Hairspray and Beauty and the Beast. (314) 361-1900; muny.org
Grant's Farm Budweiser Clydesdales live on the 281-acre farm of St. Louis' Busch family (though the name references President Grant, who once farmed here); 15 miles from downtown. (314) 843-1700; grantsfarm.com