Cities of the Midwest: The 10 Best Things to Do in St Louis

St. Louis is almost dead in the middle of the country, both north/south and east/west.  In a recent trip to the Gateway to the West, I came to find a town that affordable and engaging.  It is perfect weekend location for those of us in the Midwest looking for a weekend away.

Fun Facts:

St. Louis used to be the largest producer of brick. It is everywhere.

It is where the 1904 World’s Fair was held. The St. Louis Art Museum is housed in the Fair’s Fine Arts Building.

The Ice Cream Cone was invented in St. Louis.

7-Up was invented in St. Louis as well.

St. Louis was the first American city to host the Olympics

To Do: 

St. Louis has scores of family friendly cultural organizations, many of which are free. When temperatures and humidity can be stifling, air conditioning at the museums can be a refuge.

  • City Museum: The City Museum might be described as a steampunk McDonald’s playground designed by Gaudi. It is definitely more play than museum, but it is well worth an afternoon. There is a 5 story slide, a ball pit, and a giant whale.  Not many a museum that can boast that!
  • The Gateway Arch: I am a huge fan of architecture.  I proudly lived in a dormitory designed by Eero Saarinen in college.  And, so, I was intensely excited to go to the top of the arch.  And, while going up and seeing the rain-gorged Mississippi was enjoyable, it was almost more exciting to catch a look at the arch from all different angles. The Gateway Arch is the tallest monument in the US at 630 feet tall.

  • Missouri Botanical Garden: The botanical gardens give you an oasis in the middle of the city. The gardens feature wonderful lighted garden features to keep your experience bright.  Additionally, the staff at the garden do a great job of teaching conservation.
  • Riverfront Trail: Its easy to wander around St. Louis and forget its raison d’existence was the mighty Mississippi. This trail filled with art and natural beauty is an 11-mile stretch along one of the most important river passages in the Nation’s History.

  • Anheuser-Busch Brewery Museum and Tour: Even for the under 21, the setting of this famed brewery is amazing. The veritable brick village, smelling faintly of hops, offers tours, and includes a small museum. If you are over 21, you can even taste new brews.
  • St. Louis Art Museum:  The art museum building reminds you of the French underpinnings of the city. With free admission, you can take a little respite to spy the Monet or Van Gogh. Also, its right near the Zoo, so you can make a whole day of the park like setting.
  • St. Louis Zoo: The St. Louis Zoo is free.  Amazing right.  What a wonderful public resource for families. Set near the art museum, and in a lovely green space, the zoo has a nice array of animals, both terrestrial and aquatic.  There are add on adventures like feeding time that cost money, but honestly you get so much for free, you don’t necessarily need those.

To Eat: 

St. Louis food seems to be barbecue, beer and pizza. And there is plenty of good stuff in all those categories but there are some other charms.

  • Vegetarian cuisine: There is a vibrant vegetarian scene in St. Louis. I particularly enjoyed the Tree House in Tower Grove South, which had a wonderful vegan ravioli and delicious beet fries. Capitalist Pig and Vernon’s BBQ have vegan BBQ options, but I can’t personally speak to those. Heard they were good, though.
  • Sweets: Ted Drewes Frozen Custard is like a high class blizzard, and it is well worth the brain freeze. Gooey Cake is another sweet delicacy that I tried. It was delicious; though lived up to its name in texture.
  • Drinks: St. Louis is a town where beer seems cheaper than bottled water. But, it also has its fair share of spirits. The Planters House is notable as it is a museum, of a sort, and a bar in one. This historic Planter House features classic cocktails from an amazing pedigree. The bartender of the Planter House published the first cocktail manual in 1862.

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