When you think of St. Louis I bet there are two things you think of; The Arch and the St. Louis Cardinals. Yes, St. Louis has the best baseball team on the planet (I might be biased) and yes, we have a beautiful landmark welcoming people westward, but St. Louis is so much more than that! It’s a city that has so much to do and so many unexpected things to explore. It’s a city I grew up in, and a city that I love. A trip to St. Louis can be delightful for the entire family with something for everyone to enjoy in this gem of the Midwest.
To start your trip you need to check out the St. Louis Arch if you’ve never done so. I would recommend taking a ride to the top at least once, but a word of warning: the trams are incredibly small. If you are claustrophobic beware. The museum in the bottom of the Arch will give you information about how the Arch was built and a great history of this city.
From the top of the Arch you can spot the Old Courthouse. Take a short walk over there for your next adventure. The courthouse was built in 1828. Tour an exhibition called “Dred Scott: A Legacy of Courage” to learn all about one of the most important cases ever decided at this courthouse. The outcome of the case eventually caused the ending of slave sales in 1861.
If it’s spring or summer, stop by Busch Stadium for a Cardinals game. Games are almost always sold out because if you are from St. Louis you love the Cards! The Cardinals have won 11 World Series, the second most in baseball. In the last 16 years they have also won 4 National League Pennants so you are always in for a good game with the Cardinals. Can you tell I am a huge Cardinal fan yet?! If it’s the fall or winter, stop by and check out a St. Louis Blues hockey game for its own unique experience. It’s said that in St. Louis you wear red but you bleed blue!
Not far away from downtown is Forest Park. Forest Park was created in 1876 and is 500 acres larger then Central Park in New York. In 1904 Forest Park played host to the World’s Fair and the 1904 Summer Olympics. To provide the venues, multiple buildings were built and have since been made into the St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis Zoo and Missouri History Museum. The St. Louis Science Museum is also near Forest Park. What makes these places even more amazing is that they are all FREE!!!! Yes, FREE!!!! Forest Park also has miles and miles of trails with a golf course, tennis courses, fishing, ice skating and more!
The Penguin exhibit at the St. Louis Zoo.
After you’ve explored the museums and the zoo take in a musical at the Muny which is also at Forest Park. This an outdoor theater that runs shows in the summer. The shows are always top notch and fun for everyone.
The outside of the Muny
If a little taste of Broadway is what you are wanting then plan a date night to the Fox Theater. This place is gorgeous and you can see great Off-Broadway plays that change every couple of weeks.
Another great place for families is Grants Farm. This 281 acre farm is home to the Busch family. Ride a tram though the farm and see all the different animals plus the famous Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales. Feed the goats and parakeets, and meet different animals up close and personal in the petting zoo. Then stop by The Bauernhof for food and something to drink!
The Clydesdales at Grants Farm
The young and the young at heart will all enjoy the City Museum. The City Museum is built in an old shoe factory and is now a giant playground made mainly from re-purposed items. Everyone will love climbing and exploring this multi-level indoor/outdoor play ground.
If your kids are still up for another fun adventure check out the Magic House. I think this is ideal for elementary age kids. There are lots of fun exhibits for kids to experiment with and be creative while exploring.
An exhibit at the Magic House
For the thrill seeker in your life head about 30 min outside St. Louis to Six Flags. The water park, Hurricane Harbor is attached so it’s two parks for the price of one!
Six Flags of St. Louis
After all this exploring and fun you have to be getting hungry. Schlafly Bottleworks is a great place to go for a pub feel and good food, too. At some point you must try Imo’s Pizza. This is original St. Louis style pizza so think flat, square sliced pizza. Get a side of toasted ravioli to get the true STL experience.
Then for dessert stop by Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. Custard, not yogurt or ice cream, is another St. Louis favorite. Custard has a richer flavor since it’s made with more eggs than normal ice cream and a must try when you’re in town. The lines might be long but don’t worry, they move fast!
If you are more of a foodie when you travel, then head to The Hill. Some of the best Italian food you will ever have will be at The Hill. Even Yoga Berra, the famous baseball player, called the Hill home. Zia’s, Cunetto, and Trattoria Marcella all have amazing authentic Italian food that will make you feel like you are in Italy.
There are many city centers to explore, each with their own flare and food options. The Loop plays host to the Blueberry Hill where you can listen to quality music while you enjoy a burger. Or try Fitz’s Root Beer where they make their own root beer on site. Afterwards check out The Pageant as one of the best concert venues in the country. It was built in a way that you will never be more than 70 feet away from the stage. Finally, stop by the Tivoli Theatre for a foreign film.
To complete your trip take a step back in time by visiting Old Town St. Charles. This is where Louis and Clark started their expedition west. Walk down the brick streets and take your time in the antique shops and restaurants.
Finally, end your trip with a stop at the St. Louis Basilica. This is a little taste of the cathedrals of Rome right here in the Midwest. This church is grand and open to the public.
I love everything about St. Louis and there is still so much more I didn’t mention. You need to come and experience it for yourself. This city offers so much to do and fun for any ages and all interests. Don’t hesitate to make your next vacation St. Louis!
*most photo credits and history information are credited to: