From barbecue to baseball, the largest city in the Great Plains is chock full of authentic American experiences. Start your visit at the Gateway Arch, one of the nation’s most memorable monuments, before exploring Forest Park, one of its greatest urban green spaces. The list of unique cultural attractions is just as compelling. With immersive museums that celebrate everything from music legends to outsider art, it’s hard to go wrong in the ‘Gateway to the West.’
Originally founded as a fur-trading post on the banks of the Mississippi River, St. Louis’ long history as the jumping off point for pioneers heading west is honored in truly spectacular fashion at the iconic Gateway Arch. Opened to the public in 1965, the arch stands 630ft high making it the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere. You can take a tram to the top where sprawling views of the city await, before learning even more about the monument’s historic significance at the Museum of the Gateway Arch in the waterfront park at its base. Also on-site is the Old 1845 Courthouse where a number of important 19th-century cases were heard.
Ride the Mighty Miss’
While the Mississippi is a powerhouse of a river, it’s not always the most welcoming for unfamiliar anglers and boaters. Instead, try a day trip to Lincoln Lake in rugged Cuivre River State Park, where you can kayak, swim, hike and fish for bass, bluegill and catfish. Even closer, Creve Coeur Lake offers paddleboard and kayak rentals, as well as sailboat launches and designated fishing areas. If leaving the city limits isn’t in the cards, a recent program to encourage urban angling has got you covered. Picturesque Jefferson Lake in the east end of Forest Park has bass and crappie, while the dockside angling at historic Boathouse Lake is a great place to land trout, catfish and black bass.
Wild Side of St. Louis
With 500 more acres than New York City’s Central Park, St. Louis’ Forest Park is a mecca for nature lovers who want it all. The 6-mile dual walking and biking trail features fields of wild flowers and top-notch views of the park’s many lakes and streams, while smaller paths wind throughout wooded areas making it easy to imagine you’re far from the hustle and bustle of downtown. Forest Park also features some of the city’s top cultural attractions including the St. Louis Zoo, Art Museum, Science Center, and the one-of-a-kind art deco greenhouse known as the Jewel Box. Summertime visitors won’t want to miss a free show under the stars at the iconic Muny, the nation’s oldest outdoor theater. Featuring A-list actors in high-end Broadway productions, there’s no better way to spend a summer night in the city.
Big Time Entertainment
With so many big-name attractions, it’s easy to overlook the quirky attitude that locals love about their hometown. City Museum in the Downtown West neighborhood brings this eclectic spirit to life through a constantly changing array of art exhibits that kids of all ages can enjoy. From circus performers, to lantern art, to a dreamy aquarium, it’s the kind of place where your imagination can truly run wild. The National Blues Museum is another must-see, offering a wide-ranging look at the city’s pivotal place in the history of American music. Of course, to really live like a local, finish your visit with a barbecue feast at Pappy’s Smokehouse on the way to Busch Stadium, home of the beloved St. Louis Cardinals.
For More Information
Explore St. Louis
Missouri Division of Tourism