St. Louis often gets overshadowed by the USA’s big coastal cities, but it has just as much culture and fun.
Definitely plan to spend a few days here, but in case you only have two, here’s what you should do.
Start your day with a lovingly-made espresso at Kayak’s Coffee on the corner of Forest Park Parkway and Skinker Avenue. Sit among the Washington University students and enjoy the outdoor-themed décor. (Tip: Ask for the featured espresso blend of the month.)
Next, head down the street to the giant green space in the center of St. Louis. Twice the size of New York’s Central Park, Forest Park is home to a favorite spot for wedding pictures: Grand Basin. In the summertime, rent a paddleboat and get closer to the action. Moonlight paddleboat picnics are available on Thursday evenings, June - September. Or join the locals lounging and kite flying on Art Hill to view the Grand Basin from above. In the wintertime, go ice skating at the outdoor Steinberg Skating Rink next to Jefferson Lake.
Move west to explore The Loop on foot. Make sure to stop along the way to check out indie stores like Vintage Vinyl, Sunshine Daydream, and Subterranean Books. Keep an eye on the stars of the St. Louis Walk of Fame on the sidewalk.
On the other side of Forest Park is the Central West End. Start at Cathedral Basilica, making sure to get there before closing time. This impressive church, filled with mosaics and housing a crypt, can seat up to 5,000 people. On your way to Maryland Avenue, stop by the small peace garden on Taylor Avenue. Pass the World’s Largest Chess Piece and soak in the lively night atmosphere of Maryland Ave.
For dinner head to Charlie Gitto’s on The Hill, the Italian district of St. Louis. Gitto’s is rumored to be the birthplace of the St. Louis tradition known as toasted ravioli. You may even run into a Charlie Gitto himself.
St. Louisians takes their brunch seriously, and you can experience this at Half n Half n Clayton. Order the Cho-Tonic to drink, a combination of tonic water, cold-brew coffee, and orange peel. While not always on the menu, the genial Midwestern employees will most likely make it for you anyway.
Next head down to the riverfront to see The Arch, the monument that gives St. Louis its nickname the “Gateway to the West.” The tallest arch in the world and the tallest man-made monument in the United States, it’s enough to gaze at the Arch from the outside. However, you can also head inside to learn more about Missouri history in the lower-level museum, or take a ride to the top and gaze out at the city from above.
For lunch, head over to Crown Candy Kitchen, the quintessential Midwestern diner. Locals line up in a queue that sometimes wraps around the block to get their famous malt.
Move on to Anheuser Busch Brewery to take a complimentary tour, complete with Clydesdale stables and, of course, beer. Then head over to Busch Stadium, home of the Major League Baseball team the Cardinals, to see the heart of St. Louis culture. If you can’t catch a game, make sure to at least check it out from the outside or take a tour.
Head over to the Soulard district for the evening, starting with Pappy’s Smokehouse for dinner.
Dessert can be found down the street at Sweet Divine, featured on the Food Network show “Cupcake Wars.” You can try a cookie-dough-filled cupcake or one of their dozens of other flavors.
Finish your evening with a live performance. In the summertime, make a visit to The Muny in Forest Park, one of America’s largest outdoor musical theater. They offer free seats in the back as well as tickets that increase in price the closer you get to the stage. Or head back downtown to the Old Rock House for a concert in this intimate bar/music venue.