Where to Go
Visitors to downtown will find plenty to see and do—from the iconic Gateway Arch (St. Louis Riverfront, 877/982-1410, www.gatewayarch.com, Labor Day–Memorial Day 9 a.m.–6 p.m. daily, Memorial Day–Labor Day 8 a.m.–10 p.m. daily, $10 adult, $7 youth, $3 child) to shopping in one of the city’s most cosmopolitan retail districts. After the bankers and lawyers head home at day’s end, Downtown’s many restaurants and bars come alive. Whether you’re looking for a sports bar packed with Cardinals fans or a chic martini lounge, you’ll find it here.
Midtown and Central West End
Midtown is fast becoming the fine-arts hub of St. Louis, thanks largely to the reopening of the historic Fox Theatre (527 N. Grand Blvd., 314/534-1678, www.fabulousfox.com, Tues., Thurs. and Sat. 10 a.m. (tours), Tues. $5 adult, $3 child; Thurs. and Sat. $8 adult, $3 child) and the development of Grand Center. In the Central West End, stately mansions nestle against modernist art galleries, which in turn neighbor high-end boutiques and rave-worthy restaurants.
Soulard and Lafayette Square
Soulard is home to pretty red-brick rowhouses and friendly bars serving Anheuser-Busch beverages. In adjacent Lafayette Square, the Victorian-era mansions make this one of the most architecturally dazzling neighborhoods in the city. The many shops and restaurants hum with energy, and the bars and cafés that face historic Lafayette Park (Park Ave. and Mississippi Ave., 314/289-5300, daily 24 hours) are particularly popular.
The neighborhoods of South City are perhaps the most ethnically diverse in St. Louis. Within five city blocks of Grand South Grand (South Grand Blvd. between Arsenal St. and Utah St.), you can find three Vietnamese restaurants, a sushi restaurant, two Chinese restaurants, an Afghan restaurant, a Middle Eastern restaurant, and a halal meat market.
At the Missouri Botanical Garden (4344 Shaw Blvd., 314/577-9400, www.mobot.org, daily 9 a.m.–5 p.m., Memorial Day–Labor Day open Wed. until 9 p.m., closed Christmas Day, $8 adult, free for children), visitors can explore the nation’s oldest private botanical park and the first geodesic-dome greenhouse, the Climatron.
Dogtown and the Hill
The Hill is St. Louis’s Italian neighborhood and a restaurant destination for visitors and native St. Louisans alike. On warm nights, it’s not uncommon to see bocce tournaments unfolding on the neighborhood’s lawns. Dogtown, to the north, is St. Louis’s historically Irish neighborhood, and visitors won’t be disappointed by the area’s authentic Irish food and generous Guinness pours.
Delmar Loop and University City
The Delmar Loop (Delmar Blvd. between Trinity Ave. and Des Peres Ave., www.ucityloop.com) spans both St. Louis and University City, and the area is constantly bustling with life. A visitor could spend an entire day in the Loop, shopping in boutiques and record stores, catching a movie at the art-house Tivoli Theater (6350 Delmar Blvd., 314/995-6270, www.landmarktheatres.com, $8 adult, $6 student/senior, $6 matinee), attending a sold-out concert at The Pageant (6161 Delmar Blvd., 314/726-6161, www.thepageant.com), and bowling till 3 a.m. at the Pin-Up Bowl (6191 Delmar Blvd., 314/727-5555, www.pinupbowl.com, Mon.–Thurs. 3 p.m.–3 a.m., Fri.–Sun. noon–3 a.m.).
Greater St. Louis
While some city-dwellers grumble about the homogenous nature of “the county,” there are many suburbs with personalities all their own. There are stellar restaurants, hip boutiques, and great bars (including a microbrewery) in Ladue and Maplewood. Main Street in Webster Groves hearkens back to the turn of the 20th century. Best of all, most of these suburbs can be reached via the recently expanded MetroLink system, meaning that visitors can check out Greater St. Louis easily and affordably.
© Brooke S. Foster from Moon St. Louis, 1st Edition