Much of St. Louis’s personality is grounded in its history as the Gateway to the West, thanks to a prime location along the Mississippi River. A strong manufacturing and industrial economy in the early 20th century drew visitors from around the world, leading to a birth of creativity that sparked some of the city’s biggest attractions: beer, blues and baseball.
Then, of course, there’s the iconic Gateway Arch, the tallest manmade monument in the United States and the quintessential symbol of The Lou.
To do this city right — and these days, there’s no shortage of what to see and do — here’s where to start.
Ride to the Top of the Arch
If you didn’t snap a pic for the ‘gram in front of the Gateway Arch, were you even in St. Louis? The globally recognized structure is an engineering feat of stainless steel, reaching 630 feet into the air and serving as a shimmering beacon of pride for St. Louisans.
Symbolically, it represents St. Louis’ one-time role as the Gateway to the West, a last stop for pioneers in search of territory to claim west of the Mississippi River. Although perfectly lovely (and free) to view from the ground, consider investing $13 for a ticket to ride the tram to the top of the monument, which lays claim to the most incredible views of the city.
Shop for Local Eats
One of the best ways to get a feel for a city is through its food, and with more than 230 years in operation under its belt, Soulard Farmers Market is sure to give you a nice sampling.
As one of the largest farmers markets west of the Mississippi River, it’s filled with almost every kind of grub imaginable being sold by more than 140 vendors. Hit the market Wednesday through Saturday for everything from local produce, cheese and flowers to spices, mini doughnuts and pork rinds.
Sip Some Suds
After all that eating, it’s time for some drinking. St. Louis is a bit of a beer capital thanks to the “king” of them all — Budweiser. Start your brew pilgrimage at the national historic landmark Anheuser-Busch Brewery, where you can tour the company’s largest and oldest brewery, visit the Clydesdales and sample premium brands in the onsite Biergarten.
Then move on to the city’s local craft breweries like the hockey-themed Center Ice Brewing Company, Heavy Riff Brewing Company (with a side of free shuffleboard and darts), and Alpha Brewing Company in the heart of downtown.
Take Me Out to the Ballgame
You don’t even have to be a baseball fan to appreciate the home of the 11-time World Series winning St. Louis Cardinals. Busch Stadium occupies prime real estate in downtown STL, giving visitors a stunning view of the city skyline and that fabulous Gateway Arch.
If you do decide to attend a game, there isn’t a bad seat in the house. And you’ll find interactive games and activities at the family pavilion, as well as prime spots for day drinking at the Coca-Cola Rooftop Deck and Budweiser Terrace.
Just beyond center field is Ballpark Village, a sports-themed dining and entertainment complex containing the Cardinals Hall of Fame & Museum and Cardinals Nation restaurant, where you will definitely want the pulled-pork sandwich.
Pay Homage to the Foundation of American Music
It may have begun in the Deep South, but blues is alive and well in St. Louis. As the birthplace of blues legend and rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Chuck Berry, St. Louis is a fitting home for the National Blues Museum, opened in 2016 and dedicated to showcasing the blues as the bedrock of American popular music.
In addition to more than 15,000 square feet of interactive and artifact-driven exhibits, the museum hosts regular concerts and “Sitting on the Porch” jam sessions where musicians can just show up and join in on the fun.