Located in Missouri near the Mississippi River, St. Louis is one of the best weekend getaways in the United States. The city is full of museums, parks, gardens, and several other tourist attractions that make the trip worthwhile, and St. Louis the perfect stop for anyone traveling along Route 66. You can make a pit stop in the city for a day or two or plan a proper trip for a week; either way, your trip to St. Louis will be full of entertainment, adventure, and delicious food that you would not want to miss out on. Hence, here are some things for you to do when in St. Louis.
Whether you are planning a trip alone or with your family, St. Louis is the ideal place to visit. It is full of beautiful tourist attractions, and there’s just so much for you to do here. Here are some popular tourist attractions you shouldn’t miss out on in St. Louis.
The Gateway Arch is the most popular tourist attraction in St. Louis and an engineering marvel dedicated to Westward Expansion. It was constructed in the 1960s and is known as the tallest arch in the world, with a height of 190 meters. Gateway Arch National Park draws over four million visitors annually and is a part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. The view from the indoor observation deck located at the top of the Gateway Arch is beautiful and a must-see for tourists.
Besides just looking at the monument from the outside, you can go inside and ride a modern elevator to reach the top observatory. Tickets for the Gateway Arch can be purchased online or from the Old Courthouse, which is quite near the arch. The ticket price for the ground floor and the movie about the history and construction of the arch is $3, whereas the ticket price for adults to go to the top of the arch is $13, and for kids aged between 3 and 15, it’s $10. If you have a national parks pass, then you do not need to pay any amount.
Just a short distance from the Gateway Arch is the Old Courthouse, another great place for tourists to visit. The courthouse dates back to the 1800s and has several historic moments linked to it. When you go inside the courthouse, you can learn about some of these moments as well as the first settlements from Europe, the Civil War, and other events from the history of the United States.
This is also the same place where, in 1872, Virginia Minor, a suffragette activist, tried to vote during the elections. She was arrested at the time. Several battles for freedom also took place here, including the Dred Scott Decision, also known as Dred Scott v. Sandford. In 1857, Dred Scott, along with his wife, spoke against slavery, but the Supreme Court disregarded their claims. After all, at the time, the constitution did not protect the rights of African Americans.
The entry to the Old Courthouse is free of cost, and it also serves as the visitor center for the Gateway Arch. The timings to visit it during the summers are from 7:30 am to 8 pm, and during the winters are from 8 am to 5 pm.
Citygarden Sculpture Park
Find Citygarden Sculpture Park in downtown St. Louis. In this 3-acre art oasis in downtown, tourists will find 24 sculptures and a 180-foot-long pool with a waterfall that will leave them in awe. There is also a children’s spray and splash area, as well as six rain gardens. The park is free to visit, and as a tourist, it will take you around 1 to 2 hours to complete the tour of the place and enjoy this St. Louis attraction.
Six Flags St. Louis
Six Flags St. Louis in Eureka offers a variety of exhilarating attractions for thrill-seekers. You can fly through the air, glide like a bat, reach new heights, navigate whitewater rapids, and have a great time!
Hurricane Harbor, a water park where you can relax and cool off, is also part of the amusement park. Here, you will find a variety of water rides, from a wave pool to slides. On the Typhoon Twister, you can experience weightlessness, and on the Wahoo Racer, you can compete in racing and have the time of your life at Six Flags St. Louis. You can even book accommodation nearby as there are several options available, with some hotels even offering discounts for youth groups, family reunions, and corporate outings.
Forest Park, located in the heart of St. Louis, is beloved by locals for its expansive green spaces and recreational activities. It ranks among the largest urban parks in the United States and serves as a picturesque backdrop to the city. With over 12 million visitors annually, the park offers leisurely strolls and opportunities to admire historical structures, monuments, and natural landscapes, all with helpful park employees available to assist and guide tourists.
Within the park, you can explore some of the city’s most significant cultural institutions, including the Missouri History Museum (initially built as a national monument dedicated to Thomas Jefferson) and the Science Center. For those seeking more active pursuits, there’s the Steinberg Skating Rink and the Turtle Playground. Art Hill, which offers panoramic views within the park, is perfect for picnics and summer concerts. Additionally, the Jewel Box greenhouse is a remarkable spot with stunning Art Deco architecture and exquisite floral displays.
Grant’s Farm is one of St. Louis’ oldest tourist attractions. The farm was originally owned by Civil War General Ulysses S. Grant, who began cattle farming on the land in 1855. In 1903, August A. Busch Sr. acquired the property. Today, the farm spans 280 acres and houses more than 900 animals. To accommodate its vast size, a tram ride has been set up to transport visitors from the parking lot to all the must-see areas of the farm. Visitors can also enjoy a carousel on-site and spot Budweiser’s famous Clydesdale horses at the stables.
Missouri Civil War Museum
The Missouri Civil War Museum is located in the 1905 Post Exchange Building at Jefferson Barracks on 222 Worth Avenue. The museum, with a 22,000-square-foot facility, showcases over 1,000 artifacts that narrate the story of Missouri’s role in the Civil War. The exhibited artifacts range from weapons to uniforms and are complemented by an informative movie shown in the museum’s theater.
St. Louis Union Station
Once a bustling transportation hub, St. Louis Union Station has transformed into an entertainment center that attracts both locals and tourists. Inside the station, you’ll find the St. Louis Aquarium, home to over 13,000 species. It features a variety of attractions, including the towering 200-foot St. Louis Wheel, a charming carousel, an 18-hole miniature golf course, an adventurous ropes course, and more. The Grand Hall hosts an hourly 3D light show, and there are dining options such as The Soda Fountain and The Train Shed to keep you fueled for hours of enjoyment.
The City Museum offers visitors an unconventional adventure. This architectural playground, housed in a massive 600,000-square-foot former shoe factory warehouse, is suitable for all ages and promises a fully immersive experience. Inside, you can enter the jaws of a massive bow whale, zip down a 10-story slide, and take control of a suspended airplane. You can also explore an underground tunnel network, witness incredible pancake art, and even hold the world’s largest pencil. Circus Harmony offers a taste of circus excitement, with the chance to test your circus skills while enjoying peanuts or popcorn.
The City Museum’s commitment to discovery extends to its gift store, which sells knee protectors—a wise choice given the adventurous activities on offer! If you need a break, you can grab a meal or a cold beer on every floor, from the historic 19th-century Cabin Bar to the Rooftop Café.
Laumeier Sculpture Park
As the name suggests, Laumeier Sculpture Park is home to rare and unusual sculptures. With over 60 sculptures, including “The Way” created in 1980 and “Eye” from 2007, the park offers a unique artistic experience. It’s also a great place to take a leisurely walk and connect with nature.
Whether you’re a sports fan or not, a visit to Busch Stadium is a must, especially if the famous St. Louis Cardinals are playing. With eleven World Series wins, the team’s history is impressive.
Even when there’s no live game, you can explore the stadium during hour-long tours. You can view the team’s trophies, take a seat in the radio commentary booths, and enjoy the stunning views of the city skyline from the stadium’s bleachers. For tour prices and schedules, check the stadium’s official website.
For beer enthusiasts visiting St. Louis, a visit to the Anheuser-Busch Brewery is a must. It’s one of the largest and most renowned breweries in the U.S., known for Budweiser. Don’t forget to say hello to the Clydesdale horses, a symbol of the company and a popular photo opportunity.
The brewery offers an exciting tour experience with five different options to choose from. After the tour, head to the Biergarten, a hotspot for tourists and locals alike. It’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy yourself.
The Magic House
The Magic House is an incredible tourist attraction designed for preschoolers and young children, offering a wide range of interactive activities. This interactive museum allows children to explore a child-sized village, investigate fascinating scientific phenomena, and take on roles like doctors and veterinarians. It also features a constantly expanding cultural area that educates children about life in different countries, from food to housing.
Older children can engage in activities like 3D printing and playing with electrically charged balls. The Star Spangled Center even allows parents to learn more about U.S. presidents. Additionally, The Magic House offers various interactive exhibits throughout the year.
For those looking for even more, they have a MADE for Kids satellite maker space on Delmar Boulevard, where children aged four to fourteen can tinker, create, invent, explore, and discover. The 7,000-square-foot space includes an immersive maker’s workshop, an artist’s studio, a design lab, and a business marketplace. The friendly staff is always there to assist tourists with everything they need.
Tower Grove Park and Missouri Botanical Garden
Moving away from the Mississippi River and approximately 6 miles inland from the Old Courthouse and the famous arch, you’ll find two important parks: Tower Grove Park and the Missouri Botanical Garden. The latter spans 32 acres and includes various gardens, greenhouses, and the Climatron dome, which houses a lush tropical forest. The gardens also feature a 14-acre Japanese garden and a Victorian-style garden. Additionally, a new visitor center was opened in August 2022.
Adjacent to the botanical gardens, Tower Grove Park covers about 15 kilometers. This park includes 11 Victorian-style pavilions, historic buildings, monuments, tennis courts, and soccer fields. It’s especially beautiful in the autumn when the foliage transforms into brilliant shades of yellow and orange. Don’t miss the Saturday farmers’ market, running from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm near the Wading Pool Pavilion.
Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis
The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, dedicated to Louis IX of France, was completed in 1914. It houses the world’s largest mosaic collection outside Russia, a must-see for many travelers. These mosaics cover approximately 26,000 square feet and consist of 41.5 million tiles in over 7,000 hues.
The cathedral’s basement contains crypts and a museum dedicated to these exquisite mosaics. A 12-foot steel figure representing peace and justice among various races stands outside the church. The cathedral is open to the public from 7 am to 5 pm, with masses held at 7 am, 8 am, and 12 pm.
National Museum of Transportation
Located on Barrett Station Rd., the National Museum of Transportation is suitable for visitors of all ages and is rich in fascinating history. It boasts one of the largest collections of transportation vehicles in the U.S., including the Boston Providence Railroad “Daniel Nason,” the “Big Boy” #4006 Union Pacific Steam Locomotive, and the U.S. Army Air Force Douglas Aircraft C-47A “Gooney Bird.”
With approximately 190 rail and transportation exhibits, history lessons, hands-on activities, tram and train rides, and a special area with interactive activities for children aged 5 and below, the museum offers something for everyone. It also features gardens and a miniature train, making it a fantastic attraction for tourists.
Foods to Try When in St. Louis
When you’re in St. Louis, you won’t have to worry about finding delicious food options. This multicultural city offers a wide variety of cuisines, from Bosnian and Italian to some of the best barbecue you’ll ever taste. In fact, you’ll find great food outlets on nearly every street corner.
However, there are some must-visit places that you should definitely try if you have enough time. Consider a trip to Blues City Deli in Benton Park or Adriana’s on the Hill in The Hill District for an exceptional deli sandwich experience. These classic sandwiches are a safe choice and among the best in the city.
If you’re in the mood for American comfort food like burgers, nachos, fries, and wings, check out Hendel’s Restaurant & Market or Stacked STL. Gourmet Soul is another excellent option for American fare. For outstanding St. Louis-style ribs smothered in barbecue sauce, head to Bogart’s Smokehouse and Sugarfire Smoke House.
If you’re looking for a fine dining experience and are in the mood to dress up, make a reservation at Bait. This restaurant specializes in seafood and offers a truly enjoyable culinary experience. You can also book a table at Olive+ Oak for elevated American cuisine, Brasserie by Niche for elevated French cuisine, or Juniper for Southern cuisine. Vegetarians should not miss Vicia.
St. Louis also offers Italian and Bosnian cuisines with a unique twist that you shouldn’t pass up. Try Charlie Gitto’s for Italian dishes and Grbic Restaurant & Events for Bosnian cuisine, and you won’t be disappointed.
For mouthwatering Mexican food, locals recommend El Toluco Taqueria & Grocery. Don’t miss trying their torta – it’s a must! If you’re craving fantastic Vietnamese and Chinese dishes, Mai Lee is the place to be. They serve classics like pho, rice porridge, noodle bowls, and much more.
Scams To Avoid
Even though St. Louis is a beautiful place to visit and you will find amazing locals who are friendly and ready to help out tourists anytime. Unfortunately, some locals are always looking for ways to scam innocent tourists.
Some common scams to look out for when in St. Louis includes the picture scam, taxis overcharging and the bird poop scam.
Sometimes, a local will ask you to click their picture, and as soon as you are done clicking their picture and are returning their phone to them, they will purposefully drop it. They will then blame you for damaging their camera and ask you to pay them for the damage. So, the safest thing to do as a tourist is to avoid capturing pictures of any local. Although, you can always say yes to a tourist and take their pictures for them.
To avoid taxi drivers overcharging you, tourists must ask the driver to turn the meter on as soon as they sit inside the taxi. Also, check on your phone the distance from your current location to your destination and the time it would take via Google Maps and cross-check it with the driver. This way, the driver will not be able to overcharge you.
The idea of a bird poop scam might sound weird to you, but it exists and is quite common in St. Louis. So, imagine this: You’re strolling along the streets of Saint-Louis, minding your own business, when out of nowhere, a small dollop of white goo lands on your shoulder. Naturally, you glance upward, assuming it’s just some bird doing its business. In a sudden twist, a seemingly “friendly” local steps in, offering to help clean the mess while muttering about those mischievous birds. However, as they assist you with the cleanup, they’re also quite sneakily reaching for your pockets to pickpocket you. Unless it’s an absolute emergency, it’s a good idea to politely decline any “help” from locals who rush to your aid in such situations. Keep all your belongings well-hidden, preferably in an inner pocket, especially your money and cards.
There’s another scam which is quite common at this beautiful location.
Also, always be careful of those locals who approach you when you are near an ATM and try to help you withdraw cash by telling you about some local bank fees and how to avoid it. These locals just want to scan your debit or credit card with a card skimmer and find out the pin of your card so that they can later withdraw money from your account. Remember no matter how friendly and helpful a local is, you should never let them be near you while you enter your pin.
Things To Do If You Are In St. Louis For One Day
If you are visiting St. Louis for only one day, then you have got to try to make the most of it. Start your morning at the Gateway Arch, a must-visit for every tourist. Then, head towards the City Museum and see the most epic museum of your life.
For lunch, try to go to The Hill and try some of St. Louis’s special Italian food at one of the restaurants.
Your next stop should be Forest Park. Here, you can take a stroll in the park and unwind or visit the St. Louis Art Museum and the Saint Louis Zoo. Both of these places are free of cost and a great way to spend your one day in St. Louis.
For dinner, go to the Delmar Loop. This district is vibrant and full of energy, and various restaurants serve a variety of food. So, whatever you are in the mood for, chances are you’ll find it at the Delmar Loop. If you still have some energy left, you can always explore the nightlife of St. Louis.
Remember to plan your itinerary carefully and try to explore as many places as you can in your one-day visit to St. Louis.
Things To Do If You Are In St. Louis For Three Days
If you are visiting St. Louis for three days, you can delve deeper into the city’s attractions and get the most out of your experience. Here is an itinerary for you to follow. This three-day plan will give you a great taste of St. Louis, from its history and culture to its fun neighborhoods and things to do.
Start your morning off by visiting the Gateway Arch and taking a tram ride to its top. The view from here is phenomenal and is a must-visit spot for tourists. Then, head towards the Old Courthouse and learn about some of the most important moments of history that have taken place in the United States. Have lunch at a downtown restaurant and move towards exploring the Citygarden Sculpture Park and City Museum. The museum is a unique attraction and a great place to visit for all ages. End the day at Washington Avenue, where you can have dinner and enjoy the nightlife of St. Louis.
Start your second day in St. Louis by going to Grant’s Farm and later heading to the Forest Park. The Forest Park is an amazing place to spend your day. Here, you can go to the St. Louis Zoo, whose admission is free of cost. After the zoo, you can explore the St. Louis Art Museum and the Missouri History Museum. Both of these museums are located inside Forest Park. After all that exploring, head to one of the nearby restaurants and enjoy a delicious meal.
During the afternoon, visit the Missouri Botanical Garden and take in the beautiful views surrounding you with a leisurely stroll. End the day with dinner in the Central West End restaurant.
Start your day by visiting the historic Soulard Market, which is one of the oldest farmer’s markets in the United States. Next, tour the Anheuser-Busch Brewery to see the brewing process. For lunch, try some tasty local food at one of the nearby restaurants in the Soulard neighborhood. Then, head over to the Hill neighborhood for some delicious and authentic Italian food. You can also enjoy a relaxing stroll in the area. If there’s a game or event happening, you can spend your evening at Busch Stadium, the perfect place for baseball fans. If not, check out the nearby Ballpark Village for dining and entertainment options or visit the Civil War Museum.
Things To Do If You Are In St. Louis For A Week
If you are visiting St. Louis for an entire week, you can easily explore several corners of the city and immerse yourself in its heritage and traditions. Here’s a glimpse of what you can do in your week-long stay in the beautiful city.
What’s a first morning at St. Louis if you aren’t visiting the Gateway Arch? Hence, make a visit to this monument your first pit stop and take in the breathtaking views it has to offer. Then, explore the Old Courthouse and later head for lunch at the Laclede’s Landing district.
Later in the day, go to the Citygarden Sculpture Park and Downtown’s City Museum. End your first day in St. Louis with a stroll and dinner at Washington Avenue.
Begin your day with a visit to the famous St. Louis Zoo. It’s located right within the vast Forest Park, and here’s the best part – it’s free to enter! Keep the cultural journey going by exploring the St. Louis Art Museum and the Missouri History Museum, both tucked away in the beautiful Forest Park. When you’re ready for a bite to eat, try one of the local eateries nearby. Next, find peace and beauty at the Missouri Botanical Garden and Tower Grove Park, the perfect locations for a relaxing afternoon. As the day winds down, head over to the Central West End, famous for its diverse and delicious cuisine. Enjoy a nice dinner here.
For day 3, explore the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis and later visit the Saint Louis Science Center. Have a lunch break at a nearby restaurant and head towards the unique St. Louis Union Station. You can even visit Grant’s Farm on your third day, or if you are a history geek, visit the Campbell House Museum. Here, there will be a knowledgeable guide to help you and share the house’s details, which was once owned by Robert Campbell. The house is a historic site restored with most of the original furniture and art to look like its 1880s appearance. For dinner, choose a restaurant at the Grand Center Arts District.
Go to the Soulard Market, a farmer’s market and have an excellent time. Then, take a look at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery and find out everything you need to know about beer-making traditions with the help of knowledgeable tour guides. The entire experience is very different from all the previous places you have visited in St. Louis. Enjoy lunch in a café in Soulard.
Travel to the Hill and try out St. Louis’s special Italian food. Moreover, you can even visit the Busch Stadium and watch a game or an event taking place with a 46,000-seat ballpark full of fans in red shirts, the perfect way to spend a day if you are a sports fan. The Ballpark Village is also a great spot to spend time and have dinner.
If you are into music, then plan a visit to the National Blues Museum to learn more about musical history. Next, head towards The Field House Museum for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Later in the day, visit the St. Louis Toy Museum for an exhilarating experience. Head over to a local restaurant for lunch, preferably one of the above-mentioned restaurants and enjoy a delicious meal.
Walk around Cherokee Street and enjoy the art and culture it has to offer. Take in the beauty of St. Louis as you move ahead in your trip. End the day by dining out at The Loop.
Enjoy your sixth day in the city by taking a walk by the Mississippi Riverfront. Enjoy a snack at a riverfront restaurant. In the late morning, learn about the city’s history by visiting the Missouri Civil War Museum. For lunch, make a pit stop at a nearby restaurant.
Later that day, explore the UNESCO world heritage site found in St. Louis called the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site. The site is magnificent, and it would be great if you could fit it in your itinerary. Finally, end the day by finding a relaxing spot close to your hotel in St. Louis for dinner or dining out at the above-mentioned restaurants.
Enjoy your last day in St. Louis by visiting the National Museum of Transportation. You can then visit any of the places on your bucket list which we might have missed out on.
Finally, return to St. Louis for dinner and get an early night’s sleep, especially if you plan to travel early in the morning.
Everything you need to do in St. Louis has been summed up above very well. We hope you have an amazing trip and can see what a unique city St. Louis really is!