Things to do in St Louis

The city's distinctive neighbourhoods comprise the real heart of St Louis, retaining the influence of the many ethnic groups which settled the city. The Hill is known for its old-world charm and excellent restaurants imbued with a Latin flavour lent by its Italian community.

The Central West End is a trendy quarter filled with chic boutiques and antique shops, sidewalk cafes, art galleries, and some of St Louis's finest residential properties. The French neighbourhood of Soulard has a colourful Saturday produce market.

Free attractions are a St Louis tradition, and today's visitors can access more high-quality attractions at no cost than almost anywhere else in the USA. There are scores of interesting things to do for free, including numerous activities geared towards children. This makes it an excellent family destination and a good urban option for budget travellers.

Gateway Arch photo

Gateway Arch

Within the riverside park known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, the Gateway Arch is a soaring landmark above the city's skyline. The thin stainless steel arc reaches …

Gateway Arch

Within the riverside park known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, the Gateway Arch is a soaring landmark above the city's skyline. The thin stainless steel arc reaches to twice the height of the Statue of Liberty, at 630 feet (192m) tall. It symbolises the role of St Louis as the 'Gateway to the West' for the pioneers who journeyed along the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails towards the western frontier. It is also dedicated to the US president who was responsible for opening up the West. An observation deck reached by a tram system provides magnificent views over the city, the Mississippi and the spreading plains. Also on the site with the Arch is the Old Courthouse Museum, the venue for the hearing of several momentous cases during the 19th century. At the base of the monument is the excellent Museum of Westward Expansion, with exhibits covering exploration of the West and its honoured pioneers, including Lewis and Clark, the Plains Indians, and buffalo soldiers. The Odyssey IMAX Theatre shows big-screen films about the region and its history.

Website www.gatewayarch.com

Forest Park photo

Forest Park

Larger than New York's Central Park, the beautifully landscaped Forest Park is filled with attractions. The acclaimed St Louis Art Museum has a magnificent international collection…

Forest Park

Larger than New York's Central Park, the beautifully landscaped Forest Park is filled with attractions. The acclaimed St Louis Art Museum has a magnificent international collection of art covering works from the prehistoric to the contemporary, housing one of the most extensive collections of German Expressionism worldwide. The Saint Louis Science Center features life-size dinosaurs along with displays and interactive exhibits on the environment, aviation, technology and more. There is also an OMNIMAX Theatre and Planetarium. Thousands of animals roam the beautiful grounds of the Saint Louis Zoo, with indoor and outdoor displays, and a Living World Exhibition features an animated robotic figure of Charles Darwin who summarises his theories on evolution. The Missouri History Museum documents life in St Louis with old photographs and displays on river life, local music, and western expansion. Forest Park is brimming with natural beauty and fun diversions for the whole family and can easily occupy visitors for hours.

Website www.forestparkforever.org

Laumeier Sculpture Park photo

Laumeier Sculpture Park

Laumeier Sculpture Park is an open-air museum containing more than 70 outdoor sculptures dotted along a 1.4 mile (about 2.3km) walking trail. The mission statement is to enrich liv…

Laumeier Sculpture Park

Laumeier Sculpture Park is an open-air museum containing more than 70 outdoor sculptures dotted along a 1.4 mile (about 2.3km) walking trail. The mission statement is to enrich lives and inspire creativity by expanding the context of contemporary sculpture, allowing people to see it in a natural setting. Visitors to the Laumeier Sculpture Park are unanimous in their approval of this goal, with well over 300,000 people visiting the park every year. Laumeier also boasts outdoor movie screenings and a more traditional indoor gallery housed in an 1816 Tudor mansion. Over and above being a wonderful picnic site, it offers visitors a fresh and exciting way to engage with the arts. The park is open year-round and entry is free, but admission to special exhibitions usually requires tickets.

Website www.laumeiersculpturepark.org

St Louis City Museum photo

St Louis City Museum

One of the most popular attractions for kids in St Louis, the St Louis City Museum isn't a stuffy hall with dusty dioramas. It boasts attractions like a ten-storey slide, a rooftop…

St Louis City Museum

One of the most popular attractions for kids in St Louis, the St Louis City Museum isn't a stuffy hall with dusty dioramas. It boasts attractions like a ten-storey slide, a rooftop Ferris wheel, treehouses, enchanted caves, a 200-year-old frontier cabin, an aquarium, and much more. There are also educational exhibits on natural history and architecture, and special play areas for toddlers. There is a gift shop on the ground floor and several cafes throughout the building. With a reasonable admission charge and so much on offer, the St Louis City Museum is definitely a must for those travelling with kids in St Louis.

Website www.citymuseum.org

Send a link to this travel guide