There’s no longer a need to escape to the coast for a vacation rich in culture and experience. You can find all of that and more—at budget-friendly prices—right in the middle of the country in St. Louis. Thanks to the city’s low cost of living, tech startups and creative types are moving in, and St. Louis is doing an excellent job keeping up.

With a vibrant food and drink scene and plenty of free activities, the Gateway to the West is the ideal destination for all kinds of travelers: families, couples, urban explorers, and more.

Planning Your Trip

  • Best Time to Visit: Late spring through early autumn, when the weather is warm and free activities abound.
  • Language: English
  • Currency: US Dollars
  • Getting Around: St. Louis is incredibly spread out, so driving is the most common choice. There is limited public transportation via the Metrolink train system. Uber and Lyft is widely available and residents use both services often.
  • Travel Tip: Pack layers because St. Louis weather is unpredictable and can change on a whim. While the temperature is unlikely to vary too much in summer, other parts of the year can bring unforeseeable weather changes.

Things to Do

St. Louis is full of fun activities year-round. The city is best known for its baseball, barbecue, and breweries, but there’s much more to it than that! You can find live music and outdoor dining just about anywhere on a warm day, and the parks are constantly packed no matter the weather. No matter your interests, you’re sure to find an activity or event that you’ll be talking about for years to come.

  • Take in a game at Busch Stadium. Even if you’re not a big baseball fan, there’s nothing like seeing a game at Busch. Right in the middle of downtown, Busch Stadium is the baseball mecca of the Midwest, and the fans’ enthusiasm for the Cardinals is infectious. It’s a great way to experience an event that’s important to many St. Louisans, with the added bonus of a great view of the St. Louis skyline.
  • Explore Forest Park. Forest Park is the city’s largest park and was the home of the 1904 World’s Fair and Summer Olympics. The park is home to many important cultural institutions, including the Zoo, Art Museum, History Museum, The Muny theatre, Science Center, and more.
  • Play around the City Museum. More a playground-cum-art-installation than an actual museum, the City Museum is certainly one of the most unique places you’ll ever see. It’s a collection of found objects, architectural pieces, and larger-than-life art, almost all of which is meant to climb in, on, and around. Definitely wear comfortable clothes and tennis shoes; you never know what nooks and crannies you’ll end up discovering. Don’t miss the 10-story slide or the Ferris wheel on the rooftop!

And that’s just a short list of St. Louis’s most famous attractions! Add to your itinerary with the help of our articles on the top tourist attractions, things to do under $10, and fun things to do with kids (that adults will enjoy too).

What to Eat and Drink

Historically, St. Louis food hasn’t gotten much nationwide praise. Though the city is (in)famous for its thin-crust pizza topped with provel cheese, toasted ravioli, and gooey butter cake, it’s also becoming a verifiable foodie destination.

If you’re in the mood for old-school Italian food, the Hill has dozens of “red sauce” joints and daytime-only sandwich shops. South Grand has an extensive list of international restaurants and you can find Mediterranean, Ethiopian, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Moroccan, and Brazilian cuisine all on one street! For foodie restaurants with inventive menus, venture into the Central West End, Lafayette Square, and Grand Center neighborhoods. Chefs from around the country have discovered the versatility of Ozark-region ingredients are moving in and bringing new techniques along with them, giving you the opportunity to try new dishes at a relatively affordable price.

Additionally, local chefs who have long-known St. Louis’s appetite for excellent food continue to thrive, and several James Beard winners and nominees own some of the best restaurants in town.

One such local chef, Gerard Craft, who was awarded the James Beard award for Best Chef in the Midwest, has made his name in the city thanks to his several excellent restaurants. You could do a full food tour on Craft’s restaurants alone by visiting Clayton (Sardella and Pastaria), the Central West End (Brasserie and Taste), and downtown (Cinder House). Another chef with a James Beard nod, Kevin Nashan, runs Benton Park’s Sidney Street Cafe and Peacemaker Lobster & Crab Co., which flies their fresh seafood in daily.

St. Louis is a decidedly pro-drinking city. With lax liquor laws and a microbrewery on seemingly every street, there’s never a shortage of beer no matter where you are. St. Louis is best known for its largest brewery, Anheuser-Busch, which you can tour almost every day for free. You’ll learn about the history of brewing in America (and specifically in St. Louis) and will see the brewing process up-close! If you’re not an AB fan, never fear: There are plenty of microbreweries around, each with their own distinct identity.

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