From the Gateway Arch to the City Museum to the “Painted Ladies,” St. Louis architecture reflects the rich history, continuous innovation and endless creativity of our region.
Architecture buffs, you might want to head to Soulard, as well. The neighborhood is one of the only places in the world where you can see flounder houses. The rare and unique style originated in St. Louis in the 19th century and gets its name from the profile of the building when observed from the street or alley.
While you’re in St. Louis, make the most of your architectural exploration with our Buildings & Bites pass!
On the app, you’ll find 20 amazing St. Louis attractions. The list was inspired by the Coloring STL exhibition at the Missouri History Museum, and some spots are paired with a nearby place to grab a bite and a drink before or after your visit. While you’re sightseeing, check in to accumulate points for prizes.
Here’s a sneak peek of the architecturally stunning places in the area.
The Anheuser-Busch brewery in St. Louis is the company’s flagship brewery. The elaborate, red-brick buildings exemplify German Romanesque architecture, with rounded arches, embellished cornices and castellated rooflines. The interiors of the buildings feature equally beautiful details, and guests can tour the innovative space before taking a seat in the Anheuser-Busch Biergarten and enjoying a cold one – on the house.
Blueberry Hill opened in the Delmar Loop in 1972, as a welcoming hangout with music, food and pop culture memorabilia, including collections of vintage Pez dispensers, Wurlitzer jukeboxes and Chuck Berry artifacts. Chuck Berry, the first person inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, was a good friend of owner Joe Edwards, and after Berry inaugurated the Duck Room – the legendary live music club that opened inside Blueberry Hill in 1997 – he also played here once a month in an unforgettable concert series. Time your visit to coincide with a show that excites you.
On April 10, 2006, the St. Louis Cardinals opened their new ballpark in downtown. The retro-style stadium has 46,000 seats, and it became a good luck charm for the home team – the Cardinals became the first team in almost 100 years to win the World Series in the inaugural season of a new ballpark. While you’re here, snap a photo with the bronze statue of Cardinals legend Stan “The Man” Musial, which stands outside the Gate 3 entrance.
Nestled in the Central West End neighborhood, the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis is not just a Roman Catholic Church; it’s a distinguished work of art. With its lofty vaults and radiant mosaics, the sheer scale of the building’s beauty is awe-inspiring. In its creation, more than a dozen architects’ and artisans’ concepts coalesced into a magnificently well-integrated and harmonious whole.
St. Louis’ City Museum invites visitors to explore the unexpected. A city within a city, the museum’s exhibits consist largely of repurposed architectural and industrial objects, housed in a 10-story, 600,000-square-foot former shoe company warehouse. This is a truly immersive experience, where you can climb into a bow whale’s mouth, slide through enchanted caves, pilot a plane suspended in the air and more.
In 2007, the Field House Museum was designated a National Historic Landmark; it’s also listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been named a St. Louis Landmark. Built in 1850, the red-brick row house was the childhood home of Eugene Field, an American writer best known for his children’s poetry and humorous essays.
Completed in 1965, the Gateway Arch is the tallest monument in the U.S., reaching 630 feet high, and a stunning example of mid-century modern architecture. The iconic monument honors the country’s pioneering spirit, and today, up to 6,700 visitors a day can take the tram ride to the top.
In addition to more than 900 animals, Grant’s Farm boasts storied architecture, from Ulysses S. Grant’s humble log cabin to the Busch Family Estate, often referred to as the “Big House,” to the German-style stables and Bauernhof, where guests over 21 are invited to grab a free beer. Everyone can then meet the famous Clydesdales, feed the goats and enjoy the grounds.
With a history as vibrant and colorful as its trademark homes, Lafayette Square is an interesting intersection of past and present in St. Louis city. The 184-year-old neighborhood features tree-lined streets, a picturesque park and numerous eateries and social establishments. Take a leisurely stroll around Lafayette Square to fully appreciate the “Painted Ladies,” meticulously restored 150-year-old Victorian mansions doused in vibrant hues of yellow, salmon, green, blue and purple.
At Laumeier Sculpture Park, you can enjoy more than 60 sculptures al fresco. Meandering along the walking trail through the 105-acre, open-air museum and sculpture park, you get a close-up view of a huge eyeball, a larger-than-life deer and a pile of massive, crumpled cylinders. You can even walk, climb or sit on some of the large-scale pieces.
Founded in 1859 and deemed a National Historic Landmark, the Missouri Botanical Garden boasts 79 acres of scenic landscaping and historic structures. At the heart of the Garden, the Climatron was the first geodesic dome to be used as a conservatory. Inside the thriving tropical rainforest environment, exotic plants and flowers surround you, sprouting out of seemingly inhospitable rocks and clinging to trees that appear to brush the top of the 70-foot-high dome. Also noteworthy, the new Jack C. Taylor Visitor Center utilizes a biophilic design to create a seamless indoor-outdoor experience.
Explore the storied history of St. Louis, from its founding in 1764 to the present day. The Missouri History Museum, located in Forest Park, has been housed in the Jefferson Memorial Building since 1913. In 2000, the museum gained much-needed exhibition capacity thanks to the Emerson Center expansion, which also boosted attendance. The Emerson Center features a ground-to-roof glass façade to the south, and the American Institute of Architects named the building one of the best examples of viable architecture design solutions that protect and enhance the environment.
Perched atop Art Hill in Forest Park, the Saint Louis Art Museum is known for its outstanding and comprehensive collection, which spans genres and cultures. You can find works by Max Beckmann, Claude Monet, Georgia O’Keeffe and Kehinde Wiley alongside special exhibitions that come and go throughout the year. Before or after your visit, take a moment to look at the Apotheosis of St. Louis, a statue representing King Louis IX of France, the namesake of our city, which dominates the area in front of the museum.
For almost 60 years, the James S. McDonnell Planetarium has dazzled astrophiles from near and far. Connected to the Saint Louis Science Center via the Skybridge over Interstate 64, the planetarium, designed by Gyo Obata, has a hyperbolic, thin-shell concrete roof, which flares out at its base to cover a glass-enclosed exhibition area and perimeter porch. Inside, visitors can relax under the largest artificial sky in the Western Hemisphere, see genuine space capsules and have their questions about the universe answered.
A leading animal management, research, conservation and education institution, the Saint Louis Zoo should be at the top of your travel bucket list. At the entrance to the zoo, stop by The Living World, a 65-foot rotunda with natural light from the glass-domed ceiling and an assortment of life-size shark, squid and stingray sculptures. Outside, you’ll also find the Mary Ann Lee Conservation Carousel, featuring 64 hand-carved wooden animals that represent some of the protected and endangered species at the zoo.
Located in downtown St. Louis, this state-of-the-art museum honors local military service members, veterans and their families. The Missouri Historical Society assumed operations of the museum in November 2015 and began a $30 million revitalization of the site in 2016. Thanks to the renovation, the site now has more than double the amount of exhibit space, the four iconic Walker Hancock sculptures framing the entrance are free of coal dust and embedded dirt, the building is LEED-certified to the Gold level and it meets ADA compliance for the first time in the building’s history.
The flagship of the St. Louis Public Library, the Central Library is a monument to the past and a cultural beacon for the future. The historic structure, which occupies a full city block, boasts some of the finest examples of Beaux-Arts and Neoclassical architecture in the U.S.
Once one of the largest and busiest passenger rail terminals in the world, Union Station is now home to the St. Louis Aquarium, the St. Louis Wheel, a 3D light show in the Grand Hall and more. While you’re here, look for green-glazed terracotta bricks, intricate woodwork and the handcrafted Tiffany stained glass of the Allegorical Window, among other carefully restored details of the 19th-century train station.
St. Louis audiences flock to The Fabulous Fox to see Broadway shows, Vegas performers, top acts in pop, rock and comedy and classic movies. Located in the Grand Center Arts District, the theater is reminiscent of an opulent palace. The grand lobby was designed in the “Siamese-Byzantine” style, with rows of flanking columns that you would expect to find in rock-cut Buddhist monastery halls. The architecture of the auditorium is equally spectacular, with jewel-studded plasterwork, hand-stenciled walls, gilt paint, intricate cast brass, vibrant fabrics and velvet chairs.
The Griot Museum of Black History, located in the Old North St. Louis neighborhood, reveals the broad scope of Black history and culture. Its mission is to collect, preserve, interpret and share the stories of Black people, highlighting their regional connection to American history and their contributions to the country’s development. The core galleries of The Griot Museum include artifacts, memorabilia and life-size wax figures. Journey inside to see Josephine Baker, Dred and Harriet Scott, James Milton Turner, Miles Davis and more.
We hope that you enjoy exploring these architectural gems in St. Louis. And don’t forget to use the Buildings & Bites pass to check in! As you accumulate points, you can win prizes such as stickers, T-shirts, blankets and the ultimate St. Louis getaway.
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