The Gateway Arch and downtown St. Louis Skyline.

48 Hours in St. Louis

If you only have 48 hours in St. Louis to explore, here are a few can’t miss ideas. St. Louis is a place where history and innovation collide, and the result is a destination like no other. From Union Station and the Gateway Arch downtown, to the jewels throughout Forest Park, here is a two-day serving of St. Louis.

1. Gateway Arch National Park

Standing 630 feet tall, our nation’s tallest man-made monument anchors Gateway Arch National Park and stands as the iconic symbol of the westward expansion of the United States. The Gateway Arch experience includes the Tram Ride to the Top, the all new Museum at the Gateway Arch, the Monument to the Dream documentary movie, the Arch Store, the Arch Cafe, and cruises aboard the Gateway Arch Riverboats.

The Gateway Arch is an example of the innovative architecture in St. Louis.

2. Soldier's Memorial Military Museum

Soldiers Memorial Military Museum is a state-of-the-art museum facility in downtown St. Louis that honors military service, veterans and their families. Soldiers Memorial shares American military history through the lens of St. Louis. Following a multi-million-dollar revitalization, this St. Louis landmark reopened November 3, 2018 under the operational leadership of the Missouri Historical Society. (FREE)

Lunch Suggestion Ballpark Village

Soldiers Memorial Military Museum's architecture is LEED-certified to the Gold level and ADA compliant.

3. St. Louis Aquarium

Anchoring the entire Union Station development is the stunning St. Louis Aquarium.  The 120,000-square-foot  attraction features one-of-a-kind exhibits and tanks housing thousands of aquatic species from the rivers and oceans of the world.

 

4. The St. Louis Wheel

Visitors get a bird’s-eye view of the train shed and the iconic St. Louis skyline when they board the neighboring 200-foot St. Louis Wheel. Open year-round, the observation wheel features 42 enclosed gondolas, each equipped with seating for eight adults.

Also available at St. Louis Union Station: Mirror Maze, Ropes Course, The Carousel, Mini Golf and much more.

5. St. Louis Union Station - Grand Hall Light Show

Today, Union Station is a balance of nostalgia and renovation. The stylish and sophisticated Grand Hall features elegant historic touches like the original terrazzo floor, green glazed terracotta bricks, stained glass windows and wooden carpentry detailing.

But look up to see modern times—an innovative and breathtaking 3D light show set to music projects across the Grand Hall’s entire 65-foot vaulted ceiling every day from 5pm to 10pm at the top of every hour for an exciting mix of old-meets-new. Take in the light show from the Grand Hall’s fabulous lobby and full lounge bar, where you can enjoy a cocktail or linger over a delicious meal. Or enjoy a spectacular animated fire and light show, synchronized to music, which dazzles visitors at Union Station’s small lake.

Dinner Suggestion Union Station Restaurants or The Hill

6. Forest Park

One of the largest urban parks in the United States. At 1,371 acres Forest Park is approximately 500 acres larger than Central Park in New York City. In 1904, the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, the greatest of the World’s Fairs, drew more than 19 million visitors from around the world to the park and St. Louis. Forest Park is home to the Art Museum, Science Center, Zoo, Jewel Box greenhouse, History Museum, The Muny outdoor theatre, a 7.5-mile biking, jogging and skating path, ice skating rink, lakes and so much more. (FREE)

Forest Park features plenty of green space along with world-class attractions.

7. Saint Louis Zoo

Saint Louis Zoo is home to more than 18,000 exotic animals, many of them rare and endangered. These 700 species represent the major continents and biomes of the world. Set in the rolling hills, lakes and glades of Forest Park, the Saint Louis Zoo is always a great place to be. (FREE)

Kids can see animals such as polar bears at the Saint Louis Zoo.

8. Saint Louis Art Museum

The Saint Louis Art Museum is located in the heart of historic Forest Park. The  Museum is one of the nation’s leading comprehensive art museums with collections that include works of art of exceptional quality from virtually every culture and time period. Beyond the collections, the Museum offers unique shopping and dining experiences to help make your visit more enjoyable. (FREE)

The Saint Louis Art Museum is one of the city's free attractions.

9. Missouri History Museum

The Missouri History Museum was originally built as the first national monument to Thomas Jefferson. The Museum looks at the history of St. Louis from its founding in 1764 up to the present day. Discover the city’s baseball history from the Browns to the Cardinals, marvel at the magnitude of the 1904 World’s Fair and much more. (FREE)

Explore the storied history of St. Louis at the Missouri History Museum.

10. Saint Louis Science Center

At the Saint Louis Science Center you can explore 700-plus exhibits, the OMNIMAX® Theater, James S. McDonnell Planetarium, special traveling exhibitions and more. Group rates available. Open daily.  (General admission is FREE)

Lunch Suggestion –  Forest Park Attraction or the Central West End

The Saint Louis Science Center is another fantastic and free attraction in Forest Park.

11. Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis (New Cathedral)

The New Cathedral is one of the largest mosaic collections in the Western hemisphere.  The Cathedral is located in the heart of the city of St. Louis, just east of Forest Park, and is one of the must sees in St. Louis. This church holds daily masses, so please check the hours on the website before visiting. Self-guided tours do not require reservations. Guided tours are available Monday – Saturday by appointment only.  (FREE)

Things to Do in St. Louis_Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis

12. World Chess Hall of Fame

The World Chess Hall of Fame celebrates one of the world’s oldest and best-loved games through vibrant, engaging exhibitions and creative programming. The organization presents exhibitions that explore the history of the game as well as its remarkable impact on arts and culture. (FREE)

13. City Foundry STL

City Foundry STL is the adaptive reuse of the former 15-acre Century Foundry complex in St. Louis. The iconic and historically significant foundry building has been transformed into a dynamic hub of innovation complete with St. Louis’ first true food hall, a curated retail experience, and creative offices infused with historic industrial architecture. City Foundry STL is proudly located in St. Louis’ growing Midtown neighborhood and offers free parking. The City Foundry’s Food Hall hosts over 20 different vendors. The complex also features attractions such as The Alamo Drafthouse, City Winery, Sandbox VR, and Puttshack.

Dinner Suggestion – City Foundry

14. Grand Center Arts District

Grand Center Arts District invites you to immerse yourself in St. Louis’ epicenter for the arts. Here, world-class talent performs, and aspiring artists hone their craft. Eclectic venues line the streets offering everything from Broadway to Black Box Theater, Bebop to Beethoven, street art to galleries and pub-fare to fine dining. Due to its ever-changing nature, please visit the Grand Center Arts District website to see what is happening in the area.

Eclectic venues, such as The Fabulous Fox and Jazz St. Louis, line the streets of the Grand Center Arts District.

15. The Fabulous Fox Theatre

The Fabulous Fox Theater is a magnificently restored theatre in the Grand Center Arts and Entertainment District. The perfect venue to see the hottest Broadway shows and concerts. Prices vary, see website for performance schedule. Tours offered Saturdays at 10:30am and 11:00am.

The interior of the Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis.

16. Jazz St. Louis

Jazz St. Louis offers the best in live jazz in a newly renovated, intimate 200 seat listening room featuring reserved tables, exceptional sound, clear sight lines, and optional dinner or drinks. To get a list of performances and events, please visit the Jazz St. Louis website.

17. The Grandel

The Grandel is a multi-use arts facility renovated by the Kranzberg Arts Foundation and reopened in 2017. The Grandel is home to a 600-capacity state-of-the-art theatre; The Dark Room at The Grandel – a full service bar and restaurant featuring a rotating gallery of quality photography exhibits and free live music; and the Grand Hall at The Grandel – a beautiful private event space. For a list of performances, please visit their website.

18. The Big Top

Walk through the walls of The Big Top and instantly be transported to a one of a kind experience. Located at 3401 Washington Boulevard in the Grand Center Arts District, The Big Top is a multi-use arts facility operated by the Kranzberg Arts Foundation and opened in 2018. From April through October the site features the 1,200 person Big Top tent, a private VIP Tent, and a concessions tent. Please visit The Big Top’s website to get a full list of events.

Circus Flora performs at The Big Top.