Downtown St. Louis
For an incredibly entertaining time in a big city — swipe right for downtown St. Louis.
The city’s one-square mile footprint, which begins in the reflection of the Gateway Arch on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi, is filled with enough day time and nightlife fun, not to mention architectural wonders, a national park, and an abundance of interactive greenspace. St. Louis has become the region’s anointed social and business hub for visitors, millennials, developers and residents alike.
It’s life at its most entertaining — the sounds of blues and jazz notes wafting along Washington Avenue and throughout the Arch grounds, fireworks lighting up the sky celebrating a Cardinal home run at Busch Stadium, tugboat horns reverberating as they meander down the river, the joyful squeal of children’s laughter as they climb atop the prop plane high above the city’s insanely fun City Museum, the low whirling of the bright Lime scooters and bikes spotted along every sidewalk.
It’s citylife mashing up against the backdrop of construction crews with their high-rise cranes, working feverishly on multiple new hotels in the renovated historic buildings, some of which date back to the city’s founding in the 1764, as well as engineers and architects putting the finishing touches on the $160 million family entertainment complex at Union Station, the $30 million renovation of the Soldier’s Memorial Museum, the beginning of Phase II of the Ballpark Village entertainment complex, and the $175 million renovation of America’s Center Convention Complex. Keep swiping.
This entirely walkable community features eight MetroLink stations located near key attractions, numerous bike lanes, a downtown trolley, and wide pedestrian sidewalks. A mile-long green space starts at the Gateway Arch National Park next to the river and heads west along Market Street to Union Station. Along the way, visitors encounter the Old Courthouse, site of the historic Dred Scott case; Kiener Plaza, which features a playground, fountains and concert area; CityGarden, an urban park and sculpture garden; Soldiers Memorial Military Museum and its illustrious Gold Star flag located in its loggia, among other war time artifacts; and Union Station, home to a soon-to-be-open 200-foot high Ferris Wheel and 60,000-gallon aquarium.
One block to the south of the Market Street green space, visitors can belly up to the bar at one of numerous hotspots at the popular Ballpark Village, tour the Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum, catch a Cards game, or just watch one on the big screen at one of the hip bars and patios along the side streets surrounding the stadium. Hockey fans in blue and gold fill these same spaces when the puck drops at Enterprise Center each fall.
In addition to the 11-time World Series Champion baseball Cardinals, and the NHL’s St. Louis Blues, the city has hosted numerous other minor league and college team events including the Missouri Valley Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament, English Premier League exhibition matches, the NHL Winter Classic, and USA Gymnastics events, to name a few. The city is also in the running for one of the last two planned Major League Soccer expansion teams.
On the music front, artists such as Ed Sheeran, Journey Def Leppard and Billy Joel are among many performers who have showcased live at Busch Stadium on starry nights; countless others at Enterprise Center and America’s Center. The 3,500-seat main stage at Stifel Theatre, which opened in 1934, is booked year-round with touring Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, along with local and national comedians, dance companies, operas and musical acts.
Parallel to Market Street, and just several blocks to the north of the greenspace, is the pulsating entertainment, residential and innovation district along Washington Avenue.At night, Washington Avenue projects a candescent glow created with the twinkling white lights that crisscross the street above the traffic flow beneath.
You name it, it’s here — cigar and whiskey bars, dessert cafes,restaurants that offer authentic dishes from all over the world, the National Blues Museum, award-winning BBQ joints, boutique stores, nightclubs, shared workspaces, brewhouses, cider houses, the St. Louis Fashion Fund, an outdoor beach volleyball bar, an “escape” game room, and wine bars, just scratch the surface. Careen down the two-story slide at the City Museum, a one-of-a-kind playhouse museum for adults and kids alike. The museum, whose exhibits consist largely of repurposed architectural and industrial objects, has won local and international awards as a must-see destination, as well as voted No. 1 Family Attraction in the world by Trip.com.
Surrounding all the fun and fanfare is the St. Louis architecture. Take a tour: The St. Louis Library, newly restored and revitalized to its turn-of-the-century splendor; the bright red terra cotta Wainwright Building, designed by the famed architects Adler and Sullivan in 1891, and once the tallest building in the world; the century-old Railway Exchange Building, once the largest office building in the world; the Arcade’s Gothic Revival building with its two-story interior rib-vaulted arcade, also on the National Register of Historic Places.
If historic homes and museums are your thing, make sure to hit the Eugene Field House Museum, the historic home of Dred Scott’s attorney, Roswell Field; the Campbell House, home of one of St. Louis’ renowned fur traders; as well as the Federal Reserve Museum, where visitors learn through games, sculptures and videos, how the economy works. Remember to pick up some shredded money at the gift shop on your way out.
More than 300 downtown restaurants – representing all types of cuisine and ethnicities – keep patrons full. From local chains to Tony’s, the region’s only five-star restaurant (bring a sports coat), there’s something for everyone. Still not sure what to eat? Take the elevator to the top floor of the Hilton at the Ballpark to 360 — the swanky indoor/outdoor skyline bar that offers — you got it — a 360-degree view of the city, including a pretty good peek inside Busch Stadium. Listen to the crowds cheering below during a good play, seconds before you hear it on the TVs behind you in the bar. It’s that live. In addition, Gerard Craft, winner of “Best Chef: Midwest” at the James Beard Awards, is also cooking up some delectable menu items at the city’s newest upscale restaurant, Cinder House, located atop the Four Seasons Hotel and Casino on Laclede’s Landing. Its rooftop bar offers some of the best views of the city’s skyline and the river.
Throughout the year, St. Louis plays host to more than 200 events including 26 festivals and numerous parades. A few highlights include: Schlafly Tap Room Stout & Oyster Festival (March); Tiny Bar Festival (June); Fair St. Louis on the Arch grounds (July); the annual Q in the Lou (September); the Big Muddy Blues Festival (Labor Day Weekend); Arch Winterfest, which features a temporary outdoor ice rink beneath the twinkling lights of the city’s Christmas tree (November-December). A sampling of the more notable parades include Dr. Martin Luther King March (January); Mardi Gras Grand Parade (February); Downtown St. Patrick’s Day Parade (March); Annie Malone May Day Parade; Pride Fest & Parade (June); Labor Day Parade; Veterans’ Day Parade & Run; Thanksgiving Day Parade, among others.
One of the city’s highlight events, of course, is when the city lights, water fountains and sea of human fans turn red the first week in April in celebration of the Cardinals’ Opening Day – remember to pack red, this happens every home game throughout the season.
Pray for your favorite team and a win at the Old Cathedral, oldest church west of the Mississippi River or one of the many other historic churches in the neighborhood. The cathedral, opened in 1834, stands next to the renovated urban landscape of the 91 acres that is the Gateway Arch National Park. And the center attraction of that? The iconic Arch, a 630-foot marvel of steel, that provides a bird’s eye view of the St. Louis region for nearly 30 miles in either direction on both sides of the river. Truly a Gateway to the West, the expansive monument and museum’s recent $380 million renovation puts you at the epicenter of exploration.
What are you waiting for?
Swipe right – make a date with St. Louis.