Explore the 314

Thursday May 28, 2015

By Explore St. Louis Guest

National Travel & Tourism Week is celebrated May 2 through May 10, 2015. This celebration acknowledges the importance of tourism in developing the St. Louis economy and recognizes the contributions of those in the hospitality industry. Travel & Tourism is a major industry in St. Louis City and County contributing around $4 billion to the St. Louis Region and supporting more than 80,000 jobs. Each household in St. Louis City and County saves about $811 a year in taxes as a result of travel and tourism.

Support the local economy by being a tourist in your own town and exploring the 314 this summer with a staycation in St. Louis. To help you make your plans, consider a visit to attractions. Chances are the kids have heard about the new ride at Six Flags, Justice League: Battle for Metropolis, but here are some more places you should go this summer.

The Griot Museum of Black History provides a different opportunity for you and your family to learn about African American history. The museum features wax figures, artifacts and memorabilia with an emphasis on regional stories in relation to American history.  “Griot” (pronounced “GREE-OH”) is a community historian who maintains cultural traditions through poetry, storytelling and music in some countries in West Africa. The Scott Joplin House State Historic Site is a National Historic Landmark. Step into the King of Ragtime’s home where he composed what would become legendary music. Take your family on an African American history tour, there’s a full itinerary online at explorestlouis.com.

When seeking to engage in fun family or group activities, our region offers plenty of exciting options. There are three million reasons to visit the Saint Louis Zoo including it’s free.  Our zoo has been ranked third best zoo in the country and fourth in the world by TripAdvisor. A trip to see the animals at the zoo is a great way to get out and actively entertain your kids. For more fun, visit the playground that is like no other, a place that you’ll only find in St. Louis, the City Museum. Whether it’s the enchanted caves or the giant slides, the City Museum has something for the whole family to enjoy. Additionally, if you’re in town for Memorial Day Weekend, the St. Louis African Arts Festival will be held on May 23-25 at the World’s Fair Pavilion in Forest Park and admission is free.

And as for date night, all summer long the Missouri Botanical Garden will hold its Lantern Festival: Magic Reimagined. The Garden is already beautiful and romantic, but the festive lanterns in the summer night sky turn it up a notch. Plan to attend Fair Saint Louis, where Kool & the Gang and other artists are headlining this year’s Independence Day celebration.

When guests visit St. Louis, take them on a Gateway Arch Riverboat Cruise to see the St. Louis’ skyline and the Gateway Arch up close. While you’re downtown, why not take them to our newest hit, Ballpark Village, before and after a Cardinals’ game. And don’t forget about the nearby Washington Avenue District and Three Sixty - one of the best rooftop bars in the world.

If you really want to discover more of what St. Louis has to offer while changing up that typical dinner-and-a-movie experience, visit The Black Repertory Theatre and Sweetie Pies. Check out all of our neighborhoods by trying the diverse restaurants of South Grand, enjoying a night out on Laclede’s Landing or go to the Soulard Farmer’s Market for fresh and local food. Don’t forget about the Ferguson Farmer’s Market and the Challenger Learning Center  in North County. Once again, there are more ideas and neighborhoods listed online at explorestlouis.com including a list of 25 things to do in St. Louis.

While you’re exploring the 314, you might as well encourage a student to record a short video or write about their experiences at St. Louis attractions this summer for entry in the Ultimate St. Louis Tourist Contest and a chance to win $500 at explorestlouis.com/ultimatetourist.