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Top 10 Things to Do in St. Louis

January 21, 2010
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Every once in a while, people visit St. Louis (it’s true!) People who have never been here before. Depending on who they are or how the weather is, we do different things. I can’t say that I’m a great tour guide…I kind of just go along with what the person wants to do while retaining some semblance of my normal life.

One of the top posts on this blog is 10 Fun Facts About Puerto Rico, a place I’ve only been once. So I figured it’s about time to write about the place I’ve come to love over the last 10 years (I was partially inspired by a fellow blogger’s post about why you should visit Louisiana). So if you ever come to St. Louis, here are the top 10 things you should do.

  1. Have a burger for lunch with me at Liluma. Seriously. You might as well meet me if you’re here, and we’re talking about the best burger ever made. If you don’t like burgers, I’d say that Pappy’s Smokehouse is next on the list.
  2. Go to a Cardinals game. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like baseball. Cardinals games are a ton of fun.
  3. Don’t go up the Arch. Instead, walk around the base of the arch. There’s a nice riverfront park there (FYI, the Arch runs perpendicular to the Mississippi River, not across it. As some of us may have originally thought), and you’ll get a much better idea of the architectural feat that is the Arch than actually going up inside of it, which is probably the most anticlimactic thing you’ll ever do.
  4. Go on the Budweiser Brewery tour. It’s interesting, there are horses (complete with horse anatomy and feces!), and free beer at the end. Get a pretzel at St. Louis mainstay Gus’s Pretzels while you’re down there. However, if you want to go to the largest St. Louis brewery (Bud isn’t American-owned anymore), go to the delightful Schlafly Bottleworks.
  5. Get dessert. St. Louis has some legendary desserts. I’m recommend going to Crowne Candy Kitchen for milkshakes and the Cupcakery for (can you guess?) cupcakes. There are also a number of great gelaterias. If you want a traditional St. Louis food, get some gooey butter cake or some Ted Drewes frozen custard.
  6. Go to Forest Park and the zoo. Burn off those calories from the dessert by taking a run in the beautiful Forest Park. Run by the fountains and keep going over to the zoo, which I think is the second-best public (free) zoo in the U.S. Don’t leave until you hang out with the penguins and puffins for a while. (If you’re in the mood for a walk instead of a run, try the Botanical Gardens.)
  7. Treat yourself to dinner. There are plenty of great places to eat in St. Louis, but I’d put Atlas Restaurant and Iron Barley up there as a great combination of service, experience, and delicious food. If you want to eat Obama’s favorite pizza at a cool ambiance, hit up Pi Pizza.
  8. See a movie at the Moolah. I know, some people might think it odd to go see a movie when you could see a movie anywhere. But you really haven’t ever seen a movie in a place like the Moolah. One huge screen, leather couches, great popcorn…it’s a great theater.
  9. See a concert at The Pageant. This is one of the coolest concert venues I’ve ever been to. It just…works. In the summer, though, I’d recommend the UMB Bank Pavilion (or whatever it’s called now). They have a huge sloped lawn where thousands of people crowd for the biggest acts.
  10. End your night with drinks at the Chocolate Bar. Have you ever fantasized about living in a place where everything is made of chocolate? That’s the Chocolate Bar. It gets very crowded, but it’s worth it.

Of course, I’ve left many things off the list (the City Museum, the Muny, the casinos, the amazing crepes)…but that is how Top 10 lists work. What do you think, fellow St. Louisans? What would you add to the list?

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. Kai permalink
    January 22, 2010 12:15 am

    LOL! Are those penguins doing what I think they are doing?

    I have been in St. Louis for 15 years and never heard or been to Cupcakery. Where is it? And where can I find some good crepes? I love crepes!

    There’s also the Science Center for OMNIMAX, Art Museum for mummies and beautiful paintings, and St. Louis Bubble Tea for bubble tea.

  2. January 22, 2010 1:01 am

    Those penguins are doing one of St. Louis’s favorite activities.

    The Cupcakery is in the Central West End (Google it!) It’s amazing. Crepes are all over the city. Try City Coffee House or Rooster.

    Good call on those other places as well.

  3. sorryrachel permalink
    January 22, 2010 2:27 am

    Good call on NOT going up the arch… it’s a waste of time and money.

    The Riverfront Times has got to be the best resource to finding things to do in STL whether you live here or just visiting, it’s free and you can pick one up almost anywhere.

    • January 22, 2010 11:01 am

      I like the recommendation of the RFT. Just to let outsiders know, the RFT is a free newspaper. Also, I really like Sauce Magazine for food recommendations.

  4. Jill permalink
    January 22, 2010 3:11 am

    Kai…I like the City Coffeehouse & Creperie in Clayton, although I am no crepe expert.

    Also, Citygarden downtown is a fun place to visit.

    • January 22, 2010 11:02 am

      Thanks for adding the Citygarden to the list. It’s relatively new–I think they just put it in this past summer. It adds a sophisticated flair to downtown.

  5. Dionne permalink
    January 22, 2010 10:10 am

    I have been to St. Louis before, but never did those things you mentioned (mostly because I was there for only 2 days for a conference). I would love to go back!! Get ready Mr. Tour Guide because I’m going to ask lots of questions!

  6. John Aughey permalink
    January 22, 2010 11:04 am

    I’m going to have to disagree on going up in the Arch. With a caveat. If you go there when it is not busy and you don’t have to wait, take the plunge and go up.

    • January 22, 2010 11:13 am

      I’m going to have to agree with myself here. I’ve been up the Arch twice, and the “best” part of it (the only part that’s worth telling other people about) is how you actually get up there (tiny pods that move really slowly). Once you get up there, you realize that the best view of St. Louis includes the Arch, and since you’re in the Arch, you can’t see the Arch. You just see downtown St. Louis and the industrial mecca that is East St. Louis.

  7. Reggie permalink
    January 22, 2010 11:40 am

    The Saint Louis Symphony, conductor David Robertson. Without a doubt, one of the best symphonies in the country. This is a gem in this flyover city. Even if you don’t go for classical music, you won’t regret a performance at Powell Hall. Always sublime, often mind-blowing.

    (And Jamey, I completely agree with you about the Arch. I think it is one of the most unique monuments, a work of art in its own right. But only from base camp. )

    • January 22, 2010 3:54 pm

      Reggie–I’m not a symphony guy (I like classical music, but my ideal symphony is one in which I cuddle up with a good woman and a good book while listening to it…to my knowledge, symphonies don’t condone that), but thanks for the recommendation!

  8. Colleen permalink
    January 22, 2010 3:30 pm

    Don’t forget to visit Ted Drewes, a frozen custard shop on historic Route 66, famous for its concretes that you can hold upside down. While I like the concretes, my recommendations are the Cardinal Sin sundae (frozen custard, hot fudge, and tart cherries) and the Dutchman Delight sundae (frozen custard, hot fudge, caramel, and pecans). This is a hotspot in summertime and after Cardinals baseball games. YUM!

    If you’d like a fun night out on the town, the Fox Theatre has many wonderful plays and musicals. (It’s known as “The Fabulous Fox.”) The theatre itself is gorgeous, with beautiful architecture, carvings, and red velvet seats!

    Another fun thing to do is go on a Dinner and Music Cruise on the Mississippi River. They have two old-time steamboats that look like they’re from the 1800’s – the Tom Sawyer and the Becky Thatcher – and you get to enjoy dinner, dessert, and live music (such as Dixieland or Jazz) inside the boat, while it travels up and down the river. Many of the tables are right next to the windows, so you have a good view. After dinner, you can go outside, relax, and see the views from out there. It’s especially cool to go on a nighttime cruise and see Downtown and the Arch all lit up!

    • January 22, 2010 3:53 pm

      I can’t believe I forgot Ted Drewes! Thank you so much, Colleen. Although frozen custard isn’t for everyone, it’s certainly a St. Louis staple.

      Thanks for the other recommendations as well!

  9. January 23, 2010 8:33 pm

    Good list, but 4/10 are food related. I’d emphasize the totality of Forest Park (Are Museum, History Museum, Science Center, . Being partial to outdoor events (I’m pro Zoo and Botanical Garden), one may try hiking at Lone Elk Park, Powder Valley, Castlewood State Park, etc.

    Idea for future post, top 10 annual events in St. Louis.

  10. January 24, 2010 4:29 pm

    I think everyone should go up in the arch one time, just to say they did it. Last time I went to St Louis, I was dragged into the Bowling Hall of Fame. I’m happy you didn’t include that one on the list.

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