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St. Louis, Missouri

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Did You Know … ?

  • St. Louis hosted America’s first Olympic Games in 1904.
  • Charles Lindbergh named his plane “Spirit of St. Louis” to honor St. Louis supporters who paid for the craft.
  • The Budweiser Clydesdales stand 72 inches at the shoulder and weigh 1,800 to 2,300 pounds each.
  • The Mayfair Hotel in St. Louis is credited with being the first property to place chocolates on guest pillows at night.
  • In 1890, a St. Louis physician first sold peanut paste (peanut butter) — to help people with bad teeth.

Gateway to the West

St. Louis, named for a French king, is better known for other things — such as beer making and the Budweiser Clydesdales; “St. Louis Blues,” the world’s most famous blues song; the 1904 World’s Fair where the ice cream cone was born, and, not least, a 630-foot steel arch that is the most recognizable symbol for this city on the Mississippi River.

The St. Louis Gateway Arch is a good starting point for visitors, for the views from the top and for the museum at its base. The arch and its Museum of Westward Expansion speak to the history and geography that differentiate St. Louis from other American cities.

The centrally located metropolis, on the Mississippi’s west bank, became known as the Gateway to the West after Lewis and Clark made it the starting point for their expedition in 1804. Today, St. Louis is a medium-sized city (less than half a million) with enough verve and variety to entertain guests with many interests.

Anheuser-Busch is the best known of local breweries, but choices for tours and tastings include Schlafly Bottleworks, small microbreweries and beer festivals scheduled throughout the year.

St. Louis is identified with ragtime, the blues, rock ‘n’ roll — and the nation’s second-oldest symphony orchestra, founded in 1880. Ragtime legend Scott Joplin spent productive years in this city. The local hockey team is named St. Louis Blues for the song, but the music lives on in Soulard and other entertainment districts. Native son Chuck Berry is called the father of rock ‘n’ roll.

The city’s Riverfront area combines elements of a park, sightseeing attraction and entertainment district. Visitors may cycle the Riverfront Trail from the Gateway Arch north to Riverfront Park. They may sightsee on a Mississippi riverboat or by helicopter. Or, they may visualize something of old St. Louis in historic Laclede’s Landing, even while pursuing a late night in its casino, clubs or restaurants.

The city is well supplied with green spaces with hiking and biking trails. The 1,300-acre multipurpose Forest Park, site of the World’s Fair, encompasses cultural institutions (art museum, history museum, science center and zoo) as well as recreational facilities.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Look for a lively night out at Laclede’s Landing or Washington Avenue, both downtown (for some of the hottest bars and dance clubs), or in the Loop and in Soulard (for the blues clubs). Head to the Blueberry Hill restaurant and music club, an occasional performance space for rock ‘n’ roll great and St. Louis native Chuck Berry.
  • Cycle on the area’s most challenging trail, the seven-mile Chubb Trail, known for its steep descents — and great views. Also, take the binoculars to conservation areas at the convergence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers for bird spotting.
  • Attend a performance at the city’s Repertory Theater, or see the Black Repertory Company. For something edgier, consider the New Line Theatre.
  • See the home of composer and ragtime legend Scott Joplin.
  • Choose your party. In February join revelers at the city’s lively Mardi Gras celebration. Or, in May, sample the barbecues at the Rib America Festival. In autumn, German culture — including the food and music —is the theme at Soulard Oktoberfest.
  • Eat a St. Louis favorite, called gooey butter cake, then work it off by testing your skills at the Go Ape! adventure course, which involves ziplining and climbing through the treetops of Creve Coeur Park.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Take the Anheuser-Busch Budweiser Brewery tour where you can visit the Budweiser Clydesdales and sample the product. And/or take the free brewery tour and try some of the beers at Schlafly Bottleworks. Continuing the theme, sample the beers at one or St. Louis’ several microbreweries, or come for any of several annual beer festivals.
  • Cheer the local team: Attend a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game.
  • Overnight in a bed and breakfast establishment in Missouri’s wine country just west of St. Louis, then sample some of the region’s varietals.
  • Look into a fascinating Native American civilization at the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site across the Mississippi in Illinois. In 1200, the city was larger than London. The site has more than 70 mounds, including Monks Mound, which at 100 feet tall is the largest in North America.
  • Make wheels a theme. Plan an itinerary that includes the Kemp Auto Museum with its collection of old and new cars; the Moto Museum, to see its collection of rare and vintage motorcycles, and the St. Louis Museum of Transportation, which explores the history, mechanics and design of wheeled vehicles ranging from the cart and buggy to the plane.
  • Do your part to solve the murder mystery at the Bissell Mansion Restaurant and Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Ride to the top of the Gateway Arch — twice the height of the Statue of Liberty — for views of the Gateway City.
  • Sail on a paddleboat replica for a narrated cruise on the mighty Mississippi.
  • See artists at work, watch a glassblowing demonstration or see circus acts at the unique interactive City Museum, a place with special appeal to adults and children alike. Ride a Ferris wheel and find other adventures on the museum’s roof, too.
  • Hear the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, the country’s second-oldest orchestra, founded in 1880. For more of the culture scene, visit the St. Louis Art Museum for the contents and for the building, which originated as the Fine Arts Palace at the 1904 World’s Fair.
  • If the season is right, attend an open-air performance at Forest Park’s the Muny, the nation’s largest outdoor amphitheater dedicated solely to musical theater.
  • Visit the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis to see one of the world’s largest collections of mosaic art, which illustrates local history as well as Biblical scenes.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission at http://explorestlouis.com