Called the “Gateway to the West,” St. Louis is best known for its staggering Arch monument among the downtown high-rises. But two other staples of the city are loved by locals and tourists alike: baseball and beer. The St. Louis Cardinals (MLB) play in a downtown stadium, and Anheuser-Busch, founded in St. Louis, has its largest brewery minutes south.
Like the Cardinals, the St. Louis Rams (NFL) and St. Louis Blues (NHL) teams have strong fan followings. During a home game, expect crowds on the streets, restaurants and nearby bars.
Budget-conscious travelers will find this city affordable: There are many free or low-cost activities. Plus, the city is divided into dozens of distinctive neighborhoods, from historic Soulard to the upscale Central West End. Several have parks or downtown areas worth a stroll.
Beer (and history) lovers will find plenty of iconic buildings, tours and events. Anheuser-Busch InBev’s brewery, opened in 1852, stands as a cultural symbol of the city. In its shadow, microbreweries have cropped up in nearby neighborhoods and brew their own concoctions.
Some of the original buildings still stand from the 1904 World’s Fair and can be seen at one of the city’s largest parks, Forest Park. The park also boasts the St. Louis Zoo, St. Louis Art Museum and outdoor Muny Opera house. Several offer free admission at certain times.
Other historic sites include the Missouri Botanical Garden and Union Station, once a train terminal that’s now a hotel and shopping center complex.
When to Go
Temperatures tend to be mildest in March and April, and then again in November and December. These are the most desirable times to catch baseball or football games, before the summer heat or the wintery weather sets in. Many visitors also come during January and February, when the city hosts its annual Mardi Gras – one of the largest outside of New Orleans. To avoid crowds, visit in the humid summer months, and stop in one of the local breweries for a cool drink.
How to Get There
More than a dozen major airlines serve Lambert International Airport. Downtown St. Louis is a 20-minute drive away. The easiest way to get around the city is with a rental car.
Take a ride to the top of the 630-foot-tall Gateway Arch. Get the best views of the city, Mississippi River and surrounding towns with this must-do landmark attraction.
Another adrenaline rush can be found at Six Flags St. Louis, the nearest theme and water park. About 30 miles from downtown, the park is open daily from mid-May to mid-August and on other select dates from April-early November.
Anheuser-Busch InBev’s brewery offers free daily tours. Guests can see the famous Budweiser Clydesdale horses, learn how beer is made and bottled, and enjoy Anheuser-Busch products after the tour.
Grant’s Farm, the 281-acre ancestral home of the Busch family that’s now home to more than 1,000 animals, is another visitor favorite. Admission to the family-friendly farm, tram rides and animal shows are free.