St. Louis is one of my favorite cities, and it’s a great weekend destination. Whether you live in the Midwest and are looking for a drivable getaway or you’re further away and want to explore a bit, St. Louis has oh-so-much to offer.
From a thriving food scene to affordable things to do and more, St. Louis makes for a memorable and fun trip. Make sure you take time to really explore the city — there’s so much to see. It’s at it’s very best during the warmer months (isn’t all of the Midwest that way?), but it doesn’t sleep through the winter either. No matter how you like to travel, you’ll find it in St. Louis.
Where to Stay
This quirky, artsy hotel, located in the Grand Center Arts District, allows you to choose your hotel room based on your “color of emotion.” Each room is decorated from top to bottom in a different color: green (rejuvenation), blue (tranquility), red (passion), and yellow (happiness). Memorable for sure.
Midtown St. Louis is home to Saint Louis University, as well as the Grand Center Arts District. To take full advantage of all the city has to offer (it’s conveniently located, after all), stay at beautiful Hotel Ignacio, located right across the street from SLU and around the corner from the Fox Theater.
If you’re planning on spending more time outside of the city while you’re visiting, consider staying at the adorable Seven Gables Inn in nearby Clayton, MO. Not only is Clayton super accessible to some of St. Louis’ best sites, but it also has its own collection of cute restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques, and the like.
Whether you’re a diehard Cardinals fan, love sports or baseball in general, or just want to stay near all the action (and get some of the best views of the city to boot), Hilton St. Louis At The Ballpark is a great choice for your STL home base. Some of the rooms look (essentially) directly into the ballpark!
This gorgeous B&B is well-located in the city, with easy access to the nearby Missouri Botanical Garden, lots of great restaurants, and tons of beautiful (and historic) neighborhoods. You’ll see fleur-de-lis all over St. Louis, so the name of this hotel fits perfectly in the city.
If you’re looking for style and glamour, Chase Park Plaza is a great hotel for your St. Louis getaway. Located in the Central West End, the hotel is across the street from the city’s famous Forest Park, as well down the road from Midtown and the Delmar Loop. It’s home to a movie theater, relaxing pool (so you can soak in the rays after a day out exploring), and one of the loveliest bars in the city, The Preston.
Union Station is a major downtown attraction, and the hotel at Union Station is arguably one of the most beautiful places you can stay in the city. Don’t miss the Grand Hall lights show in the evening. Grab a drink at the bar and settle in for the show. Union Station is also home to the St. Louis Aquarium, restaurants, the St. Louis Wheel (a ferris wheel), and more.
The Moonrise Hotel is a cool, unique boutique hotel located in the Delmar Loop. The Loop is chock full of restaurants and shops and is just a stone’s throw away from University City, Forest Park, the Central West End, and so much more. The hotel’s rooftop is not to be missed — you’ll get views of the whole city.
If you’re looking for the quintessential St. Louis experience, staying near the Arch is a great way to go. You’ve seen it a million times before, but there’s just something about seeing it close-up.
The gorgeous Magnolia Hotel St. Louis is located downtown and housed in a building that’s on the National Register of Historic Places. It was originally built in 1924 (as the Mayfair Hotel) and, according to the hotel’s website, was the first place that featured chocolates on the pillows. The hotel’s not far from Busch Stadium, where the Cardinals play, and also close to the Arch and tons of restaurants.
You may or may not know this, but St. Louis was once home to the International Shoe Company, as well as a thriving garment district. The Last Hotel, which opened July 1, 2019, is housed within the historic International Shoe Company building. It’ll have a rooftop bar, a restaurant, and lots of local products and touches.
Yet another pretty downtown hotel, The Westin is super close to Busch Stadium, the Enterprise Center (where the Blues play), and the Arch, as well as the major downtown STL highways, which means it’s easy to get where you want to go, no matter what part of the city it may be in.
Where to Eat
Kaldi’s sometimes feels ever-present in St. Louis, but that’s a great problem to have if you’re looking for a cup a coffee. With locations across the city and surrounding area, you’re never far from the basics like coffee and matcha, but you can also grab a bite to eat (their avocado toast is pretty much a work of art).
I could absolutely sit (and eat) at Union Loafers all day long. Though, unsurprisingly, the breads are the real stars here, my favorite order is the Little Gem Salad. I’ve also heard that the pizza is not to be missed (and can confirm that that turkey sandwich is a winner). A salad or sandwich, a glass of wine, and this breezy dining room? Pretty much the perfect afternoon.
Though there’s now another location in Nashville as well, Pastaria is a STL favorite for sure. Don’t miss the bomboloni at brunch (it’s the perfect appetizer for breakfast pizza), or pretty much any of the pizzas, pastas, or salads later in the day (or anything else, seriously guys, it’s all good). Don’t forget to save room for gelato or sorbetto.
Venture to The Hill, the city’s Italian-American neighborhood, for sandwiches at Gioia’s Deli, which was named a 2017 American Classic by the James Beard Awards Foundation. The 101-year-old neighborhood mainstay is famous for its hot salami sandwich, which is pretty much what it sounds like. If you’re not a salami fan, the meatball and roast beef sandwiches are both winners as well. Plus, you can get any sandwich on the deli’s garlic cheese bread (and, honestly, why wouldn’t you?).
For an early-morning or mid-afternoon jolt, head over to Sump Coffee on Jefferson Ave. If you like what you’re drinking, you can shop the coffee to make yourself at home, or join the coffee company’s subscription program.
You pretty much can’t go to St. Louis without stopping by Ted Drewes at one point or another. The famous custard stand has been a St. Louis staple for 90 years. You truly can’t go wrong with your order, but I’m partial to the hot fudge concrete or when it’s seasonally-appropriate, The Great Pumpkin.
If you, like me, have been counting down the days until summer, head over to Yellowbelly to really lean into the season. Sip on a cocktail from their stellar cocktail list, order just for yourself, or share a bunch of small plates. Yellowbelly is also open for brunch, featuring gorgeous avocado toast, chicken and waffles with plantain butter, and lobster enchiladas.
If you’ve been to (or live in) St. Louis and you haven’t yet eaten at Lona’s Lil Eats, you’re seriously missing out, and also, we need to have a talk because what are you waiting for? This cute little restaurant in the Fox Park neighborhood is home to some of the best Asian food in the city. And I’m not the only one who thinks so: Chef Lona Luo was named a semifinalist for Best Chef Midwest by the James Beard Foundation in 2018. They’re known for their giant rice paper wraps, but that’s really just the beginning. Try a cookie for dessert.
Elaia and Olio are technically two separate restaurants, both in the Botanical Heights neighborhood. Elaia is the higher-end of the two, so if you’re looking for that kind of thing, head there (they also have an extensive — and lovely — wine list). Olio is located in an old filling station and serves Israeli-inspired bites (perfect for a night out with friends). They also have a “spritz hour.” What’s not to like about that?
Ices Plain & Fancy makes incredibly creamy ice cream right before your eyes with the assistance of liquid nitrogen. Place your order and then watch them whip up a serving just for you. The seasonal strawberry, which is only on the menu for a short time each year, is a favorite.
Pizza and pasta may be right there in the name (and they’re definitely worth a visit), but there’s so much more to KPPO than just that. Try one of the beautiful salads, swing by for brunch, or opt for a selection of antipasti. You’ll have to venture away from downtown, but it’s well worth it.
If you want to start your day off right while also giving back and doing good, head to Lola Jean’s Giveback in the Macklind Business District. The premise of the shop is that the profits that are made from their sales of coffee, pastries, and food menu go to local community nonprofits (the specific nonprofit rotates). Delicious brunch, great coffee, and a good cause? Sign me up.
For a memorable dinner — maybe to celebrate a special occasion — head to Benton Park’s Sidney Street Cafe. The restaurant pulls influences from all over the world (and from the restaurant garden!) and also features a gorgeous bar (where you can eat). The restaurant is well-loved and considered one of the city’s best. Chef Kevin Nashan won the Best Chef: Midwest award from the James Beard Foundation in 2017.
Mai Lee has been a St. Louis staple since opening in 1985. It’s located in nearby Brentwood but is absolutely worth the (very short) drive. Seriously, you won’t regret it. The menu features Vietnamese and Chinese favorites and is still family-run. They’ve since expanded, opening Nudo House in Creve Coeur in 2017.
There’s very little I like more than sitting out on a patio come summertime, and Planter’s House has a great one. The drinks are top-notch, but the food is good too, so whether you want to swing by for after dinner drinks or you let your pre-dinner drinks time get away from you a bit, they’ve got you covered.
Head to Lafayette Square, Clayton, or South Hampton for ice cream at Clementine’s. They make small-batch ice cream in all kinds of inventive (and delicious) flavors. They use seasonal flavor pairings and ingredients, create boozy concoctions, and even have vegan offerings. Honey lavender, pink champagne, chocolate cabernet, cashew salted caramel? I mean…
Vicia made a big splash when it opened back in 2017, and it really hasn’t slowed down since. The menu is veggie-forward and fun, featuring the best of the Midwest. It’s more casual at lunch and a bit fancier at dinner but always full of flavor and plenty of inspiration.
A French pastry shop in the heart of Botanical Heights. Swing by La Patisserie Chouquette for macarons, macaron ice cream sandwiches, eclairs, croissants, and more. Bonus: it’s across the street from Union Loafers and Elaia and Olio.
Though you might think that the only reason to stop by Nathaniel Reid Bakery in Kirkwood is for pastries, you’d be wrong. Though the pastries are lovely — chef Nathaniel Reid draws inspiration from the essence of flavors themselves — you can also get delicious sandwiches and salads there, making it a great low-key lunch spot.
Favorite food truck Balkan Treat Box finally opened a brick and mortar restaurant in February. But they’re still very much a favorite around town. The restaurant, in Webster Groves, is only open from 11 am to 3 pm — or until they sell out. St. Louis is home to the largest population of Bosnians outside of Europe, so spending a bit of time in Bevo Mill or (and!) swinging by Balkan Treat Box are musts.
There’s so much barbecue in St. Louis. And, naturally, everyone has a favorite. I love so many of the city’s barbecue joints, but Pappy’s has a special place in my heart. Located in Midtown St. Louis, it’s just a stones-throw away from SLU. Get there early — they’re open until they sell out.
Crown Candy is a STL classic. It’s an old-fashioned soda fountain — the oldest in the city. Ordering a milkshake, ice cream, or sundae is a must. Also, they’re known for their BLTs, so don’t miss it.
This family-run restaurant specializes in delicious Persian food and has been open for 30 years. My favorite order is a kabob, but there are so many options. Don’t miss the homemade desserts — they’re so good!
Another favorite food truck turned restaurant, Guerrilla Street Food focuses on Filipino-American food. You really can’t go wrong, but the menus are slightly different at different locations. Look for them inside 2nd Shift Brewing and Two Plumbers Brewery + Arcade.
Things to Do
Take in the view at the Arch
If you’ve never been to the Gateway Arch, it’s a must for a trip to St. Louis. Check out the museum at the bottom of the Arch and take a ride up in the tram for a view of all of St. Louis. It’s definitely not something you need to do on every trip, but it’s something you should do at least once.
Guys, you have to go to City Museum. It’s also located in the old International Shoe building in downtown St. Louis, and it’s basically a playground. Make sure you wear sneakers (or another shoe that stays firmly on your foot), and get ready to be awed (and have so much fun).
Catch a game at Busch Stadium or Enterprise Center
St. Louis is a sports town, so take advantage and see a game at Busch Stadium (where the Cardinals play), Enterprise Center (where the Blues play), or, my personal favorite, Chaifetz Arena (on SLU’s campus). If you’re in town during soccer season, Saint Louis FC is also a good choice — St. Louis loves soccer.
Take a stroll through Forest Park
Forest Park is a St. Louis gem, so don’t forget to explore it a bit while you’re in town. It’s located right near the campus of Washington University. The Saint Louis Zoo (free to get in!) and Saint Louis Art Museum are both located in the park, as is the Jewel Box, the Boathouse restaurant, plenty of paths for walking, running, or bike riding, and more. It’s larger than Central Park and a must-visit.
Go on a brewery crawl
St. Louis is home to so many breweries, and they’re all great. Obviously, Anheuser-Busch is a big one (and has a great tour), but you absolutely definitely shouldn’t overlook any of the others. Ferguson Brewing, Schlafly, Four Hands, 2nd Shift, Urban Chestnut, Rockwell, Side Project, Perennial, the list goes on and on.
Take a detour to Meramec Caverns
Meramec Caverns is definitely not in St. Louis, but if you’re looking to explore the area a bit more, it’s worth the drive. According to the Caverns’ website, it’s the largest commercial cave in Missouri, which is a state full of caves. Take a tour, and learn more about the history.
Head to the Tower Grove Park or Soulard Farmer’s Market
Though Forest Park gets a lot of attention, Tower Grove Park is another great place to visit, and the weekend farmer’s market is a great time to visit. The Soulard Farmers Market is over 200 years old and is open from Wednesday through Saturday, giving you plenty of opportunities to taste and explore.
Take in all the beauty at the Missouri Botanical Garden
The Missouri Botanical Garden is so beautiful (not surprisingly), and it’s worth a visit if you have time. Wander through the gardens or attend one of their events, like Garden Party Lights.
See a show at The Muny or The Fox
The Muny and The Fabulous Fox are two of the coolest places in all of St. Louis. Watch a musical under the stars at The Muny or check out the gorgeous, intricate architecture at The Fox. Either way, you really can’t go wrong.
The Lemp Mansion is considered one of the most haunted places around. Check it out for yourself by taking a tour (it doesn’t have to be haunted tour!), attending a mystery dinner, or eating a meal in the restaurant. The mansion’s fried chicken remains a favorite.
You may notice, as you wander the city, that St. Louis has Panera Bread restaurants that aren’t called Panera. That’s because they’re St. Louis Bread Company, or as they’re more affectionately known, Bread Co. For clothing and accessories inspired by the city but with a trendier twist than typical souvenirs, head to Arch Apparel’s brick and mortar location in Brentwood.
Browse on Cherokee Street
Cherokee Street is home to Antique Row, which is worth a look, but there are also tons of additional restaurants, shops, and the like all up and down the street. Spend the day meandering in and out of businesses and enjoying the neighborhood.