We present some of the city’s favorite hangouts and hidden gems to check out during your visit to St. Louis.
St. Louis may be most famous for its iconic Gateway Arch, but the city has far more to offer than in its 630-foot stainless steel feat of modern architecture. The second largest city in Missouri, St. Louis is made up of roughly 308,000 residents, who are well known for their love of sports, barbecue restaurants and blues music.
Visitors to this eclectic town have ample options for things to do, see and, of course, eat. But as any seasoned traveler will tell you, to truly experience a place, you have to do what the locals do. Here, we present some of the city’s favorite hangouts and hidden gems to check out during your stay. Put on your walking shoes and bring your sense of adventure (and a mask!)…it’s time to explore St. Louis.
The Loop (aka Delmar Loop): Named one of the 10 best streets in the United States, the Loop is a vibrant 8-block area where old streetcars used to loop around before connecting to other parts of town. Today, it is home to a multicultural group of restaurants, bars, shops, hotels, music venues and art galleries, as well as an electric trolley that connects it all and plenty of bright neon signs. Just minutes from downtown, the Loop also features the St. Louis Walk of Fame, which lines the sidewalks of Del Mar street with bronze stars dedicated to famous St. Louisans, including Maya Angelou, T.S. Eliot, Joseph Pulitzer and Chuck Berry, whose statue is also nearby. While you’re there, grab a table and order a St. Louis classic: the toasted ravioli from Blueberry Hill Restaurant & Bar. You can thank us later.
City Museum: The City Museum is, essentially, a big playground for adults (though kids are also welcome). In 1993, artists Bob and Gail Cassilly acquired a 10-story 600,000-square-foot former shoe company warehouse in downtown St. Louis and set out to transform the space into a “city within a city.” The whimsical space now features miles of tunnels, slides, bridges and castles, a rooftop bus, Ferris wheel, ball pits, secret passages and playgrounds. Tickets are $18 for anyone over 2.
Campbell House Museum: History buffs, unite! This official St. Louis Landmark, which opened in 1943, is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Campbell House Museum commemorates the home, built in 1851, and Victorian lifestyle of Robert Campbell and his wife, Virginia Kyle Campbell. Their enormous collection of home decor is so impressive, one history expert said: “Probably nowhere in America, possibly nowhere else, is such an intact and integral display of elaborate and ornate furnishings of the middle Victorian period to be found, as in the Campbell mansion.”
Soulard Farmers Market: Get a taste of Missouri’s vibrant farming culture—and sample some goodies from outside of St. Louis—at Soulard Farmers Market. Open since 1779, it’s one of the oldest public markets still operating in the United States today. Hours differ each day, but the market is open Wednesday through Saturday, and the fall months are the best time to visit, when you can expect lots of fresh fruits and veggies, baked goods, meats, cheeses, spices, home decor, flowers and crafts.
World Chess Hall of Fame: Inside this one-of-a-kind museum located in the city’s upscale Central West End neighborhood, chess fans can peruse artifacts from the museum’s collection highlighting the great players, historic games and rich cultural history of chess. Among the collection is a 500-year-old piece from an Egyptian board game, a custom set of chess furniture that belonged to Bobby Fischer, a book of chess openings that he signed, and the first commercial chess computer. Grandmasters have been known to make an appearance here on occasion.
Chuck Berry’s House: Did you know that Chuck Berry named the protagonist of his 1958 hit song “Johnny B. Goode” after his childhood address? The beloved Father of Rock-n-Roll was born in his family’s home at 2520 Goode Avenue (since renamed Annie Malone Drive) in St. Louis, where his abandoned old brick house sits, a faded “B” for “Berry” still visible on the awning. It is in this house where Berry says he fell in love with music while listening to his parents sing choir songs. Hats off to mom and dad for inspiring classics like “You Never Can Tell” and “Roll Over Beethoven.”
Crown Candy Kitchen: Take a step back in time at St. Louis’s oldest soda fountain. Family-owned since 1913, Crown Candy Kitchen—which makes its own chocolate candy—features a vintage jukebox, Coca Cola collectibles, a soda fountain and a full lunch and dinner menu. After polishing off a thick-stacked BLT sandwich, you must try one of their famous desserts (it’s family policy, they say), such as the Crown Sundae, homemade ice cream or an old-fashioned malted milkshake. If you can drink five milkshakes in 30 minutes or less, you get them free! It, too, is policy.