St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis, known as the Gateway City, lies near the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, a strategic position that made it one of America's leading cities by the end of the 19th century. Eclectic architecture, great parks, and a wealth of history enrich its modern urban landscape.
What We Love
The Hill: St. Louis-style pizza and toasted ravioli are specialties at restaurants such as Charlie Gitto’s, Guido’s Pizzeria, and Mama’s on the Hill in this historic Italian-American neighborhood — birthplace of baseball legend Yogi Berra — located south of Forest Park.
Gateway Mall: This 20-block-long green space through downtown St. Louis flaunts a wide array of public artwork as well as landmark structures that include Union Station, the Soldiers Memorial, the Old Courthouse, City Hall, and Peabody Opera House.
Best Known For
Gateway Arch: Centerpiece of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, this 630-foot stainless-steel rainbow — designed by Eero Saarinen and constructed in 1965 — towers over the Mississippi, the Museum of Westward Expansion, and the Old Courthouse. Ride a tram capsule to the top for cool views, albeit through narrow windows.
Missouri Botanical Garden: One of the oldest in the nation, this lush 80-acre enclave is sprinkled with themed areas that include Victorian, Ottoman, German, and Japanese gardens, and the geodesic-domed Climatron tropical rainforest.
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Who It's Best For
Walkers: Whether it's the Mississippi riverfront, Gateway Mall, Forest Park, or the Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis offers a variety of options for a casual stroll — or an energetic walk to get those 10,000 daily steps on your Fitbit.
Carb Lovers: The city's menu of caloric hometown favorites — gooey butter cake, toasted ravioli, frozen custard, and cheesy square-cut pizza — will help carbohydrate connoisseurs achieve culinary nirvana.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
The Big Muddy Is Muddled: Although the area directly in front of the Gateway Arch has a parklike atmosphere, much of the St. Louis waterfront is still industrial.
It's Spread Out: Many of the city's major sights — such as Forest Park, the Missouri Botanical Garden, and the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site — are far from downtown and the river landings.
Joe Yogerst is a California-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Travel + Leisure.