St. Louis Gateway Arch and city skyline

Best Things to Do in St. Louis

BY Fifty Grande Editors | August 16, 2020

Welcome to Fifty Grande’s Best of the U.S. Bucket List series. This is your one-stop travel guide to the best, most unique and quintessential experiences of a city, state or event. Want to know how to “do” St. Louis? We’ve got you covered. Curated by experts, vetted by in-the-know locals, this is all you need to have the best trip ever. If we’ve written a Bucket List, we recommend you go. If it’s on this list, it’s the best the city has to offer right now. Consider this your one-stop answer to “What are the best things to do in St. Louis?”

St. Louis has a long history as a starting point, a kickoff to great endeavors — like settlers in covered wagons, steamboats on the Mississippi, the first interstate highway and 1904 World’s Fair innovators. But today, it’s a destination. No longer are brave adventurers departing St. Louis in search of greener pastures — they’re already there. The Gateway to the West is an epicenter for culinary creations and a port of call for artists. It’s got a beer giant and championship-caliber sports alongside niche galleries and eccentric dive bars. It’s a Midwestern mish-mash of people and passions. You’re another in a long line of St. Louis explorers. Consider this your map to the very best things to do in St. Louis right now.

 

You’re here for the toasted ravioli

If deep-fried ravioli sounds like an accident, that’s because it was. But like penicillin, potato chips and microwave ovens, it was an accident that made the world better. And now it’s a signature St. Louis dish. The best place to sample these delicious pasta pockets is the Hill, a historic Italian American neighborhood loaded with bakeries, pizzerias, eateries and all the toasted ravioli you can eat.

Lombard's Trattoria, St. Louis
#1
Lombard's Trattoria, St. Louis

Lombardo’s Trattoria

Lower Level of Drury Inn, 201 S 20th St, St. Louis, MO
Charlie Gitto's
#2
Charlie Gitto's

Charlie Gitto’s

5226 Shaw Ave, St. Louis, MO, USA
Mama's On The Hill, St. Louis
#3
Mama's On The Hill, St. Louis

Mama’s on the Hill

2132 Edwards St, St. Louis, MO, USA

Good news: You’re also here for barbecue

St. Louis is a standout destination for barbecue fans. The city’s eponymously named barbecue style is filled with heavily sauced, rectangular-shaped spare ribs. But the city’s barbecue joints have lots more to offer. Try these two stand-outs:

Sugarfire Smoke House, St. Louis
#4
Sugarfire Smoke House, St. Louis

Sugarfire Smoke House

9200 Olive Blvd #114, St. Louis, MO
Pappy's Smokehouse, St. Louis
#5
Pappy's Smokehouse, St. Louis

Pappy’s Smokehouse

3106 Olive St, St. Louis, MO, USA

Get a brain freeze at STL’s quintessential custard stand

As the story goes, waffle cones were invented at the St. Louis World’s Fair, so frozen treats are in the city’s DNA. Places around the city, like Clementine’s and Serendipity, serve up homemade scoops, but there’s really only one “must-visit” frozen-dairy utopia.

Ted Drewes, St. Louis
#6
Ted Drewes, St. Louis

Ted Drewes

6726 Chippewa Street, St. Louis, MO, USA

You’ll find locals and out-of-towners alike lined up outside for “concretes” with a choice of 39 mixers. (Be ready: The lines are long.)

Bite into rock ‘n’ roll history

Chuck Berry, the father of rock ‘n’ roll, was a proud STL native, and this is the place where he honed his pioneering style.

Blueberry Hill, 6504 Delmar in The Loop, St. Louis
#7
Blueberry Hill, Delmar in The Loop, St. Louis. Pic: Shutterstock

Blueberry Hill

6504 Delmar Blvd, University City, St. Louis, MO, USA

Berry played more shows here than anywhere else, over 200 of them. Today, this Delmar Loop bulwark is still dishing out burgers, live music and their kitschy pop-culture-themed decor. 

Ride the Gateway Arch

Yeah, it’s probably the most touristy, found-this-on-a-top-ten-list thing to do in St. Louis, but it’s also something you won’t find anywhere else, and it offers some great views of the city.

St. Louis Gateway Arch and city skyline
#8
St. Louis Gateway Arch and city skyline. Pic: Shutterstock

Gateway Arch

Gateway Arch, St. Louis, MO, USA

This stainless steel parabola is a defining feature of the St. Louis skyline. It was constructed as a monument to the United States’ westward expansion, but it treads uncharted territory of its own as the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere. Standing back to admire it is one thing, but taking a tram to the top is a totally different experience. Over 600 feet up, you can gaze out 30 miles in each direction. Lewis and Clark started their journey here over 200 years ago. If they could see it now, they’d probably need a breather.

 

Where to do day drinking

Anheuser-Busch casts a giant, bottle-shaped shadow over the lager landscape and its hometown of St. Louis, where you can tour the Bud brewery.

Anheuser-Busch Brewery
#9
Anheuser-Busch Brewery, Shutterstock

Anheuser-Busch brewery

1200 Lynch St, St. Louis, MO 63118, USA

Anheuser-Busch’s St. Louis footprint and influence have waned since its ’08 merger with Belgium’s InBev, but the brewery still produces 13 million barrels a year. That’s a staggering amount of Bud. You can tour this brewery to see what it takes to make it all happen, and there’s even two freebies for guests. 

4 Hands Brewing Co.
#10
4 Hands Brewing Co.

4 Hands Brewing Co.

1220 S 8th St, St. Louis, MO, USA

Your Budweiser days ended long ago? Then try this favorite among St. Louis beer aficionados. They pour some spectacular barrel-aged beers. Grab a bomber to go, if you can.

See a world-record-holding mural

Every year, graffiti artists from around the world assemble on the riverfront to add their unique styles to a 2-mile stretch of Mississippi River floodwall, an event known locally as “Paint Louis.” The result? See for yourself.

Mural Mile
#11
Mural Mile

Mural Mile

Chouteau Ave & S Leonor K Sullivan Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63102

It’s two solid miles of street art, a Guinness World Record for the longest mural, packed end to end with distinct creative expressions from hundreds of artists. It’s a doozy, and worth a long afternoon walk (or drive).

 

Late-night spots

Your late-night escapades should include these.

Bud Light Grand Parade, Man drinking and wearing a St Louis Cardinals shirt, posses for the camera during the parade
#12
Bud Light Grand Parade, Man drinking and wearing a St Louis Cardinals shirt, posses for the camera during the parade. Shutterstock

Nabe to check out: Soulard

Soulard, St. Louis, MO, USA

Soulard is a historic St. Louis neighborhood with diverse architecture and some great eats, like Bogart’s Smokehouse and Capitalist Pig BBQ. If you can rally after a night on the town, there’s the Soulard Farmers Market which is billed as the oldest public market west of the Mississippi. Soulard is also home to the U.S.’s second largest Mardi Gras celebration. Check it.

Venice Cafe, St. Louis
#13
Venice Cafe, St. Louis

Venice Café

1903 Pestalozzi St, St. Louis, MO, USA

This place is so cool. But Venice Café’s appeal doesn’t come from an experimental cocktail menu or trendy location. It comes from, well, just look up pictures online. It’s vivacious and funky, with colored lights and tile mosaics covering every square inch. They serve traditional Caribbean dishes like jerk chicken and fried plantains to pair with classic drinks. You can catch live music on some nights, and in the Explorer’s Lounge (open on Friday and Saturday nights) you can admire taxidermied animals and meet Mr. Waylon Slithers, a kingsnake that sits behind the bar (don’t worry, he’s in a tank).

Moonrise Hotel
#14
Moonrise Hotel

Moonrise Hotel

6177 Delmar Blvd, St. Louis, MO, USA

The lobby has midcentury-modern decor straight out of a ’60s game show. The display cases house rare space memorabilia. The roof has a terrace bar overlooking the city. And there’s a big moon on top. Moonrise combines chic style and cozy accommodations for a unique hotel experience. 

Go antique hunting

There’s a bunch of old stuff lying around St. Louis, and we mean that in the best way possible. Among various antique shops (Quintessential Antiques, The Hill Antique Market, etc.), The Green Shag Market is the crown jewel. Here’s your chance to haggle aggressively over a late-’60s shawl.

Green Shag Market
#15
Green Shag Market

The Green Shag Market

5733 Manchester Ave, St. Louis, MO, USA

Okay, you’re thinking, “great, I’m going to travel to St. Louis and then go to an antique shop? That couldn’t suck more.” But it actually doesn’t suck at all. Sure, this isn’t going to be for everyone but this is like cleaning out your great aunt’s garage. Your cool great aunt, who went to Woodstock and toured with The Grateful Dead. Floral print couches, tulip chairs, “Star Trek” lunchboxes, plaid suits — this place is a throwback to ’60s and ’70s style. But they also have a rep for procuring some mid-century furniture (think Eames chairs). So if you want to furnish a living room straight out of the mid- to late-1900s, this is your place. 

Find a green space getaway

Sometimes you need a vacation from your vacation. Luckily, St. Louis has some expansive parks. 

The bandstand in Forest Park, St. Louis
#16
The bandstand in Forest Park, St. Louis. Shutterstock

Forest Park

5595 Grand Dr, St. Louis, MO, USA

Forest Park is big, more than 1,300 acres in total. It’s consistently praised as one of the nation’s most beautiful urban parks, and it’s got enough activities to fill a whole trip. Go walking or hiking on a winding network of trails, then stop in at the Missouri History Museum, The Muny outdoor theater or the Saint Louis Zoo. Or play a round of golf. Or kick a soccer ball around. Or have a picnic. The options are endless.