Discover St. Louis: Historical, Beautiful, and Downright Quirky

View of the arch rising up high into the sky next to the river.
St. Louis’s famous arch. Photo © A. Molson/iStock.

St. Louis is a remarkable city, full of strange and beautiful secrets. The triumphs and follies of the past are visible everywhere in this red-brick town on the Mississippi River. This is where Lewis and Clark began their journey and Charles Lindbergh first took flight. In Forest Park—one of the largest urban green spaces in the nation—the pavilion from the 1904 World’s Fair still stands. There’s the soaring majesty of the Gateway Arch and the unearthly beauty of the Cathedral Basilica. On the city’s south side sits the eerie home of the Lemp brewing family, who took their own lives after being pushed into insolvency by the Anheuser-Busch empire. The clubs and bars are filled with living blues legends—and with the memories of those who have come before.

Visitors will discover dozens of unique neighborhoods, from Grand South Grand, where you can find a halal meat market and a raucous Italian-restaurant- slash-rock-club within one block, to the Central West End, where bistros and boutiques occupy some of St. Louis’s most architecturally stunning buildings, to Soulard, where you can stop in real-deal Irish pubs and dance-all-night clubs, all in shadow of the Anheuser-Busch brewery.

And because St. Louis is not widely heralded by glossy travel magazines and guidebooks, discovering the real St. Louis feels like your very own secret.

St. Louis is a city of iconic structures, from the soaring curve of the Gateway Arch to the shimmering dome of the Cathedral Basilica. A trip to St. Louis would not be complete without visiting such important sights—yet visitors also will not want to miss the smaller landmarks that make St. Louis the historical, beautiful, and downright quirky city that it is. Most of the region’s architectural treasures are concentrated downtown, making it easy to walk from one stunning structure to the next. Every St. Louis neighborhood has its own special character, and this is reflected in the sights. Midtown is a thriving arts center, and sights include baroque theaters and Art Deco buildings. Life in the Delmar Loop and Central West End revolves around the 1,293-acre Forest Park, where many of the city’s cultural institutions are located. The sights of Soulard reflect the city’s strong French history, while South City boasts a proud amalgam of businesses and institutions built by immigrants from all points of the globe. Throughout the entire region, visitors will find gorgeous old churches, historically significant homes, and you-have-to-see- it-to-believe-it structures.

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