St. Louis, Missouri, known as the Gateway to the West, has a unique charm characterized by pioneer spirit and ragtime blues. Enough history has been preserved to give the city a real sense of place, yet it perpetuates its pioneer spirit through high-tech industries. St. Louis is sometimes compared to Chicago without the traffic, New York without the noise or Miami without the beach. It’s a big small town with a surprising vibrancy and unexpected treasures.
St. Louis Downtown Attractions
The iconic St. Louis Arch is the city’s front door, a soaring landmark perched on the Mississippi River honoring westward expansion. Do take the tram to the top for views from twice the height of the Statue of Liberty. Travel Maestro tip: Plan on waiting at least an hour unless you arrive right at opening time; 9 am – 6 pm, winter; 8 am – 10 pm, summer; $10 adult, $5 children 3-12. At the base of the arch, the Museum of Western Expansion is well worth a visit.
From the Arch, you can walk into the heart of downtown where you can explore Citygarden. It’s a spectacular green space filled with water features, sculpture and contemporary artwork by renowned artists, tucked between office towers. For a glimpse of the downtown of a century ago, visit the restored buildings and cobblestoned streets of Laciede’s Landing, now a haven for late-night entertainment.
For more history, the Old Courthouse is where Dred Scott sued for his freedom, a case that played a key role in the start of the Civil War. St. Louis Union Station was once one of the largest and busiest train stations in the world. Today it’s rejuvenated as an entertainment center filled with shops, restaurants and paddle boats. The eclectic City Museum is a must-see for adults and kids alike – a warehouse of adventure, a mixture of history, science and whimsy with everything from glass blowers to acrobats, man-made caves to a Ferris wheel.
St. Louis Neighborhoods and Nightlife
Beyond the interesting attractions of downtown, lie several unique areas that have just as much to see and do outside of the city center. Soulard is a National Historic District full of Victorian row houses, antique ironwork and intimate brick-paved patios. The Farmer’s Market offers farm-fresh produce and flowers and the neighborhood is one of the hottest spots for live blues.
You’ll find some of the best Italian food in the country at The Hill’s numerous restaurants, bakeries, delis, groceries and neighborhood taverns along with quaint brick homes and shotgun-style houses.
The Loop is a funky neighborhood named after an old streetcar turnaround. It’s full of wonderfully eclectic boutiques, restaurants and nightclubs, along with art galleries, specialty shops, book and record stores, and the St. Louis Walk of Fame. Travel Maestro tip: Pin-Up Bowl is an upscale cocktail bar and bowling alley that is one of the hot spots in the area.
Central West End is one of the best parts of St. Louis for strolling. Streets are lines with trendy boutiques, antique shops and art galleries. Restaurants offer sidewalk al fresco dining in warm weather and some of the finest homes grace the side streets.
Riverboat cruises and six area casinos are popular attractions on the Mississippi River. A note about East St. Louis, Illinois (just across the river): It has always had a reputation for crime and still does. If you are traveling through there to the Casino Queen, keep your doors locked and don’t get lost.
St. Louis Sports
St. Louisans love their sports, none more than the beloved MBL Cardinals. The baseball season runs April – September and over 3 million red-clad Cards fans go to games in Busch Stadium each year. Even with the team’s enormous popularity, tickets are usually available unless they are playing the Chicago Cubs. Travel Maestro tip: Don’t root for the Cubs in St. Louis. Ever.
Fall brings gridiron action of the NFL’s St. Louis Rams to Edward Jones Dome and the NHL St. Louis Blues tear up the ice in the Scottrade Center October – April.
St. Louis Business Tips
Business attire in St. Louis is fairly traditional – suite and tie for men, dress or business suit for women, although sometimes more casually in the humid summer months. Most residents dress to impress in the evening for upscale restaurants and the arts. Many nightclubs have a dress code that absolutely does not include jeans or sport shoes.
A taxi is the best way to get from the airport to downtown (approx. $35), but some hotels actually offer a free shuttle. If your hotel is downtown near a MetroLink stop, that is faster and less-expensive. Driving and parking is not as difficult as in many cities, so if your business will take you to multiple locations, driving is probably the most convenient. Travel Maestro tip: To take a taxi within the city, call or ask your hotel to get a cab. Most taxis don’t respond to street hailing.
The America’s Center Convention Complex, located in the heart of downtown, offers over 500,000 square feet of exhibit and meeting space to suit any event. Covington Meetings & Events planners can help you design creative and memorable events in St. Louis for incentives, sales events, executive meetings, trade shows and more.
St Louis is a surprisingly charming city with an ethnically diverse population and distinctive culture that embody its pioneer roots. If you’re traveling to St. Louis for business, be sure to allow enough time to see some of the sights. For more information or to plan your trip to St. Louis, contact Covington’s Business Travel or Vacation Advisors.