— St. Louis: 2-Day City Loop —

Japanese Gardens in St. Louis Botanical Gardens

The Japanese garden at Missouri Botanical Gardens

Missouri Botanical Garden Climatron

Some whimsical art in front of the Missouri Botanical Garden Climatron

City Museum exterior

The City Museum—it's even weirder inside

Water fountain and bench

Forest Park is larger than Central Park in NY, so take a seat and relax by a fountain

Variegated lily pads

The Missouri Botanical Gardens has some of the most unusual lily pads—these are variegated

Gateway Arch

A different view of the infamous Gateway Arch

Forest Park's Jewel Box

Forest Park's Jewel Box

Japanese iris boardwalk

Japanese iris boardwalk at Missouri Botanical Gardens

St. Louis Basilica Cathedral

St. Louis Basilica Cathedral

Budweiser wagon

Anheuser-Busch wagon

St Louis 2-day City loop map

Loop Overview:

60 miles, 2 days, 3 hours driving                          Best Time to Go: spring, summer, or fall

Day 1:  Arrive in St. Louis, go on Anheuser-Busch tour, go up into the Gateway Arch, lunch at riverfront Laclede's Landing, explore at the weird City Museum, shop on the Delmar Loop, eat at Blueberry Hill, have an ice cream float at Fitz's Root Beer, go see some live music.  Stay in a hotel on the Delmar Loop or in Clayton.

Day 2: See either the zoo, art museum, history museum, or go golfing—all in Forest Park.  Then eat lunch at the Boathouse, go to the Missouri Botanical Garden, and shop at the Bug Store.  Then either go to BB's Blues, Jazz, and Soups for dinner and live music, watch a Cardinal's baseball game, or Blues hockey match.  Stay in a hotel downtown.

— Trip Details by Day —

Day 1:

Start your St. Louis visit at the iconic Anheuser-Busch brewery tour, then go to the iconic Gateway Arch National Park. You can go up to the top of the arch in weird pods and there's a museum underground beneath the arch. Since you're already down near the Mississippi River, check out the riverfront at Laclede's Landing for lunch. After that, treat yourself to the unique and fascinating City Museum.  Don't worry, it's not exactly a museum and it's open late with a ball pit for the kids and a bar for the adults. In the City Museum an artist started assembling random things into the most fantastical man-made place in the country.  Don't be afraid to crawl in, crawl through, climb up, roll down, slide down, or play on everything just like the kids.  You know we do. No matter your age, the City Museum is a must see and St. Louis' top attraction. (Yes, really!) 

Spend the evening on the Delmar Loop shopping and eating.  Go to the St. Louis landmark Blueberry Hill restaurant for a burger.  Get a root beer float at Fitz's Root Beer bottling plant, bar, and restaurant.  Then go to The Pageant or Blueberry Hill's The Duck Room (there are ducks all over the venue!) for some live music.

Lodging: We recommend staying nearby at the Seven Gables Inn in Clayton, the second downtown area in the St. Louis metropolitan area, if you want a more B&B vibe.  Or stay at the Moonrise Hotel with its rooftop terrace overlooking the Delmar Loop and right next to The Pageant music venue for a more trendy experience.

Camping: N/A

Food & Drink: The quality of the St. Louis dining scene has exploded in recent years.  There are fantastic restaurants to fit every palette—from St. Louis barbeque to ethnic to fine dining.  For the best Vietnamese food around, head to Mai Lee.  If you love desserts, head to Jilly's Cupcake & Ice Cream Bar—two time winners of the Food Network's Cupcake Wars.  Food restrictions are easy to accommodate in STL.  If you're vegan, head to our friend's vegan restaurant—Frida's near the Delmar Loop and Clayton.  It's so good it's expanded 4 times since opening and one of the owners has appeared on the Food Network.  We lived in St. Louis for 4 years, so I could go on about the food for hours.

And then there's the craft beer scene.  (No, we're not talking about Anheuser-Busch or any of its subsidiaries.)  Craft breweries abound all around the city.  You can't go wrong.

Day 2:

Head to Forest Park in the middle of the city which is larger than Central Park in NYC.  Drive and walk around.  Visit the St. Louis Zoo, Art Museum, Forest Park Public Golf Course, or the Missouri History Museum—all of which are located in Forest Park.  Check out the scenic Jewel Box, have a quick lunch at the Boathouse overlooking a lake or go to one of the neighboring restaurants in the Central West End.  

 

Then head to the Missouri Botanical Garden, arguably the best in the country. Be sure to check out the beautiful and peaceful Japanese Garden—it's our favorite.  And don't forget to stop and shop at the nearby and overwhelming Bug Store for some unusual shopping.

 

For evening entertainment, go to BB's Blues, Jazz, and Soups for some live music or hit up a St. Louis Blues hockey match or St. Louis Cardinals game.  Baseball is religion in St. Louis—so much so that the day after they won the World Series Interstate 40 was essentially closed due to the volume of people heading downtown for the celebration.  Unfortunately, we were trying to move out of St. Louis that day in a big U-haul truck and got stuck in the masses.  At least we can laugh about it now.

 

Lodging: Stay in one of the downtown hotels.

 

Camping: N/A

 

Food and Drinks: Check Yelp.  There are too many options for me to recommend just one or two.

Heather's Trip Tips:

1) Go to City Museum. Go to City Museum. Go to City Museum. And watch your head.

2) Spend more than 2 days in St. Louis—this trip is pretty rushed and there's far more great things to do than on this list.  We lived there for 4 years and loved the city.

3) If you're going to be in St. Louis during the harshest parts of winter, go see the hundreds of bald eagles that winter just outside St. Louis along the confluences of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers near Alton, Illinois.  (Click here for more info.) Stop at the maze-like Fast Eddie's Bon Air for food and drink if over that way.

Tim Says:

 

St. Louis is one of the best music towns in the U.S. — so see some goddamn live music!

— Recommended Trip Variations —

Add Animals & Science

Stay a few extra days and add some more kid & adult friendly science and nature sites:
 
- If wintertime, watch bald eagles float down the ice-covered Mississippi River from near Alton, Illinois. Colder temps are better for eagle sightings. Click here for more info.

Add Wineries along Katy Trail

Most people don't know, but there's an extensive wine country near the towns of Augusta and Hermann in Missouri. They're only 30-45 minutes from St. Louis and worth a look.  Some of the wineries have been around a long time—for example, the Stone Hill Winery was established in Hermann in 1847 and Mt. Pleasant Estates was established in Augusta in 1859.  

If you have bikes or want to rent some and are feeling ambitious, the best way to experience the wineries is on a rails-to-trails bike path system that runs across almost the entire state (200+ miles). The Katy Trail takes you past numerous wineries and craft breweries. Start your ride in the adorable town of St. Charles because you can ride 20 miles out stopping every few miles to sample another winery's varietals or brewery's beers. Just be smarter than us — don't bring back wine glasses in your backpack for the long, drunk 20 mile ride back to the car.

 

If you prefer to drive, there are maps available online for one of the driving "wine trails" in the area.

Add More Live Music

St. Louis is the best live music town we've ever lived in, so extend your stay just to see more music! St. Louis has more than its fair share of awesome music venues.  We've listed the best below:

If you happen to be in St. Louis around Christmas, see the El Monstero show at the Pageant.  It's a Pink Floyd tribute band made up of St. Louis local talent.  We're not tribute band kind of people, but it really is a truly amazing show that's supposed to be better than the professional tribute band.  In addition to the amazing music, it's got pyrotechnics, stripper pole dancers, and more.  Buy tickets early because it sells out every year.