Approaching the city of St. Louis from the East, the sight of it is iconic and undeniable: the massive Gateway Arch, the largest monument of its kind in the world, looms before you as you cross over the cultural border dividing the eastern part of the United States from the west.
Starting out its life as a possession of the French (as it was named after King Louis IX), St. Louis has grown to become one of the American Midwest’s most prominent cities, as it boasts world-class culture, green space and ethnic diversity.
From a Catholic cathedral that will surprise you with its grandeur, to one of the most palatial performing arts centers in the country, to the home of one of America’s most iconic breweries, St. Louis is an urban highlight of the Midwest that you can ill afford to forget on your travels across the USA.
Irrespective of whether you are religious or not, setting aside an hour of your time to explore the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis will get your tour of St. Louis off to a roaring start. Its interior murals and frescoes that decorate the interior faces of the church is the biggest attraction by far, while the burial crypts that lie beneath the building will appeal to those that appreciate the macabre.
Finally, The Angel of Harmony, an elaborate statue located in the grounds adjacent to the basilica, was carved to help promote racial tolerance among the citizens of St. Louis, as this cities’ sizable population of African Americans had made friction between them and segregationists a potential civil destabilizer during the tumultuous days of the Civil Rights era.
The eclectic City Museum should be your next stop, despite its generic name. Opened in a former shoe factory in 1997, this place is equal parts aquarium, surrealist art, children’s, and an industrial artifacts museum.
Walk through the simulated remains of a whale (yup), explore a school bus on a roof, and many other bizarre things. Words can barely explain the experiences that can be had here, so check it out in person to see what the fuss is all about.
Those that love watching drama or comedies play out on the live stage instead of the movie screen must take in a show at the Fox Theater. While this facility does bring in its fair share of touring Broadway acts, the aspect that will elevate your experience here to lofty levels is its exquisite interior design features.
It’s inconceivable that you could visit St. Louis and not go to see the Gateway Arch up close. On the site of the arch, a visitor’s center divulges the history behind the building of the monument, as well as events that have occurred here since its completion.
More than a few BASE jumpers have scaled the arch with suction cups and leaped off the top, inevitably getting arrested for their troubles but gaining the notoriety that they craved, just as an example.
The wild aspect of this attraction is that you can actually take a tram to the top part of the inside of the arch, where outstanding views of downtown and the surrounding area can be had.
After this, spend time in one of America’s best green spaces by strolling around the paths of Forest Park. This expansive park has hosted the Summer Olympics back in 1904, as well as the World’s Fair in the same year, and it is home to a variety of attractions like the St. Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Art Museum, and the St. Louis Science Center, among others.
Of course, there are many natural features worth taking in as well, as park architects have restored prairies, wetlands, and mixed woods to allow to either lose yourself in nature, or embrace some of the cities’ most beloved cultural attractions.
Finally, fans of fermented beverages will want to take a tour of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, which is home to America’s best known beer maker. Opened in 1852, the structure itself in beautiful to look at, but the real fun begins when you finish the tour on how the maker of Budweiser produces the countless bottles/cans of brew that it does per day. Each guest gets two free drinks of the beer of their choice, making for a tipsy end to your time in St. Louis.