This article was originally published by Thomas Woods on Tourist Choice on October 5, 2017.
If you’re headed to St. Louis, Missouri, for the first time, you’re in for a treat. This river town on the Mississippi was once a French trading post, but as the young nation’s expansion sent wagon trains into new territories, St. Louis established its reputation as the Gateway to the West. Today, the city is becoming a magnet for millennials who love its low cost of living, vibrant arts and music scenes, and historic architecture. As a visitor exploring the city, you’ll love the following five attractions St. Louis has to offer.
Visit Forest Park
Did you know that St. Louis’s Forest Park is 1.5 times the size of Central Park in New York City? The park is the heart of the city for many residents and offers golf courses, wooded hiking trails, and a paddleboat. Forest Park is also home to some of the best attractions in St. Louis, including the St. Louis Art Museum, Missouri History Museum, the St. Louis Municipal Opera Theatre, and the St. Louis Zoo.
Explore St. Louis Zoo
The city is proud of its lush, sprawling zoo, which is widely considered one of the best in the country. In fact, USA Today’s readers recently voted the St. Louis Zoo the best free attraction in the country. General admission is free, although some of the newer exhibits have a nominal charge. Be sure to visit the new baby elephants at the River’s Edge.
Browse the St. Louis Art Museum
The St. Louis Art Museum is across the street from the zoo and offers free admission (except for special exhibits). A recent expansion has allowed the museum to spread out its diverse collection, which ranges from ancient Egyptian mummies to modern art.
Discover the Gateway Arch
The Gateway Arch is a soaring monument that defines the city’s skyline. Although it reflects the shape of the tops of the covered wagons that once carried settlers to the West, Eero Saarinen’s design is still modern by today’s standards.
If you decide to stay near the riverfront attraction, you’ll be able to enjoy views of it every time you return to your hotel. You can also take an elevator ride to the top and see St. Louis from above or visit the underground Museum of Westward Expansion at its base.
Tour the City Museum
St. Louis’s City Museum is one of the most unusual attractions in the world. Built inside a former shoe factory, the museum is a giant indoor playground for the mind and body. The young and young at heart can climb, tunnel, slide, and crawl through caves, tunnels, and soaring structures.
Imaginative art created entirely from recycled city materials, ranging from rat cages to building gargoyles, fills every space. The destination is popular with millennials, who may want to get a hotel near the City Museum so that they can enjoy the nightlife along Washington Avenue.
If you’re bringing children, you won’t want to miss The Magic House Children’s Museum or the St. Louis Science Center. If you’re staying in downtown St. Louis, check out the riverboat or helicopter tours that leave near the Arch. The midtown area near Forest Park is also a convenient place to stay and a good base for exploring the city.
St. Louis offers so much to see on your first trip. Once you’ve whetted your appetite for adventure here, you may find yourself returning more often.