A HEROINE’S TRAVEL GUIDE TO ST. LOUIS, MO / BY ERIN COOK
Welcome to St. Louis!
St. Louis is a great place to visit, full of live music, art, excellent food, and adventure. It is also full of history (the Dred Scott Trial and the 1904 World’s Fair among other events) and was home to Maya Angelou, Betty Grable, Susan Blow, Virginia Minor, and Josephine Baker. I came to visit for a weekend and loved it so much that I decided to stay!
Greet the morning in peaceful Tower Grove.
Start your St. Louis adventure in the beautiful Tower Grove neighbourhood. Grab breakfast at the stunning French bakery La Patisserie Chouquette, or spend a couple of dollars (cash only) on fabulous donuts at World’s Fair Donuts.
Then stop in at the Missouri Botanical Garden and spend some time roaming among the flowers and trees. You don’t want to miss the Climatron, which is 80+ degrees year round.
The Japanese Garden and the Tower Grove House are other must-see parts of your visit. I especially love to sit in the Woodland Garden, near the stream, and write.
Get your climb (and slide, and crawl) on at City Museum.
Next, if it’s a weekday, head to City Museum. For this part of your day, you’ll really want close toed shoes, long pants, and maybe even some kneepads! If you’re lucky enough to be in town on a Friday or Saturday, save this for the evening, when there are fewer small children.
City Museum is really the highlight of your adventure. It’s part playground, part circus, part art installation, and part museum. Make sure you try out the 10-story slide in the caves (if the roof is open, you can avoid the 10-story climb by taking the elevator to the roof).
If you’re feeling especially brave, head outside to MonstroCity and make the slightly terrifying climb across a wrought-iron slinky suspended 100 feet in the air from an airplane to a slide.
Breathe in some quiet and beauty at the Cathedral Basilica St. Louis.
After City Museum, you’ll want to catch your breath. Head west toward the Cathedral Basilica St. Louis, which houses the largest collection of mosaics in the world.
The Basilica is open to visitors except during mass, and you can arrange a tour in advance if you’d like to hear more about the history of the building. Otherwise, wander around on your own and try not to get a neck ache marvelling at the gorgeous art.
Chow down and shop in the Central West End.
The nearby trendy Central West End is a great place to shop and people watch. If you’ve worked up an appetite, I recommend Pi Pizzeria for lunch. Try something with provel, our locally famous cheese!
Then head down the street to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, which lives up to the name. You’ll also want to visit Left Bank Books next door to Jeni’s. Keep an eye out for the bookstore cat, who always enjoys a good chin scratching.
Have an adventure in Forest Park.
Forest Park could encompass a weeklong visit all on its own. It is one of the largest urban parks in the United States and was the site of the 1904 World’s Fair. The park contains a zoo (recently voted the best in the nation), art museum, science center, and history museum, all of which have free admission. On summer evenings, the MUNY offers outdoor musical theater that is not to be missed.
While parking in museum lots is expensive, all of the street parking in the park is free, so you can save big by doing a little walking.
Relax like a local on Art Hill.
Before leaving Forest Park, make your way to the Grand Basin and Art Hill, next to the Art Museum. I have never, anywhere in the world, felt more like I was in a Jane Austen novel than when strolling around the Grand Basin at sunset.
It is a very popular St. Louis pastime to sit on a blanket on Art Hill in the evening with snacks and a drink (you can have alcohol in the park if you’re having a picnic!). Bring a book, a kite, a frisbee, or your dog. If you like, the Boathouse Restaurant will pack you a snack that you can take out on a paddle boat and eat while you explore the Grand Basin by water.
Finish with a bang in the Delmar Loop.
As your evening winds down, head to the Delmar Loop. If you like, you’ll soon even be able to take the new Loop Trolley from the Missouri History Museum over to the Loop.
Once you’re there, enjoy shopping, food, and live music. I highly recommend Avalon Exchange for vintage and gently-used clothing. Bowl at Pin Up Bowl, see a show at the Pageant or a film at the historic Tivoli Theater, and follow your nose to dinner. I recommend Mission Taco, but you really can’t go wrong.
For dessert, pop into Piccione Pastry. Don’t miss their collaboration with Clementine’s Naughty and Nice Creamery and get some ice cream to go with your cannoli.
Swim, climb, and dive at Johnson’s Shut-Ins.
For extra credit, if you are visiting in summer and have a day to dedicate to it, visit Johnson’s Shut Ins, a natural area about two hours south of the city. At the Shut-Ins you can swim in deep pools, jump off of cliffs, climb up waterfalls, and adventure until you drop.
10 minutes away is Elephant Rocks State Park, where you can climb pink granite boulders larger than a house. Also nearby is Taum Sauk State Park, which contains the highest point and tallest waterfall in Missouri.
Erin Cook is a writer, educator, adventurer, and photographer at Erin Takes Pictures. She is a volunteer butterfly wrangler who has never yet had to announce a Code Eagle for an escaped butterfly. She is passionate about social justice, sexual health and education, literature, and cats.
Xandra recommends: Read Erin’s extensive style analysis on why the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is a literary masterpiece!
Is your hometown the perfect fit for a heroine? I’m always looking for fabulous locals to contribute to this Fit for a Heroine travel guide series. If you’re interested in writing for Heroine Training, read the guidelines and get in touch.
This guide is filed under GRYFFINDOR for encouraging exploration and braving the great heights of the City Museum.