St. Louis, Missouri, is often referred to as the "Gateway to the West." With 320,000 residents in the city proper and about 2.8 million people in the greater metro area, St. Louis offers the best of urban attractions and city living.
In 2013, it was voted the happiest place to live in America. It is the home of Washington University and has a variety of attractions for all ages to enjoy. Once you relocate to the area, check out these top eateries, museums and other attractions to make yourself feel at home in St. Louis
The Gateway Arch
The Gateway Arch is a 630-foot monument that is known as the hallmark of the city. Not only is it the world's tallest arch, but it is also the biggest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere. This structure was under construction in 1967, and it opened for business in May of 1968. It was built as a symbol of the westward expansion of the United States and a tribute to President Thomas Jefferson. It has become a popular tourist spot as people come from all over to admire the simplistic and yet beautifully design. Only six people can go up in the arch at a time. It is worth stopping by and viewing such an awe-inspiring work of art.
Saint Louis Zoo
Since 1904, the Saint Louis Zoo has been a popular place to visit to see animals of all types. About 19,000 animals call the 90 acres of zoo home. There over 600 different species to explore, which makes for an enthralling day trip. The Emerson Zooline Railroad is a great way to ride around the park and see the animals in their habitat. The zoo has an insect building and a children's zoo area, which is always a big hit with the younger crowd. Thankfully, you will not have to pay any admission fees. Due to grants from the city, there is no admission charged to enter the zoo. However, if you want to take a ride on the train, it will be a small additional fee.
The City Museum
The City Museum is unlike any collection you have ever seen before. When you pull up to the building, you will notice that there is a bus suspended from the 10th floor. Additionally, there are slides coming off the roof in all directions. It is an old warehouse that has been revamped into a collection of fun activities that are educational, turning it into a playground for both young and old. You get to slide through the old building and see many exhibits on your way. Because the museum is constantly changing its pieces, it is possible to see different collections on each trip. The collections mostly contain re-purposed architectural and industrial objects made into interesting displays. The establishment opened in 1997, and it has been a favorite of the locals ever since.
Missouri Botanical Garden
The garden has been in operation since 1859. Due to the extensive amount of fundamental horticultural research that the Missouri Botanical Garden conducts, it is world renowned. In fact, it is one of the three top gardens in the world, including on its grounds a topiary maze and observatory that is fun for the little ones. For those who want to see the lush foliage in style, the tram will take you all over the 79 acres of beautiful plants and trees. The garden opens its facilities for weddings, receptions and other formal events. Lovers of nature will want to ensure they see everything this place has to offer. The staff holds special events throughout the year to get the public involved. After touring the grounds, make sure to enjoy delicious deli-style food in the onsite eatery, which is known as Sassafras.
Baseball fans pack the Busch Stadium in droves during game season. It is the home of the St. Louis Cardinals. This massive arena holds an astonishing 43,975 people. Though the arena was recently constructed, many comment on the old-school feel of a classical stadium. For those who want to sit privately in a group, there are 3,706 club seats and 61 luxury suites to enjoy. Fans can take a tour of the stadium and hear the history of the team and their various arena locations. When it comes to food, the stadium has some great offerings including traditional hot dogs, but you can also find salads and more healthy options too.
Saint Louis Science Center
In 1963, The Saint Louis Science Center started out as a planetarium. Today, it is a massive facility where you can learn about science and experience nature at its best, see live demonstrations and interact with hands-on exhibits. Kids of all ages love taking part in the exhibits that allow them to see and feel science at work. Spend the day seeing the dinosaurs or watching a film on the giant I-Max theater. The fossil digging area is always a fan favorite. Take a visit to the original planetarium for a view of the midnight, star-filled sky. The cost to enter this science center is free because it is another establishment covered under the city's grants.
Life in St. Louis can be quite busy, so going to Forest Park for a day of fresh air is always welcomed. Recently, the park underwent a $94 million renovation. The 1,300-acre park is known for having many attractions, including live concerts and reenactments. Every year, the park has its famous hot air balloon races as well as Shakespearean reenactments. The Shakespeare Festival takes place here in June of each year. A favorite spot in the park is the Jewel Box. This venue is a flower conservatory where special events are held within the park. Those who love to bike or hike will enjoy the bike and pedestrian paths that circle around the whole perimeter of the grounds. The park is popular throughout the winter season as well. Locals enjoy the ice skating rink and a hill perfect for sled riding.
The Muny is an outdoor amphitheater located on the grounds of Forest Park. Come see a show at America's Oldest and Largest Outdoor Musical Theatre. Watch stellar performances by top-rated stars of the area acting in "The Wizard of Oz," "Fiddler on the Roof" and much more. The shows are constantly changing, and they offer the chance for community involvement. The sound system and stage were revamped for the 2016 year. Being outdoors does not lessen the experience; in fact, many say it makes each show more exciting.
Memphis-style BBQ ribs can be found at Pappy's Smokehouse. Every plate comes with a heaping helping of the restaurant's famous vinegar slaw. The chefs specialize in sauces, which are all named after family members. You can enjoy Jane's Sweet Sauce, Holly's Hot Sauce or the incredibly spicy Hoodoo Sauce. Other house favorites are the Frito pie, potato salad, pulled pork sandwich and deep-fried corn. Locals enjoy the atmosphere, which is like an old-style diner. Pappy's Smokehouse has won many awards for its famous ribs. The chefs use a secret dry-rub solution and the perfect mix of cherry and hickory woods to get the best flavors possible. (Photo Credit: http://www.pappyssmokehouse.com/)
Broadway Oyster Bar
The Broadway Oyster Bar is a Cajun hotspot that has been in business for over 35 years. The restaurant is located in one of the oldest buildings in St. Louis still in operation, which was erected in 1840. The chefs serve Creole cuisine that makes you feel like you are sitting on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. The menu is pretty impressive, including dishes like shucked oysters, blue crab cakes, and mouthwatering lobster macaroni and cheese. Desserts are equally impressive; you can indulge in items like pear salad or a moist bread pudding. Eat outside on the seasonal outdoor patio, or stay inside and hear a live band perform some amazing tunes. The restaurant hosts live music eight times per week. In 2015, the Broadway Oyster Bar was named Restaurant of the Year by the St. Louis Chapter of the Missouri Restaurant Association. Ghost hunters also frequent this establishment due to rumors that the 170-year-old building carries legends of famous hauntings.
Moving to a new home in a new city can be an overwhelming experience. Getting out and exploring a few great places in St. Louis can make the transition easier on you and the whole family. The fact that many of the places on the list are free is just another perk. You are lucky to live in an area that sees the value in culture and education! Use this list as a starting point to keep exploring your new city and make new friends along the way.