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st. louis city guide

by Stephanie

St. Louis Arch Print by Eric Woods of Firecracker Press

Our St. Louis City Guide comes to us from Andrea Avery, an artist and writer who blogs at andreaavery.com about art, design, photography, cooking, motherhood and her love of all things vintage. Andrea has been active in the local arts community as a gallery director, literature magazine editor, festival director and volunteer, and is one of the organizers of St. Louis’ annual Kick Ass Awards, a grassroots event that recognizes the unsung individuals, businesses, organizations and projects that contribute to the health and vitality of the St. Louis community. Today she shares some of the magic that makes up the many neighborhoods of this Midwest city. Thanks, Andrea, for this wonderful guide!

CLICK HERE for the full guide after the jump!

I grew up in the country but have called St. Louis home for over 15 years. With its incredible arch and eclectic neighborhoods, St. Louis always seemed magical and exotic to me. After all these years, I still find it so. St. Louisans are fiercely protective and appreciative of the city’s many quirks and loyal to their neighborhoods. The affordable living costs and beautifully crafted homes, many in historic districts, make the city an attractive choice for many. The food and art scenes are experiencing particularly exciting growth. Creative and industrious types are taking advantage of the unique opportunities the city offers and making truly inspired things happen. The people of St. Louis are authentic, dedicated, generous and very supportive. I feel lucky to be a part of this creative community.

Things to Know about St. Louis

Google Map

The city’s population is roughly 320,000, but when you add in the county, it blooms to almost 3 million, making it the 4th largest urban area in the Midwest. The confluence of North America’s two greatest rivers, the Mississippi and Missouri, is located in the heart of the St. Louis area. We are rich in history and culture.

Getting Around

St. Louis can seem pretty spread out geographically, but it is easy to navigate, and parking in most neighborhoods is reasonable to find and cheap, if not free. We have been ranked a top “Bicycle Friendly Community” in the United States by the League of American Bicyclists and have over 75 miles of on-street bike routes. Our Metrolink transit system is easy to use, if not as expansive as many would like.


St. Louis is a big food town. The restaurant scene is thriving, with two local and very high-quality food magazines (Sauce Magazine and Feast) chronicling the trends. I encourage you to check them out for guides to neighborhood dining.


It would be criminal of me not mention the abundance of cultural activities and festivals that happen in this city, many of them free, including our world-class zoo, art museum, science center and history museum. Dozens of parks offer free concert series throughout the summer — from jazz to pops to bluegrass. To find out more about the cultural events happening in the city, check out Artzipper or catch the arts calendar on KDHX 88.1 FM, our outstanding independent radio station.


There is plenty of shopping in St. Louis, but of particular note are our estate sales. They are exceptional. The quality and prices are phenomenal with some legendary scores to be had — I can attest to it. Visit Estatesales.net or Craigslist for area sales.

Over the last 10 to 15 years, downtown has experienced an amazing revival. Former warehouses and industrial and retail spaces along Washington Avenue have been transformed into bustling restaurants, lofts and businesses.


Westin: True to any major downtown metropolitan area, St. Louis has plenty of hotels from which to choose. The Westin is one of the nicest.


Gateway Arch: The tallest man-made monument in the United States, the Gateway Arch couldn’t be more obvious or a more beautiful example of mid-century modern design. I get a chill every time I return from a road trip and spot Eero Saarinen’s arch across on the horizon. Riding to the top in the little retro elevator pod is a thrill.

CityGarden: Opened in 2009, this urban contemporary sculpture garden has an impressive selection. Having dinner at the Terrace View Café at CityGarden is a special way to enjoy the view.

City Museum: Part museum, part playground, part funhouse where repurposed  architectural and industrial objects mix with cranes, planes, buses, a vintage photobooth, an aquarium, underground tunnels, a 10-story spiral slide, a working Ferris wheel on top of the building and so much more. Housed in a former shoe company, City Museum was named one of the “World’s 10 Best Public Spaces” by the New York-based Project for Public Spaces. This destination must be experienced by everyone visiting the city.

Core of Discovery: A downtown St. Louis attractions district with a website offering downloadable walking tour maps highlighting visuals arts and architecture. A history map is expected soon.


Left Bank Books: The oldest independently owned bookstore in St. Louis. This downtown location is a satellite of the original store in the Central West End. Both stores have a stellar staff and loyal customers.

Eve’s Apple Vintage: Offers a selection of vintage for men, women and kids.


Rooster: You can’t go wrong with any of Dave Bailey’s restaurants, and his breakfast café is well known for crepes and a wide selection of Bloody Marys.

Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar: With a dazzling number of beers, a kitchen that stays open until 1:00 a.m. and homemade bar snacks like spiced nuts and popcorn, this is one of the most popular new places in downtown. Recently voted best-looking restaurant in the city.

Schlafly Tap Room: One of two distinct Schlafly brewery/restaurants in St. Louis. (See Maplewood Bottleworks for the other.) This original location was instrumental in the revitalization of the downtown area. The seasonal beers are always highly anticipated, and the sticky toffee pudding is quite special. Music upstairs.

The Broadway Oyster Bar: Try this lively spot for outdoor dining and live jazz and blues nightly.

Also worth considering: Rosalita’s Cantina is popular for Tex-Mex. Lola gets high marks not only for the variety of food (crepes, small plates, late-night noshing) but for its variety of music (DJ, jazz and funk). Mango Peruvian has excellent sangria.

Soulard and Lafayette Square
Just south of downtown are two national historic districts. Lafayette Square is known for its charming Victorian houses, and Soulard is known for its Mardi Gras celebration, second in size only to New Orleans’. I suggest you skip Mardi Gras and attend the annual Pet Parade and Wiener Dog Derby (YES!), which happen the week before.


Park Avenue Bead and Breakfast and Napoleon’s Retreat: Both painted-lady Victorian bed and breakfast accommodations that showcase the best of the neighborhood’s architecture.

Dwell 912: This modern two-story private apartment and third-floor studio offers a more contemporary oasis.


Soulard Market: The oldest farmers’ market west of the Mississippi. While not always as local/organic as some of the other markets in the area, it offers superb people watching, excellent prices, a heavenly spice shop and a booth where tiny little donuts are dropped into a fryer and churned out on a small conveyer belt. Magical!

Mad Art Gallery: This gallery hosts exhibits, readings, concerts and other cultural events in a former police station from the art deco period — with the jail cells still intact. If there is an event happening during your visit, you should check it out.


These areas are more noted for dining and nightlife, but there is a bit of shopping to be had. Trova Gifts and Schwaig Art Glass Works are in Lafayette Square. Soulard Art Market is a funky artist collective that sells affordable pieces, and Paste offers arts-and-crafts supplies along with classes.


The Venice Café:  In the shadows of the behemoth Anheuser-Busch brewery, you will find this fantastically funky bar and restaurant owned by artist Jeff Lockheed. The entire place is comprised of mosaic tiles, mirrors, bottle caps and thrift store finds, and the patio is otherworldly. Music every night, and don’t be surprised to see one of Jeff’s many art cars parked on the block.

Niche and Sidney Street Café: Both of these restaurants are considered by serious foodies to offer some of St. Louis’ most innovative, exciting and satisfying dining experiences. Both have James Beard-nominated chefs.

Bailey’s Chocolate Bar: This hot spot boasts a prime Lafayette Square location and popular patio dining. Besides the obvious focus on chocolate, the pizzetas and cheese plates are quite nice.

Rue Lafayette: Francophiles praise Rue Lafayette for its authentic macarons and croissants. French-inspired antiques and accessories are adjacent to the space. Stop in for treats and a coffee to go, and then take a walk in the picturesque Victorian Lafayette Square Park across the street.

Also worth considering: Vin de Set with a rooftop view of the city that is spectacular, or 33, an intimate and casual wine bar.

True Taste of St. Louis: Try Gus’ Pretzels, serving handmade pretzels for over 90 years, or Park Avenue Coffee, which offers 40 varieties of Gooey Butter Cake.

Known for antique shopping and authentic Mexican cuisine and groceries, this diverse area is experiencing a renaissance with many new businesses and artists setting up shop. The annual Cinco de Mayo celebration showcases all the fun, funk and creative going on in this lively district.


Snowflake: This art space consistently shows interesting work and has a “drive-by” gallery on the west side of the building — literally an installation in the window meant as a drive or walk by.

Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts: Galen Gandolfi shows experimental and emerging artists and hosts some of the best happenings in town. One of the pioneers of the Cherokee district.


Antique Row: Six blocks of antique, vintage and thrift shopping all on Cherokee Avenue. I’ve scored a pink typewriter and numerous sweet vintage dresses on this street.

Firecracker Press: This graphic design studio and letterpress print shop combines antique printing technology with contemporary design. Owner Eric Woods and his sister Jennifer produce the gorgeous literary magazine The Lumberyard, which Dwight Garner of The New York Times called, “the most physically beautiful new journal I’ve seen this year.” Eric and his crew are all amazing and generous artists, and their shop has some gorgeous and unique letterpress items.

All Along Press: A cooperative print shop that specializes in letterpress printing, screen printing, fine art prints and book arts. The owners came to St. Louis to study art, fell in love with the city and the rest is printmaking history.

The Archive: An independent bookstore and reading room frequently hosting local and national authors. It is small, cozy, dusty and lovely — like your eccentric aunt’s library.

STL-STYLE: This establishment belongs to brothers Jeff and Randy Vines, who are proud of their hometown and have built a t-shirt empire to prove it, taking their love the city of St. Louis to a whole new level.

APOP Records: Sells underground, rare, exotic and experimental records, books, videos and ephemera.

Cranky Yellow: Part retail, part gallery and part performance space featuring an eclectic mix of art, fashion, music, literature and kitsch. Their display of fan mail is incredibly charming.

Ruth’s Vintage Clothing is small but jam-packed with great vintage clothing finds. And Ruth is a sweetheart. No website. 2001 Cherokee Street, Saint Louis, MO 63118 (314) 865-1091


FOAM Coffee and Beer: Great coffee. Great beer. Great events. Atmosphere is super cute.

The MudHouse Coffee and Café: Relaxed coffee space with delicious baked goods and a selection of sandwiches that seems to continuously delight.

Black Bear Bakery: A worker-owned collective. All baked goods are made from scratch using local, organic ingredients whenever possible, and they grow many of the ingredients used in the café in a garden behind the bakery.

La Vallesana: Cheap outdoor eats and, most agree, the best authentic tacos in town. No website. 2801 Cherokee Street, St. Louis, MO 63118 (314) 776-4223

Tower Grove and South Grand
This hip area is known for its numerous ethnic restaurants and grocers and for the lush Tower Grove Park.


The Fleur-de-Lys Mansion: A fine choice if luxury accommodations are in your budget. Consistently rated as one of the top inns in the country.


Tower Grove Park: Nearly 300 acres of urban beauty with an abundance of gorgeous and historical pavilions and a free summer-concert series. The park hosts many festivals throughout the year, including the outstanding Festival of Nations each August. Within the park is Café Madeleine, serving an excellent Sunday brunch.

Tower Grove Farmers Market: Quickly becoming one of the most popular Saturday markets in a city with a growing number from which to choose. Located in close proximity to a playground and wading pool, this is my summer market of choice. The variety is outstanding, and the cheeses, heirloom tomatoes and yellow watermelons I’ve bought here make my heart ache with longing during the winter months. A wonderful experience on many levels.

Missouri Botanical Garden: World renowned with a great (free) summer concert series and permanent Chihuly’s surprising you throughout the grounds. The Japanese Garden is especially stunning in the spring. I find this place very special and visit almost weekly during the summer.


The Vintage Haberdashery: Offers a phenomenal selection of vintage clothing and accessories with a large rental/costume business as well.

TFA (The Future Antiques): I have a groovy kind of love for this place. Hands down the best mid-century modern shopping spot in the city with a huge selection of glassware, furniture and clothing. I’ve actually heard customers squeal in this store.

Dunaway Books: One of the best and largest used bookstores in the city. Three floors of well-organized reading materials await your arrival. The English-accented proprietor is beyond charming.


Sweet Art Café: A “made from scratch” bakeshop and art studio owned and operated by Reine (baker) and Cbabi Bayoc (artist). The café specializes in vegetarian and vegan delicacies. Cupcakes and quiche are outstanding here, as are the sandwiches. Do yourself a huge favor and try a Harmony cupcake. Owners are super sweet and following their bliss.

Local Harvest Grocery and Café: Grocery offers locally produced foods that are organic and sustainably produced. Shopping here is a real joy — staff is earnest in the best possible way. The café is, in a word, fresh.

Gelataria del Leone: Enjoy the sweet back patio with gelato or coffee. Everyone (and every flavor) is so nice here.

South Grand is an avenue where delicious cheap eats abound. Pho Grand and Lemongrass are long-time Vietnamese favorites. For the best spring rolls in town, travel farther south on Grand to the modest and homespun Banh Mi So. Popular Thai spots include the King & I Thai and the more casual Basil Spice Café. Also popular are City Diner, known for its hand-cut fries and hand-dipped milkshakes, and Mangia Italiano, known for fresh pastas, late-night drinks and an incredible and ever-evolving mural by local artist Wayne St. Wayne.

The Royale Bar and Grill: On the far west fringe of the Tower Grove neighborhood, educated-hipster types enjoy the great patio, eclectic DJs, signature drinks and microbrews offered by The Royale. One of the most popular hangouts in the city, it hosts unique events from the Presidential Beard Party to the weekly Cocktail Museum Club.

Mid-Town includes the St. Louis University campus and the Grand Center Arts District, which many cultural institutions call home.


Hotel Ignacio: A new boutique hotel with unique room themes that reflect the artistic makeup of the neighborhood, like Fine Art, Performing Arts, Architecture and Music.


Contemporary Art Museum: Exhibits relevant art by international artists and produces nationally recognized education programs. Always something cool going on here.

Pulitzer Arts Foundation: Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando. The foundation has odd hours but fantastic programming, including a chamber music series.

Moolah Theater and Moolah Lanes: A movie theater and a bowling alley located in a former Moolah Temple. So, bowl a frame and then catch a movie in this splendidly repurposed space.


As you leave Mid-Town and head to the Central West End, a thrifter’s delight can be found on Forest Park Avenue — home to a giant Goodwill, Salvation Army and the Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore.


Pappy’s Smokehouse: The place to get great barbeque. The brisket will bring a tear to your eye.

The Fountain: Not your typical ice-cream-soda-fountain shop. The art deco interior is almost as incredible as their hot fudge. Tasty sandwiches and retro cocktails.

Good Pie: A refreshing addition the large St. Louis pizza scene with crispy, wood-fired pies using the freshest ingredients.

Music venues in the area include Jazz at the Bistro, Firebird and the Sheldon Concert Hall, which has perfect acoustics and gorgeous stained-glass windows. The David Byrne concert I saw here was supernatural.

Central West End, Forest Park and The Grove
The pedestrian-friendly Central West End has a plethora of shopping and many outdoor dining options, along with galleries and historic homes. Just west of Kingshighway is Forest Park, site of the 1904 World’s Fair, and one of the city’s most popular tourist spots. The Grove is just south of Forest Park and the Central West End.


The Chase Park Plaza: Historic luxury hotel with restaurants and a movie theater.


St. Louis Zoo: One of the leading zoos in the country, and it has free admission. Recent renovations include a fabulous sculpture installation at the south entrance. Don’t miss the Penguin and Puffin Coast, carousel, train or the Flight Cage constructed for the 1094 World’s Fair.

St. Louis Art Museum: Also a product of the 1904 World’s Fair, this free museum has an outstanding collection and is currently undergoing a renovation that will add 24,000 square feet. Sledding down “Art Hill” is a timeless winter tradition. The view from the top of the hill is breathtaking.

Steinberg Skating Rink: Plenty of fun and nostalgia at Steinburg. Popular with both kids and romantics, the rink also has a café so you can warm up with the requisite hot cocoa.

White Flag Projects: An alternative gallery space showing the work of international, national and local artists.


Centro is a design-lover’s dream for modern furnishings. For antiques, a visit to Rothschild’s is always a fun diversion. Downstairs is the weirder, dustier, fun stuff.

For women’s fashions and accessories, try MaryJane’s Boutique, Borough Vintage, Byrd Style Lounge or Ivy Hill Boutique.


The Boat House: Nothing says summer in St Louis like casual lakeside dining and leisurely boat rides in Forest Park.

Bissinger’s: Upscale but friendly chocolate shop with a staff eager to offer suggestions, which you will need because there is a staggering number of truffle flavors. Fine wines, coffees and desserts.

Duff’s: A real neighborhood gem, Duff’s opened over 30 years ago and has an excellent reputation, especially for brunch. Home of a long-running poetry series.

Brasserie by Niche: The newest restaurant from Chef Gerard Craft gets rave reviews not only for the food but also for the boisterous and fun atmosphere.

Taste Bar: The highly anticipated venture from a former chef at Niche and from mixologist Ted Kilgore, whose cocktails have received national accolades. You should really check out his truly inspired drink menu. 

Sweetie Pies: Heartfelt love abounds for this family-oriented eatery run by Robbie Montgomery, a 1960s backup singer and former Ikette (of Ike & Tina Turner fame). Truly dreamy mac and cheese. It was recently announced that Sweetie Pies will be the subject of a new docu-series on the Oprah Winfrey Network. No website. 4270 Manchester Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63110 (314) 371-0304

Atomic Cowboy: Dine, drink or dance. Diverse clientele and programming (jazz, swing, folk, hip-hop), funky décor, large patio and lack of “attitude” all add to the allure.

The Handlebar: This friendly bar is aimed to those who love bikes and beer. Where the cycling crowd hangs out.

La Dolce Via: Serves a fantastic weekend brunch from its unassuming spot in a highly residential neighborhood. The desserts are exceptional.

The Sanctuaria: Claims “wild tapas” and one of the best bartenders in the city, who incorporates the restaurant’s freshly grown herbs into homemade infusions.

The Gramophone: Catch live music — everything from jazz, rock and throwback country to hip-hop.

The Hill and South Hampton
Foodies will especially love this historic Italian neighborhood filled with family-owned grocery stores, bakeries, sandwich shops and fine restaurants.


SKIF International: Designer Nina Ganci launched SKIF with hand-knitted sweaters, but her line has expanded to include shirts, pants and accessories sold in over 300 boutiques worldwide. Headquartered in a really cool rehabbed building, Ganci’s office is an all-in-one boutique, sales center, design studio and workshop. Inspired and fun shopping destination.

JIPSI: Part “Alice in Wonderland meets Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters” according to owner, stylist and artist Jenny Baca. The boho living boutique is a mix of vintage and repurposed home accessories and furnishings. Located in the north end of the SKIF building.

Herbaria: Located next door to SKIF, this super-smelling establishment specializes in all-natural soaps and skincare products. Very friendly owners who don’t mind chatting about their business.

Viviano’s and Sons or Di Gregorio Foods: For authentic and fantastic Italian groceries, foodies shouldn’t miss an excursion to one of these.

Knitorious: A bit farther west of The Hill but definitely worth a visit for any serious knitter.


Missouri Baking Company: An authentic Italian bakery with a very loyal clientele. The traditional Italian cookies are very popular. No website. 2027 Edwards Street, St. Louis, MO 63110 (314) 773-6566

Shaw Coffee: Located in a former bank, and a low-key and relaxing spot for your morning cup.

Adriana’s: This place bustles at lunch. Nothing fancy, but cute, fantastic Italian sandwich shop that is always a hit when I take out-of-town visitors. The Gorgonzola Dip is my pick.

Modesto: Offers outstanding tapas and sangria. My favorite place to go with girlfriends.

Lorenzo’s Trattoria: This Italian eatery is a bit more contemporary than most of the Italian dining on The Hill.

Anthonino’s Taverna and Grill: Italian AND Greek with fabulous pizza and baba ghanoush. We are regulars here.

Pop’s Blue Moon: A tiny neighborhood bar featuring live music nightly.

South Hampton eateries include Trattoria Marcella, known for their lobster risotto; Stellina Past Café, specializing in handmade organic pastas; and Aya Sofia, serving Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine in a romantic atmosphere.

Ted Drewes Frozen Custard: On historic route 66, you will find the famous home of the original concrete-custard mixed with your ingredients of choice and served upside down. The lines are long but move quickly. Don’t be surprised to see a bridal party limo pull up — a St. Louis post-wedding/pre-reception tradition.

Delmar Loop / University City
Often recognized as one of the ten great streets in America, Delmar is home to many eclectic eateries and shops.


Moonrise Hotel: A luxury boutique hotel with a popular rooftop terrace bar experience.


St. Louis Walk of Fame: As you walk the Delmar Loop, make sure to look down and take note of the sidewalk stars honoring over 100 individuals for their major national contributions to our cultural heritage.

The Tivoli Theater: An independent art-house theater consistently rated as the best movie house in the city. An extensive remodel in 1995 restored this three-screen beauty inside and out. Frequently shows midnight features on weekends.

Craft Alliance: Contemporary crafts gallery and studio offering classes in a variety of media. The gallery shop has an amazing selection of jewelry and other fine craft items. Popular is the annual invitational exhibition of innovative teapots made of clay, metal, glass and fiber. A second location is now open in Mid-Town.


Vintage Vinyl: Established in 1979 and with 7,000 square feet of music — this is truly vintage and one-of-a-kind.

Star Clipper: A bookstore with an emphasis on graphic novels and comics but also offering an interesting array of handmade books and zines.

Subterranean Books: Small but wonderful independent bookstore with many fans. Their slogan is “from high-culture to sub-culture,” and the selection truly reflects that.

Ziezo: Even after 25 years, Ziezo offers some of the trendiest and best-made fashions and accessories in town. No website. 6394 Delmar, St. Louis, MO 63130 (314) 725-9602

Big Shark: Bicyclists will want to stop in a bike shop known for its superior customer service and ranked as one of the top-100 bike shops in the US.

Also worth considering: City Sprouts, a trendy baby boutique, and Phoenix Rising for unique gifts.


In the same neighborhood you can catch a concert at The Pageant, bowl a quick game and have drinks at The Pin-Up Bowl and have a casual dinner at the legendary Blueberry Hill — all owned by Joe Edwards, whose creative vision has helped transform The Loop into one of the most vibrant restaurant, shopping, arts and entertainment districts in the country. Blueberry Hill has an incredibly fun Dart Room, and in the basement is the Duck Room, a music venue featuring national and local acts, including Chuck Berry, one night a month.

Pi: This pizza place now has four locations and a roaming pizza truck that is very popular. President Obama is a fan.

Also worth considering: Gokul, a 100% vegetarian Indian restaurant; Fitz’s American Grill & Bottling Works, where you can watch their special rootbeer rolling off the line while you enjoy your meal; and Momos, a lively Greek eatery just west of the loop.

Maplewood, a small suburb just southwest of the city limits, has experienced a tremendous revival over the last decade. Both Manchester Avenue and Sutton Avenue boast many new establishments.


Saratoga Lanes: This second-floor bowling alley with no electric scoring is the oldest of its kind west of the Mississippi. Pool tables and a juke box add to the throwback atmosphere.

Hoffman LaChance Contemporary: A small gallery consistently showing some of the most interesting and quality local art.


Mezzanine: Offers high-end fashion, jewelry, shoes and accessories from established and emerging designers. I always love the jewelry here, and owners Paul and Anna Spector are incredibly down-to-earth and friendly.

Roots: Antiques, vintage and salvaged goods displayed casually.

Maven: The ultimate pamper-yourself store with bath and beauty goodies. The” My Boyfriend’s T-Shirt” is a favorite soap scent.

Femme: A small boutique with lovely clothing and accessories from well-known brands and emerging local designers. No website. 7270 Manchester Road Saint Louis, MO 63143 (314) 781-6868

K. Hall Designs: A few miles west of Maplewood proper, K. Hall is the maker of fine fragrance goods for the home, bath and body. Fine linen wearables and home goods.

Big Bend Antique Gallery and Treasure Aisles Antique Mall: If vintage is your style, you can score a one-two punch with these two very large antique resale shops next door to each other. Both seem to go on forever, and I never leave empty handed. Treasure Aisles (no website): 2317 South Big Bend Boulevard, STL MO 63143 (314) 647-6875


Schlafly Bottleworks: The sister restaurant to downtown’s Tap Room, this locale specializes in local and organic food, hosts a fabulous weekly farmers’ market and is home of the annual Art Outside festival each September, celebrating local artists and handmade goods. Outdoor music and a Hefeweizen on a summer day is pure joy. Free brewery tours are provided.

Foundation Grounds:  Fair-trade coffee and fantastic scones. This is my most frequent coffee spot.

Acero: Magnificent Italian food, including house-made salumi and polenta specials prepared at your table. The homemade pastas are always to die for. Tasting menu is a particularly great value. One of my favorite restaurants in the city.

Kakao Chocolates: Handmade, with all-natural ingredients, small-batch chocolates that are so divine. Treat yourself to the chile-vanilla truffle.

Maya Café: Pan-Latin cuisine with a main dining room and funky bar designed by St. Louis artist Bill Christman.

Boogaloo: Cuban, Creole and Caribbean food with excellent mojitos that you can drink from a bar swing.

Laumeier Sculpture Park: About 15 miles from downtown, this 105-acre park offers an impressive collection of art. Walk on wooded paths and discover magnificent surprises like Beverly Pepper’s Cromlech Glen. Anyone can appreciate this place, but art lovers should not miss it.

City Notables
Writers: Maya Angelou, Jonathan Franzen, Jane Smiley, Mark Twain, William S. Burroughs and T. S. Eliot

Musicians: Miles Davis, Chuck Berry, Sheryl Crow and Scott Joplin

Actors: The dreamy Jon Hamm, Kevin Kline, John Goodman and seemingly half the cast of The Office (Jenna Fischer, Ellie Kemper and Phyllis Smith)

Suggested For You


  • Excellent compilation of St. Louis’s highlights! Nice to see the city featured on D*S. I moved here from Southern CA two years ago, and was pleasantly surprised by how much there is to see, do, eat, and marvel at in St. Louis.

  • THANK YOU!!!! As a 5 year resident of STL and a landscape architect I am JAZZED to see the ‘lou so well represented. I have often thought to myself “self, you should write a design guide to stl” but Andrea Avery is the perfect author for this. Thanks!

  • Great guide! I lived in St. Louis for 7 years and you hit all the good spots. Schlafly (especially the Bottleworks) is amazing for beer and food. I would also add The Scottish Arms and Urban Chestnut Brewing Co in Midtown and Zia’a for Italian food on the Hill.

  • This is amazing– I’m a native St. Louisan who has lived away for 10 years and is getting married there in the fall with 50% out of town guests– going to send this around for sure. (Love the shout out to Duffs as the owner’s daughter is a bridesmaid)

  • A great review of my hometown though I now live in Chicago. On my MUST when I visit are – Bissengers for dark chocolate molasses lollipops, Volpi’s for Italian deli foods and around the corner to Missouri Bakery for a gooey butter cake (a St. Louis tradition!). The last two shops are on The Hill and the first in the Central West End.

    Also, there is the fantastic Laumeier Sculpture Park which will be hosting my community art project The Red Thread Project® this Thursday, May 12 at noon. Everyone is invited to come dance to live samba while connected together. 400+ elementary children helped to make it. All hats made for the dance will then be washed and donated to local charities.

    So come visit St. Louis. This particular gal can’t quite leave home.

  • Yay! So excited to see my beloved hometown featured on my favorite site :). Thanks, Andrea, for putting together such a comprehensive guide!

  • Yay – finally a STL design guide! This city is full of so many distinct neighborhoods full of wonderful places to visit, eat and shop. I’m glad to see it on the list. Thanks Andrea!

  • Dont forget the Creperie in Clayton!!! (I think its real name is City Coffeehouse +Creperie) It is my favorite. Great guide though, you hit most of my favorite spots.

  • We seriously just got back from our St. Louis vacation. I looked here for a city guide before we left. Schucks (finger snap)! While we did visit many of the places on your list, I would have loved to visit some of the others mentioned.

    We loved St. Louis! You live in a great city. Can’t wait to visit again in the future and bring your guide with us!

  • Don’t forget Peridot, down in the Cherokee area, for handmade gifts, jewelry, and clothing all from local artists. (It’s right across from Snowflake, so it’s on the “tour!”

  • I was so excited to see St. Louis finally get a city guide!

    I csn’t believe there are things I’ve been missing in my neighborhood…

  • So glad to finally see my hometown on D*S! You did a great job giving a sampling of all the neighborhoods of STL (especially my beloved Loop)!

    One to add: if you’re in Clayton, stop by Barcelona Tapas. The best tapas I’ve had in the Midwest. Love!

  • Finally a city guide to our wonderful city! I’ve only lived here about 4.5 years, and love it.

    I realize this is a CITY guide, but I really wish more of the county would have been mentioned…places in Historic Webster Groves or Historic Kirkwood, Grant’s Farm, Faust Park, Creve Coeur Park. Awesome list though!

  • I grew up just outside St. Louis and moved away 9 years ago *sob* I miss it!! While away, it’s gone from just a good city to an AMAZING city, with so much culture and verve. I MUST move back and this city guide has just sealed it. With all of the best of St. Louis listed here in one roundup, it has now hands down beaten the pants off of the rest of the cities on my short list of “places to live next” (including Austin, TX, which is saying somethin’!).

    Although I didn’t see Forest Park in general on here (Boathouse notwithstanding – the entire park is spectacular). I’d encourage anyone coming to StL to take a stroll through this beauty – which is larger than NYC’s Central Park.

  • Wow, didn’t really expect to see this today. Definitely a great primer to a lot of the cool places around this town. One to add somewhere between the “Forest Park” and “University City” areas would be the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum (http://kemperartmuseum.wustl.edu/) at Washington University. Perhaps a little difficult to find, but well worth it.

  • Oh my! I love all the love for St. Louis! I was born in the suburbs surrounding STL county and now I live in the Creve Coeur area. I definitely think Westport should be added to this list, even if its not in the City, its a great place to go for a mini city within the city.

    I love my city!

  • One more thing! Don’t forget the free musical festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden during Wednesdays in the summer. You can bring blankets, picnic baskets, and drinks.

  • Woohoo! So glad to finally see my hometown on the coveted list of D*S city design guides! Great job hitting a lot of the coolest neighborhoods (including Ted Drewes by my house! :D)

  • I encourage folks to add their picks for places outside the city (and places inside the city that I missed). I agree on Webster, Kirkwood, etc. I just tried to keep it to the city because I know it better and because the guide was getting so long. And Ron, thanks SO MUCH for the link to Kemper. I have seen at least half dozen stellar shows there…good addition!

  • INCREDIBLY and PERFECT! Love this guide and hope more are written just like this! can’t wait to send out! thank you thank you thank you

  • Super excited to get this list! I’ve been in the StL for most of my life and haven’t visited a few of these places. Thanks for putting our city on the D*Sponge map.

  • Oh drat, wish that we knew you were posting about St. Louis! Art Saint Louis has served St. Louis regional artists for over 25 years and we have the most giant & lovely gallery right in downtown St. Louis. In fact, we are only 1 of 2 whole galleries in downtown. Don’t miss us!

  • Great to see my hometown featured here. I haven’t lived there in a long time and this makes me miss home even more! What a fantastic city – thanks!

  • Great guide! I have to say, though, that the best gooey butter i’ve had is from Russell’s Cafe and Bakery. Amazing, perfect. They sell at Straub’s now, too.

    And, Salume Beddu is an unsung gem in the STL area, for the best charcuterie you’ve ever had.

  • What a great list for our city! I’m glad you included both Sweetie Pie’s and Sidney Street Cafe. They both topped my list for my 2010 Dining Out journey. Really appreciate the shopping tips as I’m on the prowl for a good French desk. Anyone coming to town should also hop across the river to Historic St. Charles. Lots of antiques, riverfront fun, and locally made beer and wine.

  • love it! St. Louis has been home for 2 years and I love it more and more all the time. This is an EXCELLENT guide for many of the city’s great areas!

  • Yay, St. Louis! I lived there for less than 2 years, but I still love it, and I miss it. I’ll have to check this guide the next time I go back. It’s missing my old neighborhood (Dogtown) but otherwise excellent:-)

  • Awesome shout out for The Lou!! I was born & raised and still cannot get enough of it. Thanks for the feature!!
    Dont forget about The Muny – amphitheater with summer productions that are fantastic!! Free seats in the back too.
    The Botanical Gardens is a must along with the Art Museum; the only Degas ballerina statue with the original tulle skirt, Chihuly, Chuck Close, Monet, etc….
    The city is really a treasure. And the writer said it’s spread out – not really. Its actually a small city.
    And most importantly don’t forget Ted Drews Frozen Custard!!!

  • Wow, such a great job, Andrea! You have highlighted many of my favorite best-kept-secrets and given me great ideas for continuing our exploration of the city we love. Perfection – thank you!

  • Oh St. Louis. You’re too lovely for words. I grew up here as well and I’d like to add the new restaurant Farm Haus to this list (http://www.farmhausrestaurant.com/farmhausabout.asp). All the food is local and the menu changes weekly so it’s always super fresh. Also, some oldies but goodies: After checking out the amazing City Museum, be sure to check out The Magic House (http://www.magichouse.org/) a Victorian mansion converted into the coolest kid’s museum. And don’t forget St. Louis thin crust pizza! Imo’s uses a St. Louis specialty, provel cheese, for a gooey cheesiness that you can’t find anywhere else (http://imospizza.com/). Thanks for making my day with a St. Louis list!

  • hooray! i love living here in the city, and have often felt that it is way under-appreciated. our great restaurants, free attractions, awesome neighborhoods, and gardens more than make up for the rather excessive crime rate.

    thanks for highlighting so many of my favorites. and for giving me a few new places to check out too!

  • Oh, you beat me to it! This is a wonderful and very thorough guide to one of my favorite places ever. Forest Park cannot be praised enough. It has everything: an art museum, history museum, zoo, golf courses, restaurants, beautiful waterfalls and fountains, lakes and streams, paddle boats, canoes, ice skating and a fishing pond, miles and miles of beautifully wooded bike trails, baseball fields, a greenhouse, a municipal theatre… truly the greatest in the county.
    I have one correction: It’s Big Shark Bicycle Company, not Bike Shark. The people there are quite helpful, a great bike shop!
    StL was a great place to go to school and I’m so glad to finally see it have its day on D*S!

  • Yay! I grew up in StL, moved away to the East Coast for college, but I am so happy to see such an extensive guide for a city that is so often overlooked (or dismissed as being extremely boring and dangerous). Plus, this couldn’t be better timing as I am visiting for a week right now. Sometimes when you’ve lived in a place for a long time, you need a little refresher on all the great things the city has to offer.

  • Have called STL home for 9 months now- thanks for the post and the inspiration- this city has so much to offer!

  • Well done, Andrea! I am a St. Louis city native and you hit all of the best places! I am so excited to see my beloved hometown on D*S!

  • Such lovely comments STL! Reading this site for a few years and Ive been waiting to see the city I call home given the feature it deserves! Bravo to Andrea for a great list :)

  • Being a native New Yorker, your list of enticing restaurants and alluring cultural experiences makes me want to visit St. Louis more than just the handful of times I have been! Great job!

  • This makes me so proud of my hometown. St. Louis gets a bad reputation but there’s SO MUCH amazing stuff there. :)

  • Great post! I’ve lived in St Louis most of my life. I love it here. It keeps getting better. I live in the South Hampton area. A great neighborhood. There’s always plenty to do. This weekend is Macklind Days. Check it out!

  • I lived in St. Louis for only 14 months about 14 years ago. Fell in love with the city for sure. So many fond memories. Loved Ted Drewes custard! Favorite ice cream/old syle malt shop: Cown Candy. Does anyone know if it’s sill operating? Thanks for the reminder about his cool City. Can’t wait to go back!!

  • F-YES! As a St. Louis native, I love coming back to the city to enjoy both old favorites and new discoveries–this list is truly awesome, I can’t wait to go back soon and hit all these recommendations.

    @Lindsay–so glad you mentioned gooey butter cake! It’s a specialty of many but I love when my aunt Nancer makes it for us.

    @ECM–it’s a sin not to mention IMO’S and I grew up taking field trips to the magic house, also used to go with my Granddad; it’s a must for any age.

  • This is an awesome guide. I, too, have lived here 15 years and think of it as my hometown now.

    One question, why no mention of the Cards?

  • I lived in St. Loo for eight years and have been in CT for the past ten, a rampant evangelizer for all things Louisian. This list is fantastic. I would definitely include Kaldi’s Coffee House in DeMun and Crown Candy, but it’s so exciting to see the city’s evolution into a thriving, design-appreciating community.

  • What an amazing array of diverse options for visitors to enjoy! I’ve lived in St. Louis all my life and haven’t visited half these places. Thanks!

  • Thank you for this information!! I just moved to St. Louis from Texas, and I clicked on every link and added it to my favs :)

  • The timing on this couldn’t be better – I have been trying to remember the name of Citygarden for two days! I kept Googling City+ whatever I could think of, but +garden I didn’t try.

    I’ve lived in St. Louis for about 9 years and I see some old favorites and some things to add to my to-do list! Thanks!

  • Andrea,
    My daughter from San Francisco sent me your site and I’m so glad she did! It’s wonderful.
    I’ve been touting St Louis restaurants on my blog, Stlouiefoodie.blogspot.com, because we have some of the most talented chefs in the country cooking up a storm and everyone should know about these hard working, dedicated professionals who have changed the culinary scene in the past few years. I started this for my friends so they’d know about restaurants that were worthy of their patronage. I’d like to add you to the list.
    Thanks so much!

  • This is a great guide to a great city. St. Louis is underestimated and it’s a shame. I spent several years there after college (I’m from the DC area) and I fell in love with the culture and atmosphere. In many ways it’s more of a real city than even DC. I hope this will entice others to check it out.

  • WOW!! As a native St Louis city-girl, who still lives here 28 years later, this is one of the most amazingly all-inclusive lists I’ve seen. I love that it includes some unknown spots for tourists (all lists say “go to the arch! Go to a baseball game! Go to Ted Drew’s!” This list includes some VERY interesting spots that I agree with and even re-opened my eyes to Cherokee street, which I KNOW has been revitalized, but is hard for me to think of it as a place to go. When I grew up, it wasn’t…. the place it is today…. And now I feel motivated to frequent the area more often! Yay!

  • So exciting to see this great post and all the wonderful comments about St. Louis! It makes me miss the area all the more and I can’t wait to head back home soon!!

  • Finally the Lou gets some respect!! It’s great to see my city represented on my favorite website and even more exciting, to see a city guide with no sports mention!

    The City Museum and Botanical Gardens are absolutely two of my favorite places in the city. The City Museum is great because they’re policy is that if it isn’t chained off (which hardly anything is) you can climb on it. Also they’re open until 1am on weekends, so that’s a great time to go out and play without running into too many kids. At the Botanical Gardens they hold different cultural festivals throughout the year- definitely check out the Japanese Festival on Labor Day weekend for the awesome sumo demonstrations and tea ceremonies.

  • Great Guide. Additions: Dogtown -Pat’s Bar and Grill and Seamus McDaniel’s and or course, it’s the site of the “Real St. Patrick’s Day Parade”. Benton Park: The Map Room Coffee and Wine House – great garden, weekend entertainment at a reasonable price. Located on Lemp and Withnell.

  • This could not have come at a more perfect time. I just moved here temporarily, for the summer. I’ve been trying to figure out good places, to shop/eat and things to do. Looks like I don’t have to do any research now! Thanks!

  • As Editor-in-Chief of St. Louis Homes and Lifestyles, I have to say this is very very well done! Thank you so much for providing readers with such a wonderful resource on our fine city. We appreciate it so much!!

  • Good job! Your guide focuses on the most dynamic and interesting parts of the City. Great Job! leaving out boring and horrifying county towns like Clayton, Webster and Kirkwood. Maplewood slipped in but its not the end of the world. The Loop of course deserves its place in this guide, and lets not forgot some of the Loop’s most important institutions are in the city; Pageant, Moonrise, Regional Arts Commission and the Metrolink station.

  • Great guide! We live in Columbia but get to StL as often as we can. One notable omission on the downtown shopping front is UMA (urban materials + accessories) at 1100 Locust, right next to Rooster. It’s a great place to browse for fun, well-designed housewares as you wait for a table…

  • Thank you! D*S city guides are my go-to for travel planning. I’ve just spent the morning arranging for a romantic weekend to STL in February! Can’t wait!

  • Well, Arthur, there is hardly a night that goes by that we don’t hear of somebody getting shot and killed in north St. Louis on our local news. I wouldn’t visit north St. Louis if you paid me. Just because you live there or are from there does not mean that you should invite tourists to such a dangerous area.

  • Great guide! It should be noted that Black Bear on Cherokee has unfortunately closed. There are now even more great restaurants along South Grand to check out, including Lulu’s Local Eatery. Also! Four newer (and incredible) interesting food places around the city are: Confluence Kombucha, Kounter Kulture, Milque Toast, and Lona’s Lil’ Eats.

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