Missouri has earned recent acclaim for its picturesque Ozarks, but there’s a lot more to the Show Me State than just natural beauty. Perched on the western shore of the Mississippi River, the sprawling city of St. Louis is home to a vibrant food scene, world-class museums, and a whole lot of free attractions to make use of. With 2023 on the horizon, start your year off right with a trip to this incredible—and oft-overlooked—Midwestern city.
Sample Stellar Cocktails and Small Plates
The St. Louis metro area is home to close to three million people, and this massive collection of residents has created a pretty incredible drinking and dining scene over the years. Kick off the festivities with a trip to Takashima Record Bar for stellar cocktails served in a cozy Japanese-style listening bar, and then make your way over to iNDO for a truly memorable meal. Launched in 2019, this refined venue has mastered the art of Southeast Asian fusion, offering complex cocktails, top-tier sake, and dishes like lamb tartare laarb and lobster thermidor. If you’re in need of a little-pick-up the morning after, swing by Sugarfire Smoke House for some much-needed brisket paired with a chocolate shake.
Immerse Yourself in the St. Louis Art Scene
An oft-underrated paradise for art lovers, St. Louis offers a wide array of museums and attractions that are totally free to enter. Nestled in the heart of Forest Park, the stately (and aptly-named) Saint Louis Art Museum is a world-class institution equipped with close to 35,000 different items ranging from millennia-old Mesopotamian artifacts to 18th-century oil paintings. Further east, the Citygarden’s wealth of polished statues make it perfect for an afternoon stroll, and—if you want to take it a step further—be sure book a night at the Angad Arts Hotel, a property complete with stylish single-color rooms, an incredible rooftop bar, and a whole lot of rotating exhibitions scattered through the property.
Sip Fresh Craft Beer at the City’s Top Breweries
Crisp lagers and hoppy IPAs abound across the Gateway to the West, but if you’re a tried-and-true sour aficionado, Side Project is an absolute must-visit. This Maplewood operation has earned abundant local acclaim for their farmhouse ales and barrel-aged sours, and even earned the #2 spot on BeerRater’s 2019 Best Brewers in the World list. If you want to stick closer to the Mississippi, 4 Hands Brewing Co dishes out a diverse array of beers ranging from Divided Sky Rye IPA to Cast Iron Oatmeal Brown, and even dabbles in the wide world of spirits, offering floral gin and rich amari from their on-site distillery 1220 Spirits. For a little international flair, you can make your way to Urban Chestnut, a German-style bierhall that offers refreshing Bavarian Weissbier and lager.
Explore the Iconic Saint Louis Zoo
Massive, historic, and—best of all—completely free, the Saint Louis Zoo is one of the city’s top destinations for a little fresh air and family fun. Exhibits range from Big Cat Country to Jungle of the Apes, showcasing snow leopards, western lowland gorillas, and roughly 500 other species that all call the park home. While the creatures here are a sight to behold, the Saint Louis Zoo is also a major force in global wildlife conservation, funding a wealth of initiatives to protect the earth’s most vulnerable species and breeding highly endangered animals like the François’ langur and Amur leopard.
Take in Stunning Views Atop the Gateway Arch
It’s no hidden gem, but the iconic Gateway Arch offers a fascinating perspective on the city from one of the most unique monuments on the planet. Completed in 1965, this stainless steel structure is the earth’s largest arch, measuring in at 630 feet tall—and while it’s certainly impressive from the outside, no visit to St. Louis is complete without a trip to the top. An entry ticket includes a ride to the arch’s peak to soak in spectacular vistas of downtown St. Louis and the Illinois side of the Mississippi, and also grants access to the on-property museum, a six-gallery space that provides ample insight into St. Louis history as well as westward expansion and its devastating impact on the indigenous people of North America.