In the past year, my hometown has been the subject to a lot of negative news coverage, but rest assured, the city is not the war zone many media outlets have made it out to be. In fact, St. Louis has a lot to offer visitors beyond the Gateway Arch and an awesome baseball team. Every time I go to visit family I make a list of things I want to do during my visit, and I never seem to fit them all in! So, while the city may not be next on your travel destination wishlist, if you do find yourself in the Gateway to the West, this post will give you an idea of some great attractions that even locals like to visit.
- Anheueser-Busch Brewery
St. Louis is the home of Anheuser-Busch, one of the largest American beer and liquor producers, and the home of the largest of its twelve American breweries. AB produces a variety of beers including the obvious Budweiser, Busch, and Bud Light, as well as others like Stella Artois, Michelob, and Shock Top. The St. Louis brewery is still active and is a designated historic landmark. The brewery offers free daily tours that last about 45 minutes and include two free AB beverages at the end for guests over 21. The times are available online and at the front desk. They also offer some paid (but very reasonable) tours that include the chance to meet the famous Budweiser Clydesdales. More information on the tours is available here.
- The Butterfly House
The Butterfly House is located west of the city in the suburb of Chesterfield, but it’s well worth the drive. It’s home to an indoor butterfly greenhouse with over 80 species of butterflies and beautiful gardens both inside and out. You can also see butterflies in their cocoons, newly hatched, and in their caterpillar stage. Wear bright colors if you want some of the little beauties to land on you. The Butterfly House is closed on Mondays, and admission is $6 for adults. Learn more about their attractions here.
- Pappy’s BBQ
No list about St. Louis would be complete without the city’s favorite barbecue joint. St. Louisans consume more BBQ sauce per capita than any other city, and I like to think we’ve perfected it. Pappy’s ribs are delicious, as are their burnt ends (meat cut from the point half of a brisket). I recommend their sweet BBQ sauce. Note that food is cooked starting in the morning, and they close each day when they run out, so you should call if you plan to come late in the day. Their menu and location are available here.
- The Lemp Mansion
For those brave enough, the Lemp Mansion is St. Louis’ most haunted attraction. It was built by the Lemp family, who made their fortune in lager brewing until the demise of the family business and the family itself. The Mansion was the site of mysterious deaths and multiple suicides, and today it offers haunted tours and the chance to spend the night, if you can handle it. The tours are seriously creepy, but on the lighter and more delicious side, the Mansion also houses a lovely and historic restaurant. More information about the mansion, its history, and its ghost tours are available here.
- The City Museum
The City Museum is one of the coolest places to visit in St. Louis for adults and children alike. The Museum’s website describes it as “an eclectic mixture of children’s playground, funhouse, surrealistic pavilion, and architectural marvel made out of unique, found objects,” and, frankly, it’s kind of hard to explain better than that unless you see it. It houses a full size model of a whale you can walk through, a ten story cave system to be explored, a massive aquarium and animal rehabilitation center where you can see fish, penguins, alligators, sloths, and more, a full size rooftop ferris wheel, a school bus that hangs off the roof, and a variety of restaurants ranging from a donut stand to finer dining. This list is only the tip of the iceberg – it’s really a place you need to see to believe. More information is available here.
This short list comprises only a few of the fun things to do in and around St. Louis. The city is home to some amazing cultural, culinary, and historical attractions, so if you happen to be in the “flyover states,” be sure to give the city a chance!