The Best Things to do in St. Louis, Missouri

The 15 Best Things to Do in St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis, Missouri, has a lot of nicknames, including the Gateway to the West, River City, Rome of the West, Saint Lou, and the STL. No matter what you call it, one thing’s for sure: St. Louis is an absolutely incredible city to explore.

Seriously, it’s impossible to get bored in St. Louis! There’s so much to see and do, whether you’re into art, history, food, or just want to have a good time. For instance, the city is home to the famous Gateway Arch, as well as the St. Louis Zoo and the historic Missouri Botanical Garden.

The St. Louis art scene is also not to be missed – check out the City Museum, the Contemporary Art Museum, and the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts. Live music is also a big thing in St. Louis. Jazz, blues, rock, and country all have a home here.

And, of course, no visit to St. Louis would be complete without sampling the city’s legendary food, like gooey butter cake, toasted ravioli, and St. Louis-style pizza. Every corner of this place either has an amazing food truck or a world-class restaurant!

St. Louis is also located in one of the most beautiful regions of the United States, the Ozarks. Think ancient mountains thick with forests, pristine rivers, and bubbling springs. You can hike, bike, fish, float, and camp to your heart’s content in this stunning natural setting.

With so many things to see and do, it’s hard to know where to begin! To help you plan an unforgettable trip, we’ve compiled some of the absolute best things to do in St. Louis for you. We packed this St. Louis bucket list with all of the city’s highlights, so you can make the most of your time in this wonderful place!

15 Fun and Unique Things to Do in St. Louis

1. Have an Outdoor Adventure at Forest Park

Unique Things to do in St. Louis Missouri: Forest Park

Forest Park is one of the largest urban parks in the United States, and it’s right in the middle of St. Louis! The park opened in 1876, and since then, it has been a beloved spot for locals and visitors alike.

There are so many things to do in Forest Park. Have a nice lunch out at Picnic Island, stroll along the River des Peres, or hike through the Kennedy Forest. You can also rent a boat and row around Art Hill Pond. In the winter, the park turns into a winter wonderland, with an ice skating rink and sledding hills.

Forest Park also boasts five cultural institutions. You have the Missouri History Museum, where you can learn all about the state’s past. Come during spring and fall for their Twilight Tuesday concerts. 

There’s also the Muny, the nation’s oldest and largest outdoor musical theater. The St. Louis Art Museum and the Saint Louis Zoo are also located in the park, making it the perfect spot to spend a day (or two!) exploring.

2. Dive Into the City Museum’s Rabbit Hole

Fun Things to do in St. Louis Missouri: City Museum

The City Museum is one of the most unique things to do in St. Louis. First, it’s massive at 600,000 square feet, so wear your comfiest shoes. Second, it’s like a giant playground for kids and adults!

You’ll encounter giant gargoyles, airplane fuselages, a firetruck, slides, and monkey bars, all spread out over four floors. Snap a picture of the world’s largest pencil and drop by the Everyday Circus, which offers both lessons and shows.

Don’t miss the Shoe Shafts section of the museum. You’ll have to walk through narrow tunnels and crawl through small spaces, and it’s seriously so much fun.

Tip: the City Museum is open until midnight, and tickets get discounted after 5 pm. So, if you’re looking for things to do at night in St. Louis, this is your best bet! 

3. Marvel at the Missouri Botanical Garden

Must do things in St. Louis Missouri: Missouri Botanical Garden

Founded in 1859, the Missouri Botanical Garden is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the United States and is now a National Historic Landmark. The moment you step into the garden, you’ll instantly see why.

The Missouri Botanical Garden is a kaleidoscope of blooming flowerbeds, exotic trees, colossal lawns, and a towering greenhouse. Each garden has a special theme, such as the 14-acre Japanese Garden or the Victorian-style English Woodland Garden.

In need of some peace and quiet? Stop by the Grigg Nanjing Friendship Chinese Garden with its philosophical rock formations and gilded gateways. The Sachs Museum is another highlight with its century-old artifacts, art, and interactive displays.

Don’t miss the Climatron, which is the world’s first geodesic dome greenhouse! Inside, you’ll find a tropical rainforest with waterfalls, bridges, and a variety of plant and animal life. The Missouri Botanical Garden also offers free Wednesday nights during the summer so you can enjoy the gardens under the stars.

We recommend timing your visit during one of their workshops and classes, from horticulture to Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging). You can check the calendar on their website to see what’s happening during your stay.

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4. See the Bears and Tigers at the St. Louis Zoo

Best Things to do in St. Louis Missouri: Zoo

The St. Louis Zoo is consistently ranked as one of the best zoos in the United States, and it’s free to enter. The zoo is home to over 14,000 animals, representing over 500 species. From the wildest beasts like lions and grizzly bears to the cutest critters like penguins and red pandas, it’s the ultimate animal experience.

It’s a blast walking through all the themed exhibits, such as the River’s Edge, which simulates an African savannah and stars animals like rhinos and zebras. The zoo also has an insectarium, a sea lion show, and a stingray petting pool.

The Bear Pits is one of the most popular exhibits where you can see black bears roaming and playing in their natural habitat. Adorable alert: the zoo also has a baby animal nursery where you can see fuzzy chicks, ducklings, and bunnies!

Aside from checking out the animals, hop on the rides at the Conservation Carousel or catch a 4D movie at the Emerson Children’s Zoo. You can also join activities like keeper talks, behind-the-scenes tours, and animal training demonstrations.

The St. Louis Zoo is open every day of the year, but it’s extra fun during seasonal events like Halloween and Christmas.

5. Visit St. Louis’ Famous Landmarks

Best Things to do in St. Louis Missouri: Famous Landmarks

St. Louis proudly displays its past and personality through its many landmarks and monuments. Some are well-known, while others are hidden gems.

The most popular landmark in St. Louis is probably the Gateway Arch. At 630 feet tall, it’s the world’s tallest arch and a symbol of the city. If you’re looking for St. Louis bucket list activities, you can take a tram to the top for sweeping views of the cityscape.

Near the Gateway Arch is the Old Courthouse, which played a key role in the infamous Dred Scott case. The courthouse is now a museum with exhibits on the Lewis and Clark expedition, westward expansion, and the Civil War.

Just a few blocks away is the Old Cathedral. Also known as the Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France, it’s the oldest church west of the Mississippi River. The neo-gothic building is beautiful inside and out, with stunning stained glass windows and intricate stone carvings.

The Eads Bridge is both a St. Louis local treasure and a National Historic Landmark. The bridge spans the Mississippi River and was the first bridge built using steel trusses. It’s beautiful! 

Be sure to visit the Laumeier Sculpture Park while you’re in the area. After that, head to Market Street, which is the city’s oldest street that spills into St. Louis Memorial Plaza.

Book a St. Louis Trolley Tour

6. Enjoy the Thrilling Rides at Six Flags St. Louis

You need to experience this quintessential St. Louis attraction at least once! Six Flags St. Louis is the perfect place to get your fill of adrenaline-pumping roller coasters and fun rides for the whole family. We recommend going in the summer or early fall so you can take advantage of the water rides too.

Take a spin up 16 stories on the Catwoman Whip, then scream your head off on Batman: The Ride. Rush through the dark on Mr. Freeze Reverse Blast or get soaked on Thunder River.

The little ones will have a grand time on the Bugs Bunny Ranger Pilots and Taz’s Tornado. Make sure you save time for Typhoon Twister, a river rafting adventure that will cool you off on a hot day!

Aside from all the crazy rides, Six Flags also has a packed calendar of events like live concerts, Halloween and holiday celebrations, and more, so double-check what’s happening before you go.

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7. Drink & Dine Your Way Through the Delmar Loop

Unique Things to do in St. Louis Missouri: Fitz's Root Beer
Images courtesy of Fitz’s Root Beer

Exploring the Delmar Loop is easily one of the coolest things to do in St. Louis. It got its name from the streetcar tracks that used to loop around the area. Today, it’s an action-packed strip with shopping, dining, and entertainment galore.

You have to ride the Delmar Loop Trolley, which is free! It’s a 2.2-mile ride with 10 stops. Hop on and off as you check out the 100+ specialty shops, 60 restaurants, 12 entertainment venues, 10 galleries, and more.

Follow the St. Louis Walk of Fame, which honors over 180 celebrities with ties to the city. You’ll see everyone from Chuck Berry and Maya Angelou to Jon Hamm and John Goodman. Grab a burger or a hotdog at the iconic Blueberry Hill, then wash it down with a cold one at Fitz’s Root Beer.

At night, the Delmar Loop’s neon lights come alive as the bars and clubs start hopping. Catch some live music at The Pageant, one of the best concert venues in the city. Then dance the night away at BB’s Jazz, Blues & Soups, which has been voted one of the best blues clubs in America!

8. Eat BBQ at the Legendary Bogart’s Smokehouse

Must do things in St. Louis Missouri: Bogart’s Smokehouse

One thing to know about Bogart’s Smokehouse: they close when they run out of food, no matter what time it is! So get there early because you’re going to want to try everything on the menu.

Bogart’s slow-cook their Memphis-style BBQ for 24 hours over apple and cherrywood, and the result is smoky dry rub perfection. The ribs are mouth-wateringly tender, and the pulled pork is out of this world. Get a bit of everything, including the tri-tip sirloin, burnt ends, pastrami, and the most tender beef brisket ever. 

The sides are sleeper hits too! They cook their pot bins overnight under the brisket, so they catch all those yummy drippings. Their deviled-egg potato salad is a must-try, as are their Fire and Ice pickles. In case you have leftovers (unlikely), Bogart’s will wrap them up for you in butcher paper with their logo stamped on it. 

If you’re a foodie or just love to try local cuisine, this is one of the best St. Louis activities! 

9. Be Amazed at the Saint Louis Science Center

Best Things to do in St. Louis Missouri: Saint Louis Science Center
Images courtesy of Saint Louis Science Center

The Saint Louis Science Center will make you feel like a kid again with its animatronic T-rex, planetarium shows, and hands-on science experiments. It’s one of the top things to do in St. Louis for families for sure!

The Discovery Room is a great place to start for the little ones. They can play with foam blocks, dress up in costumes, investigate shadows, and more. Spend time at the four-story Omnimax Theater, which will take you under the sea, into the wild, and high up in the air! 

You’re going to love the Planetarium too. Lie back under the stars and take a journey through the solar system. If that’s not enough, one of the newest exhibits is GROW, which explores the science of food within a one-acre outdoor area. Better yet, entry to the Science Center is free!

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10. Explore the Unique Neighborhoods of St. Louis

Must do things in St. Louis Missouri: Soulard Farmers Market
Images courtesy of Soulard Farmers Market, photographed by Scott Schweiger

St. Louis is a city of neighborhoods, and each one is a proud reflection of the people who live there. From hipster hot spots to family-friendly enclaves, there’s a neighborhood for everyone in St. Louis.

The Central West End is famous for its griffin lampposts, tree-lined streets, and gorgeous historic homes that are as old or older than the 1904 World’s Fair. It’s one of the most affluent neighborhoods in St. Louis, and you’ll find high-end shopping, dining, and nightlife here. 

Carondelet is a melting pot of Irish, Italian, Spanish, and Hungarian cultures, and they’re all reflected in the food, architecture, and festivals.

Cherokee Antique Row is both a historic and fun corner of St. Louis. Go on a self-guided tour of the Cherokee-Lemp History Walk for 200 years’ worth of interesting facts and stories. Be sure to check out the antique shops along the way!

The Hill is St. Louis’ Little Italy, where you’ll find red, white, and green everywhere you look. The neighborhood is known for its great food (The Hill has more restaurants per capita than any other neighborhood in St. Louis) and for being the childhood home of many famous people, including Yogi Berra, Joe Garagiola, and Tina Fey.

If you’re looking for a local taste of St. Louis, head to Soulard. This is the city’s oldest neighborhood and it’s full of character. This is the place where you’ll find great bars, live music, and the iconic Soulard Farmers Market.

11. Taste Tradition at St. Louis’ Breweries

Must do things in St. Louis Missouri: Breweries

St. Louis has a long and proud brewing tradition, and there are several breweries in town that have been in operation for over 100 years! They’re a great way to get tipsy and learn about St. Louis’ brewing history all at the same time.

One of the most popular breweries in St. Louis is Schlafly Bottleworks. They offer free tours of the brewing process every half hour, and you can sample all kinds of Schlafly beer afterward in their Tap Room. 

Anheuser-Busch is the largest and most well-known of the St. Louis breweries. Take a free tour of the massive brewing facility and learn all about how Budweiser beer is made. Of course, you get to sample the finished product at the end of the tour!

12. Try St. Louis’ Most Beloved Foods & Treats

Best Things to do in St. Louis Missouri: Most Beloved Foods & Treats

St. Louis is known for a few unique foods that you won’t find anywhere else. 

First up is toasted ravioli, a breaded and deep-fried ravioli that’s a popular appetizer in St. Louis restaurants. St. Louis-style pizza is thin crust and has a very tangy sauce. It’s cut into squares instead of slices, too. Get yours at the Imo’s Pizza chain for a true-blue St. Louis experience. Remember to try the barbecue pork steaks as well!

Your sweet tooth will be more than satisfied with all the St. Louis desserts just waiting to be devoured. Gooey butter cake is a St. Louis specialty – it’s a yellow cake with a thick layer of gooey butter on top. 

If you’re looking for something a little lighter, frozen custard is just the thing. St. Louisans are passionate about their frozen custard, and Ted Drewes is the most popular place to get it.

During fall, you can’t miss Merbs Bionic Apples. Granny Smith apples are dipped in caramel, then rolled in your choice of toppings like chocolate, nuts, and candy. They’re huge and very messy, but so worth it!

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13. Attend a Local Festival or Fair in St. Louis

St. Louisans love a good festival, and there’s one going on almost every weekend during the summer and fall. The two biggest ones are the Fair Saint Louis (also known as America’s Biggest Birthday Party) and the St. Louis Renaissance Faire.

The Fair Saint Louis is a huge celebration that takes place on the grounds of the Gateway Arch. There’s music, food, rides, and fireworks, of course! The Renaissance Faire is a weekend-long event that takes you back in time to the 16th century. You’ll see jousting, listen to live music, and eat turkey legs.

Smaller but equally spectacular festivals include PrideFest (the largest Pride festival in Missouri), the Muny 104, the Laumerier Art Fair, and the St. Louis Microfest, a beer festival that features over 100 types of beer!

14. Go Kayaking or Canoeing on the Mighty Mississippi River

Fun Things to do in St. Louis Missouri: Mighty Mississippi River

If you’re wondering what to do in St. Louis when you want to get outside, then you’ll definitely want to beeline it to the Mississippi River. The Mighty Mississippi runs right through the middle of St. Louis, and there are several companies that offer kayak and canoe rentals. Paddling down the river is a great way to see St. Louis from a different perspective, and it’s a lot of fun, too!

If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can even go camping on one of the islands in the middle of the Mississippi River. Or, if you want to take it slow, jump on a cruise and enjoy the scenery as you float down the river. 

15. Immerse Yourself in the St. Louis Art Scene

What to do in St. Louis Missouri: Art Scene

Art lovers will feel right at home in St. Louis with all its art museums, outdoor installations, and street art. The St. Louis Art Museum is one of the best in the country, with over 34,000 objects that represent more than 5,000 years of the human experience.

On the other hand, the Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis doesn’t have a permanent collection, so there’s always something new to see. Other must-visit places are the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, The Griot Museum of Black History, and the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art.

If you’re more interested in outdoor art, the Citygarden is an oasis in the middle of the city with sculptures by world-renowned artists like Henry Moore and Maya Lin. And don’t forget about the murals. There are lots of them scattered all over St. Louis, so turn it into a hunt and see how many you can find!

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There you have it! The 15 best things to do in St. Louis. What’s your favorite thing to do in St. Louis?

Planning a trip to Missouri? Check out our favorite books and travel guides!


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