Best Things to Do in St. Louis

St. Louis' Best Attractions, Museums and Tours to Discover

Visitors to St. Louis are welcomed by the sight of the Gateway Arch, an icon that offers sweeping views of the city, but on ground level there are a number of other attractions and museums that set the city apart. Forest Park is the sprawling jewel of St. Louis, and has a zoo, art museum, history museum, and miles of natural beauty.

Nature and animal lovers can also check out Grant's Farm, home to more than 100 species or they can wander through the calming, Missouri Botanical Garden, which also hosts a number of unique shows and special events. Those who want to unwind with a good pint should check out a tour at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery Tour (and beer garden), or get a cold one and a hot dog at the Busch Stadium, the home of the St. Louis Cardinals.

For stunning architecture, a visit to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis is in order, where the beautiful mosaics are sure to amaze travelers. Aviation enthusiasts and those looking to get off-the-beaten path will find an under-the-radar gem just outside the city: the Historic Aircraft Restoration Museum.

The experts at have sorted through the city's wide variety of offerings and present this list of favorite attractions in the St. Louis area.


Historic Aircraft Resoration Museum
Photo courtesy of Amber Nolan

While aviation history in St. Louis has been synonymous with Charles Lindbergh, aviation enthusiasts looking to dig deeper should stop by this under-the-radar museum just outside the city. Surrounded by cornfields and a pick-your-own farm, Creve Couer's Airport museum may be the city's best kept secret. The airport houses four hangers that contain a total of 49 vintage aircraft, including a seriously impressive collection of open-cockpit Wacos – and more are being restored each day. Visitors can also climb inside the massive, Antonov An-2 (a Russian single-engine biplane). This non-profit museum is located about 20 minutes outside the city center.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: This hidden gem is one of the most impressive collections of vintage aircraft anywhere in the United States.

Amber's expert tip: Ask about what they have in some of the other hangars. The collection continues to grow as more are being restored at the airport.

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Anheuser-Busch was founded in St. Louis in 1852, and now the brewery has grown to one of the world's largest (and one of the most well known). Tour the company's world headquarters in the historic brew house (dating back to 1891) and observe the process of making, processing and packaging beer. See the cool Beechwood aging cellars, and the historic, century-old stables where the Budweiser Clydesdales are housed. Complimentary samples are available in the hospitality room at the conclusion of the tour. The biergarten is also on site and offers 17 tap beers, tastings, and snacks. A more in-depth tour is available for a small charge.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: This free tour is an informative look at America's best known brewery.

Amber's expert tip: Once you take the tour, you can also sign up for beer school.

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Missouri's past comes to life at this museum, whose exhibits include information about the Louisiana Purchase, the Olympics, Charles Lindbergh's flight suit and artifacts from the 1904 World's Fair. Other displays educate visitors on the African-American contribution to state culture and the city's response to the 1849 fire. A recent expansion added 92,000-square feet to the impressive stone building located in the Jefferson Memorial Building at Forest Park. The gift shop offers an exciting array of crafts, books, and souvenirs. Exhibits are always changing, and the museum currently hosts guided tours that take visitors around the city with transportation and snacks included.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: A great way to learn about Missouri's past, this free attraction is a favorite among visitors.

Amber's expert tip: You can also download the mobile application to navigate the museum.

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The locals know the Missouri Botanical Garden as Shaw's Garden. This magnificent spot features North America's largest traditional Japanese garden, a Victorian garden (with walk-through maze), the William T. Kemper Center for Home Gardening, and the Climatron Complex, an award-winning geodesic dome and rainforest conservatory. The structure was built to simulate seven different climates and houses rare tropical plants and flowers, towering palm trees, and beautiful streams and waterfalls. If you can time your visit during the "Garden Glow" or other evening light shows, it is a spectacular experience. They also host a Japanese festival and Chinese Cultural Education days.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: These impressive gardens offer an array of entertainment and special events.

Amber's expert tip: There's always something special going on so check their events calender

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Saint Louis Zoo

More than 6,000 animals live in natural habitat areas constructed to resemble bluffs, pampas, lakes, and woods. Visit the Children's Zoo, "Big Cat Country," with lions, tigers, jaguars and leopards, or the "Penguin and Puffin Coast." Ride the Zooline Railroad around the park's beautifully landscaped grounds. There's also a bird house and gardens, and primate house with apes, monkeys, and lemurs, as well as a chimpanzee and orangutans refuge. Take in a show or special attraction like the sea lion high-diving act, a stingray petting tank, or the 4-D motion simulator show with wildlife-themed programs. A number of concessions are available throughout the zoo.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: The St. Louis Zoo is consistently ranked as one of the top zoos in the country.

Amber's expert tip: Special behind-the-scenes tours can be arranged if scheduled three weeks in advance.

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Webster Groves

This farm once belonged to Ulysses S. Grant and was bought by the Busch family almost a hundred years ago. Today, the estate, compliments of Anheuser-Busch, is a wildlife preserve that is home to more than 900 animals. Travel in an open-air coach past Mirror Lake to Grant's Cabin, constructed by Grant in 1856. Ride past Deer Park and view bison, elk, antelope, zebras, llamas and ostriches. See the famous Clydesdales in their pastures next to the stables. Enjoy entertaining, educational shows at the Tier Garten Amphitheater. You can also visit the petting area and hand-feed the smaller animals. Admission is free; parking fees range from $10 to $30.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: More than 100 species call this farm home, and it is a great attraction for families.

Amber's expert tip: Be sure to check their hours before planning a trip as they do change for special events.

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This century old Neo-Romanesque basilica is known for the spectacular mosaics that grace its interior. The church rivals that of many European icons, and although it doesn't have as much history, it is in excellent condition. The saga that spans Creation to the Final Judgment is depicted in exquisite detail on the interior of the church's domes. Other depictions include the life of the church's patron, King Louis IX of France, and the growth of the Catholic Church. Visit the church's Mosaic Museum as well as the Cathedral Shop. Guided tours are open during weekdays. Call ahead if you're planning on a self-guided tour on the weekends since it is a popular time for weddings.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: This stunning display of mosaic work draws visitors in, and the informative tours help to enhance the experience.

Amber's expert tip: There is a second cathedral four miles away (right along the river) that is also worth visiting.

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Gateway Arch

The Gateway Arch is St. Louis's most notable landmark, and is 630 feet high (63 stories). It is the focal point of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Park and was built in the 1960's to commemorate the point at which many 19th century pioneers stopped for supplies before continuing west. A large plaza with terrazzo floors, a fountain, and a gift shop are located in the entrance area, along with the Museum of Westward Expansion and the Arch Odyssey Theatre, which shows films about the construction of the arch. Ride the tram to an observation room and witness spectacular views of the city.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: As the signature icon of St. Louis, from the top, visitors can see 30 miles in any direction.

Amber's expert tip: Combination packages of visits to the Arch and sightseeing cruises are available.

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Home of the St. Louis Cardinals professional baseball team, this downtown stadium opened in the 1960's and features a Gateway Arch motif that is replicated more than 90 times on the exterior. When the Cardinals aren't playing, the stadium is also used as a venue for concerts; in fact, the Beatles played one of their last live concerts here. The stadium tour starts at the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame/St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum across the street, where you may also purchase tickets. Just outside the stadium, Ballpark Village has developed and is a great place to catch some of the atmosphere.

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: This modern ballpark features a classic design, and is a favorite of baseball fans from all over the globe.

Amber's expert tip: The beer garden offers great food at reasonable prices.

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Central West End
Forest Park
Photo courtesy of Randy Allen -

Located in the heart of St. Louis, Forest Park encompasses nearly 1,400 acres of land. It is one of the largest urban parks in the United States, nearly a third larger than New York City's Central Park. The St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis Science Center and Planetarium, History Museum, Zoo, Jewel Box, and Muny Theater are a few of the many attractions located here. Not to mention, 170 acres of Nature Reserve holds and old-growth forest habitat. The park is widely used for outdoor recreation and features bicycle paths, jogging trails, baseball diamonds, soccer fields, boating, and skating. During the warmer months, concerts an movies are shown on the art lawn (in front of the museum).

Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: The crown jewel of St. Louis, many of the city's best attractions can be found within the park.

Amber's expert tip: Bring a map; it's easy to get lost.

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Meet Amber Nolan

Originally from upstate New York, this restless traveler has a knack for befriending interesting characters. You can usually find her just about anywhere that has a hammock. Amber's favorite...  More About Amber