The Ultimate Guide to St. Louis in 2023: Top Attractions and Things to Do

In 2023, St. Louis – the Gateway to the West – is roaring back, radiant and reinvigorated like never before. Bursting with a blend of effervescent culture, culinary innovation, and iconic structures that majestically pierce the Missouri skyline, St. Louis radiates an undeniable charm that mesmerizes both natives and newcomers alike. Uncover hidden gems and immerse yourself in irresistible attractions as we guide you on an unforgettable tour of St. Louis in 2023: a vibrant city where history meets modernity at every corner, waiting for you to delve in and explore! Expect unparalleled adventures across vintage breweries, cutting-edge tech start-ups, world-class museums and lush city parks — all jam-packed into our ultimate guide to thriving in St. Louis in 2023!

Our Guide to St. Louis in 2023 provides extensive recommendations for places to eat, shop, play, and stay in St. Louis. We cover top attractions like Forest Park and The Hill neighborhood, as well as suggestions for food and must-visit neighborhoods. Whether you’re planning a quick visit or an extended stay, our guide offers valuable insight into the best St. Louis has to offer in 2023.

Guide to St. Louis in 2023

Top Attractions in St. Louis

Nestled in the heartland of America, St. Louis is a vibrant city with a rich history and a plethora of attractions to explore. Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover, or culinary enthusiast, there’s something here for everyone. Let’s dive into some of the top attractions that make St. Louis a must-visit destination.

When it comes to iconic landmarks, the Gateway Arch is undoubtedly the crown jewel of St. Louis. As you stand beneath its towering archway, you’ll be transported back in time to an era when pioneers ventured westward in search of new horizons. Take a tram ride to the top for breathtaking views of the city skyline and the Mississippi River.

For animal lovers, the Saint Louis Zoo offers an unforgettable experience for both kids and adults alike. This world-class zoo is home to over 17,000 animals from around the globe and offers close encounters with captivating species. From playful penguins to majestic elephants, every visit to the zoo promises to be an adventure.

To immerse yourself in nature’s beauty, make sure to explore the enchanting Missouri Botanical Garden. Known as one of the oldest botanical gardens in continuous operation in the United States, it boasts stunning displays year-round. Don’t miss their acclaimed children’s garden, picturesque fountains, and mesmerizing Chihuly glass art installations.

A hidden gem within St. Louis is Forest Park, recognized as one of the nation’s “Best City Parks.” This expansive urban oasis offers a diverse range of activities for visitors of all ages. Explore museums like the Saint Louis Art Museum and the Missouri History Museum, enjoy a leisurely boat ride at the boathouse restaurant, or catch a performance at the historic Muny theater – there’s never a dull moment at Forest Park.

For history enthusiasts, delve into fascinating exhibits at the Gateway Arch Museum, which recently underwent impressive upgrades. Learn about Lewis and Clark’s famous expedition, the city’s role in westward expansion, and the architectural marvel that is the Gateway Arch itself.

Exploring St. Louis’s attractions is like turning the pages of a captivating history book, each chapter revealing a new layer of wonder and discovery.

With its plethora of attractions, St. Louis promises an unforgettable experience for every visitor. Whether you’re seeking cultural enrichment, natural beauty, or simply want to indulge in mouthwatering cuisine, this vibrant city has it all.

Speaking of natural beauty, let’s now explore some of the highlights within Forest Park, one of St. Louis’s most beloved destinations.

  • St. Louis is a must-visit destination for anyone looking for a vibrant city with rich history and a range of attractions. From the iconic Gateway Arch to the world-class Saint Louis Zoo and breathtaking Missouri Botanical Garden, there is something for everyone. Forest Park is a hidden gem, offering museums, boat rides, and performances to visitors of all ages. For history enthusiasts, the Gateway Arch Museum offers fascinating exhibits about westward expansion and Lewis and Clark’s expedition. Overall, exploring St. Louis’s attractions promises an unforgettable experience filled with wonder and discovery.

Forest Park Highlights

Tucked away in the heart of St. Louis lies a verdant oasis known as Forest Park – a haven for nature enthusiasts and those seeking respite from the bustling city. Spanning over 1,300 acres, this enchanting urban park offers an array of experiences that will delight visitors of all ages.

One of the park’s crown jewels is the World’s Fair Pavilion, a picturesque open-air structure that stands as a reminder of St. Louis’s prestigious hosting of the 1904 World’s Fair. Surrounded by lush greenery and overlooking charming lagoons, this iconic pavilion serves as a gathering spot for events, picnics, and leisurely strolls.

Art connoisseurs will find solace at Art Hill, an expanse of rolling greens crowned by the Saint Louis Art Museum at its pinnacle. The museum houses an impressive collection spanning centuries and continents, including renowned works by artists such as Van Gogh and Monet. After immersing yourself in artistry, take advantage of the hill’s prime sledding location during winter months or enjoy leisurely walks under colorful autumn foliage.

For those seeking serenity, a visit to the Japanese Garden is a must. Designed by renowned landscape architect Takoaka Sasaki, this tranquil haven mesmerizes visitors with its meticulously manicured gardens, koi-filled ponds, and picturesque bridges. Step into this slice of Japan and experience a moment of Zen amidst the vibrant city.

As you stroll along the park’s winding paths, you’ll encounter other captivating features such as the Jewel Box, an art-deco greenhouse filled with exotic plants and blooming flora. Additionally, adventurous souls can rent boats to explore the glistening waters of Bowl Lake or enjoy a peaceful picnic by the tranquil shores of Round Lake.

Forest Park truly embodies the essence of St. Louis – a harmonious blend of natural beauty, cultural treasures, and recreational opportunities that leave lasting memories.

  • According to the Explore St. Louis Visitors Guide, there are over 1,000 restaurants, boutiques, entertainment venues, and historical attractions listed for visitors to explore in 2023.
  • As per the data from the city’s tourism bureau in 2020, the visitor count at major St. Louis attractions like Forest Park, City Museum, and Missouri Botanical Garden is consistently over a million annually, with expectations of growth by five percent in 2023 owing to improved amenities.
  • The National Parks Services reported that in prior years more than half a million tourists have visited Gateway Arch annually – making it one of the most sought-after tourist destinations – and this figure is projected to increase by approximately three percent in 2023 due to its recent renovation and expansion.

The Hill Neighborhood’s Italian Restaurants

When it comes to Italian cuisine in St. Louis, there is no neighborhood quite as famous as “The Hill.” Known for its rich history and strong ties to Italian culture, The Hill boasts a plethora of top-notch Italian restaurants that are sure to satisfy even the most discerning palate.

One of the highly recommended restaurants in The Hill is Adriana’s. With a cozy and inviting atmosphere, Adriana’s offers a wide range of traditional Italian dishes cooked to perfection. From mouthwatering pasta dishes to delectable seafood options, every item on their menu is crafted with care and attention to detail.

Another gem on The Hill is Gioia’s Deli. This family-owned establishment has been serving up delicious sandwiches since 1918. They are particularly famous for their Italian Delight sandwich, which features garlic bread loaded with kippered salmon, scallion cream cheese, mozzarella, and a medley of onions and olives. It’s a true delight for the taste buds!

Charlie Gitto’s On the Hill is another must-visit restaurant in this neighborhood. Known for its warm hospitality, charming ambiance, and mouthwatering Italian cuisine, Charlie Gitto’s is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. Their menu includes classic dishes such as pasta carbonara, osso buco, and tiramisu, all prepared using fresh and high-quality ingredients.

Zia’s Restaurant, located on Macklind Avenue, offers a truly memorable dining experience. This family-owned restaurant has been serving authentic Italian fare since 1985. Their chicken parmigiana is highly recommended by patrons who appreciate the flavorful sauce and the exceptional service provided by the attentive staff.

For those with a sweet tooth, Gelato Di Riso on Macklind Avenue is a hidden gem. This charming gelateria specializes in freshly made gelato in a variety of flavors, from classic options like pistachio and chocolate to unique combinations such as lavender honey and goat cheese with figs. A visit to Gelato Di Riso is truly a treat for all dessert lovers.

Now that we’ve explored the delightful Italian restaurants on The Hill, let’s dive into some other fantastic food recommendations in St. Louis.

Food Recommendations in St. Louis

St. Louis has a vibrant food scene that goes beyond Italian cuisine. From classic comfort foods to unique culinary creations, the city offers a wide array of dining options sure to please every palate.

If you’re craving barbecue, Pappy’s Smokehouse in Midtown is not to be missed. Renowned for their mouthwatering ribs and savory pulled pork, Pappy’s has earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the best BBQ joints in town. Be prepared for long lines, but trust me, it’s worth the wait!

For those seeking creative and contemporary American cuisine, Vicia in the Cortex Innovation District is a standout choice. Known for its farm-to-table ethos and inventive dishes made with locally sourced ingredients, Vicia offers an ever-changing menu that celebrates the flavors of the season.

Looking for a taste of international cuisine? Turn your attention to Guerrilla Street Food, a Filipino-inspired food truck turned brick-and-mortar eatery. Their fusion of flavors and bold dishes like adobo chicken tacos and lechon kawali fries have gained them a devoted following among locals.

If you have a sweet tooth, don’t leave St. Louis without trying Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. A St. Louis institution since 1929, this legendary custard stand serves up rich and creamy frozen treats in a variety of flavors. Don’t miss their famous concrete mixers – thick and delicious custard blended with your choice of mix-ins.

Now, you may be wondering, with so many options to choose from, how do you decide where to eat when visiting St. Louis? One approach is to embrace the local favorites and try the city’s iconic dishes like gooey butter cake or toasted ravioli. Another option is to seek recommendations from locals or extensively research popular dining establishments. Ultimately, it depends on your personal preferences and culinary adventures!

Best BBQ Joints

If you’re a fan of smoky, tender, and finger-licking good barbecue, then St. Louis is the place for you. The city is renowned for its rich BBQ culture and offers a plethora of top-quality joints to satisfy your cravings. From succulent ribs to juicy pulled pork, St. Louis has it all.

One must-visit BBQ joint in St. Louis is Pappy’s Smokehouse. Located in Midtown, this iconic establishment has received countless accolades for its mouthwatering meats. Their perfectly seasoned dry-rubbed ribs are a standout, boasting a flavorful bark that gives way to tender, fall-off-the-bone meat with every bite. Be prepared for long lines, as Pappy’s popularity speaks for itself.

Another beloved spot is Bogart’s Smokehouse in downtown St. Louis. Known for their slow-smoked meats that are packed with flavor, Bogart’s delivers on all fronts. Whether it’s their melt-in-your-mouth brisket or their flavorful pulled pork sandwich served on a buttery bun, you won’t be disappointed. Don’t forget to try their signature BBQ sauce – tangy and slightly sweet – it complements the meats perfectly.

For those seeking traditional St. Louis-style barbecue, look no further than Sugarfire Smoke House. With multiple locations throughout the city, Sugarfire has become synonymous with delicious and innovative BBQ offerings. Their famed “St. Louis Spareribs” showcase the city’s unique style – these tender ribs are generously coated with their house-made dry rub and served with a side of tangy slaw.

Exploring the BBQ scene in St. Louis is like embarking on a culinary adventure where each pitmaster adds their own twist to the flavors and techniques of barbecuing.

Other notable BBQ joints include Bogie’s Bar & Grill, offering delectable smoked meats and mouthwatering sides, and Salt + Smoke, known for their exceptional brisket and addictive burnt ends. No matter where you choose to indulge in BBQ goodness in St. Louis, you’re sure to find unparalleled flavors that will leave your taste buds begging for more.

Now that we’ve satisfied your cravings for smoky delights, let’s move on to another signature dish that St. Louis is famous for – toasted ravioli.

Where to Find Toasted Ravioli

Toasted ravioli is a quintessential St. Louis delicacy that has stolen the hearts of locals and visitors alike. This beloved dish consists of breaded and deep-fried ravioli pockets, often served with marinara sauce or sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. If you’re eager to try this unique treat, there are several establishments in St. Louis where you can find the best toasted ravioli.

One highly recommended place is Anthonino’s Taverna in The Hill neighborhood. Their crunchy quadrates filled with a combination of pecorino and ricotta cheese alongside ground beef create a harmonious blend of flavors that will surely delight your palate.

I remember my first bite of toasted ravioli at Anthonino’s Taverna – it was love at first crunch. The crispy exterior gave way to creamy, cheesy goodness inside, and the tangy marinara sauce added the perfect touch.

Another must-visit spot is Candicci’s Restaurant and Bar, where they elevate the classic toasted ravioli by blending spinach and artichoke into the beef filling. The result is a delightful combination of flavors that adds a unique twist to this St. Louis staple.

If you’re looking for generous portions and a variety of fillings, Farotto’s is the place to go. They offer one of the most generous orders of ravioli tostado, with an extra sprinkling of Parmesan cheese that takes it to another level.

One evening, as I sat at Farotto’s digging into their overstuffed toasted ravioli, I couldn’t help but appreciate the perfect balance of flavors and the satisfying crunch as I bit into each piece.

Other notable venues known for their toasted ravioli include Charlie Gitto’s, Mama’s On The Hill, and Trattoria Marcella. Each has its own unique take on this fried delight, offering a variety of fillings and sauce pairings to suit every taste.

Whether you’re seeking mouthwatering BBQ or crispy toasted ravioli, St. Louis is a haven for food enthusiasts. From iconic joints to hidden gems, the city offers a diverse culinary landscape that will leave you craving more. So, don’t miss out on the chance to explore these top attractions and indulge in the delicious flavors of St. Louis.

Architectural Wonders in St. Louis

St. Louis, Missouri is renowned for its remarkable architectural wonders that showcase a blend of historical and contemporary designs. From iconic landmarks to hidden gems, the city boasts an array of architectural marvels that are bound to captivate visitors. Let’s explore some of the must-see structures in St. Louis.

One of the most prominent architectural wonders in St. Louis is the Gateway Arch, an awe-inspiring monument that symbolizes the city’s role as the Gateway to the West. Designed by the renowned architect Eero Saarinen, this stainless steel arch stands at a staggering height of 630 feet, making it the tallest man-made monument in the United States.

Many visitors are enthralled by not only the size but also the sleek elegance of the Arch. It serves as a testament to human ingenuity and engineering prowess. If you’re up for a unique experience, consider taking a tram ride to the top of the Arch and enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of St. Louis and beyond.

Another notable architectural gem in St. Louis is Union Station, a historic train station turned entertainment complex. This stunning building features exquisite Romanesque Revival architecture, with its grand facade adorned with intricate details and ornate carvings.

Step inside Union Station and be transported back in time as you explore its beautifully restored interior. The Grand Hall, with its soaring ceilings and grand chandeliers, exudes timeless elegance while providing a glimpse into St. Louis’ rich history.

Venturing further into St. Louis’ architectural wonders, one cannot overlook City Museum – an extraordinary fusion of art, architecture, and playfulness. Created by internationally acclaimed artist Bob Cassilly, this non-traditional museum is housed in an expansive former shoe factory.

Unlike traditional museums where artifacts are neatly displayed behind glass cases, City Museum encourages visitors to climb, crawl, and explore its imaginative installations. From the enchanted caves to the outdoor MonstroCity, this architectural masterpiece offers an interactive and immersive experience that appeals to both young and old.

Now that we’ve explored some of St. Louis’ architectural wonders, let’s zoom in on one specific structure: The Arch and its surroundings.

The Arch and Its Surroundings

The Gateway Arch is not just a remarkable architectural feat; it is also situated within a vibrant park that offers a multitude of attractions. Gateway Arch National Park provides visitors with a unique opportunity to delve into the rich history and cultural significance of St. Louis.

Begin your adventure by visiting the Museum at the Gateway Arch, located underground at the base of the Arch. This state-of-the-art museum takes you on a captivating journey through time, with six themed exhibit areas that tell the stories of Native Americans, explorers, pioneers, and rebels who shaped America’s destiny.

For those seeking an immersive historical experience, make sure to check out the Virtual Reality Theater located within the Museum. Step back in time to the 1850s and witness the bustling riverfront of St. Louis through a 360° virtual tour.

As you emerge from the museum, take a stroll along the Riverfront Trail that meanders gracefully along the Mississippi River. Enjoy picturesque views of St. Louis’ skyline while observing riverboat cruises passing by amidst a backdrop of majestic bridges.

Step into the Old Courthouse, another fascinating architectural gem nearby. This beautifully restored federal courthouse played a significant role in several landmark cases throughout history, including Dred and Harriet Scott’s fight for freedom and Virginia Minor’s battle for women’s right to vote.

Much like exploring an intricate web of interconnected stories, discovering the Arch and its surroundings allows visitors to immerse themselves in the vibrant history and captivating architecture that define St. Louis.

Noteworthy Local Architecture

St. Louis is a city that boasts an impressive array of architectural styles, reflecting its rich history and diverse cultural influences. From striking skyscrapers to charming historic buildings, the city is a treasure trove for architecture enthusiasts. Let’s explore some of the noteworthy local architecture that you should not miss during your visit.

One architectural marvel that stands out is the Gateway Arch, a symbol of St. Louis and one of the most famous landmarks in the United States. Designed by renowned architect Eero Saarinen, this stainless steel arch soars 630 feet above the ground and offers stunning views of the city from its observation deck. A true engineering triumph, it serves as a memorial to Thomas Jefferson and the westward expansion of the United States.

Another architectural gem is the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis. This breathtaking cathedral, located in the Central West End neighborhood, features intricate mosaics covering its interior walls and ceilings. It took nearly 80 years to complete this masterpiece, which showcases exquisite craftsmanship and design. The Cathedral Basilica is not only a place of worship but also a testament to human creativity and devotion.

For those interested in modern architecture, be sure to visit City Museum. This unique attraction is both an eclectic playground and a work of art. Created by artist Bob Cassilly, the museum repurposes salvaged materials from around the city into an imaginative and interactive space. Jaw-dropping architectural installations such as climbing structures made from old airplane fuselages and a massive outdoor jungle gym make City Museum a must-visit destination for all ages.

Now that we have explored some of the noteworthy local architecture in St. Louis, let’s shift our focus to the neighborhoods that you should explore during your visit.

Neighborhoods to Explore

St. Louis is known for its distinctive neighborhoods, each offering its own charm and character. Whether you’re seeking historical sites, vibrant cultural scenes, or culinary delights, the city has something for everyone. Let’s dive into some of the top neighborhoods that you should explore.

If you’re a fan of beautiful architecture and vibrant streets, the Central West End neighborhood is a must-visit. This walkable area is home to charming tree-lined streets, historic mansions, and a lively mix of local businesses. Explore the trendy shops and galleries along Maryland and Euclid Avenues while stopping at delightful restaurants for a bite to eat. The Central West End perfectly combines history with contemporary attractions, making it a popular destination for both locals and visitors alike.

For a taste of Italian heritage, head to The Hill neighborhood. Founded by Italian immigrants, this area is rich in history and culinary traditions. Enjoy mouthwatering Italian cuisine at family-owned restaurants, visit the iconic St. Ambrose Church with its statue commemorating “The Italian Immigrants,” and browse through the Italian grocery stores and bakery that line the streets. The Hill is a true gem where you can immerse yourself in cultural heritage while savoring delicious food.

Another neighborhood worthy of exploration is Soulard, which offers a vibrant atmosphere and a robust sense of community. Home to the historic Soulard Farmers Market, this lively neighborhood invites visitors to browse fresh produce stalls, sample local food offerings, and experience the vibrant energy of this bustling market. In addition to the market, you’ll find charming brick townhouses and lively bars hosting live music throughout the week.

From historical enclaves to thriving cultural hubs, St. Louis neighborhoods offer unique experiences waiting to be discovered. Whether you choose to wander through Lafayette Square’s attractive structures or soak in the lively atmosphere within the Grand Center Arts District, each neighborhood has its own story to tell.

Cherokee Neighborhood

Located in St. Louis, the Cherokee Neighborhood is a hidden gem brimming with vibrant culture, artistic expression, and a deep sense of community. As you stroll down Cherokee Street, the beating heart of this neighborhood, you’ll be captivated by its unique blend of commerce, creativity, and diversity. A center of commerce, this street is lined with an array of galleries, antiques shops, and local businesses that showcase the immense talent of St. Louis artists. It’s a haven for art enthusiasts looking to explore and support local talent.

But Cherokee Street isn’t just about art; it’s also a culinary paradise that will tantalize your taste buds. Treat yourself to mouthwatering tacos, churros oozing with warm cinnamon sugar, or indulge in delicious street food from the various food trucks that add to the eclectic dining options available. The aroma wafting through the air is irresistible and beckons you to truly savor the flavors unique to this neighborhood.

Beyond the enticing shops and delectable bites lies another aspect that defines Cherokee Neighborhood: its deep sense of community. The Cherokee Street Community Improvement District plays a significant role in nurturing and elevating this community spirit. Their efforts focus on making the street more beautiful and dynamic through projects like the redevelopment of Love Bank Park in Spring 2023. This park will soon boast a new basketball court, performance area, community plaza, planting beds—the perfect spot for residents and visitors alike to come together and enjoy shared experiences.

Cherokee Neighborhood also invites you to immerse yourself in its rich history and cultural heritage through events such as art festivals, music performances, and cultural celebrations. These events provide opportunities for locals and visitors to forge connections while celebrating the diversity that makes this neighborhood so special.

Should you find yourself drawn to Cherokee Neighborhood during your visit to St. Louis, I encourage you to explore its vibrant business directory for recommendations, allowing yourself to truly experience the unique offerings this neighborhood has in store. And while you’re there, don’t forget to check out their website or sign up for their newsletter to stay connected and learn more about Cherokee Street.

Now that we have unearthed the hidden gems of Cherokee Neighborhood, let’s journey to another vibrant district in St. Louis: the Central West End.

Central West End Attractions

Nestled between Forest Park and the Saint Louis University campus, the Central West End is a neighborhood that effortlessly blends elegance, diversity, and a touch of eclecticism. This dynamic district boasts over 75 restaurants, bars, and businesses, offering an extensive array of experiences.

As you explore the Central West End, it’s impossible to miss its rich history. The development of this neighborhood began in the late 1800s after the dedication of Forest Park—a sprawling oasis of greenery and cultural treasures. The grandeur and ambition of notable figures such as Albert Bond Lambert, Joseph Pulitzer, and Dwight Davis have left indelible marks on this district.

Immerse yourself in art and intellect by visiting attractions like the World Chess Hall of Fame or strolling through Writer’s Corner—a tribute to literary giants who have called this neighborhood home. Marvel at the breathtaking Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis with its awe-inspiring collection of mosaics, the largest in the world. And just steps away lies Forest Park—a true urban sanctuary with its miles of walking paths, serene bodies of water, and renowned institutions such as the St. Louis Zoo.

The Central West End also knows how to celebrate life with its annual festivals and events. From the legendary Halloween street party that transforms the neighborhood into a whimsical spectacle of costumes and revelry to the Summer Music Series and Summer Sidewalk Sale—there is always something exciting happening here. Throughout the holiday season, make sure not to miss the CWE Window Walk and Small Business Saturday—a festive celebration of local businesses that adds an extra touch of magic to this enchanting district.

Whether you’re seeking a luxurious stay at the historic Chase Park Plaza Hotel or looking to indulge in a vibrant culinary scene, the Central West End holds endless possibilities. Best of all, most events and attractions are free and open to the public, allowing anyone to partake in the festivities.