Known as the "Gateway to the West," St. Louis, Missouri, is a port city along the banks of the Mississippi River on the Missouri-Illinois border. It is the cultural and economic hub of a metropolitan area that includes nearly 3 million residents. It is also one of the Midwest's most popular tourist destinations.
Must See in St. Louis
St. Louis is known primarily for three things: the Gateway Arch, baseball, and beer. Start your visit by riding a tram to the top of the Western Hemisphere's largest monument, the Gateway Arch, and follow it up by catching a Cardinals game at Busch Stadium. Round out your visit by taking a tour of the world-famous Anheuser-Busch brewery.
Where to Stay in St. Louis
Downtown is where the action is, whether you're traveling with kids or a night owl in town to experience St. Louis after dark. More than a dozen downtown hotels are conveniently situated near Metrolink stations, giving visitors easy access to the Arch, Busch Stadium, America's Center, Forest Park, Laclede's Landing, and other attractions.
The Loop and the Central West End are dotted with nightlife venues as well and are ideal for young visitors.
Budget-conscious visitors may consider one of the numerous modestly priced hotels surrounding Lambert International Airport.
Best and Worst Times to Go to St. Louis
You can't beat St. Louis in the month of May. The City Garden flowers are in bloom, the Cardinals are back in action, and the animals at the St. Louis Zoo are out in full force, soaking up the moderate spring breezes.
It can be difficult to enjoy the St. Louis experience fully in August and September, when it's brutally hot, and December through February, when it's blisteringly cold.
Where to Get Lost in St. Louis
The trendy, affluent Central West End neighborhood is home to an assortment of galleries, boutiques, eateries, and restaurants and is the perfect place to venue-hop or people-watch.
The Best Deal in St. Louis
The best part about the world-class St. Louis Zoo isn't the Penguin House or Sea Lion Sound or even Big Cat Country. It's the cost of admission: absolutely free.
Transportation in St. Louis
For about eight dollars a day, the Metrolink light rail train can take you to virtually every local hotspot. After around 1:00 a.m., when the Metrolink shuts down, taxis are readily available. Much of the downtown area is also very walker-friendly. If traveling into the county, you'll need a rental car.
Getting in From Lambert International Airport
The Metrolink's "red line" begins at Lambert Airport, about 12 miles west of city limits, giving travelers easy access to downtown. Numerous car rental agencies operate out of Lambert, and taxis are plentiful also.
Local Tip for Visitors to St. Louis
No trip to the "Gateway City" is complete without visiting one of the Italian restaurants on The Hill and sampling some toasted ravioli, St. Louis's most unique culinary masterpiece.
Author's Bio: Marcus Whelchel lives, works, and writes in St. Louis, Missouri, with his wife, daughter, and endless stream of odd thoughts. Those who know him best agree he belongs in the St. Louis Zoo.