01 Gateway Arch
Begin your tour at St Louis’s most notable landmark, the Gateway Arch. At the edge of the Mississippi River, reaching 192 metres at its peak, it claims to be the tallest national monument in the US and has symbolised the city’s position as America’s “Gateway to the West” since its completion in 1965. Its oversized curved shape, made of 800 tonnes of shimmering stainless steel, can be spotted throughout the city. It also provides unparalleled views of the St Louis skyline, so is a great way to get your bearings – enter through one of the legs and take a four-minute tram ride to the observation area at the top of the structure. Trams run every ten minutes (09h20-17h10 in winter, 08h20-21h10 in summer) and cost $10. Visit gatewayarch.com
02 Anheuser-Busch Brewery
Head next to one of St Louis’s most loved institutions, the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, about a seven-minute cab ride away. (Taxis are not available to hail but can be called – see box further down for recommended firms.) In operation since the 1850s, the facility brews a wide variety of lagers, including America’s first national beer brand, Budweiser – it was the original brewery for Budweiser and also remains its North American HQ. Take a free guided tour to learn about its history and the brewing process, and to sample some products. Bear in mind that tours last about an hour and a half, running every ten to 30 minutes between 10h00 and 16h00 September-April, 09h00-16h00 May and 09h00-17h00 June-August (from 11h30 on Sundays). Open daily; 610 Pestalozzi; budweisertours.com
03 The Loop
Next, take a cab to Delmar Boulevard and Skinker Boulevard. This six-block stretch of road is known to locals as “the Loop” and features more than 140 places to shop, eat, people-watch and listen to music – it was named “One of the Ten Greatest Streets in America” by the American Planning Association (planning. org) three years ago. Keep an eye out for the old Tivoli Theatre (landmarktheatres. com), which has been standing since 1924 and is now a cinema, as well as the Pageant (thepageant.com), a cosy concert venue that often hosts big names. Stop off at Blueberry Hill (blueberryhill. com), a restaurant and music venue where pop-culture memorabilia is always on display – you might even see rock ‘n’ roll great Chuck Berry, who performs there regularly. If your musical urges are not yet satisfied, head to Vintage Vinyl (vintagevinyl.com), a favourite for both old and new hits from all genres. At Baked T’s (bakedts.com), you can design your own T-shirts, while at Fitz’s microbrewery and restaurant (fitzsrootbeer. com), you can watch the bottling process of traditional American root beer. As you walk along the Loop, pay special attention to the pavement – bronze plaques and brass stars scattered along it remember St Louisans who have made major contributions to US history. Among the names are literary giants T S Eliot and Maya Angelou, aviator Charles Lindbergh, and former president Ulysses S Grant. See visittheloop.com
04 Forest Park
Hop on the Metrolink at Delmar Boulevard and take it one stop to Forest Park-De Baliviere Avenue. Open since 1876, Forest Park was the home of the 1904 World’s Fair and is set in 520 hectares, about 200 more than New York’s Central Park. It also houses many of the city’s main attractions, such as the Grand Basin and the Art Museum (slam.org), which showcases everything from an ancient Egyptian mummy to works by Jackson Pollock. It’s free to visit, as is St Louis Zoo (stlzoo. org), home to sea lions and primates; the St Louis Science Center (slsc.org), where hands-on exhibits include a life-size animated tyrannosaurus rex and triceratops; the James S McDonnell Planetarium, where the Zeiss Planetarium Model IX projects more than 9,000 stars on to a 24-metre high dome; and the Missouri History Museum (mohistory.org), which features exhibits on Lindbergh’s 1927 transatlantic flight. There’s also an outdoor theatre in summer, a skating rink in winter, a community golf course, a tennis centre and numerous walking trails. Free audio guides are available, while walking tours take place at 13h00 Monday and 10h00 Tuesday to Thursday (meet in the lobby of the Dennis and Judith Jones Visitor and Education Center). Visit stlouis.missouri.org.