Looking for variety on your next city break in the Gateway City? Spend some time exploring Downtown West St. Louis. This central neighborhood is steeped in history and teeming with exciting architecture. But with lots of modern attractions, visiting can be much more than just a history lesson!
See how buildings can be reimagined at City Museum and Union Station. Seeing how artists and designers have used the spaces will give you lots of inspiration. Get your history fix at Soldiers Memorial Military Museum or discover life underwater at St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station.
Wrap up your day by catching a show. The grand Stifel Theatre has lots of modern options, while the immense Enterprise Center hosts major music and sports events.
Time to start planning your St. Louis adventure? Decide what to see and do, where to eat and drink, and where to stay with this complete Downtown West St. Louis neighborhood guide!
Looking for more ideas for your trip? Check out our Missouri Travel Guide for more tips & recommendations on when to visit, where to go & what to do on your vacation!
What to see & do in St. Louis Downtown West
Thought museums were boring? Put the idea to rest at the City Museum, a maze of architectural wonders that’ll fascinate all ages. This old shoe factory has had a major makeover, with two famous artists transforming the City Museum into a bizarre playground. The museum houses 29,000 artifacts across its playful indoor, outdoor, and underground spaces. Discover upcycled objects, interesting installations, and curious collections.
The City Museum is alive and constantly changing. Venture into spooky caves, get a bird’s-eye view in a treehouse, or get lost in eerie tunnels. The old spiral chutes that once held the warehouse together are now fun slides that’ll shoot you from one area to the next. Take a ten-story spiral slide down into the mythical man-made caves.
And the delights at City Museum don’t stop there. Marvel at the world’s largest pencil or catch a free circus act. As well as watching the regular performances, you can take juggling, acrobatics, and magic workshops.
Need a dash of culture in your Downtown West itinerary? Carve out time to watch epic performances at Stifel Theatre. This historic venue first opened in 1934. The grand opera house seats 3,100 people, and it’s now grown with four side theaters, an exposition hall, and a basement restaurant.
You can still feel the elegance that once graced these halls as you step into the ornate opera house. A sea of plush red and glimmering gold sets the tone for an exciting show. Some of the most important stars in history have stood on this stage, including Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, and the Rolling Stones.
Whether you want rock concerts, family musicals, or belly-aching comedies, Stifel Theatre offers a fantastic range of events. They also have regular performances from the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. Savor their rich interpretation of classic composers, festive favorites, and music from iconic movies.
Soldiers Memorial Military Museum
The impressive Soldiers Memorial Military Museum on the eastern border between Downtown West and Downtown St. Louis will plunge you into the world of American military history. The memorial and museum opened in 1938 to honor military service, veterans, and their loved ones. Take a trip to the state-of-the-art facility and discover how St. Louis tells the story of the US military.
The striking building pays a fitting tribute with grand columns and uniform sharp edges. The reflecting pool and five fountains represent the different military branches. Step inside and take a moment to acknowledge the black granite cenotaph. Here, you’ll find the names of local soldiers who lost their lives while serving their country.
With permanent and short-term exhibits at Soldiers Memorial Military Museum, you’ll get an exciting and informative look at the role the military plays in our past and future. Delve into the complexity of the Vietnam War or understand what can be done to tackle Veteran homelessness.
Tickets for an event at the Enterprise Center are a great excuse to come to St. Louis. The arena can seat an incredible 18,096 people. An evening here is a chance to watch some of the finest music acts and sports in the country.
Sports fans will have definitely heard of the Enterprise Center. It’s the home of the National Hockey League’s St. Louis Blues. The arena is also used for NCAA basketball, NCAA hockey, and professional wrestling. A sparkling renovation in 2019 left the arena with enhanced sound and lighting and a flashy new scoreboard.
When the Enterprise Center isn’t hosting exhilarating sports, it attracts every type of musician, from Kiss to Lizzo. As well as epic concerts, you can catch comedy festivals, musicals, and spectacular dance shows.
St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station
Dive into underwater worlds in St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station, one of the must-see stops on any visit to the St. Louis Union Station complex. The popular aquarium is home to over 13,000 sea creatures, spanning 257 species across four exhibits.
St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station takes you on a journey from freshwater rivers to salt marshes to the deepest depths of the ocean. Watch otters play in the water and feed turtles in the Changing River Gallery. Or meet crabs and starfish in the Ocean Floor Gallery.
Venture into the 250,000-gallon shark habitat, home to graceful Sandbar Sharks and Lesser Devil Rays. You’ll finish your visit on the dark ocean floor, where you can search for jellyfish and Dumbo Octopus.
Ever wondered what a jellyfish feels like? At St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station, you can find out! A range of interactive exhibits allows you to get up close and personal with some of your favorite sea creatures.
St. Louis Union Station
There’s enough at St. Louis Union Station to create a whole day of adventure. Opened in 1894, it was once the largest train station in the world. Today, it’s a National Historic Landmark—with a twist. It houses fun attractions, delicious dining options, and some of the most popular things to do in St. Louis.
St. Louis Union Station is a fabulous blend of the old and the new. Enter a world of nostalgia with terrazzo flooring and stained-glass windows. Modern touches include a mind-bending 3D light show. Every day at 5 pm, you can alter your senses with enchanting projections on the 65-foot ceiling.
Climb high at the St. Louis Rope Course Union Station, complete with a zip line over the Union Station Lobby. Get competitive with a game of mini golf or step into a vibrant labyrinth at the Mirror Maze. Before you leave, make sure to ride the iconic 200-foot St. Louis Wheel.
Where to eat & drink
The night-time scene in Downtown West St. Louis is as diverse as its attractions. You’ll find great eating options, whether you’re in the mood for quick and casual or the latest in fine dining. Bars here have a laid-back, local vibe, but big venues like the Enterprise Center draw in some fancier establishments.
Get your classic American diner fix at White Night Diner. This cozy place has excellent quality food at low prices.
Another spot for quick and simple food in Downtown West is Medina Grill. Taste the Mediterranean with flavorsome wraps, salads, and rice bowls. Sit in and savor the spices of Greece and the Middle East, or grab and go so you can continue exploring the city.
Elevate your evening by booking a table at Blood & Sand. You can completely unwind in this refined parlor. Graze elegant tasting menus of New American cuisine paired with an exciting cocktail or something from the extensive wine list.
If you’re dreaming of Ireland for your next big trip, grab a pint at Maggie O’Brien’s. The longest-running Irish pub in the city is perfect for making new friends, chowing down on a burger, and watching the game on the flat-screen TVs.
Beer connoisseurs should head to The Schlafly Tap Room. Their welcoming interior has a window into the microbrewery where you can watch the magic unfold. Sit on the vintage patio and work your way through their signature beer menu. For throwback games and a laid-back vibe, head to Hair of the Dog. This neighborhood dive bar is a great place to mix with the locals.
Where to stay
As it’s located in the heart of the city, Downtown West is one of the most popular areas to stay in St. Louis. While not as packed with accommodations options as the eastern part of downtown, there’s still a good selection of hotels suiting all budgets and styles here.
Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott St Louis Downtown
This popular hotel offers an ideal location across the road from Union Station. Relax in your spacious and modern room or work up a sweat in the 24-hour fitness center. The stylish outdoor patio features a crackling fireplace and sprawling views of St. Louis. See if you can spot Gateway Arch and the St. Louis Wheel while you sip on a signature cocktail!
Drury Inn St. Louis Union Station
This enchanting 1907 building has kept many of its original features. Climb the marble staircase to your cozy bedroom. Or step outside and straight into Union Station, where you have access to some of the city’s top attractions. Join the evening kickback event for complimentary food and drinks.
The Last Hotel
A boutique hotel inside the stunning 1909 International Shoe Company Building. Unique bedrooms and thoughtful Art Deco design at every turn makes this a lavish place for your stay in St. Louis. The rooftop pool has panoramic city views and is dripping with Mediterranean style. Stay and sip refreshing cocktails, or head downstairs and dine in the Italian steakhouse.