Midtown St. Louis: What to See & Do + Where to Eat, Drink & Stay

Making your way to the historic city of St. Louis, Missouri, and not sure where to start? Make your base in the vibrant Midtown area for a dose of arts, culture, and history. Nestled between the Central West End and downtown, Midtown St. Louis is packed with galleries, museums and theaters, beautiful parks, and buzzing nightlife.

Centered around the vast urban oasis of Forest Park, the Midtown area is home to some of St. Louis’s most exciting attractions. With several top-notch museums, the Saint Louis Zoo, and a network of bike and pedestrian paths, Forest Park is a popular year-round playground.

When it comes to arts and culture, Grand Center is where it all happens, with a treasure trove of galleries, museums, and theaters. Catch a show at the Fabulous Fox Theatre and browse a world-class art collection at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. Head to the Samuel Cupples House if you love elegant Victorian architecture, and soak up some musical history at the Scott Joplin House State Historic Site.

Ready to plan your adventure in the “Lou”? Make sure you don’t miss a beat with this in-depth guide for what to see & do, where to eat & drink, and where to stay in Midtown St. Louis.

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What to see & do in Midtown St. Louis

Scott Joplin House State Historic Site

Step into the world of one of America’s musical legends, Scott Joplin, at the Scott Joplin House State Historic Site. Once home to the renowned “King of Ragtime,” this modest two-story house will take you on a journey through Scott Joplin’s life and accomplishments.

Born in 1868, Joplin gained fame during the late 1800s and early 1900s for his pioneering ragtime compositions. His famous piece, “The Entertainer,” remains an enduring symbol of ragtime music. Wander through the Scott Joplin House State Historic Site rooms and see some of the musician’s personal belongings.

Engaging educational exhibits delve into Joplin’s life, career, and immense impact on music, showcasing the history and cultural significance of ragtime, a genre that Joplin helped popularize. Time your visit to see live performances of Scott Joplin’s ragtime compositions, where talented musicians bring the music that defined an era to life.

International Photography Hall of Fame

Honor the best in the photography business at the International Photography Hall of Fame. Embark on a captivating journey through the world of photography and its most influential figures – if you love incredible photography, this place is one of St. Louis’s must-visit attractions!

The Hall of Fame celebrates the artistry and innovation of legendary photographers who have shaped the course of this visual medium, like Richard Avedon, Anne Geddes, and Joel Bernstein. Explore a diverse range of exhibits and collections showcasing iconic photographs that have impacted the art form.

Delve into the lives and works of the most influential photographers inducted into the Hall of Fame. Learn about their groundbreaking contributions to the art of capturing moments in time. You can also in workshops, view multimedia presentations, and even try your hand at taking pictures in designated areas.

Samuel Cupples House

The Samuel Cupples House has it all – elegant Victorian architecture, beautiful decorative art, and a good dollop of history. Built in the late 19th century, the beautifully restored Romanesque Revival-style house was once the home of wealthy St. Louis entrepreneur Samuel Cupples.

Based on the campus of Saint Louis University, the historic house now serves as a gallery for the university’s diverse collection of art and artifacts. Meander around the range of exhibits, including European decorative arts, religious artifacts, and contemporary artworks.

Samuel Cupples House

Take a guided tour of the Samuel Cupples House to appreciate its history and architectural significance fully. Admire the intricate woodwork, stained glass windows, and opulent detailing that offer a glimpse into the luxurious lifestyle of the Gilded Age elite.

When you visit the Samuel Cupples House, you’ll be on the campus of Saint Louis University. Take some time to explore other notable spots on campus, such as the Pius XII Memorial Library and the Chaifetz Arena.

Henry Miller Museum

Visit the birthplace of the National Brotherhood of Electrical Workers of America (NBEW) at the Henry Miller Museum. Founded in the Saint Louis boarding house where Henry Miller was living, this historical site stands as a testament to its pivotal role in forming the NBEW.

The NBEW, a significant labor union that emerged during the late 19th century, was formed in this historical landmark. The league later evolved into the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), which Henry Miller, an influential figure in the labor movement, founded.

Take a guided tour of the museum and learn about Henry Miller’s dedication to workers’ rights and his efforts to unite electricians and electrical workers under a unified organization. Gain insights into the challenges faced by workers during that era and the strides made in securing fair wages, working conditions, and collective bargaining rights.

Embrace the significance of this historical landmark and appreciate the enduring impact of the labor movement on society.

The Fabulous Fox

Catch a show at the Fabulous Fox and journey back to the golden age of theater. Nestled in the heart of the Grand Center Arts District, this historic theater promises world-class entertainment and a touch of historic grandeur.

Set on Grand Boulevard, the former-movie-palace-cum-performing arts center exudes architectural beauty and a rich history. Dating back to 1929, the Fabulous Fox blends Art Deco and Moroccan styles, creating an opulent ambiance.

The Fabulous Fox

Enjoy a variety of world-class performances at The Fabulous Fox, from Broadway musicals and concerts to dance performances and comedy shows. The state-of-the-art acoustics and grandeur of the theater enhance the experience, promising an unforgettable night of entertainment.

Arrive early to soak in the theater’s majestic ambiance and grab a drink or snack at the concessions before the show begins.

Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis

Step into the dynamic and thought-provoking realm of contemporary art at the Contemporary Art Museum. Nestled at the heart of St. Louis’s vibrant artistic community, this innovative museum is one of the hotspots of the lively Grand Center Arts District.

Simply known as CAM, The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis has consistently played a pivotal role in championing contemporary art and nurturing emerging talents. Its ever-changing exhibitions showcase various modern art forms, from paintings and sculptures to captivating installations and multimedia pieces.

Immerse yourself in the artists’ creative processes and explore the profound themes presented in the exhibitions through engaging artist talks, enlightening panel discussions, and enriching workshops. Browse the contemporary art shop, where you’ll discover uniquely curated art-related merchandise, books, and thoughtful gifts to take home.

Where to eat & drink

Midtown St. Louis boasts a culinary scene bursting with diverse tastes and flavors. From classic southern cuisine to fresh sushi and ramen, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant, bustling district.

When it comes to mouthwatering barbecue, Pappy’s Smokehouse is your go-to. Celebrating the art of smoky and tender barbecue, this beloved institution serves tender ribs, pulled pork, and brisket, all perfectly smoked and complemented by their homemade sauces and sides like creamy coleslaw potato salad. (Insider tip: Pappy’s is incredibly popular, so book your table in advance!)

If you love classic Southern comfort food, then head to Southern. Exuding a warm and welcoming ambiance, this charming eatery serves classic dishes that capture the essence of traditional Southern cuisine and warm your soul. Think shrimp and grits, fried chicken, collard greens, and biscuits and gravy. Pair your delicious grub with crisp beers from their extensive beverage menu.

Hankering for fresh sushi or a steaming bowl of ramen? Journey to Japan at Midtown Sushi & Ramen, where you can tuck into authentic Japanese cuisine. Indulge in artfully crafted sushi rolls made with the freshest ingredients, or warm your soul with a steaming bowl of authentic ramen, complete with flavorful broth and tender noodles. Pair with a glass (or bottle) of premium sake – the perfect drink to elevate your dining experience.

Indulge in innovative and thoughtfully prepared dishes at Retreat Gastropub. Focusing on locally sourced ingredients, this elegant, laid-back spot promises a delightful dining experience with creative plates beyond traditional pub fare. Don’t forget to explore their curated beer and cocktail list too!

Whiskey aficionado? Don’t miss an evening at Small Batch Whiskey & Fare. Explore an extensive menu of premium whiskeys from around the world in a cozy and comfortable atmosphere. Sate your hunger with comfort dishes and pub favorites. If you’re curious about trying different whiskeys, try the whiskey flights for a fantastic selection of various types.

Discover an eclectic range of beers, from traditional German styles to innovative craft brews at Urban Chestnut Midtown Brewery and Biergarten. Relax in the inviting biergarten ambiance while sampling the finest locally brewed beers.

Where to stay

Just three miles west of the Mississippi River, Midtown is a great alternative when choosing where to stay in St. Louis. The accommodation selection is limited, however, with only a handful of hotels and vacation rentals within the neighborhood proper.

If you run out of lodgings options here, check out neighboring areas like the Central West End, Grand Center, and Downtown West, or go further west into the heart of Downtown St. Louis for the city’s best selection of hotels.

White House at Grand Central

White House at Grand Central

The White House at Grand Central is ideal if you’re looking for a comfortable self-catering apartment on your vacation. Comfortably furnished units have fully equipped kitchens with dishwashers, private bathrooms with baths, and flat-screen TVs with streaming services. Relax on a patio with lovely garden views or in a shared lounge and enjoy barbecues in warmer months.

Element, Midtown

Element St. Louis Midtown

A few miles from the Gateway Arch and surrounded by eateries and shops, Element St. Louis Midtown is a comfortable and convenient base for your St. Louis adventure. Studios have kitchenettes, and multi-bedroom suites have ample living space and modern amenities. Enjoy top-notch facilities like an indoor pool, fitness center, BBQ area, and stylish rooftop bar.

Angad Arts Hotel St Louis

Angad Arts Hotel

The artsy boutique Angad Arts Hotel is contemporary oh-so-cool, with an eclectic lounge featuring video-art displays and a stunning rooftop bar. Brightly decorated rooms have trendy murals, in-room tubs, and kitchenettes with Keurig coffee machines. Enjoy games and music in the hip bar.


Ryan O'Rourke is a seasoned traveler and the founder & editor of Treksplorer, a fiercely independent guide to mid-range luxury travel for busy people. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

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