17 Cool Things to See & Do in St. Louis On Your Missouri Road Trip

Planning a trip to Missouri? Be sure to carve out time to explore all the best things to do in St. Louis. MO, the Show Me State’s second-largest city. This Midwest gem is renowned for its beer and baseball – but there’s so much more to experience in the Gateway City than brews and bleachers!

Set on the banks of the majestic Mississippi, St. Louis is a vibrant cultural hub packed with must-see museums, enthralling art, soulful music, and mouthwatering Saint Louis food. And with its miles of beautiful trails, parks, and waterways, the Gateway City is a natural choice for outdoor adventurers.

Not sure where to start? Check out this guide to the best places to visit in St. Louis, MO—and you’re good to go!

Must-see places to visit

Saint Louis Zoo

Want a one-of-a-kind encounter with creatures great and small? Then head to the world-renowned Saint Louis Zoo, one of the most popular tourist attractions in St. Louis. Spread over 90 acres in beautiful Forest Park, the zoo features interactive exhibits and fun activities, a gift shop, and even dining – which explains why it attracts hordes of families!

Saint Louis Zoo

Known for its naturalistic environments and a diverse assortment of animals from around the world, the Saint Louis Zoo is home to over 16,000 residents of the furry, fishy, and flying variety. Get up close and be enthralled by fascinating species ranging from polar bears to penguins, lions to lemurs.

Explore exciting habitats like Big Cat Country, Polar Bear Point, and Grizzly Ridge. Want an immersive experience? Take a behind-the-scenes tour with a zoo pro and learn what it takes to be a zookeeper. Feed giant tortoises and gentle giraffes. Parlay with penguins – and snap a selfie!

Best of all? The Saint Louis Zoo offers complimentary admission for both locals and tourists! 

Gateway Arch National Park

Ready to hit the top place to visit in St. Louis? Set your sights on Gateway Arch National Park. Perched on the shores of the Mississippi River in Downtown St. Louis, this historic site marks the starting point of the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804 and the beginning of Westward expansion.

Gateway Arch National Park

Gateway Arch National Park may be the smallest national park in the US – but it’s got something really big going for it: its namesake, the Gateway Arch. Prepare to be awed by this downtown skyline icon!

Towering at 630 feet, this stainless steel-encased riverfront wonder is the tallest monument in the country – twice the height of the Statue of Liberty! Take the tram ride to the top of the Gateway Arch for stunning views of the “The Lou.”

Explore the on-site museum to learn more about the region’s history, pop into the gift shop, then hop aboard a paddle-wheel boat for a narrated scenic cruise down the Mississippi River.

Forest Park

Think NYC’s Central Park is big? Then you’ll be floored by the size of Forest Park, one of the top tourist destinations in St. Louis! Home to the legendary 1904 World’s Fair, this massive urban park sprawls across 1,300 acres, giving outdoor enthusiasts plenty of room to move.

Forest Park

Take your pick of fun outdoor activities, with plenty of options like walking, biking, in-line skating, tennis, golf, and more. Lace up your hiking shoes to hit up Forest Park’s scenic hiking trails to explore 200 acres of pristine nature preserves, including walking among more than 60 acres of mature trees in the John F. Kennedy Memorial Forest.

Want an opportunity to rest the body and exercise the mind? The grounds at Forest Park are also home to the Missouri History Museum, St. Louis Science Center, the St. Louis Art Museum, and the St. Louis Zoo.

Drop into the Jewel Box, a gorgeous greenhouse brimming with beautiful floral displays. Take in a performance at the Muny, America’s oldest and largest outdoor musical theater – and end your visit to this prime location on a high note.

Missouri Botanical Garden

Craving some greens? Enjoy a heaping helping at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Dating back to 1859, this remarkable National Historic Landmark is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the US.

Missouri Botanical Garden

The Missouri Botanical Garden spans 80 lush acres, featuring horticultural displays from around the world. Take a narrated tram tour, or wander on foot through vivid plant displays set amidst fountains and statues. Experience a rainforest in the Climatron, a geodesic greenhouse filled with exotic plants, tropical birds, and cascading waterfalls. In the Conservatory, visitors will love watching several dozen species of colorful butterflies fluttering above at the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House.

Discover Tower Grove House, the intriguing 1850s home of “Botan” founder Henry Shaw. Let the kiddos loose in the interactive Children’s Garden. Wander through the tranquil Japanese garden, the largest traditional Japanese garden outside Japan.

Explore the Sachs Museum, a 160-year-old treasure trove of rare art and artifacts gathered by Henry Shaw over his lifetime. Browse antiques and vintage collectibles in the gift shop. Then – phew! – end your journey by unwinding with some alfresco refreshments at the Café Flora.

Saint Louis Science Center

No need to be a science nerd to experience a rush of excitement at the Saint Louis Science Center. Set in Forest Park, this domed, futuristic-looking building is one of the largest science museums in the US.

The Saint Louis Science Center is all about immersive experiences. Take a virtual undersea odyssey, investigate the laws of physics in live Amazing Science Demonstrations, or explore the night sky at the Planetarium, the largest artificial sky in the Western Hemisphere.

And there’s more! Explore over 700 hands-on exhibits, kids activities, and experiments in the Discovery Room. Have an up-close encounter with a life-sized animatronic Tyrannosaurus rex, or be a Top Gun star with a flight simulator.

Let the kids dive into unique exhibits like a dino-dig and a giant UFO maze. Young creatives will love Made for Kids, a huge “makerspace,” where they can learn screen printing, create videos, or design and print 3D objects.

General admission to the Saint Louis Science Center is free. If you want to check out its special paid exhibitions or special events, you and your travel group can book your tickets in advance at the center’s official site.

Saint Louis Art Museum

Art lovers: Are you craving a cultural shot in the arm? Get your culture fix at the Saint Louis Art Museum. Perched on a hilltop overlooking the fountains of historic Forest Park, this site began life as the Palace of Fine Arts during the 1904 World’s Fair. Today, it’s known around the world as one of the most prominent art galleries in the US and is one of St. Louis’s must-see museums.

Saint Louis Art Museum

The Saint Louis Art Museum showcases 33,000 works of art spanning 5,000 years and multiple genres. This stunning three-story collection features paintings, cultural artifacts, sculptures, and ancient masterpieces from around the world.

Stroll the beautiful outdoor sculpture paths for a warmup. Then step inside to take in a multitude of visual delights, ranging from Ming Dynasty textiles to French Impressionist watercolors to this-minute contemporary works.

Browse the gift shops for an eclectic assortment of art-inspired mementos. Time to reboot? Grab a bite and enjoy the view at the Panorama Restaurant.

Tower Grove Park

Ready for a bucolic break? Saunter over to Tower Grove Park – and say thank you to Henry Shaw, the St. Louis merchant who bequeathed this slice of beauty to the city in 1868. Set on 290 acres next to the Missouri Botanical Garden, it’s one of the oldest and best-preserved 19th-century “Gardenesque” parks in the US.

Tower Grove Park

A family-friendly green space, Tower Grove Park features grassy meadows, winding paths, manicured landscapes, and elaborately-carved stone structures.

You’ll find a number of historic stone buildings, including the original park foreman’s residence built in 1870. Pop next door to the stables to greet the park’s Clydesdales.

Explore the forest trails, hit the tennis courts, and play catch on the athletic fields. Want a breather? Spread a blanket out on the grass, or relax in a pavilion. The park also hosts concerts, art exhibits, and a Farmers’ Market – there’s something for everyone here!

Missouri History Museum

History buffs: Put the Missouri History Museum at the top of your St. Louis must-see list. Set in Forest Park on the site of the 1904 World’s Fair, the Missouri History Museum offers an intriguing and interactive glimpse into the region’s past.

Missouri History Museum

With over 150 years under its belt, the Missouri History Museum features one of the largest collections of artifacts and historical materials of any regional history museum in the US.

Get the lowdown on baseball lore from the days of the Browns to today’s Cardinals. View the sister plane to Lindbergh’s “Spirit of Saint Louis.” Take in fascinating depictions of the 1904 World’s Fair.

Traveling to St. Louis with kids? Visit the History Clubhouse, featuring 6,000 square feet of immersive, kid-friendly activities. Youngsters can take a trolley ride back in time, pilot a steamboat on the Mississippi, or learn about life in the ancient city of Cahokia.

Exhibits rotate throughout the year; check the schedule on the official website.

Anheuser-Busch St. Louis Brewery

Okay, amber nectar fans: time for some – ahem! – scientific research. Grab your lab coat and head down to the Anheuser-Busch St. Louis Brewery, the crown jewel in a town brimming with brewers.

Anheuser-Busch St. Louis Brewery

Set in the historic Soulard neighborhood, this premier suds source dates back to its founding in 1852 by Adolphus Busch – and, today, it’s a National Historic Landmark.

Walk the halls of the lovingly-preserved Anheuser-Busch St. Louis Brewery, and you’ll be transported back in time. Get an insider’s look at A-B’s one-batch brewing expertise, get some BIY (brew-it-yourself) tips, and visit the massive Budweiser Clydesdales, the legendary horse breed used to pull beer wagons in the 19th century.

Guests will also love exploring the on-site Lyon Schoolhouse Museum. Built in 1868, this historical gem is filled with rare photos and mementos that tell the Anheuser-Busch story from its earliest days.

The grand finale: Savor two complimentary glasses of any A-B product in the Hospitality Room. Prost!

After your tour of one of America’s most famous breweries, save time to explore the historic Soulard area. Famed for its blues music venues, Southern restaurants, and fun bars, Soulard is a great addition to any St. Louis itinerary.

Savor the taste of authentic St. Louis barbecue at Bogart’s Smokehouse, one of the most popular BBQ spots in the city. Or enjoy dinner and drinks at the colorful Chava’s Mexican Restaurant. End the evening exploring Soulard’s nightlife scene, enjoying the smooth sounds of blues paired with Southern snacks and drinks at Hammerstone’s.

The St. Louis Wheel

Want to get a bird’s eye view of St. Louis and its surroundings? Hop aboard The St. Louis Wheel, the city’s high-rolling twist on the Ferris wheel. You’ll find it in St. Louis Union Station, a National Historic Landmark that was the world’s largest rail station when it opened in 1894. Today, it’s a family-friendly attraction that’s home to the St. Louis Aquarium, a mini golf course, and a carousel.

The St. Louis Wheel

Book your spot on the St. Louis Wheel and buckle up for a spectacular experience. Reaching a height of 200 feet, you’ll be awed by amazing panoramic views of the St. Louis city skyline. Soar over the historic Union Station train shed and take in the city’s beautiful architecture, including the Gateway Arch and other downtown landmarks.

Ready to go for the gusto? Book a private VIP Gondola, sink into leather captains’ chairs, and enjoy breathtaking views through the glass floor gondolas.

Busch Stadium

Sports fans, if you want to get your head in the game, a visit to Busch Stadium is a must. Once known as “first in booze, last in the American League,” St. Louis has undergone a winning transformation. This baseball hotspot is now home to the town’s beloved St. Louis Cardinals, 11-time World Series champs.

Busch Stadium

Catch a game at Busch Stadium, and you’ll be surrounded by legions of red-shirted baseball fans. And you’ll enjoy one of the best views that any American ballpark offers: stunning views of the St. Louis skyline and the city’s iconic Gateway Arch.

On a family outing? Check out the Family Pavilion, where kids can explore multilevel play structures and dive into interactive exhibits and activities. Kids and grownups alike will want to take a tour for a close-up look at the dugout, the radio broadcast center, and the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum.

CityGarden Sculpture Park

Ready for a break from the downtown bustle? St. Louis is packed with gardens and parks, but if you’re looking for a spot with an artistic flair, head to the City Garden Sculpture Park. Stretching two blocks along Market Street just west of the Gateway Arch, this unique urban oasis showcases modern and contemporary art, native plants, fountains, and rain gardens.

CityGarden Sculpture Park

Follow the paved, winding paths that meander through the lush green lawns of the City Garden Sculpture Park. Wander amongst two dozen quirky, interactive installations. Among the highlights: a giant head, frolicking rabbits, and a life-sized scarecrow.

Find a perch atop the “meander wall” to take in the beautiful view, or find a private space in the crook of one of its curves. Relax in one of the six rain gardens – or head to the spray plaza, featuring a 180-foot-long pool with its six-foot water jet. Kids love it!

Campbell House Museum

Up for a little time travel? History buffs will want to take a trip to the Campbell House Museum. Built in 1851 as a home for renowned fur trader Robert Campbell, this beautiful structure is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Campbell House Museum

The first home built in the upscale Lucas Place neighborhood, Campbell House was once an important social hub for the St. Louis elite – and it’s been meticulously restored to the splendor of its Victorian heyday. Step back in time as you explore the Campbell House Museum’s amazing collection of original furniture, paintings, clothing, and fixtures.

Browse through thousands of fascinating family documents and an amazing album of 60 photographs of the home’s interior taken in 1885.

Fans of Victoriana will want to check out the Museum Store’s wide selection of books, cards, and other keepsakes that feature the Campbell House and St. Louis history.

City Museum

Question: what’s it like to tumble down a rabbit hole? Answer: a whole lotta fun – if you take the tumble at the City Museum. This wonderfully quirky destination is a modern-day Wonderland. Housed in a hundred-year-old warehouse in Downtown West St. Louis, this fanciful playground was created by artists from found and recycled materials.

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This incredibly imaginative jungle gym is for kids of all ages. At the City Museum, you can explore miles of secret passages, slides, ball pits, and “Beanstalk”-inspired climbing structures. Want more? How about a circus, a train, a Ferris wheel, and a rooftop school bus?

Explore the Museum of Mirth, Mystery, and Mayhem. Visit Circus Harmony for exciting live performances. Indulge your artistic genius in Art City. Crawl through a cave, or float into an aquarium.

You’ll find places to refuel on every floor of this architectural marvel, from the first floor’s 19th-century Cabin Inn right up to the Rooftop Café.

Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis

If you’re an art enthusiast who wants to get off the beaten path, venture over to the Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis. Set in the heart of the Grand Center Arts District in Midtown, this is the city’s premier contemporary art museum.

This small gem of a space features intimate settings and cutting-edge works. The Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis showcases new works by national and international artists in a variety of mediums. While the museum hosts six major rotating exhibits each year, there are no permanent exhibits – meaning curators can offer work that is consistently fresh, relevant, and thought-provoking.

Want to make the most of your visit? Take an audio tour for intriguing insights into up-and-coming artists and their creations. Afterward, browse the bookstore, then slip into the café for a relaxing debrief.

Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site

Want an insider’s look at an American legend? Then add the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site to your bucket list. Set in Grantwood Village just southwest of St. Louis, the site commemorates the life and career of a towering figure in American history. Grant was celebrated as the Civil War General who saved the American Union – and became the 18th President of the United States.

Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site

Known as White Haven, the 10-acre Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site was originally a slave plantation owned by Grant’s in-laws. Today, five historic structures remain, including the White Haven family home. Housed in the original barn, the site’s museum features a fascinating collection of photos and documents.

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Top off your visit with a tram ride through the site’s 280-acre wildlife preserve. This Grant brainchild is home to over 900 animals from around the world. Check out Grant’s Farm to enjoy encounters with friendly farm critters.

Laumeier Sculpture Park

Want to get a dose of fresh air while you take in some art? One of the best things to do in St. Louis, MO, is to head out to Laumeier Sculpture Park, one of the largest sculpture parks in the US. Nestled in Sunset Hills, just a 20-minute drive from the city, this unique open-air museum makes a perfect short day trip from St. Louis.

Pick up a park map from the kiosk at the main entrance. Then lace up your hiking boots: Laumeier Sculpture Park has 100 hilly acres to explore.

Follow the beautiful forested trails that wend their way around dozens of intriguing alfresco exhibits. If your tastes lean towards the quirky, you’re in luck: This eclectic collection includes giant bronze tulips, a tiled cat cuddle seat, and a mobile steel schooner.

Take a break at the benches spread throughout the park – or snag a table and unpack your picnic fare.

Where to stay

For most travelers, the top choices for where to stay in St. Louis fall within the city center. Narrow down your accommodation search to Downtown, Downtown West, and Midtown. The central neighborhoods are home to most of the city’s top hotels and main points of interest.

Drury Plaza St. Louis at the Arch

Drury Plaza St. Louis at the Arch

Located in a historic building next to the iconic Gateway Arch, this stylish hotel offers some of the city’s top-value accommodations. Whether you want to enjoy an elegant dining experience, sip coffee on the terrace, or cool down in the pool, you can do it all with a night in these delightful lodgings.

Hotel Saint Louis, Autograph Collection

Hotel Saint Louis, Autograph Collection

Add an air of sophistication to your vacation with a night in this elegant hotel. Delight in the Art Deco ambiance sprinkled with luxurious finishes and decors. After a day of sightseeing, enjoy the on-site amenities, from authentic local dishes at the on-site restaurant Union 30 to cocktails at Form Skybar, the hotel’s romantic rooftop bar.

Four Seasons St. Louis

Four Seasons St. Louis

The top-rated luxury hotel in the city, the Four Seasons lives up to its brand promise with this blissful property on the banks of the Mississippi River. Enjoy an urban resort experience with a barrage of luxurious amenities, including an interactive golf simulator, rooftop pool, indoor swimming pool, fitness center, and on-site spa.


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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