Things To Do Around St. Louis
Although many stars have appeared on stage at The Muny, one essential truth has remained about the nation’s oldest and largest outdoor theatre; it is the story of St. Louis – and of St. Louisans. It is about the countless individuals who have contributed their time, money, and talent to make this place a magical and truly unique American experience. The Muny began in 1916 in Forest Park with a tribute to William Shakespeare. From the beginning, The Muny set aside 1,456 free seats at the back of the theatre in order for the shows to be affordable to all. During its history, The Muny has produced and presented grand operas, concerts, operettas and ballet troupes. The Muny is located on Theatre Drive, just north of the Jewel Box. In front of the entrance to The Muny, patrons and visitors to the park can enjoy the serene beauty of The Pagoda which is surrounded by water. The tradition of The Muny continues with Broadway musicals from mid-June through mid-August in Forest Park.
The Jewel Box, located on a 17-acre site in Forest Park, is an Art Deco floral conservatory built in 1936 by the City of St. Louis. The Jewel Box is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Jewel Box was given the designation on the National Register because it is, “locally significant in the area of architecture. The Art Deco building is an outstanding example of greenhouse design.” The Jewel Box has re-opened after a $3.5 million renovation and it “glows” again. The glass panes have been repaired and cleaned so the Jewel Box is once again the “jewel” of Forest Park. The Jewel Box is bright again with hundreds of flowers.
The renovation included removing all of the old plants and trees and reconfiguring the planting areas to the sides of the building, leaving the interior free. The Jewel Box is flooded with sunlight that pours in through the top tiers of glass and illuminates the plants below. The interior area includes a large fountain and a water feature. Large pots line both sides of the pond and baskets of plants hang from the ceiling.
The Jewel Box has special flower shows at Christmas, early spring, Easter, Mother’s Day, a summer show and the chrysanthemum show in the fall. It has tropical trees, foliage plants, flowers, a new water feature and fountain year round. The main display room is 50 feet high, 55 feet wide and 144 feet long, containing about 7,500 square feet of floor space.
Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $1, but it is free from 9 a.m. to noon on Monday and Tuesday.
The St. Louis Science Center is located just south of Forest Park. The facility is connected to the James S. McDonnell Planetarium in Forest Park via a walkway across Highway 64. Visitors can enjoy numerous interactive exhibits and educational programs in a space station environment. Visitors will experience the simulation of a space launch as they are transported via the ‘StarShuttle’ (elevator) to the facility’s two upper levels, collectively called the Boeing Space Station. In the SkyBay, over 9,000 twinkling stars and glowing planets can be seen slowly moving across the new 80 sq. ft. dome. There is no admission fee to the Science Center.
Hours: Monday – Thursday & Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m, Friday; 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.(Planetarium closes at 4:30 p.m. on Friday); and Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is free.
The Saint Louis Art Museum is one of the leading art museums with more than 100 galleries and 30,000 works of art. The building was designed by famed architect Cass Gilbert as the Palace of Fine Arts for the 1904 World’s Fair in Forest Park. Standing atop Art Hill, it is the “crown” jewel” of the 1,370-acre park. The Grand Basin is the lake at the foot of Art Hill and served as the focal point of the 1904 World’s Fair.
The Museum’s collections feature more than 30,000 art treasures from ancient times to the present. Highlights include art of the Renaissance, masterpieces of Impressionism, American European Art, Asian art, Period Rooms, the Egyptian mummy, and world-renowned collections of pre-Columbian and German Expressionist art. Hours: Tuesday–Sunday, 10:00 am–5:00 pm; Friday, 10:00 am–9:00 pm. Admission is free.
Central West End
The Central West End is a chic slice of Europe on the edge of Forest Park. With its charming sidewalk cafes, exciting galleries, trendy boutiques, and cozy pubs, the Central West End is a cosmopolitan community. As the name alludes, the Central West End is one of the most “centrally located” neighborhoods with easy access from highways, many recognizable local roads and public transportation.
The Central West End chic neighborhood features many beautiful turn-of-the-century buildings nestled among giant oak trees. The tree lined private streets display stately turn-of-the-century homes, new high rise condos, and apartments. Ornate lampposts and brick-lined streets along Maryland Avenue create a European sophistication. The architecture of the Central West End is reflective of the rich architectural heritage found in many of St. Louis City’s communities.
The awe inspiring St. Louis Cathedral Basilica is another one of the pillars of this exciting neighborhood. Diners can enjoy a relaxing afternoon of people-watching at one of the outdoor cafes and coffee shops, or take in the nightlife at some of the warm and friendly pubs.
Longing for the days of Mark Twain and the mighty Mississippi? St. Louis’ river city past becomes clear in the vibrant Lacledes Landing neighborhood. Lacledes Landing, founded in 1764 by a French fur trapper named Pierre LaCledes, established Saint Louis as trading post on the west banks of the Mississippi River. Business was good from the beginning. Soon the village became the center of commerce with furs as the main source of exchange for goods.
Today, Laclede’s Landing- a nine block industrial area that once housed companies producing coffee, leather goods, mattresses, tobacco, whiskey, candy and machinery for the barges- features some of the most unique restaurants, sidewalk cafes and clubs in the metro Saint Louis area. During the day, the historical district is also home to people who work at the many offices located on the edge of the Mississippi River. At night, take a horse drawn carriage ride on the cobblestone streets or dine on local fare at restaurants operating inside one of the historic river warehouses. At night, the district is merry with music. The new Lumiere Place casino sets the standard for entertainment. Narrated trips on the Gateway Arch Riverboats leave from the levee, and the Riverfront Trail bike path passes alongside the historic district. Labor Day weekend brings the annual Big Muddy Blues Festival to the area.
Downtown St. Louis features dining opportunities from fine gourmet restaurants in downtown hotels and eclectic cafes and bars in the Washington Avenue Loft District to the smorgasbord offering of restaurants in the historic Union Station on Market Street. Diners can enjoy savoring the wonderful signature St. Louis specialties created by top chefs. Restaurants around Kiener Plaza feature spectacular views of the Old Courthouse with the Gateway Arch in the background. Major sporting venues including Busch Stadium, the Scottrade Center and the Edward Jones Dome are within walking distance of many restaurants.
Soulard is a diverse historic community, located just south of downtown. St. Louis’ blues music takes the stage in the neighborhoods clubs and restaurants. Soulard is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city with homes dating from the mid to late 1800s. It also features beautifully restored 19th-century red brick Victorian and Federal-style townhouses. Quaint row and alley houses create picturesque streetscapes.
The Soulard Farmer’s Market, one of the few remaining open-air markets in the country and operating since 1779, is the neighborhoods centerpiece. The farmers markets sells fresh produce, meats, bakery goods and flowers. Just south of the market is the Trinity Lutheran Church at Eighth and Soulard Streets. The original church, built in 1865, was destroyed by the 1896 tornado which roared through Soulard. This tornado also destroyed numerous homes, churches and businesses. The church was rebuilt by its German congregation into its present majestic structure. Immediately south of Soulard, is the Lemp Mansion- a restaurant and B&B. The Lemp Mansion is known as one of St. Louis’s top haunted houses.
Events such as the annual Bastille Day celebration in July, Soulard Mardi Gras activities in February, and Soulard Oktoberfest bring thousands of people into this lively ethnic neighborhood. Soulard’s Mardi Gras celebration is the largest in the nation.
A vibrant six-block entertainment and shopping district featuring ten live music stages and an eclectic mix of retail and restaurants- The Loop is a place of rich history and energetic evolution. Named for the old streetcar turnaround, this always changing neighborhood is home to one-of-a kind stores and boutiques. A brilliant success, The Loop now serves as a model for communities across the country. The American Planning Association recently named this thriving urban retail, arts and entertainment district “One of the 10 Great Streets in America.”
The Loop is home to long established businesses such as Blueberry Hill, a nationally renowned restaurant and music club, and the elegantly restored Tivoli Movie Theatre, which offers patrons the chance to view contemporary independent films in a historic cinema house. The new growth — distinguished by its quality, planning and understanding of its community – is a self-perpetuating catalyst. New venues include The Pageant — a 2,000+ capacity concert nightclub, the Pin-Up Bowl a bowling alley and martini lounge, numerous restaurants, shops, the Moonrise Hotel – an independent boutique hotel, the headquarters for the Regional Arts Commission, and the St. Louis African American Cultural Center.
The World of West Port Plaza, where gleaming office towers overlook an international assortment of fine restaurants, two first-class hotels, lively night spots, comedy club and unique specialty shops. A festive and romantic atmosphere is created within the walkways and open courtyards of the Plaza’s Old World Village where visitors will find all the services of a luxurious resort … all without crossing a street. West Port Plaza is situated on 42 beautifully landscaped acres in Maryland Heights, The Plaza is located between Dorsett Road and Page Avenue, with easy access from I-270 at Page Avenue.