A giant arch representing the gateway to the West. A zany museum filled with caves, slides, and a bus teetering over the edge of a roof. Toasted ravioli and gooey butter cake. While many people only know St. Louis for the arch, there are so many more things to do during a weekend in St. Louis, Missouri that are weird, wonderful, and completely unique.
From exploring the lush Forest Park (double the size of Central Park), checking out one of their many museums, and eating some decadent local delicacies and some truly forward-thinking cuisine, St. Louis is a midwestern gem worth taking the time to explore.
The first time I visited St. Louis I was surprised by the vast cultural and artistic diversity of the city, with many of the museums (including the art museum and zoo) absolutely free to the public. St. Louis is a great place to visit, and there is so much you can pack in a weekend in St. Louis, Missouri!
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The Perfect Weekend in St. Louis, Missouri FAQs
Here are some of the things that are good to know for your weekend in St. Louis!
The Best Time to Visit St. Louis, Missouri
The best time to Visit St. Louis is in April or May, or September or October. St. Louis has some brutally hot and humid summers (the first time I visited in August – it was rough), and some cold long winters, so it’s best to hit that sweet spot!
September is a better time to visit if you hope to see the flora of the city in full bloom, including the Missouri Botanical Garden, because in April and May the garden (and its enormous lily pads) are not growing yet.
How to get to St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis kind of feels smack dab in the middle of most cities – Five hours from Nashville and Chicago, four hours from Louisville, and two hours from Evansville, making it an easy road trip if you’re in the midwestern area.
Flying into St. Louis is an option as well, and the St. Louis Lambert International Airport is only about 15 minutes from downtown, making it an easy option.
How to get around St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis has a series of buses and trains, called MetroLink and MetroBus respectively, that can get you around the city pretty regularly. The train only really travels East and West, though it does branch up to the north to the airport, making it easy to take you into the city.
The Perfect Weekend in St. Louis, Missouri
A weekend is the perfect length to visit St. Louis Missouri, and you’ll be doing things like eating local delicacies, visiting some amazing museums, to going up in the one and only Arch!
Weekend in St. Louis: Friday
Today you’ll be arriving in St. Louis, and enjoying a casual dinner at a brewery and taking in one of the most iconic St. Louis activities: A St. Louis Cardinal Game!
Dinner at 4 Hands Brewing Co.
Once you arrive in St. Louis and get settled in your hotel (hotel recommendations at the end of the article), you’ll head over to 4 Hands Brewing Co., a casual, yet delicious, brewery that happens to be only .07 miles from Busch Stadium!
4 Hands Brewery & Tasting Room is spacious and rustic, with beautiful wood accents, wallpaper with hops on it, and arcade games on the second floor. And we cannot forget the star of the show – beer! 4 Hands brews an extensive selection of beer, from their Fountain Sodie, an easy IPA with Citra hops, to their Ripple Wheat Ale, an ale with orange, to their Sparkler Hard Seltzer that tastes like popsicles from your childhood, and many, many more!
Their food goes just as hard as their beer too, with an extensive menu of elevated and truly delicious bar food. The buffalo cauliflower, nachos, and pretzels make excellent starters, and their (huge) spicy fish sandwich or frisco melt really hits that greasy and beer-complimenting spot. Let’s just say, this is the place to pre-game before a sports event, and luckily, that’s exactly what you’ll be doing next…
Cheer for the Cardinals at a Baseball Game
Growing up as a theatre kid, I didn’t spend much time doing or watching sports. So how could I know that baseball, especially in a big stadium with a major league team, could be so theatrical? The cheering, the announcer, the players, the beer, the hot dogs… There’s a lot of energy during a baseball game, and it’s infectious!
I was lucky enough to attend a Cardinals vs. Dodgers game on May 18, 2023, when they hit their most home runs in a game ever with seven! I didn’t really fathom what was happening – it just seemed like every 2 minutes the crowd was going WILD with unhinged cheering. It was electric, I was excited, I didn’t know why, but I loved it!
All this to say, if you love baseball, you’ll love going to a Cardinals game, and if you don’t, you probably love it anyway! Just be sure to check their schedule to know what time their playing.
It’s only the first evening and it’s already been a big day! Time to go back to your hotel, rest up, and get ready for day two!
Weekend in St. Louis: Saturday
Hope you’ve rested well, because it’s time for another exciting day featuring a local delicacy, two museums (including one the likes you’ve never seen before!), and an excellent dinner.
Grab Coffee and a Gooey Butter Cake at Park Avenue Coffee
Gooey. Butter. Cake. Yes, you read that right. Today you will be starting your day not only with coffee, but with one of the most decadent, delicious local delicacies any city has to offer.
Imagine you made a cake with a thin, flaky crust and the cake itself was custard-like in consistency, with the main note of butter and sugar coming through. That is Gooey Butter Cake, and it’s literally like eating heaven for breakfast. The cakes come in other flavors, but Mom’s Traditional will give you a taste of one of St. Louis’s specialties.
Get Lost in the City Museum
Now that you’ve had sugar for breakfast like a child, it’s time to really feel like a kid again…
If you’ve never heard of the City Museum it doesn’t sound very exciting judging by its name alone. But underneath the rather plain name is an extraordinarily weird and wonderful ever-evolving art museum meets playground.
What was once an old shoe factory in Downtown St. Louis has been transformed into an art space that includes sculpture, mosaics, slides, a bus that has been welded in the air, an airplane, a Ferris wheel, and so much more. Does it sound chaotic and hard to define? It sure is! Getting lost is part of the magic of this museum, and with no maps, you will!
The City Museum was the brainchild of Bob and Gail Cassilly, internationally renowned sculpture artists who wanted to create interactive art on a big, huge scale! Today there is over 600k feet of space in this museum, and it’s constantly being built upon by fellow sculpture artists.
Some of the coolest spots to find in the museum are the caves, a 10-story spiral slide that used to be a shoe box chute (there are over 30 slides in all), the world’s largest pencil, a huge collection of taxidermy butterflies, moths and insects, a real circus you can watch, and the rooftop with a Ferris wheel with stunning views of the city and a bus that teeters over the edge of the building!
The City Museum will never truly make sense unless you go see it, and it truly is one of the most unique museums ever built. While kids love the museum, it’s great for adults too! Just make sure you don’t climb into any small spaces you can’t get out of (and there are plenty of those!)…
Lunch at The Fountain on Locust
The Fountain on Locust is not only delicious and close to the City Museum (which is obviously a pre-requisite), but is Art Deco themed and is like stepping back in time to a 20s/30s diner with lots of gorgeous accents and flair!
Under the painted blue ceiling with gold and black swooping accents and big geometric lamps, you’ll find a cozy and casual atmosphere that will have you somewhere between wanting to make your silent movie debut and doing the Charleston.
The food here mostly consists of soups and sandwiches, which is fabulous because they do them very well. For a starter, try the Lottie Briscoe Bruschetta with sweet balsamic, a slightly chewy bread, feta cheese and fresh tomatoes (I am drooling thinking about this). For your main get a pick two, with their Signature Polish Dill Pickle Soup and their incredible Fig, Ham & Gouda Grilled Cheese.
I know this all sounds amazing, but one of the real stars here is their dessert. They are the home of the Ice Cream Martini, which is exactly what it sounds like – delectable liquors mixed with ice cream in a martini glass! I personally love the Espresso Martini, but they have 20 flavors to choose from!
They also tout the World’s Smallest Ice Cream Cone, which is about as big as your thumb in a sugar cone with a tiny scoop of ice cream. It’s so kitschy and fun and you can even get a whole flight of different flavors.
If you sit in a booth (request one!), some of them have old-timey telephones with a radio drama you can listen to like you’re actually in the 1920s!
Take Instgrammable Photos at Walls Off Washington
A great place to take a little stop on the way to your next activity, is the Walls Off Washington, a large collection of over 25 thought-provoking wall murals by local, national, and international artists. It’s easy to take a self-guided walking tour of the murals, strolling past colorful renditions of wildflowers, cartoon characters, and stories and people who hailed from St. Louis.
One of the best murals celebrates the life of Josephine Baker, who was a St. Louis native and went on to become a major stage star in the 1920s, eventually moving to Paris where she became the toast of the town. She was called the “Black Venus” and eventually renounced her US citizenship after marrying a Frenchman, since Paris was a whole lot less, you know, racist than America was.
Walls Off Washington is a great way to tap into the creative community of the city, and learn more about its colorful past. Be sure to stop in the High Low Coffee Shop in the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, and check out their free gallery!
Explore Forest Park and the St. Louis Art Museum
Just an 11-minute drive from the Fountain on the Locust is the St. Louis Art Museum, which involves driving through the absolutely stunning Forest Park.
Forest Park was dedicated in 1876, was home to the 1904 World’s Fair, and is over 50% bigger than Central Park at 1300 acres. Let’s just say this park has some history.
Before or after the museum, check out some of the most beautiful parts of the park – like the Jewel Box, an Art Deco greenhouse with flowers inside and a lily pond out front, and Art Hill, the expansive hill outside of the art museum which is great for a stroll or a picnic.
The St. Louis Art Museum building itself is a stunning piece of art, the neo-classical architecture designed by Cass Gilbert for the 1904 World’s Fair with its columns and arches overlooking the grassy slope. Inside, you’ll find an expansive, and FREE museum, with the largest collection collection of German works outside of Germany, ja!
You can check out works by Matisse, Cassatt, and one of my favorite Monet pieces I’ve seen in person. They also have a wonderful Egyptian exhibit with a stunning sarcophagus, medieval art, and plenty of contemporary and rotating exhibits to make you think.
Though the museum is free, there is a small fee to park, but worth it for a couple of hours at this wonderful spot. After you’re done at the museum, check out more of the park or head back to your hotel for a little rest before dinner!
Dinner at The Lucky Accomplice
When traveling to a truly cosmopolitan and interesting city like St. Louis, you have to make time (and a bit of cash) for a nice dinner out. We’re talking about chef-created, locally curated, and absolutely delicious food. And I am not talking about food so frou-frou it leaves you wanting more because you’re hungry, but food so decadently scrumptious you want more because it’s delicious. The Lucky Accomplice delivers on this promise!
Located close to the trendy Soulard neighborhood, The Lucky Accomplice is a space as whimsical as it is scrumptious. With hues of teal on the walls, graffiti art, and chandeliers, this place gives off trendy-yet-classy vibes. But the real star of course, is the food!
The Lucky Accomplice has a 7-and-10-course menu with optional drink pairings, so what they actually serve is up to the chef and what’s in season. They do have a wonderful bar menu however, if you want something a little more lowkey (and less pricey).
From the bar menu, try the focaccia and/or the cornbread to start, both of which are extremely flavorful and decadent, and they have a wide assortment of pickles and meat and fish like San Daniele prosciutto, tinned mackerel, and country pate. One of my favorite things is the chicken thigh with cabbage, smoked chili oil, and peanuts. It’s like the best chicken satay you’ve ever had.
Make sure to get out their cocktails too, as they definitely do not disappoint. Try the Bring the Beet Back with dill infused vermouth, bleu cheese washed vodka, and beet peppercorn shrub, which I know sounds wild, but is delicious and very pink.
After dinner, rest up, because Sunday is right around the corner!
Weekend in St. Louis: Sunday
Today we’ll be exploring the expansive Missouri Botanical Gardens, the iconic arch, and another treat that is famous in St. Louis!
Smell the Flowers at the Missouri Botanical Garden
If you are a plant and flower lover, the Missouri Botanical Garden is like stepping into a gorgeously curated Garden of Eden – we’re talking giant lily pads, sweeping rose gardens, and even a 14-acre Japanese Garden!
You could easily spend a whole day in the gardens, but getting here first thing in the morning and spending a few hours is definitely the best way to take them in. In the warm morning light, hop on a tram tour that takes you around most of the gardens with commentary. You’ll learn about how the moon gate of the Chinese garden is from St. Louis’s sister city of Nanjing, how the Japanese Emperor planted a Japanese maple in the garden, and how over 100,000 bulbs are planted in the gardens a year.
Before you leave, make sure to check out The Climatron®, a giant geodesic dome opened in 1960 that encloses over half an acre of dense tropical rainforest, including 2,800 plants alongside waterfalls, bridges, exotic fish, and a dense forest canopy.
Once you have your fill of plant life (is that possible?) then you’re going to head just a few minutes away to grab brunch!
Grab Brunch at Boxwood by Niche
From a botanical garden to a plant store and restaurant inside an old 1920s automotive warehouse? Yes, that’s right! Now you can dine among the plants inside a gorgeous restaurant that could only be described as a Pinterest dream.
As you can imagine, Boxwood by Niche is bright and welcoming, allowing you to photosynthesize like the plants around as you eat a delicious brunch worthy of any Instagram post. Try the eggs benedict with sourdough toast, prosciutto, poached eggs, hollandaise, chili flakes, potatoes, and mixed greens salad, or the cacio e pepe eggs which are soft scrambled with pecorino & black pepper, sourdough toast, and mixed greens salad.
If you’d like to start the day with some omega 3s, order the trout rillette with smoked trout, crème fraîche, chive, roe, crackers, and lemon. They also have a large selection of cocktails for a little brunch fun, like the Bowood 75 with 1220 gin, seasonal fruit, lemon, and sparkling wine.
In the warmer months, you can sit outside on the lush patio, just make sure you make a reservation for this popular brunch spot!
Now it’s time to get high in the sky at the emblem of St. Louis!
See the City from the Arch
Nothing is more iconic to St. Louis than the Arch, looming like a giant silver boomerang over the Mississippi River. It’s one of those visual emblems of America that’s hard to miss, and is probably the most famous monument in the Midwest!
It’s also the country’s tallest monument standing at 630 feet, and though it doesn’t look it, it’s 630 feet from leg to leg at ground level. This sounds very mathematical and impressive, and I am sure it is. All I know is that the Arch is meant to represent the “Gateway of the West”, which is also what the city of St. Louis is known as, and sits on the country’s smallest national park.
Inside the free Arch museum (which opened in 2018) you will find all kinds of interactive and ADA-accessible exhibits that explain the symbolism, conception, and building of the Arch (and more about that pesky math). It also explains the settlement of the St. Louis area, westward expansion, and doesn’t shy away from telling the stories of the Native Peoples like the Cheyenne Tribe and Lakota Nation which were devastated by the colonization of America.
While you could spend hours in the museum (and should, it’s really cool!) the star of the Arch is going up 630 to the top of the Arch by tram. Now, the tram is less like a tram and more like a tiny pod you have to squeeze into and fits roughly about four people. While it’s a bit claustrophobic and may make you feel like you’re in the Jetsons or something, in four minutes you’ll be at the top of the Arch!
Up top of the Arch, you can peek out of small windows that make you feel a bit like you’re in an airplane, peering over the city of St. Louis on one side and the Mississippi River on the other. While you are only at the top for about 7-10 minutes, it’s enough time to snap some photos before you head back down again. It’s a pretty unique and kitschy experience, that hearkens back to American roadside attractions. Definitely, something you have to do at least once in St. Louis!
Grab a Local Delicacy at City Foundry
The City Foundry is its own little city within itself – with an Alamo Drafthouse, the City Winery, a VR experience, a supercool putt-putt place, retail shops, and the heart of the City Foundry, the Food Hall featuring 17 local and regional restaurants!
Though it may not be time for a proper dinner yet, the City Foundry is a fabulous place for a snack (or two or three), and it’s a great spot to check out one of the most famous local delicacies: Toasted Raviolis.
Toasted Raviolis, or T-Ravs for short, were said to have been invented in the Italian neighborhood “The Hill”, where a drunken chef accidentally dropped a ravioli in the deep fryer creating the iconic dish by accident!
At STL Toasted be prepared to try some classic toasted raviolis like the beef or cheese t-ravs with marinara sauce, and you can choose two different flavors per order. They also have some more non-traditional takes, like buffalo chicken and the loaded potato t-ravs and usually have a t-rav of the day.
They even have sweet takes on the savory dish, like the ultimate St. Louis famous food crossover: the lemon blackberry gooey butter cake ravoli!
Take in the Beauty of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis
If you have time before you leave, check out the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis which you will have undoubtedly seen many times in the distance while driving, as it is enormous. The green-tiled dome stands 217 feet over St. Louis, and the Neo-Byzantine and Romanesque Revival architecture with towers and domes catches your eye immediately.
It’s really irrelevant whether you are religious or not, because this Basilica is absolutely a piece of artwork in itself. Inside, you’ll be absolutely stunned by the glittering mosaic tilework on the ceiling, depicting colorful scenes from the bible like Mary in a flaming heart surrounded by the twelve disciples. Fun fact: there are 41.5 million glass tiles in 7,000 colors that cover 83,000 square feet, and they were designed by Tiffany and Company. This cathedral is designer (Catholicism, am I right?).
One of the weirdest things my husband and I learned from a docent when we visited (who was so nice and gave us an hour-long tour), is that in the Chapel on the right when you walk in has the hats of three Cardinals hung from the ceiling, and those same three Cardinals are buried in the crypt beneath this chapel. These hats remain hanging as the holy man is in a sort of purgatory, being absolved for his sins until one day the cord breaks (which does happen!). Once the hat falls, he has entered heaven!
In the basement, there is also a small museum (which asks for a $2 donation to visit), where you can see how they installed the tiles, historic holy vestments (worth $2 for this alone), and precious old Catholic objects.
Just be wary that a service may be happening as you visit, so be mindful you may not be able to enter the main cathedral at certain times.
Where to Stay in St. Louis
St. Louis is a pretty affordable and easy place to find a nice place to stay, with plenty of places that will be in the heart of this itinerary. I have not included the place where I had one of the worst hotel experiences (no working AC in August, people cheerleading below our bedroom window at 2am), though that’s a great story for another day!
Here are some great places to stay:
- Angad Arts Hotel – This is a pretty basic hotel but in technicolor! Each of the rooms is done in a solid color, with four choices – red, yellow, blue, and green. The rooms are spacious and the location is centrally located, so you’ll be ready to explore!
- Ultramodern Studio Loft – If you prefer more privacy with a rental, this gorgeous loft is bright and airy, with plenty of lounge room and big windows overlooking the city. It’s also centrally located, and ready to be the perfect home base for the weekend.
- Four Seasons St. Louis – If you want a seriously ballin’ weekend in luxury, the Four Seasons is a perfect option. While not cheap, the facilities and rooms are gorgeous, with views of the city or the Arch itself (the hotel is right by the river). Cinder House is a great place to grab a meal, and their outdoor pool and bar overlooking the Arch is stunning.
About The Author: Richie Goff is a Louisville, Kentucky native with a great love of the outdoors. When he is not growing flowers for fun, he is the Editor-in-Chief of Practical Wanderlust and Let’s Go Louisville. He has been a friend of Lia’s since high school, and they have taken plenty of their own disaster-prone adventures together!
What are you most excited for during your weekend in St. Louis, Missouri? Comment below!
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Disclaimer: This post was created in partnership with Explore St. Louis. All opinions and super corny jokes are 100% our own and absolutely not their fault.