Meet me in St.Louis, a tourist’s guide

Smaller than a big city, bigger than a small city, this “gateway to the west” is a cultural mecca in Missouri.

BY LISA BARTON
ASKSTUDENT.COM guest writer

Most people know St. Louis as the “Gateway to the West.” I know it as home.

St.Louis ArchThe population of St. Louis is somewhere around 3-4 million. It takes a lot of industry and a lot of culture to support a town this big in Missouri. Washington University is here, as is the Anheuser-Busch Brewery (I-55 and Arsenal St.), the world’s largest collection of mosaic art (the Cathedral of St. Louis, 4431 Lindell Blvd.), Ulysses S. Grant’s restored farm (10501 Gravois) and a world-class zoo. And of course there’s the Gateway Arch, which, at 630 feet, is the nation’s tallest monument.

Along the Mississippi River bank is the South Grand area, home to a series of terrific ethnic (especially Thai) restaurants. North of Grand is the city’s small theatre district. The Fabulous Fox Theatre, a restored old-fashioned movie house, is often a stop for Broadway shows on tour. Powell Symphony Hall” is home to the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. The Sheldon Concert Hall (3648 Washington Ave.), the Grand Square Theatre (performance space for the St. Louis Black Repertory Company) and good weekend jazz can be found down on Grand.

In South St. Louis you’ll also find the Missouri Botanical Garden and Ted Drewes’ Frozen Custard (6726 Chippewa), the best and most famous frozen custard anywhere. One point of pride: the “concrete,” a shake so thick it will stay put even if you hold the cup upside down. Another venerable summer spot is Crown Candy (1401 St. Louis Ave.), a soda fountain featuring homemade ice cream and, well, candy.

The Central West End neighborhood features gorgeous 19th Century row houses. The commercial part of the CWE, which runs along Euclid Ave. for about ten blocks, has a varied mix of bookstores, coffeehouses, restaurants and galleries. Left Bank Books (399 N. Euclid) is a great stop for new and used tomes, plus there’s a downstairs art exhibit. The Sunshine Inn (8 S. Euclid) sells the best homemade bread ever.

Head west and you’ll be in Forest Park, one of the biggest municipal parks in the country (at about 1,370 acres). In 1874 local leaders decided they needed to create a space in which low income people could be entertained, so most of the park’s attractions, including the zoo, the science center, the art museum and the are free. These attractions are considered among the best bargains in the country. The Muny, a massive outdoor theatre, is also in Forest Park. Tickets for summer productions sell for as little as $6.

Northwest of the park is the University City Loop, a commercial district with a wonderfully restored old movie theatre, the Tivoli (6350 Delmar), and St. Louis’ root beer brewery, Fitz’s (6605 Delmar). At the east end of the loop you’ll find the Thai Country Cafe, where for $5 to $7 you can get some of the best green curry in the country. Bring some very interesting companions or a book, though: there’s only one cook and service can be excruciatingly slow.

Ding, ding, ding went the trolley.

Image Courtesy: 461st.org