Meet you in St. Louis â€” Travel Tips
From beneath its famed arch, St. Louis offers up a world of flavor and fun.
Written By: Melissa Corbin
Home to the Cardinals, Anheuser-Busch, and that iconic arch, St. Louis is a Midwestern metropolis stationed nearby the great Mississippi and Missouri rivers. But, is it a gourmet getaway? At just four-and-a-half hours away, St. Louis retains an exciting food scene as inclusive as its culture.
St. Louis is about a 4 ½ hour drive from Nashville. Take I-24 W. to I-57 N. to I-64 W.
The independently owned and beautifully restored vintage Hotel Ignacio (from $160 per night) is in the heart of St. Louis’ art scene. Guests can take a spin on complimentary bicycles to explore Grand Center in Midtown, or they can simply bliss out in one of 49 art-themed rooms, taking advantage of the organic bedding and spacious soaking tubs. For sushi or noodles, go to Baiku Sushi Lounge, or for more wide-ranging options, try motorcycle-themed Triumph Grill; each adds to the boutique hotel’s creative vibe.
To get more of an urban oasis, enjoy panoramic views of the Gateway Arch from the floor-to-ceiling windows inside the Four Seasons St. Louis (from $349 per night). The hotel’s restaurant, Cielo, offers a modern Italian menu by chef Gian Nicola Colucci—as well as the city’s finest room service.
No matter where the day takes you, start things off at Rooster (located downtown and in South City), a European-style café that specializes in crepes, like the savory sausage and apple combo, and egg scrambles served with tomato jam. For lunch, head to Olio in historical Botanical Heights. This antique gas station has been turned into a charming, chef-owned wine and Mediterranean-tapas bar. The menu changes daily, offering a variety of spreads, cheeses, and meats, and there’s a thoughtful beverage list, making it perfect for a midday bite and sip.
In the affluent Central West End, you’ll find one local gem that’ll get you through the night. At Taste, there are well-composed cocktails, playful snacks, and small plates, like fried cheese curds served with jalapeño aioli. A few miles up the road in Clayton, chef Gerard Craft (who is putting the finishing touches on a Nashville location of the restaurant Pastaria) recently reinvigorated his restaurant, Niche, turning the decade-old concept into a new venture called Sardella, which opened in July. Sardella offers a wink and a nod at Italy, and it continues Craft’s tradition of sourcing locally, preserving ingredients, and aiming for impeccable service.
Of course, you can’t take a trip to St. Louis without a stop at Pappy’s Smokehouse, where the ribs are a legend. If you’re struggling to find room for more food, just grab an order for the car ride home.
Many St. Louis attractions are free, such as its world-class zoo; the urban park, Citygardens; and The Muny at Forest Park, America’s largest and oldest outdoor theater. Also on the list of free to-dos is a tour of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. Natives recommend the tour for first timers, but, if craft beer is more your speed, try a Schnickelfritz, which is a Bavarian Weissbeir, at Urban Chestnut Brewing Company. Missouri’s first LEED-certified brewery has two locations: in Midtown and at The Grove.
From there, head over to the walkable neighborhood, Maplewood, and spend an afternoon popping into spots like Bolyard’s Meats & Provisions. Call ahead to place an order for one of their Butchers Box Meatpacks, which includes an assortment of pasture-raised, hand-cut meats sourced from nearby farms. Or, aim to be there during Bolyard’s Burger Battles, which this month takes place on August 21 from 1 to 3 p.m.
Perhaps, instead, a feast for the eyes is in order. At more than a mile long, the Mississippi floodwall has become a landing spot for graffiti artists who frequently change out their masterpieces. Closer to town, watch a sunset with a Rooftop Cafe cocktail at the City Museum. Open during the summer on weather-permitting days, the rooftop is the ultimate adult playground. Make sure to hitch a ride on the Ferris wheel before buzzing down the 10-story spiral slide.
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Day Trip: Ste. Genevieve
Before heading back to Nashville, hit the reset button with a stop in Ste. Genevieve, nestled along the western bank of the Mississippi River, about an hour south of St. Louis. Established in 1735, the town is steeped in history, especially around the central district.
Just as the Russian River and Dry Creek are synonymous with Sonoma, the Mississippi and Saline Creek affect the Midwestern terroir of Ste. Genevieve wines. There are 10 vineyards boasting an array of experiences here. Guests can sip on their favorite varietal in a saltpeter cave at Cave Vineyard. Covering 600 acres of land, Crown Valley Brewing is home to a winery, brewery, distillery, bison ranch, and Crown Ridge Tiger Sanctuary, a nonprofit that rescues and takes care of abused and neglected extra-large cats. Learn more about the animals on one of the daily 45-minute guided tours.
Further along the Saline Creek Valley lives Chaumette Vineyards & Winery (from $145 per night), a true wine resort complete with 16 villas and suites. The tasting room allows for coveted porch time with stunning views of the valley. There’s also a spa, offering signature treatments that use grapeseed and wine extracts from the vineyard, and a pool, where you’ll want to relax with one of their estate-grown vintages.