Last updated: 06:00 AM ET, Mon June 24 2019
St. Louis downtown at twilight. (photo via f11photo / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

St. Louis

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St. Louis downtown at twilight. (photo via f11photo / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
St. Louis downtown at twilight. (photo via f11photo / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

St. Louis, Missouri, is a sprawling Midwestern metropolis that explodes with breathtaking attractions, larger-than-life monuments and parks, and a thriving cultural and arts scene. It is known as the “Gateway City” on behalf of the many people who migrated westward from St. Louis. Built to commemorate this migration, the iconic Gateway Arch triumphantly stands 630 feet tall, making it the tallest monument in the United States.

The city operates 105 parks that serve as gathering spots, and contain playgrounds, concert spaces, sporting courts and jogging trails, as well as lakes and pristine gardens. Forest Park, located on the western corridor of St. Louis, is one of the largest urban landscaped parks in the United States with an area of 1,293 acres -- 500 acres larger than New York City’s Central Park. The Missouri Botanical Garden, one of the oldest botanical institutions in the country, is a private Victorian-style park with an extensive collection of trees, shrubs and flowering plants. Also on the grounds are the Japanese and English gardens, perfectly manicured and filled with magnificent landscape designs.

Some of the most fascinating attractions within St. Louis also happen to be free. The St. Louis Zoological Park, first introduced at the 1904 World’s Fair, is a 77-acre zoo with habitats and wild animals from all over the world, from rhinos and cheetahs, to gorillas and penguins. One of the principal art collections in the country can be found at the St. Louis Art Museum. Containing over 30,000 works of art from all over the world, the museum includes modern pieces from Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet and Matisse. The St. Louis Science Center, rated one of the top five of its kind, is intended to be an informal center for science education and hands-on fun for all ages. The James S. McDonnell Planetarium is attached to the Science Center, and is a popular draw for both locals and tourists.

Apotheosis of St. Louis statue of King Louis IX of France during the fall in St. Louis, Missouri.
Apotheosis of St. Louis statue of King Louis IX of France during the fall in St. Louis, Missouri.

As the central gateway between east and west, St. Louis has an eclectic potpourri of original hometown cuisine. St. Louis barbecue will vary across neighborhoods, but it typically consists of grilling or smoking pork products, such as spare ribs and pork steaks, with a tomato-based, sweet and spicy vinegar sauce. For some of the best BBQ in town, check out Pappy’s Smokehouse or Roger’s Ribs. St. Louis-style pizza is another local favorite, consisting of super thin crust, salty tomato sauce and gooey Provel cheese. For the best slices in the area, head over to Pi or Onesto Pizza and Trattoria.

Served by most major airline carriers, Lambert St. Louis International Airport (STL) is the city’s main hub for foreign and domestic air travel. For transportation to and from the airport, as well as getting around the city, MetroLink is a rail system that provides service to several stops within metropolitan St. Louis. For navigating around the city, a car is highly recommended, though there are buses and taxis available. For a taxi, call-ahead service is usually required.

St. Louis is characterized by a humid continental climate, with four distinct seasons. The coldest (and driest) month is January, with an average low temperature of 21.2° F (-6° C). July is the warmest month, with day-time high temperatures averaging a humid 89.8° F (32.2° C). May tends to be the wettest month, with an average of just over four inches of rainfall. Though springtime can bring some rain showers, it is the best time to visit the city, weather-wise. It’s the best time to be outside and appreciate the plethora of sights and attractions that St. Louis has to offer.