Saint Louis, Missouri is one of those unexpected cities. A city that packs a lot of charm but is often overlooked.
We recently did a weekend getaway to St. Louis from Chicago (only a 4-hour drive) and I was excited to explore some of its best neighborhoods.
The city impressed me more than I expected and I’m looking forward to visiting again when it’s not 90ºF.
St. Louis Neighborhoods
If you’re ever in the Midwest area, you’ll want to add St. Louis to your route! It offers something a little different than other nearby cities. Since I only went for a weekend, I didn’t have much time to visit beyond the 4 neighborhoods I list below.
Like most big cities, St. Louis has its seedy areas along with its attractive ones. So just take the normal precautions while visiting and don’t go strolling through the bad areas. I felt completely safe in all the neighborhoods we explored.
1. Lafayette Square
Lafayette Square was the main reason I wanted to make the drive to St. Louis. I LOVE areas like these! I saw some of the architecture on Instagram a while back and knew I wanted to experience it and photograph it myself.
Lafayette Square surrounds Lafayette Park and offers some of the most beautiful Victorian homes out there. I’ll admit, I spent the majority of my time in this neighborhood. The architecture is filled with personality and color, and I loved that I had the streets to myself (well, Jorge was there too).
The longer I wandered, the more I realized how quiet the streets are in St Louis compared to Chicago. The thing is the city is still pretty big (though smaller than Chicago) but it’s not nearly as crowded. It was a nice change. We experienced less traffic and fewer people in the way of my photos. Win, win.
2. Central West End
Central West End is an upscale area where the trees are abundant and the mansions are gorgeous. Here you’ll also find plenty of (sidewalk) cafes, restaurants, boutiques, and antique stores. Considering the temps were high in early July, it was nice to stroll through the shade for a few hours. While you’re in this area make sure you stop for some lavender ice cream at Jeni’s!
3. Benton Park Historic District
Benton Park is home to some of the oldest buildings remaining in the city. While walking through the area we noticed the varying architecture and bursts of color in some of the homes. Also, I couldn’t help but obsess over the vintage car we spotted parked so effortlessly on Sidney Street. This area and Lafayette Square kind of had a Georgetown (D.C.) flair and I was loving it.
Read More: Best Places to Take Pictures in D.C.
In Benton Park, you’ll also find Cherokee Street crossing through. Cherokee Street is an artsy road offering several local businesses, well-rated bakeries and restaurants, and the popular Mud House cafe. It’s also home to Antique Row, a half-mile area of vintage shops that have been there for decades.
4. The Delmar Loop
I didn’t spend much time in this area hence the missing photos. I stopped by for bbq before heading back to Chicago. While I was in the loop, I remembered a local friend recommended the area and it did look pretty cool.
It’s only 8 blocks long but it has unique shops, galleries, restaurants, live music, and a trolley that runs through it. The Delmar Loop also has its very own Walk of Fame honoring people from St. Louis like Maya Angelou or T.S. Eliot.
Where to Stay in St Louis
Another thing I was looking forward to was staying at the new Angad Arts Hotel. The Angad is like an art gallery combined with a hotel. You can choose your room by the color of emotion.
Their choices are passionate red, green rejuvenation, happy yellow, or tranquility blue. We wanted a relaxing weekend so we went with tranquility blue. I loved the concept and design!
This painting is actually of the room we were staying in, and if you look closely you can see that the same painting is inside of the painting LOL!
Almost everything in the room was blue, even the pipes! I loved the modern touches and the room was spotless. The bed was comfortable, there was free parking on the street (or valet), and it had several areas you can just lounge in.
One of the lounges had musical instruments you can play if you were in the mood. Jorge almost started playing the guitar right then and there.
Another perk was the rooftop view and bar! I wasn’t interested in visiting the St. Louis Gateway Arch but it was cool that I can see it from my hotel rooftop. At night they also have a DJ and it’s apparently a hot spot for locals. We couldn’t hear the music or noise in our room though.
The art continues throughout the entire hotel including the outside. This is the back entrance near the valet. If you’d love to stay at the Angad Arts Hotel, click here for availability.
Where to Eat in St Louis
The Mud House– The popular cafe I mentioned on Cherokee Street. The coffee we had was great, the breakfast was simple but good too. The french toasts looked amazing but I didn’t want to start the trip off bloated so I went with a safer dish.
Sump Coffee– My favorite coffee while in St Louis! This was the first time I tried a cortado with oat milk and it was delightful.
Blueprint Coffee– Blueprint didn’t have many dairy alternatives so only Jorge ordered a coffee here. He had already been to this coffee shop before when he went to St Louis for a work trip. He’s a fan of this place so I know the coffee is good.
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams– We didn’t have Jeni’s while on this trip because we have it in Chicago (the photo below is from back home). But if you don’t have a location near you, definitely try their ice cream! You’ll find Jeni’s in the Central West End area. My favorite flavors have been lavender, frosé, and strawberry buttermilk.
Clementine’s Naughty & Nice Creamery– We did, however, stop for a treat at Clementine’s. It’s a similar style to Jeni’s but born and raised in St Louis. Everything is made from scratch. Their menu also includes several alcohol-infused ice cream options.
Dinner in St Louis
Retreat Gastropub– We were in the mood for some cocktails and Retreat had good reviews and some good-looking drinks. We walked the mile from our hotel to this restaurant and enjoyed our quiet route through the university. I had the fancied up chicken sandwich and Jorge had a burger, both were fantastic. The drinks were well made and well priced. I definitely recommend Retreat!
Salt + Smoke– Jorge took this decision very seriously. He had already visited the overhyped Pappy’s Smokehouse when he was in the city for work. Compared to the bbq we have in Chicago or have tried in Austin, Pappy’s didn’t live up. So his search continued for better bbq in St. Louis. We went with Salt + Smoke mainly for the ribs and they were delicious. Not sure if it’s the very best in the city since I’m not a local, but compared to other places, the ribs were great.
I hope I was able to show you a different side of St. Louis, MO! It really is a great city with a lot to offer its visitors, especially the ones who love chasing facades like me.
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Thank you for such a nice review of our town. Even though I no longer live in St. Louis, it will forever be my hometown. It is a beautiful city, not without its problems, but with such personality. ~~Cecilia
Thanks for your lovely comment and for reading! I loved my time in St. Louis and hope it inspires others to explore it. I know I’ll be back.
YOOO. FIRST OF ALL – I want to visit just for that hotel!! That sounds so cool!! I’d probably book each night in a different room hahaha. And thank you for such a great St Louis guide! My goal is to visit all 50 states, so I can’t wait to see Missouri!
LOL! That’s such a good idea, imagine the photos! And I love your goal. I’ve only seen a fraction of the US, but I’m working through it too 🙂