St. Louis: Recreation


The Gateway Arch, which rises 630 feet above the banks of the Mississippi River, is the starting point of a tour of St. Louis. Designed by Eero Saarinen and commemorating the nineteenth-century westward movement and St. Louis's role in settling the frontier, the Gateway Arch is the nation's tallest memorial. Beneath the Arch is the Old Courthouse, where the Dred Scott case was heard. A proud Greek revival structure, its dome was a forerunner of the style in public architecture that would sweep the country. The building holds displays relating to the Scott case and is home to the Museum of Westward Expansion, which documents the westward movement and life in St. Louis in the 1800s.

An attraction popular with kids of all ages, Six Flags St. Louis is an amusement park offering thrilling rides and attractions. The St. Louis Zoo in Forest Park houses more than 11,400 animals in naturalistic settings. New in 2005 is the Fragile Forest, which features chimpanzees, orangutans and lowland gorillas in an outdoor habitat. The zoo also features an insectarium, Children's Zoo, and Big Cat Country, a habitat for feline predators. Opposite from the zoo is the newly expanded Missouri History Museum. The Museum's featured exhibit celebrates St. Louis' history-making 1904 World's Fair with documents, sights and sounds that bring the century-old event alive. Also featured are exhibits on slave trade and the American presidency.

A Digistar computerized planetarium projector, OMNIMAX Theater, hands-on science and computer exhibits, and outdoor science exhibits are featured at the St. Louis Science Center in Forest Park. The center's Discovery Room is currently under renovation; when complete, children will enjoy dressing as a surgeon, exploring fossils, and playing with robots as well as other participative activities. The 79-acre

The Climatron Geodesic Dome in the Missouri Botanical Gardens is 70 feet high and 175 feet in diameter.
The Climatron Geodesic Dome in the Missouri Botanical Gardens is 70 feet high and 175 feet in diameter.
Missouri Botanical Garden, founded in 1859, is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the country and is considered one of the most beautiful; unique features include a 14-acre Japanese strolling garden and the Climatron conservatory, a domed greenhouse featuring tropical plants and birds. Sight-seers can view one of the nation's few contemporary sculpture parks at the Laumeier Sculpture Park. The St. Louis Carousel provides a rare opportunity to ride an authentic carousel at its Faust County Park location. Operated by Anheuser-Busch and ranked seventh best family attraction in the nation by U.S. Family Travel Guide, Grant's Farm features a cabin built by General Grant in 1856; the farm's miniature zoo features a Clydesdale stallion barn and bird and elephant shows. Jefferson Barracks Historical Park combines military history and recreation with two museums and a number of sports fields; Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant are two of the many famous American military leaders whose service included a stay at Jefferson Barracks.

St. Louis museums include the National Museum of Transport, which highlights rail, road, air, and water modes of transportation; the AKC Museum of the Dog, which presents exhibits on the dog through history; the recently expanded Magic House—St. Louis Children's Museum; and the Soldiers' Memorial Military Museum.

The Missouri Chapter of the American Institute of Architects is located in St. Louis and provides complete information about this architecturally rich city. Among some of the significant structures are the Cathedral of St. Louis (New Cathedral), which houses 41.5 million pieces of glass tessarae, one of the largest collections of mosaic art in the West; Christ Church Cathedral, the first Episcopal church west of the Mississippi; and Old Cathedral, the city's first church.

Arts and Culture

St. Louis is a major cultural center for the Midwest. The award-winning St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, winner of six Grammies and 36 nominations, presents a season of classical music concerts with internationally known guest artists at Powell Symphony Hall. In the summer the orchestra plays a series of pops concerts at Greensfelder Recreation Center. Theater is presented year round in St. Louis by a diverse range of organizations. The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis performs a season of plays on two stages, including modern drama, musicals, and comedies at the recently-expanded Loretto Hilton Center. The Opera Theatre of St. Louis performs its four dramatic productions of classical and new opera in English during a month-long season beginning in late May. The Fox Theatre was restored in 1982 and now sponsors a Broadway series, ballet, and pop music concerts as well pre-event buffet dining. The Muny in Forest Park is a 12,000-seat outdoor amphitheater that stages Broadway musical theater during the summer. History is re-lived in words and music in four shows per year by the Historyonics Theatre Company.

The Black Repertory Company performs at the 450-seat Grandel Square Theater, a handsome 1883 structure that was once a church and has undergone extensive renovation. Other theater companies and organizations in St. Louis include the TheatrGROUP and Stages St. Louis, a musical theater group.

Dance St. Louis sponsors performances with local, national, and international companies, and offers a dance education program. The First Street Forum is a multipurpose arts center that sponsors exhibitions, performances, lectures, and symposia.

The St. Louis Art Museum in Forest Park was the Fine Arts Palace of the 1904 World's Fair and today offers contemporary and audio/video art in additional to traditional pieces. Washington University's Gallery of Art was the first museum west of the Mississippi River. At the Missouri Historical Society Museum, the major events and individuals in St. Louis history from the first settlers to Charles Lindbergh are recaptured. The Concordia Historical Institute maintains an authentic collection of American Lutheran historical documents as well as Protestant Reformation artifacts. Among St. Louis's other museums are the newly restored Campbell House Museum, which features a Victorian era home and furnishings; the Holocaust Museum and Learning Center, which is dedicated to educating and preserving the Holocaust's history and consequences; and the Eugene Field House and Toy Museum, which presents an extensive collection of antique toys and dolls.

Festivals and Holidays

Major venues for celebrations in St. Louis are the Missouri Botanical Gardens and Jefferson Barracks Historical Park. At the Botanical Gardens, an orchid show in January features more than 800 plants. The Spring Floral Display begins in March. November brings the St. Louis International Film Festival, the African Arts Festival, and a Festival of Trees. The city rings in the new year with a community celebration called First Night Saint Louis & Riverfront Fireworks festival.

Jefferson Barracks Historical Park presents a World War II Reenactment in April and American Indian Days in May. May is also the month for arts and crafts displays at Laumeier Sculpture Park and Tilles County Park. Parades and other events at various locales mark St. Patrick's Day, Independence Day, Veterans' Day, and Christmas.

Sports for the Spectator

The St. Louis Cardinals compete in the Central Division of Major League Baseball's National League and play their home games in Busch Stadium; a new Busch Stadium is scheduled to open in 2006. The St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame, which is located inside the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame, houses displays and movies on baseball, football, basketball, hockey, golf, bowling, and soccer. The St. Louis Rams play home games at the Dome at America's Center downtown. The International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame recently received a $50,000 grant from the Reichert Foundation which allows underprivileged kids to take advantage of the museum's programs.

The St. Louis Blues compete in the National Hockey League and play home games in Savvis Center, also home to the professional roller-hockey team, the St. Louis Vipers. The St. Louis Aces play professional tennis at the Dwight Davis Tennis Center. The River City Rage of the National Indoor Professional Football League, the St. Louis Streamers of the World Indoor Soccer League; and the River Otters minor league hockey team play at the Family Arena.

Balloonists compete in the Great Forest Park Balloon Race scheduled in September; the balloon race is one of the largest sporting events in Missouri with 70 balloons and 130,000 spectators. For two weeks in September horse owners and trainers from around the country participate in the St. Louis National Charity Horse Show at Queen County Park.

Sports for the Participant

A city of parks and sports enthusiasts, St. Louis offers attractive outdoor facilities and a selection of major and minor sports for the individual, including golf, tennis, bicycling, and softball, and water sports such as swimming, water skiing, and boating. Forest Park, the recipient of a recent $100 million facelift, offers recreational opportunities, including skating, jogging, and tennis, on nearly 1,300 acres; the park is 500 acres larger than New York City's Central Park. Michelob Ultra sponsors a St. Patrick's Day Parade costumed run in St. Louis.

Riverboat gambling on the Mississippi River is a popular activity, with boats departing from East St. Louis and St. Charles.

Shopping and Dining

Downtown St. Louis offers boutique shopping in the Union Station complex, the city's major train terminal and inspiration for the classic "Meet Me in St. Louis." Featuring vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows, Union Station is an historical, architectural, shopping, and dining landmark. St. Louis Centre is anchored by Famous-Barr department store and is located near Metro Link, the Arch, and the Edward Jones Dome. Plaza Frontenac is anchored by Missouri's only Neiman-Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. Crestwood Plaza offers more than 100 upscale stores and restaurants. Cherokee Street Antique Row offers restaurants, cafes, antiques, collectibles, and specialty shops in a six-block historic area.

The Saint Louis Galleria in Richmond Heights consists of three levels, 165 stores, an Italian marble interior, and a 100-foot-high atrium; Lord & Taylor, Mark Shale, Dillard's and famous Barr anchor the Galleria.

Diners in St. Louis can choose from among hundreds of fine restaurants, including Cafe de France, Giovanni's, and Tony's. The city boasts an Italian district, known as "the Hill," which offers a number of fine moderately priced Italian eateries; a popular appetizer is fried ravioli. Chinese, German, and other ethnic restaurants are located throughout the city. Regional specialties available in St. Louis include barbecued lamb, ribs, pork, ham, and sausage; pecan pie; and sweet potato pie.

Visitor Information: St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, One Metropolitan Square, Suite 1100, St. Louis, MO 63102; telephone (314)421-1023; toll-free (800)916-8938; fax (314)421-0394; email