Looking for the best places to see and things to do in St. Louis? Look no further! Below I have come up with the perfect St. Louis day trip itinerary for a first timer. Keep in mind there are SO many more places to see and things to do. This list is mainly just an over view of the most famous places to check out. One thing we were unable to do on our weekend trip was check out the Budweiser brewery and Blues Museum, so don’t forget they are there too. St. Louis is full of history and there is so much more to it than most people know. The itinerary below is made up merely of suggestions and can easily be tweaked to fit your personal needs. Happy travels!
7AM- Wake up and get ready for the day
If you are driving from far away, or if you stayed over night in the city you will want to get an early start. So I recommend trying to get there the night before and staying overnight to get a fresh start. If you can, valet your car for the whole day. You won’t need if you have an Uber or Lyft app. There are literally Ubers everywhere and we had a wonderful experience with all our drivers. Get up early and take some time to get ready, you will be out all day so pack smart.
8Am- the mud house
Call on an Uber or Lyft and take a ride over to The Mud House for breakfast and coffee or tea.
This is rated one of the best places to have brunch/breakfast in the city. Get there during their busiest time and you might be standing in a line clear out of the front door. You may have trouble finding a table due to the limited space, but the coffee is delicious. In the warmer months they have tables for patrons to use out front of the cafe as well. The atmosphere is welcoming and has an urban feel. The walls are covered in eclectic art and instead of order numbers you’ll receive a funny photo or meme to mark your table for the runners. We didn’t try it, but the french toast looked amazing. If you aren’t one for french toast try a breakfast platter. The jam is delicious.
9am- The gateway arch and tram ride to the top
We recommend checking out the gateway arch as early as possible. They start tours of the arch
at 9am. Be sure to buy tickets online before your visit as ticket lines can get pretty lengthy. This is a national park service so there are park rangers and you will need to go through security. The line for security is the longest line you will stand in today. It’s a lot like airport security except you won’t need to take off your shoes. Try to get to the arch about 45 minutes to an hour earlier than your scheduled tour time. You can enter the security line 30 mins prior to your tour time, and the extra 15-30 minutes will allow for you to take a walk around and take photos of the arch and Mississippi river. Take the ride to the top and come down the opposite side. You may get claustrophobic from the tram ride since they cram 5 people in a tiny capsule. The ride is about 4 minutes up and 3 minutes and 30 seconds back down. The top of the arch is like being in an airplane, it is extremely stuffed and there are a lot of people. Take a quick look around both sides of the arch and then descend.
11pm- Riverboat cruise on the mississippi river/courthouse
Once you are finished checking out the Gateway Arch head down the stairs towards the river and board your boat and get a tour of the Mississippi. They serve snacks and drinks on the riverboat so you can also grab something small to eat since you might be a little hungry. Hear about the famous Louis and Clarke crossing the Mississippi in St. Louis and expanding our country westward. (There is also a Great Westward Expansion Museum in this park but in 2017 it has been closed for renovations).
If it is a little too cold for a Riverboat cruise you can also check out the old Courthouse where the Dred Scott case was heard. The court case that arguably started the entire civil war was originally fought right here in St. Louis. If you are a history buff and love Civil War history (and even if you don’t) this beautiful building is a good place to stop and walk around.
2pm- anheuser-busch brewery (BUdWEISER)
We did not find the time to check out the Budweiser Brewery during our day trip to St. Louis, but we wish we had. We heard great things about this one from our Uber driver and friends who have visited before. The brewery is located very close to the Mud House, but on the opposite side of the highway. You can see the big brick building from the street. They offer tours to see how the beer is made and they also keep their stables with the Clydesdale horses from the commercials. At the end of the tour you can sip your beer and check them out. This is definitely one spot you don’t want to miss.
4pm- pappy’s smokehouse
Ever had Memphis BBQ? Missouri is home to some of the best BBQ in the entire country. Pappy’s has been featured on the Travel Channel and is well known in St. Louis for amazing ribs. You’ll be able to see the smokers out front of the restaurant under an awning right next to the street. There is a parking lot directly behind the restaurant and what looks like a side door is actually the front door. You will stand in line for 30 minutes to an hour or longer to be able to order, but it is VERY worth it. The fall off the bone ribs are some of the best we have ever had and you can choose your own BBQ sauce or try them all. Every table has four flavors of BBQ sauce to choose from. My favorite was the Pappy’s Original BBQ, but there are sweet and spicy sauces as well. Keep in mind, Pappy’s sells out daily and they stay open until everything is gone. It is best to get here as early as you possibly can if you want a large selection to try.
Before or after dinner I recommend heading back to the hotel for a bit and freshen up, it’s been a long day.
7pm- city museum/bowling
If you have kids, and even if you don’t, the city museum of St. Louis is a really cool place to check out at night. The museum is geared towards kids with tons of slides, tunnels and really cool exhibits to play in. There is even a ginormous ball pit and a huge section of caves to explore. After 5pm kids start to disappear and young adults come to have a drink and walk around the museum. There is a 10 story spiral slide that starts on the 10th floor and spirals all the way down to about the 2nd floor. If you get roof passes there is a huge ferris wheel and some additional slides you can try out. One in particular faces the river and you can get a really cool view of the bridge. There are three bars in the museum including one on the roof so if you are afraid of heights and a little nervous about the slides, have a few cocktails. We recommend a “Mama’s Lemonade” made with blueberry vodka, lemonade, and blueberries.
There are also some really cool bowling alleys in St. Louis. One in particular we saw and wanted to try but did not have the time was Flamingo bowling. You can see the bowling alley from the street and it is full of pink neon with a bar and large glass windows. It was packed when we drove by after 8pm and looked like a pretty popular place to hang out.
other awesome places to see
It is really hard to do absolutely everything in St. Louis is a single day, but you can at least see the big things. If you can stay longer we recommend trying all of the above places as well as the Blues Museum on Washington Avenue. There is so much to see and do in a city full of so much history as this one. If you would rather check out the Riverboat rides at night, they do nightly cruises as well as dinner cruises. City Museum also hosts wedding receptions and parties. Be sure to stop in the gift shop in the Arch for some fudge as well.
Comment below with your favorite places to visit in St. Louis. Where can you get the best BBQ?
Check out some carry-on bag packing tips here