The Ultimate St. Louis Travel Guide Plan a Perfect Trip to the Gateway City

Want to make the most out of your trip to St. Louis? While you're in town for some opera, experience even more of what our unique city has to offer with a free tour of Anheuser-Busch, a hike along the river at Castlewood State Park, an afternoon of baseball, or a stroll through the Soulard Farmer's Market. This insider's guide to exploring St. Louis has everything you need to plan an unforgettable trip on any budget. Let's dive in!

Art & History Museums


Forest Park is often called the "heart of St. Louis." Designed by the same landscape architect behind New York City's Central Park, this park covers 1,371 acres and houses several St. Louis institutions, including the Science Center, Art Museum, Zoo, and History Museum. General admission to each is free, and parking is free everywhere in the (large) park except the zoo lot. There's something for everyone at the Saint Louis Art Museum (including suits of armor and mummies), and the History Museum has three permanent exhibitions on Missouri's history, as well as two thematic exhibitions that rotate periodically.

Bonus: If you're an art lover, you can also check out the Pulitzer Arts FoundationContemporary Art Museum, Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum (at Washington University), Museum of Contemporary Religious Art (at Saint Louis University), the St. Louis Mercantile Library (at the University of Missouri–St. Louis) or one of the many galleries located throughout the city.

Anheuser-Busch Brewery

Free – $

See the famous Budweiser Clydesdales and enjoy beer samples during free tours of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. If you want to go deeper than the complimentary tour, you can purchase tickets for a Day Fresh or Beermaster tour.

Bonus: If you're not a Bud fan, there are plenty of local craft breweries to check out, like 4 Hands, Urban Chestnut, Civil Life, and Schlafly. And Brick River Cider Company is great for hard cider fans!

Missouri Botanical Gardens


The Missouri Botanical Garden is the oldest continually-operating botanical garden in the United States. Its 79 acres include a Japanese strolling garden, Henry Shaw's original 1850 estate home, and one of the world's largest collections of rare and endangered orchids. During the summer, the Whitaker Concert Series is held in the gardens every Wednesday evening with free admission. And just like at Opera Theatre, bringing your own picnic is not only allowed, but encouraged!

Photos from the Missouri Botanical Garden

Live Music

Free – $$$

Maybe opera is all the live music you need, or maybe you'd like to explore some of the jazz, blues, hip-hop, rock, pop, or other styles St. Louis has to offer! There are lots of great venues in the area, including the Pageant and Powell Hall (home of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra). If you love the music you hear at OTSL, check out the SLSO's summer concert series to hear the same musicians perform in special one-night-only events. Or — if you're in the mood for a New Orleans style meal with live music — check out Broadway Oyster Bar. They have two performances every day except Friday and present music from a wide variety of genres. Some performances charge a cover, but some are free. Check their website for a schedule.



Calling all nature lovers! If you're looking for an outdoor adventure, head to Castlewood State Park, which is just 15 miles from Opera Theatre and offers a beautiful view of the Meramec River with trails of varying distances. If you'd rather stay in the city, try riding your bike around Forest Park or taking a stroll through Tower Grove Park.

Soulard Farmer's Market


The indoor/outdoor Soulard Farmer's Market is open Wednesday through Saturday, but it has the greatest number of vendors — and is the busiest — on Saturdays. You can find produce, baked goods, hand-crafted wares, spices, plants, and lots more among the booths!

Cathedral Basilica

The Cathedral Basilica contains one of the largest collections of mosaics in the Western Hemisphere. The Basilica is open daily from 7 a.m. – 5 p.m., with guided tours available weekdays from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Visit their website for more information!

Facade of the Cathedral Basilica in St. Louis.

Bonus: If you love history and architecture, you may also enjoy an architectural walking tour of downtown St. Louis. Tours are generally scheduled on Saturday mornings at 10 a.m., but special tours are available for groups of five or more.

World Chess Hall of Fame


Located in the Central West End, the World Chess Hall of Fame is easily recognizable by the life-size chess piece in front of its doors. Chess lovers and novices alike will enjoy wandering through the rotating exhibitions and learning about the history of the game.

World Chess Hall of Fame

City Museum


The City Museum is truly one of a kind. A sort of adult jungle gym located in a hundred-year-old warehouse downtown, it features miles of tunnels, slides, climbers, bridges, castles, and more. Oh, and there's an old school bus and a Ferris wheel on the rooftop. Grab a drink at the bar and prepare to release your inner child.



We St. Louisans love our coffee almost as much as we love our beer. No matter where you're staying, there's guaranteed to be a great locally-owned coffee shop nearby. Some of our favorites include Kaldi'sMoKaBe's, Blueprint, Sump, and the Living Room.

Bonus: If you like mixing cats and coffee (or food), check out Mauhaus Cat Cafe to play with adoptable kitties while sipping your latte. (You will probably want to make a reservation in advance as it can get busy.)

Main Street (St. Charles)

Located just 20 miles north of St. Louis, St. Charles is a small city on the Missouri River. You could easily spend a whole day exploring the shops and restaurants along the 19th century cobblestone roads of historic Main Street.

Cardinals Game


Opera season in St. Louis just so happens to coincide with baseball season, so check the schedule to see if there's a home game at Busch Stadium while you're here!



The St. Louis Zoo was named America's best free attraction by USA Today in 2018, and it lives up to that title. See elephants, tigers, lions, penguins, polar bears, monkeys, and virtually every other kind of animal you can imagine! If you don't mind walking, you can park for free in Forest Park. If you'd rather save the walking for once you get inside the park, the zoo's lot is $15 per vehicle.

The Arch & Old Courthouse


No St. Louis travel guide would be complete without mentioning the Gateway Arch. The grounds were recently renovated to create a beautiful park and walking path. If you're so inclined, you can ride to the top of the Arch (630 feet in the air!) in small tram cars. You can also take a one-hour riverboat cruise, or explore the Old Courthouse (home of the famous Dred Scott case), which is now a museum.

Gateway Arch

This is a great city to live in and to visit. As you have hopefully seen in this short guide, there's something here for everyone. We love St. Louis, and we can't wait to share it with you. Check out the Accommodations page of our website for information on special OTSL hotel deals, and if you have questions or need recommendations, email us at news@opera-stl.org. We'd love to hear from you.

Come for the opera, stay to explore!


Check out these great local publications for additional recommendations on restaurants, events, and more.

Created By
Kim Oswalt