48 Hours in St. Louis: The Perfect Itinerary

Downtown St. Louis at Night
Downtown St. Louis at Night.

Getty Images

Travel to any major city and you'll find more attractions than you have time to see. St. Louis is no different. The Gateway City is a welcoming place that has something for all visitors. From world-class museums and monuments to outdoor adventure, shopping, and nightlife, you can easily spend a week checking out the top sites and most popular destinations. But if you'll only be at your hotel for a couple of days, this 48-hour itinerary is a great way to immerse yourself in the best the city has to offer.

01 of 06

Day One Morning: The Hill

Shaw's Coffee on The Hill in St. Louis
Photo by Paul Sableman/Flickr/Creative Commons

9 a.m.: Start your day in one of St. Louis' most vibrant and dynamic neighborhoods. The Hill is the city's version of Little Italy. Begin with breakfast at Shaw's Coffee at 5147 Shaw Avenue. This casual coffee shop serves up Italian roast espressos, lattes, and cappuccinos for anyone needing a caffeine boost in the morning. The breakfast menu includes egg wraps, quiche, bagels, and granola. If you have more of a sweet tooth in the morning, check out the Missouri Baking Company at 2027 Edwards Street for a quick and easy bite to eat. You can choose from homemade muffins, danishes, cinnamon rolls, and bear claws. And make sure to grab a box of Italian cookies, biscotti or cannoli for later in the day.​

10 a.m.: Hit the streets for a walk around the neighborhood. The Hill is an immigrant community that's full of history and charm. Rows of small colorful houses line the narrow streets. Many families have lived in their homes for generations and that pride is easy to see in how the neighborhood is maintained. One of the most well-known stops is Hall of Fame Place in the 5400 Block of Elizabeth Avenue. That's where you'll find the boyhood homes (marked by granite plaques) of baseball greats Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola. History is also on display at St. Ambrose Catholic Church and its "Italian Immigrants" statue at 5130 Wilson Avenue. After soaking up the atmosphere of the neighborhood, it's time to do a little shopping. Girasole Gifts and Imports at 2103 Marconi Avenue stocks an eclectic mix of Italian handbags, jewelry, kitchen items, and books. For foodies, there are popular Italian markets like J. Viviano & Sons at 5139 Shaw Avenue and DiGregorio's at 5200 Daggett Avenue.

12 noon: Time for lunch! The Hill is known for having some of the best restaurants in St. Louis. If you're in the mood for sandwiches, try Amighetti's at 5141 Wilson Avenue. This deli is known for its Amighetti's Special, a hearty sandwich made with ham, beef, salami, brick cheese and dressing on fresh baked bread. If you prefer pasta or want to try St. Louis' most famous appetizer, toasted ravioli, try Zia's at 5256 Wilson Avenue or Favazza's at 5201 Southwest Avenue.

Continue to 2 of 6 below.
02 of 06

Day One Afternoon: Forest Park

St. Louis Cityscapes And City Views
Raymond Boyd / Contributor/Getty Images

1:30 p.m.: Make the short drive from The Hill to Forest Park for the afternoon. Forest Park has been chosen as the best urban park in the nation by readers of USA Today for its natural beauty. It's also home to many of the most popular free attractions in St. Louis. If you are traveling with children, the park offers two great options: the St. Louis Zoo at One Government Drive, and the St. Louis Science Center at 5050 Oakland Avenue. The Zoo has more than 5,000 animals from around the globe including elephants, hippos, tigers, and giraffes. The Science Center offers three levels of hands-on exhibits in astronomy, chemistry, and paleontology and more.

For a more adult-centered visit to the park, there's the St. Louis Art Museum at One Fine Arts Drive and the Missouri History Museum at 5700 Lindell Boulevard. At the Art Museum, you'll see works by masters like Monet, Degas, and Picasso, as well as, one of the world's best collections of 20th-century German art. At the History Museum, you'll learn about the key moments that shaped St. Louis including the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the 1904 World's Fair and Charles Lindbergh's flight across the Atlantic.

If you'd like to spend time outdoors while visiting the park, you can sign up for a guided bicycle tour. City Cycling takes you through 10 miles of trails stopping at the 18 most historically and culturally significant sites in the park. The tours last up to three hours and cost $25 to $30 a person. Another option is to explore the park's waterways with a paddle boat ride. The Boathouse at 6101 Government Drive rents paddle boats by the hour for rides at Post-Dispatch Lake and the Grand Basin.

Continue to 3 of 6 below.
03 of 06

Day One Evening: Delmar Loop

Blueberry Hill in the Delmar Loop
Photo courtesy Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images

6 p.m.: After a busy afternoon in Forest Park it's time to refuel with some dinner. The Delmar Loop just north of the park has a nice variety of restaurants for any appetite. Salt + Smoke at 6525 Delmar Boulevard serves up delicious BBQ with fall-off-the-bone ribs and gourmet mac and cheese. Beer lovers will enjoy the craft brews on tap at Three Kings Public House at 6307 Delmar Boulevard. The pub satisfies its hungry customers with upscale bar food made from locally sourced ingredients. For a family-friendly option, there's Fitz's at 6605 Delmar Boulevard. Fitz's bottles its own root beer and other hand-crafted sodas. It offers typical American fare like burgers, sandwiches, and salads, but save room for dessert. The giant root beer floats are worth a splurge.

8 p.m.: The Delmar Loop is a popular destination in the evening. You can take in some live music at the legendary Blueberry Hill at 6504 Delmar Boulevard. There are concerts most nights in the Duck Room, the same spot where Chuck Berry used to play. The Loop also has newer live music venues bringing in top national talent. The Pageant at 6161 Delmar Boulevard and Delmar Hall at 6133 Delmar Boulevard feature some of today's most popular bands and artists. For a more laid back evening, you can see the latest indie or arthouse movie at the historic Tivoli Theatre at 6350 Delmar Boulevard.

Continue to 4 of 6 below.
04 of 06

Day Two Morning: Gateway Arch

The Gateway Arch in St. Louis
Photo by Sindre Ellingsen/Getty Images

9 a.m.: Start your day at St. Louis' most famous landmark. No visit to the city is complete without a trip to the Gateway Arch. The Arch rises 630 feet above the St. Louis riverfront, making it the tallest national monument in the country. There are several ways to see the Arch. It is free to walk around the grounds and look at the Arch from the outside. If you want to go inside, admission is $3. But the best way to experience the Arch is by taking the tram to the top. Tram admission tickets are $13 for adults and $10 for children.  Tram tickets often sell out, so its a good idea to order yours online in advance.

The Arch is part of the larger Jefferson National Expansion Memorial honoring St. Louis' role as the Gateway to the West. The site includes the Old Courthouse at 11 North 4th Street where slave Dred Scott sued for his freedom. You can tour the restored courtrooms and see exhibits about the history of St. Louis and Westward Expansion. Just south of the Arch you'll find the oldest building in the city. The Basilica of St. Louis, King (commonly known as the Old Cathedral) at 209 Walnut Street opened in 1834. The historic church welcomes visitors to its museum and gift shop.

12 noon: For lunch, make the five-block walk to Ballpark Village at 601 Clark Avenue, next to Busch Stadium. As you would expect, Ballpark Village has several sports-themed restaurants like Cardinals Nation, Budweiser Brewhouse and Fox Sports Midwest Live! that serve up burgers, sandwiches and other bar food. But there's also the Drunken Fish sushi restaurant and El Birdos Cantina for those wanting something a little different.

Continue to 5 of 6 below.
05 of 06

Day Two Afternoon: Anheuser Busch Brewery

Anheuser Busch Brewery in St. Louis
Photo courtesy Whitney Curtis/Getty Images

1:30 p.m.: After lunch, it's time for another of St. Louis' most famous attractions, the Anheuser Busch Brewery at 1127 Pestalozzi Street, just south of downtown. The brewery offers free tours seven days a week. Advanced registration is not required unless you are bringing a group of 15 people or more. The tour includes a visit to the Budweiser Clydesdales and a walk through the brewing and bottling areas. It ends in the tasting room with free samples of freshly-made AB products. For those wanting a more immersive experience, there are also Beer Master and Beer Museum Tours, as well as Beer School.

3 p.m.: The tours include quite a bit of walking, so afterward you may want to sit and enjoy another drink in the brewery's Biergarten. The Biergarten also has food if you need a snack to boost your energy, or you can stick around for specials and live music during happy hour.

Continue to 6 of 6 below.
06 of 06

Day Two Evening: Soulard

Soulard Market in St. Louis
Photo by Lindspetrol/Flickr/Getty Images

6 p.m.: Soulard is an historic neighborhood just north of the Anheuser Busch Brewery. It's the oldest neighborhood in the city with many brick buildings and garden courtyards. Soulard is known for its farmers market and annual Mardi Gras celebration. It's also a good choice for dinner any time of the year. One popular restaurant is Molly's at 816 Geyer Avenue. Molly's serves New Orleans fare like crawfish and gumbo. It also has a beautiful outdoor patio for warm weather dining. Another fun option for a casual meal is Joanie's Pizzeria at 2101 Menard Street. Joanie's menu includes hand-tossed pizzas, pastas, appetizers, and salads. Joanie's also has a nice patio for outdoor dining.

8 p.m.: Finish your evening with some bar-hopping and live music. You can find all kinds in Soulard. Most bars in the neighborhood have music, so it's easy to walk into a place that looks cool and enjoy some tunes. One popular choice is McGurk's at 1200 Russell Boulevard for authentic Irish music. If you're in the mood for blues, there's Hammerstone's at 2028 South 9th Street, or try the one-of-a-kind Venice Cafe at 1903 Pestalozzi Street for an ever-changing schedule of local bands and musicians.