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Travel St. Louis: Best Kept Secrets

Updated on August 7, 2013
Saint Louis is a splendid city with the feel of a smaller town.  Above: a tribute to jazz.
Saint Louis is a splendid city with the feel of a smaller town. Above: a tribute to jazz. | Source

Off the Beaten Path

Saint Louis is not a city of gaudy monstrosity, except for that notorious arch. Truth be told, it is much more humble and relaxed than your standard American city.

The best places to visit in this town aren't usually the most popular. There is are rich, amazing places to visit just a little off of the beaten path. Here, I take you through one day and one night in a chilled out city.

Time for Breakfast

910 Geyer Avenue St. Louis:
910 Geyer Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63104, USA

get directions

Home of the Soulard Coffee Garden, a secret and a great value

Breakfast at Soulard Coffee Garden

One thing that is not recommended is starting off a vacation half asleep, or on an empty stomach.

So, now that you're in St. Louis, let's grab some breakfast and coffee.

With a watchful eye toward the overall budget, the breakfast joint of choice is Soulard Coffee Garden. This is an excellent choice not only for it's food choices, but because it affords you the opportunity to stroll around St. Louis' historic French neighborhood. Soulard offers visitors a taste of the New Orleans French Quarter with far less risk or danger. The neighborhood is glorious in the glow of a hazy Sunday morning.

Soulard Coffee Garden is an intimate, well lit setting that offers delicious french toast, steak and eggs, and a variety of eggs benedict. With nearly all hearty meals priced under 10 dollars, you receive an authentic feel for a fraction of the price.

Botanical Gardens

A view fit for King Louis
A view fit for King Louis | Source

Mo. Botanical Gardens

4344 Shaw Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63110:
4344 Shaw Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA

get directions

Sightseeing at the Missouri Botanical Gardens

The St. Louis Botanical Gardens is truly a sight to behold. Surrounded by trees, flowers, colorful sculptures and fluttering butterflies, you will feel like you ended up somewhere in the land of Oz.

You can relax, Dorothy, it's just the midwest.

There are fountains, and little white bridges, and tiny ponds that are decorated with floating flowers. Walking through these Gardens can really be a spiritual experience. It's a good place to get your "serenity now" on.

During the summer, they even have conferences and performances on their small outdoor stage. It would be a great place to picnic with a spouse or significant other.

Fast Eddie's

1530 E 4th St Alton, IL 62002:
1530 East 4th Street, Alton, IL 62002, USA

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Employees getting ready to serve you delicious shrimps off the barbie
Employees getting ready to serve you delicious shrimps off the barbie | Source

Late Lunch: Fast Eddie's Bon Air (Alton, IL)

Fast Eddie's Bon Air is outside of St. Louis significantly, so you will need a car to get there.

I can promise you, though, it is worth all of the inconvenience.

Fast Eddie's is a piece of Americana that you thought may have been lost forever in the information age. It is a dive, biker style bar off of the freeway that features some of the most delicious, inexpensive bar food you can have anywhere. You'll be hard-pressed to find food costing more than a dollar. Inside, you will likely hear a cover band pumping out some Lynyrd Skynyrd or Allman Brothers Band.

It's out of the way, but it's impossible to beat skewers of delicious grilled food for under a dollar each. It's 99 cents for a 1/2 pound burger, and a good one at that! It shouldn't be too difficult to grab a cold beer around this joint, either.

The organized chaos of the City Museum
The organized chaos of the City Museum | Source

An Exploration of the City Museum

The City Museum: Playground for Adults

When you were young and went to a museum, you probably received numerous warnings about what would happen if you touched the exhibit.

Take all of those silly inhibitions and put them aside.

The City Museum exists for your touching (and even climbing) pleasure. Dedicated to the interactive nature of urban structures, each turn consists of interactive modern art. It is a bonanza of fun for your touchy-feely, tactual-kinesthetic type of learner. The highlight of the Museum is outdoors, where your party can scale a unique structure made up of common urban materials. The structure rises over 3 stories, so be careful if you fear heights. Or, you can climb up and face your fears in a safe setting.

Another piece of good news is that the City Museum charges only $12.00 in full-priced general admission, and promotional deals are commonly available.

Early Evening Dinner and a Cardinals Game

There is nothing quite like dinner and baseball in downtown St. Louis.

We begin with a restaurant that showcases St. Louis' French roots: the Broadway Oyster Bar. Offering traditional cajun fare at reasonable prices, the Broadway Oyster Bar won't leave you a "Po' Boy."

Snow crab, crawfish etouffee, and fried alligator are some of the delicious NOLA treats you can expect here. Cajun is not a style that is readily available anywhere in the country, so seize the opportunity while it is there!

And yes, there will be all matter of great music while you dine.

Located just a block from the Oyster Bar is scenic Busch Stadium, one of the best values in American sports. The Cardinals are usually an excellent baseball team, and tickets are as low as $13.00 to some home games. So kick back, and enjoy the ball game.

Just one problem, though: your tickets may be $13.00, but a 20 ounce beer is $8.75. It ends up working out to be almost 50 cents an ounce, which is roughly what an entire beer would cost if purchased from a retailer!

Hey, that is Busch League!

An evening view of new, gorgeous Busch Stadium
An evening view of new, gorgeous Busch Stadium | Source

Jazz is Right Here.

3536 Washington Avenue St. Louis, MO 63103:
3536 Washington Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63103, USA

get directions

Jazz at the Bistro

The Nightcap: Jazz at the Bistro

St. Louis is a favorite destination for Jazz artists, as the city is right up there with Chicago, New Orleans, and New York for great jazz.

Jazz at the Bistro offers some of the greatest musicians you will ever see for a relatively affordable price and an excellent environment. Many of the artists showcased are on jazz's famous Blue Note label, and the ambience of the venue is incredible. Stepping into Jazz at the Bistro feels akin to stepping back into the 1940s from the crowded urban street.

The music may be some of the greatest improvisational, experimental jazz you will ever see. It is truly a sound for sore ears.

The Soul of a City

St. Louis is one of the most underrated vacation spots in the U.S., mostly because people are unfamiliar with the things that make this city vibrant.

Even better, the traffic isn't terrible and it is far less expensive than most other major American cities.

I highly suggest you pay this great town off of the Mississippi a visit soon.


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    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Awesome city. Great hub!

    • BigJulesMags profile imageAUTHOR

      Julian Magdaleno 

      5 years ago from Queens, New York City

      Thanks! That means a lot coming from an experienced hubber. I will suggest the hill. StL is usually a place my father and I go for bonding.

      I think people confuse St. Louis with East Saint Louis when it comes to the crime aspect.

      Everyone always thinks Queens is all crime too, but the area I'm in is very scenic and family oriented.

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 

      5 years ago from Midwest

      Ah, my hometown. Your next visit, I suggest going to "The Hill" area just outside of town. It's the little Italy of St. Louis where I lived for a few years and the food and atmosphere are to die for. It's not far from Forest Park area. Check out the whole neighborhood, loaded with restaurants and all of them are pretty awesome. It's a safe area too. I think a lot of people are deterred from visiting STL due to the high crime in some areas, but like most cities, there are places that are safer than others.

      You've highlighted some very nice places here good job :)


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