From its origins as a trading post perched on the threshold of unchartered territory, St. Louis grew to blend disparate influences -- French, German, Ragtime, Rust Belt, Midwest and Southern. All tours begin at the Gateway Arch. Designed in 1966 by architect Eero Saarinen to commemorate Thomas Jefferson's vision of westward expansion, the Arch is synonymous with the city. First-rate museums, an extensive botanical garden, and a strong musical heritage give visitors plenty of reason to say "meet me in St. Louis."

Things to Do

Laclede's Landing is a riverfront tableau of red brick, silt and cobblestone celebrating the city's steamboat-era roots. Take a riverboat trip at dusk and gaze up at the Arch's elliptical steel curves, bathed in the sunset. Citygarden is a quirky sculpture park amid wild flowers, but the City Museum takes it even further. Equal parts architectural salvage, aquarium and jungle gym, it is a psychedelic indoor theme park of gargoyles, chutes, sculptures and dreamscapes, with a labyrinth of mazes and slides.

Nightlife and Entertainment

Toast a night out with cocktails at Union Station's exuberant art nouveau Grand Hall. The intelligentsia and the post-symphony crowd gather at twin pubs, Dressel's (Welsh) and Llewellyn's (Irish). The Delmar Loop is arguably the city's liveliest strip of bars and clubs, featuring Blueberry Hill and its perpetual shrine to local legend Chuck Berry. Grand Center, with the Fabulous Fox Theatre, Powell Symphony Hall, and Jazz at the Bistro, is the city's cultural heart.

Restaurants and Dining

The city's noteworthy contribution to American cuisine, St. Louis-style barbecue, features slow-cooked, tangy-sweet pork ribs tender enough to break with a fork. Pappy's of Midtown reigns as monarch of St. Louis smokehouses. Elsewhere, locals tout the Gateway City's pizza for its heavy dose of oregano, mix of four cheeses, and cracker-thin crust. Almost anywhere you go, St. Louis dining is a family affair -- portions are generous and settings often informal.

Active Pursuits

Enter an architectural time machine to the 19th century and stroll the Soulard, Compton Heights, and Benton Park neighborhoods and Tower Grove Park. Treat the family to the St. Louis Zoo where pavilions and granite bolder enclosures echo the 1904 World's Fair. In summer, the city's focus shifts to baseball and Busch Stadium where the beloved St. Louis Cardinals play. Fans are exceedingly gracious (even to rivals) and eager to explain the intricacies of the game.