Explore the STL

When you're not at the conference...

One of the oldest cities in the midwest, St. Louis celebrated its 250th birthday in 2014. With neighborhoods old and new, St. Louis City and County have a great deal to offer visitors from every walk of life. Named for King Louis IX of France (who was canonized by Pope Boniface VIII in 1297), St. Louis was founded by Pierre Laclede, and was associated with the French and Spanish colonial empires before being sold to the United States in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase. Just east of the Mississippi River in Illinois you will find the Cahokia Mounds, which are the remnants of a pre-Columbian city (circa 600 - 1400 AD) recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Downtown St. Louis recognized the world over for its iconic Arch, as the gateway to the west. And, as many have said, the Arch is a monument that does not disappoint in its grandeur. But StL Downtown has a lot more to offer, including many bars and restaurants in Laclede's Landing and along Washington Ave. The beautiful Four Seasons hotel is adjacent to the Lumiere Place Casino. Furthermore, StL's City Museum and National Blues Museum (opening in April) will not disappoint.

Here are some helpful websites that will help you plan your leisure time in the StL.

Explore St. Louis provides a broad overview of all the sites to see in the metro area, not to mention all the different places to eat. St. Louis is home to a free, world-class zoo (#3 in the country according to TripAdvisor) along with one of the best baseball teams in the world. On your way between the sites, or between conference panels, you should try some of the best barbecue in the country or some artisan tacos that will rival the west coast's. To be sure, these are only some of the many things St. Louis has to offer.

Neighborhoods (ordered by rough proximity to WashU Danforth Campus):

  • The Loop (University City, MO) -- Delmar, the main road through the Loop, is very busy, with lots of restaurants and bars to choose from. The area is dominated by students, but that should not deter you from checking out all the great things this neighborhood has to offer, including the St. Louis Walk of Fame
  • DeMun (Clayton, MO) -- much calmer than neighboring areas, DeMun is more family oriented. The restaurants and shops cater to professors and students seeking a milder experience.
  • Downtown Clayton -- The Manhattan of the suburbs... "Clayton is an eloquent neighborhood filled with specialty boutiques and beautiful galleries. It's the perfect spot for high end shopping and fine dining." (From explorestlouis.com)
  • Central West End (St. Louis, MO) -- "Home to the beautiful Cathedral Basilica and many exciting year-round festivals, the Central West End is the perfect place to view stunning architecture, stop for a bite at a corner cafe or browse for hidden treasures at an eclectic street fair." (From explorestlouis.com)
  • The Grove (St. Louis, MO) -- "The Grove is an exciting community filled with fun and eccentric dining, shopping, art galleries and nightlife! Walk along the main drag, stop for lunch at a cafe, browse for novelty items at a gift shop and catch a live show at an intimate venue." (From explorestlouis.com)
  • Tower Grove (St. Louis, MO) -- "Explore a neighborhood rich with cultural influence on South Grand. Try delicious Japanese, Thai and Vietnamese cuisine and shop for vintage Asian fashions at one of the many boutiques. Visitors can also enjoy beautiful Tower Grove park and the world renowned Missouri Botanical Garden." (From explorestlouis.com)
  • Downtown StL -- Historic downtown St. Louis is a bustling center of industry, culture and entertainment. With beautiful residential lofts, innovative business properties and an exciting nightlife, this region offers visitors some real 'big city' fun." (From explorestlouis.com)
  • Soulard (St. Louis, MO) -- "Enjoy the diverse and lively St. Louis scene in Soulard. Peppered with unique restaurants and historic brick townhomes, this neighborhood is famous for its courtyard dining, live music clubs and weekend farmers market." (From explorestlouis.com)

Suggested Restaurants:

The Loop

  • Mission Taco (in The Loop) -- Even though St. Louis is a midwestern city, it has some great tacos to choose from, including these.
  • Piccione Pastry -- an Italian bakery with everything from traditional Italian pastries to creamy gelato. And you should be sure to enjoy their Lavazza coffee as well.
  • Pi Pizzeria -- two words: deep dish. Even Chicagoans agree that Pi's cornmeal deep dish pizza rivals the best the Windy City has to offer; indeed, then-candidate Obama liked the pizza so much, Pi was invited to the White House to serve their pie to Pres. Obama and his family. And, oh yeah, their thin crust ain't bad either.
  • Salt & Smoke -- St. Louis has plenty of barbecue to offer, and this joint keeps pace with the best of them.


  • Kaldi's Coffee -- not much else to say, other than great coffee. These shops are all over St. Louis, and are a great place to work or socialize.
  • Sasha's Wine Bar -- with more than an extensive wine menu, Sasha's has a great charcuterie selection to enjoy before delving into their pizzas, crepes, and more.

Central West End

  • Gamlin Whiskey House -- while the prices are a bit higher than average for StL, Gamlin is a classy steakhouse with an expansive selection of whiskies.
  • Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream -- these artisanal ice creams hail from Columbus, Ohio. Jeni's isn't just ice cream, it's a way of life. Just think Bourbon Salted Pecan or Sweet Corn Spoon Bread ice cream. You'll never want plain chocolate or vanilla again.
  • Sub Zero Vodka Bar -- you'll get more than just vodka here. Indeed, SZVB has some of the best burgers in St. Louis.
  • Tortillaria -- Mission Taco's sibling restaurant, this spot has more traditional Mexican cuisine. And you won't be disappointed.


  • 5 Star Burgers -- fries don't come with your burger at 5 Star, and you really shouldn't care. These burgers are outstanding. And really, you don't want the fries... you want deep-fried cheese curds.
  • Blue Elephant Royal Thai Cuisine -- this one is a favorite of the WUSTL political science graduate students.
  • Companion Cafe -- you'll find Companion bread and sandwiches in stores around the city, but you can't beat getting the bread and bagels freshly made!
  • Pastaria -- the StL has a lot of traditional Italian restaurants on the hill. Pastaria is not traditional. Rather you can look forward to their nuovo cuisine, with menu items like pistachio ravioli with a lemon brown butter sauce, and bucatini with guanciale and spicy red sauce.

Dogtown / Hi-Pointe

  • Nora's -- this place has unique hot and cold sandwiches that never disappoint. Popular for lunch, Nora's almost always runs a dinner deal.

The Hill

  • Anthonino's Taverna -- DDD's Guy Fieri visited here in 2012, but don't let that deter you. Nino's toasted ravioli are truly great. Be sure to stop by to try the traditional StL dish and more.

The Grove

  • Atomic Cowboy -- the menu is likely best described as tex-mex bar food, but don't be mistaken. The street tacos are great, and the burgers ain't bad either. (You can also check out some great shows just next door.)
  • Sameem Afghan Restaurant -- for simplicity sake, this cuisine is likely closest to Indian, but the spice profile can be different, varying by dish. You don't need to be adventurous to try this excellent restaurant.

Midtown (Grand Ave.)

  • Pappy's -- an iconic St. Louis establishment, Pappy's smokes its meats every day. Get there early because they close when they sell out, which can happen quickly.
  • Pickleman's Gourmet Cafe -- this St. Louis sub/salad/pizza chain is a favorite of St. Louis University students.

Tower Grove

  • Shaved Duck -- if you only visit one restaurant when you visit StL, make it this one. They have some of the best barbecue in the country. And you'll have plenty of time to anticipate the food while you wait for a table; it's almost always packed!
  • Cafe Mochi -- there are plenty of great sushi places around StL, and this is just one. Prices aren't bad, and you have a lot to choose from.


  • Bogart's -- as Pappy's sibling restaurant, Bogart's barbecue is just as good. With different selections, be sure to save time to check out both.
  • John D. McGurk's Irish Pub and Garden -- whether you want to eat their traditional pub fare or to drink in their beautiful garden bar, McGurk's is a Soulard stand-by.

Suggested Tourist Sites (ranked by TripAdvisor):