Despite being a big city with a metropolitan area of nearly 3 million people, St. Louis exudes a welcoming Midwest vibe. Nestled between the two longest rivers in the country, this “Gateway to the West” is full of vintage buildings, ample cultural attractions and beloved professional sports teams. Yet the diversity and charm of the city’s many unique neighborhoods often come as a pleasant surprise to newcomers. Each boasts its own personality, which means you’ll find a variety of food, fun and experiences wherever you go.
Washington University’s medical campus is located in the trendy Central West End, a treasure trove of hip nightlife and an outstanding culinary scene. Take a brief stroll and you’ll end up in the Grove district, a hot spot for craft breweries, international cuisine and street festivals. Whether you’re a sports fan, foodie, art lover or outdoor enthusiast, "The Lou” has an experience tailor-made for you.
Forest Park, located adjacent to the Medical Campus, is almost twice as big as New York’s Central Park. Boasting 1,300 lush acres and five major cultural institutions, the park was rated No. 1 city park in the U.S. by readers of USA Today. Visitors could spend a full weekend exploring, picnicking, paddleboating, running or biking through the park and still not see everything. For a more active itinerary, the 6.2-mile dual path provides ample opportunity for running and biking. Of course, if you’re looking to venture outside of St. Louis, the Katy Trail, Great Rivers Greenway or the Lake of the Ozarks make for a perfect weekend adventure.
Food, Glorious Food
Ranked “The Fifth Best Place to Eat in the Country” by Food & Wine magazine, St. Louisans enjoy an immense food scene. Not only do food trucks visit WashU’s medical campus daily, but the surrounding neighborhoods feature multiple craft breweries and a vibrant restaurant scene. So much so that there are two thriving magazines that cover all things food in the Lou—Feast and Sauce. You’ll have your own top ten list of favorites soon enough, but for now check out these recommendations from some of the med students at WashU.
Take Me Out to the Ballgame
St. Louisans are famously enthusiastic about their city’s major league baseball team. Most Cardinals fans follow a day spent watching the 11-time World Champions with a stop by Ballpark Village, the sports-anchored entertainment district right next to Busch Stadium. But if hockey is more your style, you can watch the St. Louis Blues hit the ice at Enterprise Center. The 52-year-old franchise stunned fans and the NHL by winning its first Stanley Cup in 2019. Yet one more reason why local fans bleed blue.
Dance to the Music
St. Louis hosts local and traveling artists at venues like The Pageant, The Fabulous Fox, St. Louis Black Repertory and more. Not only are you able to vibe out at these indoor venues, but summers in St. Louis are ripe for outdoor music festivals as well. The Muny in Forest Park is the nation’s oldest and largest outdoor musical theatre and features at least seven Broadway-style productions every year.
Are We There Yet?
When it comes to family activities, St. Louis is enthusiastically kid-approved. Visit Citygarden, an urban sculpture park spanning two city blocks. Among the art, you’ll find six rain gardens, a children’s spray plaza and a 6-foot waterfall. Or head to the Magic House, a nationally-acclaimed interactive children’s museum located just outside of St. Louis. And for kids and kids at heart, the City Museum is a must-see destination. Made entirely from repurposed architectural and industrial materials, the museum features four floors of attractions, including a 10-story slide and rooftop Ferris wheel.
Home Sweet (and Affordable) Home
Not only is the living easy in St. Louis, it’s affordable. The median home price in St. Louis is $155,000. Compare that to $398,000 in Boston or $750,000 in San Francisco. Apartment life is a bargain as well. Consider that the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in St. Louis is $717. Then think about spending $2,522 for a one bedroom in Palo Alto, CA, or $2,115 in New York. Throw in timeless architecture and a nationally recognized food and craft beer scene, and you’ll understand why St. Louis has been dubbed a “hidden gem” and one of the “most welcoming” cities in America
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We’re from the Lou and We’re Proud
Newcomers are often surprised by the wide recognition St. Louis’s culture and institutions receive. Still not convinced? Then here are a few more reasons to love St. Louis: