With the Gateway Arch dominating the skyline and lending itself as a gateway to the West, it's easy to recognize that you’re in St. Louis, Missouri. Spread along the western shores of the Mississippi River, the city was built as a major U.S. port in the early 1800s, but its history as a center of commerce and culture spans more than 1,000 years. Today you can enjoy a football game at the Edward Jones Dome, marvel over the pre-Civil War architecture found in older neighborhoods, or sip a cold beer following a free tour at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery.
The Gateway Arch is the world's tallest stainless steel monument, situated on the riverfront on the edge of the Warehouse District, and the view from the top is well worth the 630-foot tram ride upwards.
Those who suffer from acrophobia or would rather keep both their feet on the ground still have plenty to do at the site, which is run by the National Park Service. Take in an educational film in Tucker Theater or check out the exhibits in the Museum of Westward Expansion, located in the subterranean visitor's center.
Families visiting the city should make the world-class Saint Louis Zoological Park their first stop. Located in the 1,300-acre Forest Park, the zoo's biggest distinction is that there's no charge to walk through its gates. The St. Louis Zoo is divided into several sections, including River's Edge, Big Cat Country and Historic Hill, home to hundreds of animals. One of the venue's biggest attractions is the Zooline Railroad, which winds its way around most of the zoo's perimeter, and offers an educational way to relax after a long day of fun.
Just across the Mississippi, outside of East St. Louis, is a fascinating archaeological site called Cahokia. The former city, which is thought to have been a major urban and trade center that peaked about 800 years ago, is home to Monk's Mound, the tallest man-made earthen structure north of Mesoamerica. Adventurous travelers who climb the steps and reach the summit of Monk's Mound can see the St. Louis skyline on clear days. The Cahokia Mounds UNESCO World Heritage Site also houses an interactive visitor's center and many smaller mounds as well as a structure called "Woodhenge."
Visitors staying at St Louis hotels downtown often get a fantastic view of the Mississippi and are in a prime location to take advantage of the history and grandeur of St. Louis. The Four Seasons is part of an entertainment complex, Lumiere Place, and offers guests modern amenities, a majestic spa and easy access to Busch Stadium and Edward Jones Dome. Those looking for old-world charm in the area will find timeless elegance and classic decor at the Omni Majestic.
Spanning over 2.5 miles of bustling office and retail space, Clayton Business District is a convenient 12-minute drive from Lambert International Airport. For luxury accommodations in this area, the Ritz-Carlton covers both work and play, with 30,000-square-feet of function space and upscale dining to suit every taste.
Baseball fans may want to make the trip to St. Louis in summer, while those who are more interested in the city's history should come in the spring or fall. Those cooler, less humid months mean that daytime temperatures, at an average high of 80 in September and 76 in May, are just right for meandering through the city or among the ancient mounds.