The people of St. Louis have been busy. It’s been more than five years since my last visit, and in the matter of three days, I had a whirlwind tour of some of the most exciting new developments in the city. Here are some of my favorite things to do that are new in St. Louis, and I’m pretty sure you’re going to love all of them.
Disclosure: I attended a FAM tour of St. Louis hosted by Explore St. Louis and the Gateway Arch and Riverboats. All thoughts, opinions and tours are my own. This post may contain affiliate links.
Top new things to do in downtown St. Louis
The biggest “new thing” for St. Louis is open for debate: If you’re a soccer fan, you’d say it’s hands down the new CITYPARK and the first season of MLS in the city. If you love food, maybe you’d say the new Food Hall at The Foundry. And if you are just a big kid at heart, you’d say it’s The Armory.
I’ll start with CITYPARK. St. Louis’s first Major League Soccer team, St. Louis CITY SC, started its first season in 2023, and the gorgeous new stadium is undeniably a huge new attraction. So many details went into its design and if you are lucky enough to score tickets to a game this year, you’ll notice one super cool thing about it: All seats feel like you’re close to the action.
The other thing you’ll notice is that the food at the stadium is outstanding. It’s all local eateries, so you chow on Vietnamese or street tacos or like me, a kebab from Balkan Treat Box. Prices are sky high, but at least it’s going to a local business, right? The nice thing is it’s all grab and go, so you can get to your seat quickly and miss none of the action.
Tip: The new stadium catty-corner to St. Louis Union Station Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton, so it’s super convenient to get a room there and walk to the game.
Old buildings are getting a second life (or third life) in St. Louis and the next two places are prime examples of how it’s done. First, The Foundry. The first phase of this development opened in 2021 and there’s already a lot to do there. The Food Hall is the largest I’ve ever seen — 17 kitchens! Look up and all around while you’re there to note all the remnants of the past still visible. Local restaurants with stalls include Sureste Mexican, Chez Ali, 4 Hens Creole Kitchen, Chicken Scratch, and Fordo’s Killer Pizza.
The Armory is near The Foundry, so you can make a day of exploring both. The 260,000-square-foot building was originally built in 1938 for the 138th Infantry of the Missouri National Guard. Now, the huge space is like an adults’ playground.
Things are so new at The Armory that there’s a lot more to come than open right now. But, what is open is worth seeing. There’s a two-story slide and ginormous teeter totters, table games, yard games, you name it. I hopped on a three-wheeler and relived my grade school glory days spinning out in front of my friends.
It’s a huge space to accommodate a large crowd, whether it’s for post-work drinks, watching a big game on the huge TV screen, or attending a concert. They claim to be the biggest bar in St. Louis, and who am I to doubt it? The food there is pretty good, too.
My kids were not amused that I went to such a fun place without them. It’s definitely geared toward adults spending time with other adults, but I’d totally bring my kiddos there one afternoon. I hear it’s pretty family-friendly on the weekends during the day.
Fun things to do in St. Louis with kids
If you remember Union Station as being a mall of some sorts, a lot has changed since your last visit. The big new attraction is the St. Louis Aquarium, which opened in 2019. There are more touch tank experiences than I’ve seen at similar-sized aquariums, plus a lot of tanks with unique species like Doctor fish (they’re the ones that kind of “kiss” your hand when you reach into their tank) and the famous blue lobster (not in the same tank), named Lord Stanley.
And beyond the aquarium, you’ll find plenty of other things to do there including an indoor ropes course and a huge outdoor ferris wheel. I kept missing it, but there’s a Fire and Light Show on the water, as well. It runs daily from noon to 9 p.m. at the top of the hour.
While you’re at Union Station, head over to the historic hotel part of the building. The Grand Hall is gorgeous in its own right, and if you’re visiting without kids, it’s a nice place for a cocktail. However, I mention it because every hour on the hour from 5 to 10 p.m., there’s a spectacular light show on the ceiling.
St. Louis is one of the first cities in the U.S. to get a Putt Shack, a new venture by TopGolf that combines all the cool technology of TopGolf with the fun of mini golf. Even if you think you hate putt putt, this is not the putt putt you remember. Each hole is a chance to rack up points against the rest of your group, and each hole is fun. One asked a trivia question that you had to try to putt the ball through the correct answer before even trying to sink the putt. Another had you trying to putt the ball across a series of drums.
It’s no wonder there was a line of people waiting at the entrance for Putt Shack to open the morning we went. It’s popular for all ages.
Not too far from Putt Shack, and still within The Foundry, is Sandbox Virtual Reality. It looks like a fun new place for groups and families with older kids.
Forest Park is the city’s ginormous green space, and home to several museums, lakes, the zoo, and more. One of the park’s newest features is the Nature Playscape. If you’re in the area, it’s a great place for young kids to climb, crawl and run.
Some of my favorite family-friendly places you should visit if you haven’t already:
- Busch Stadium to watch a Cardinals game. The kids I see dancing on the big screen are clearly having a fun time. And, incidentally, the stadium has one of the best views of downtown St. Louis (not that your kids will care, but at least you can enjoy it).
- Likewise, take the kids to a Blues game at Enterprise Center. Be sure to dress warmly, or in layers. It gets cold in the hockey arena. The Blues won the Stanley Cup in 2019.
- City Museum, which I liken to a children’s museum designed by really creative artists who’ve never been around kids. It’s both a paradise of fun and wonder, and a nightmare of dark tunnels where keeping track of your kids is impossible. Oh, there’s also a bar. And a ferris wheel and bus on the rooftop. I love it, but it may be overwhelming for some people.
- St. Louis Zoo is a free zoo and it’s one of the best in the world. This is located in Forest Park, so since you’re in the area, be sure to explore what’s nearby.
- St. Louis Botanical Garden is as appealing for kids as it is for adults. The children’s garden is phenomenal and honestly the best one I’ve ever been to. The grounds are beautiful throughout, and I especially recommend visiting the Japanese gardens while there.
- St. Louis Science Center is a totally free place to visit, and fun especially for older kids and families. There are more than 700 interactive experiences there.
Fun things to do in St. Louis for adults
In addition to The Foundry and The Armory, there are a ton of other fun attractions and places for adults. These may not be new to you, but they were new to me since my previous visits.
Visiting Gateway Arch National Park was an all-new experience for me this year (though the updates were unveiled back in 2018…it’s taken me this long to return!). First off, you no longer enter through the legs of the Arch. Instead, it now has a brightly-lit entrance and impressive video screens.
There’s also a fully renovated museum, and it’s well worth visiting ahead of your timed tram ride up the Arch. The fully-accessible museum will appeal to kids as well as adults since there are a lot of interactive areas and touch-screens. However, I’m putting the Arch visit under the adults section since I can just imagine how impatient my kids would be waiting in line to get up to the Arch.
But I digress. If you haven’t been to the Arch since high school, or whenever it was, go check out the whole new experience. The view is the same, yes, but the grounds are incredible and the museum is informative.
Tip: You may have heard to reserve tickets ahead of time to go up the Arch, and that is still the case, even on weekdays. However, my little insider tip is to also reserve your parking while you’re online booking that ticket. You can book the parking garage Stadium East, just three blocks away, and it’s $9 an hour. Buy at least a day advance; especially on game days.
For a superb view of The Arch, consider getting tickets for a ride on one of the Riverboats at the Gateway Arch. You can cruise and get a meal (they offer brunch cruises!).
If you’re in the mood for shopping for unique gifts and clothes, check out the new shops at The Foundry. I loved the sassy shop Golden Gems, and loved how Procure highlighted women-owned brands.
There’s also a stand-alone shop for St. Louis City fan gear, both high-end and your standard team jerseys and knick knacks, called the City Pavilion. It’s across from the new stadium on Market Street.
Some more great places in St. Louis to go to without kids:
- 4 Hands Brewery Co. is, according to the owner, “a 16 ounce walk from Busch stadium.” Yes, you can carry your beer from the brewery to the stadium in St. Louis. Anyway, the brewery has been around since 2011, but I only visited recently. The easy IPA they brew up is delicious and if you’re a cocktail fan, check out their Blue Morpho Gin. It’s a lovely blue gin that turns violet when tonic or lime is added (like magic, for grown-ups).
- StilL 630 is a distillery hidden away in an old Hardee’s building in downtown St. Louis, but inside, it’s a whiskey and gin lover’s paradise, complete with rows and rows of botanics lining the walls. Not only has StilL 630 managed the impossible (they’re the only distillery to win best whiskey in the U.S. two times), but the owner has helped place Missouri bourbon on the map: He helped make Missouri Bourbon an official class of bourbon. Schedule a tasting with friends.
New food in St. Louis
Yes, yes, when you’re in St. Louis you should have barbecue and you should have gooey butter cake and you should get a root beer float at Fitz’s. And maybe some Ted Drewes Frozen Custard and some fried ravioli. But, after you’ve had the staples, it’s time to try some of the newer places.
I’ve already mentioned the Food Hall at The Foundry, but it bears repeating. You can get appetizers like fried ravioli but in a whole new way with flavorful fillings at Toasted. Personally, I liked the traditional fried ravioli, though.
The Pitch is a new restaurant located between Union Station and CITYPARK, and its soccer theme is fully embraced. It actually serves well as a sports bar for any kind of fan, and you’ll want to keep it in mind if you’re looking for a bite to eat before a match. However, it’s very, very popular before the game, so arrive early!
Tip: Try the garlic cheese bread. It’s not what you think, but rather stuffed cheese curds rolled in parmesan.
And speaking of CITYPARK, oh my foodie heart, the dining options at the soccer stadium are mind-spinning. This isn’t your traditional stadium food (well, you can find hot dogs and pretzels there). The stadium’s Chief Flavor Officer, the James Beard award-winning Chef Gerard Craft, collaborated with 25 local restaurants to take the food options to a new level. St. Louis favorites with food stands in the stadium include BEAST Craft BBQ Co., Dewey’s Pizza, and Mayo Ketchup, and a number of global options like street tacos, Asian bao, and Filipino sausages. I had a rather spicy vegetarian kebab from Balkan Treat Box.
Olive + Oak is more of a date night kind of place, so it stands out from the other places I mentioned above. Located in Webster Grove, this eatery showcases the inventive food of Chef Jesse Mendica, who has been nominated for a James Beard award. I attended a wine pairing dinner while there, so my experience wasn’t quite the traditional dinner, but it was quite memorable!
St. Louis offers a plethora of exciting experiences for locals and visitors alike. From the iconic Gateway Arch and historic museums to the bustling nightlife and delectable cuisine, there is always something new and exciting to explore in this vibrant city. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly outing or a friends’ getaway, St. Louis has something to offer everyone. So why not pack your bags and head to the Gateway City to discover all the fun and excitement it has to offer? You won’t be disappointed!