On the border of Missouri and Illinois, St. Louis is a popular city for road trippers. People often come to St. Louis with low expectations, and don't give St. Louis the number of days it takes to really explore what it has to offer. If you've been traveling around in the coastal cities like NYC, LA, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, etc.., you'll be pleasantly surprised at how much more affordable St. Louis is, than the other cities. Many of our attractions are free or almost free, and some of these places even have free parking. Traffic is also significantly less, but does exist, mostly during rush hour, from around 3:30-5.
St. Louis, like most U.S. cities, has somewhat weak public transit. The metro link, however, does take you to a decent number of places if you use the bus system. The train system is much more limited. Most people who visit have a car though, as it's usually a road trip.
Much cheaper than other large cities. It's pretty easy to find a Couchsurfing host, as there are much fewer people visiting in comparison to the coastal cities.
Dumpster diving is really hit or miss. For purchasing cheap groceries, go to Aldi's or Save A Lot. Aldi's actually has great deals on fresh produce, among many other things. (You need a quarter in order to get a shopping cart though).
While in STL, you must try toasted ravioli, STL style pizza (both at Italian places and pizza joints), Ted Drewes frozen custard in downtown, and crab rangoon (Chinese restaurants). If you're a big fan of bbq, then try our bbq as well.
WiFi is easily found at many places. Almost every single person has internet, and St. Louis has a pretty good 4g Network as well. If you're having trouble, stop at a McDonalds or Starbucks.
Busking is pretty common before, but especially after, sporting events. You will often hear people playing a saxophone on the streets near Busch Stadium, the Edward Jones Dome, or Scottrade Center, after a game is over.
Here are some of my (and my friend's) favorite places in St. Louis, most of which are completely FREE or almost free: -SLAM (St. Louis Art Museum): A free art museum, with extensive collections of ancient Asian, European, American, and other artwork. From several thousand BC, to modern day. Located in Forest Park, which has free parking. If you come on the weekend, you may have trouble parking as Forest Park is a very popular place for families to visit on the weekends. You can spend all day in there, especially if you like to read about some of the artwork.
-St. Louis Zoo: Also Free and located in Forest Park. Is usually ranked as the third best zoo in the country, behind Henry Doory (Omaha, Nebraska) and San Diego Zoos. More recently, there has been a great addition of an open air penguin and puffin exhibit. It's easy to spend several hours walking around and enjoying the animals. I recommend going at a time when kids are in school, if possible.
-Missouri History Museum: Free and in Forest Park. They have two great exhibits on the Louisiana Purchase, and my favorite exhibit, the 1904 World's Fair. As travelers, I highly recommend the World's Fair Exhibit. Free parking.
-Muny in Forest Park: I've never been, because I'm not a fan of musicals, but if you like them, then you will enjoy the Muny. Typically, there are 1,500 free seats for every performance, on a first come, first serve basis. You might have to show up a couple of hours early to claim one of these, so bring something to do while you wait in line.
-The Arch: For $10, you can ride a tram to the top of the iconic Arch, and there's also a museum with plenty of information. There is currently construction going on (as of June 2015), so you have to buy tickets at the Old Courthouse and reserve a time slot. I recommend buying the ticket a couple of days in advance if possible, online.
-Anheuser Busch brewery tour: Free, and comes with a free beer at the end of the tour. I'm not a beer drinker, but my beer drinking friends really like the tour.
-City Museum: hard to describe place. Sort of like a playground for both kids and adults. If you're really tall or overweight, this might not be for you. It's also not free.
-Missouri Botanical Gardens: Some of the best in the country. Only $8, Comes with a free guided tour at either 11AM (year-round) or 1PM (April-October only). Max of 15 guests, so you might not get a tour if you don't show up early enough. You can also pay for a tram tour around the gardens, which is $4.
-Cathedral Basilica: Although I've never been there as far as I can remember, it's supposed to rival any European Cathedral. The mosaics are supposed to be amazing.
-Busch Stadium: Only if you are a baseball fan or have extra money to spend, as games can be quite expensive. For the best experience, go to a game against the Chicago Cubs, our long-time friendly rivals.
-Scottrade Center for a Blues Game: I personally enjoy going to hockey games much more than any other sport. You can typically find decent deals on seats on Stubhub, or try scalping them outside the game. You can often times find free parking on or near Taylor Avenue if you show up a bit early.
-St. Louis Symphony Orchestra: A bit more expensive, but very impressive for classical music lovers.
Also, -City Garden -Steinberg Ice Skating rink in winter -Laumeier Sculpture Park -Babler State Park -Old Courthouse -Funny Bone Comedy Club
EVENTS/FESTIVALS: St. Louis has the second largest Mardi Gras celebration in the U.S., a good one for St. Patrick's day, and the second largest Earth Day Festival in the U.S.
The two main places for drinking are The Landing in downtown and Main Street in St. Charles. More people are starting to go to the Central West End now as well.