15 New St. Louis Places to Take Visitors — Or Even Just Yourself
If you’ve stuck to the tried and true in St. Louis in the last few years, you’ve missed out on a lot. St. Louis has seen a surprising number of ambitious new projects reach completion since 2019 — and many of them are now open and eager to show you a good time.
The places we highlight here have either opened in the last three years or gotten serious glow-ups during that time. Bonus: They all work well even when the weather isn’t great. Visit one for a fun date night, or combine a few and make a day of it. You may come away dazzled by how many great things there are to do these days in St. Louis.
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ST. LOUIS UNION STATION
Union Station’s glow-up
The once-desolate Union Station (1820 Market Street) has slowly but surely been adding attractions back — to the point that even if you stopped by to marvel at the St. Louis wheel (201 South 18th Street, 314-923-3960) at its 2019 opening, you will still find yourself amazed by how much has changed today. It’s not just the new restaurants, though those are worth checking out, and it’s not just the Aquarium. No, there’s also a carousel, a little train-themed playground for kids, an outdoor taco stand for casual eating, mini golf and a ropes course. Time your trip right, and you can even see a fire-and-light show a la the Bellagio (note: this feature was offline for upgrades at the time of publication). Many of the options are outdoors, but if you time your breaks for libations and snacks in the indoor restaurants properly, you could make a winter afternoon of it. Another indoor spot to kill some time (and spend some money): the on-site Build-a-Bear, just across the parking lot.
The newest bar in St. Louis also happens to be the biggest. Armory STL (3660 Market Street, 314-282-2720) opened to the public December 16, just in time to give you a place to take those visiting out-of-towners over the Christmas break. Belly up to one of several bars, try your hand at free ping pong, or even ride a see-saw or sit in a chair swing. It’s the adults-only playground St. Louisans outside Westport Plaza have been waiting for. And on Saturday and Sunday, kids can come with a guardian before 6 p.m.
Slick City Action Park
A 39,000-square-foot destination in Chesterfield, Slick City Action Park (17379 Edison Avenue, Chesterfield; 636-229-9899) promises 10 indoor slides, air-filled basketball courts and a zip line. It’s just the second location for the concept (the other is in Colorado) from Webster Groves native Bron Launsby, who owns Amp Up Action Park and Sky Zone Trampoline Park. Get the kids tickets for an hour and a half or up to two hours and let them burn off some of that energy outside your house.
COURTESY OF CITYFOUNDRY
Of course by now it’s de rigueur to be permitted to purchase a cocktail and dinner with your movie ticket — but Alamo Drafthouse (3765 Foundry Way Suite 275, 314-669-2079) doesn’t rest on the innovations it pioneered as a quirky Austin, Texas, cinema two decades ago. It also delivers quirky programming, with everything from blockbusters to new indie films to screenings of Hollywood classics and cult faves. Special-event screenings include props and games; check out drafthouse.com/st-louis for a full list of the latest offerings at the city’s brand-new City Foundry location.
You can’t mention Alamo Drafthouse without mentioning City Foundry STL (3730 Foundry Way), which opened in August 2021 after years of anticipation. Developer Steve Smith of the Lawrence Group completely transformed what used to be a manufacturer of automotive parts into a Fresh Thyme grocery store, a must-visit indoor food court with 17 stalls offering delicious food from around the world and now, just in time for the holidays, Puttshack — “an upscale, tech-infused mini golf game.” Not sure what that means? A great excuse to visit, and then stop by the food hall for dinner.
OK, so it’s not for everyone — plenty of us endure rudeness every day without having to seek it out at this knockoff of Ed Debevic’s. But Karen’s Diner (5800 Gravois Avenue) is a bona fide sensation in its native Australia, and the St. Louis outpost is the first in the U.S., so why not see what the fuss is about? You can nosh on classic American diner food and maybe even play some charades in addition to getting insulted by your server. Can’t say we fully follow the idea (we thought Karens complained about lousy service, not provided it) but at least it’s something different.
New bars on Cherokee’s Antique Row
South city’s Cherokee Street has offered two different experiences in recent years. To the west of Jefferson are bars and excellent, if mostly low-key, Mexican restaurants; to the east is Whisk: A Sustainable Bakeshop and the shops of Antique Row. But this summer, two new bars opened that made the east side, too, a nightlife destination. Saturn Lounge (1915 Cherokee Street, 314- 354-6767), which took up residence in a former blacksmith shop, has a stylish look, a warm vibe and a short list of cocktails in addition to wine and beer. White-tiled ‘Ssippi (2926 Cherokee Street) specializes in natural wine, though it also has beer and a few cocktails on tap. It too boasts a sizable patio (unlike Saturn Lounge, it’s hidden away in the back). Together, these hot new bars offer a great excuse to linger on Antique Row long after the shops close.
MoBOT’s awesome new visitor’s center
Sure, you’ve been to the Missouri Botanical Garden (4344 Shaw Boulevard, 314-577-5100) before, but you’ve never seen it like this: Visitors now enter the garden through a brand-new visitor’s center, complete with a less complicated one-story setup, newly accessible restaurant and totally revamped gift shop. The whole thing has an elegant grandeur to it, perfect for setting up the experience that follows.
VIRGINIA HAROLD/COURTESY PULITZER ARTS FOUNDATION
A project of the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, Spring Church (620 North Spring Avenue) transformed a nearby church that had been gutted by fire two decades ago … by not doing much of anything to it. The 1884 Gothic Revival structure is still open to the heavens and still has ivy climbing its walls. The difference is that it’s been reinforced so it’s no longer dangerous to enter — and it now hosts arts installations curated by the Pulitzer. There’s also an adjacent garden. Both church and garden are open each day from sunrise to sunset.
With a two-acre outdoor dog park and 10,000-square-foot indoor option, Bar K (4565 McRee Avenue, 314-530-9990) has made a once-desolate part of Botanical Heights into one of the city’s premiere meat markets. And we’re not just talking about the dogs, although unsurprisingly a lot of canine butt-sniffing goes on here. No, with three bar areas there are also plenty of places for humans to mingle, and mingle they do. Good news for cat lovers: You don’t even need a dog to get in on the fun — although after seeing the adorable puppers on site, you may find yourself preparing your home for doggie adoption.