The Central West End occupies its eponymous position in St. Louis, hugging the city’s western boundary midway between north and south. It also hugs the eastern edge of Forest Park, which, along with a lengthy list of other amenities, makes it one of the city’s most desirable neighborhoods, festooned with extravagant turn-of-the-century homes built in a myriad of styles drawn from the architect's travelogue. Pay attention to signs restricting access to "private places"; they mean business. Along with eye-popping architecture, the neighborhood features an abundance of art galleries, antique shops, tony boutiques, museums, landmarks and some of St. Louis' best restaurants—lots of them.
The intersection of Euclid and McPherson is home to a clutch of outstanding contemporary art galleries: Philip Slein Gallery, Duane Reed Gallery, Projects + Gallery, Houska Gallery and the Vino Gallery (yes, art + wine). Just around the corner on Washington, Atrium Gallery shows national and international artists.
The same intersection features a bracing variety of top local retailers—Left Bank Books, The Silver Lady, Centro Modern Furnishings and Shelton Davis Antiques—a lazy afternoon's worth of exceptional browsing.
A few blocks south at Euclid and Maryland, the World Chess Hall of Fame beckons with three stories of exhibits that celebrate chess and its dynamic relationship with art. The museum's Q Boutique stands as one of the most creative gift shops in the city. There's more great shopping at AG Jeans and Lululemon Athletica.
The nearby Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis welcomes visitors of every faith inside its massive granite exterior to view the spectacular collection of mosaics—the largest in the world—that decorates its vast interior domes and surfaces.
Hungry? Oh my, the options run the gamut from casual breakfast to haute cuisine. Start the day at Pickles Deli, Einstein Bros. Bagels or The Coffee Cartel. For lunch or dinner, we like Drunken Fish (sushi and other Asian delights), The Tavern (seriously updated comfort food), Pi Pizza (Barack Obama's favorite pizza), Llywelyn's (upscale pub grub), Gamlin Whiskey House (steaks, bourbon) or Brasserie by Niche (one of James Beard Award-winner Gerard Craft's family of eateries). Treat yourself to an anytime snack at The Cup (sensational cupcakes) or Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream.