48 Hours in St. Louis: What Not to Miss

Pack your 2-day St. Louis visit with the best the city has to offer.

Here for a short visit and eager to experience the best that St. Louis has to offer?

Begin the day at the Gateway Arch, where a $30 million project has better connected the Arch to the rest of downtown, created a stunning new entrance just east of the Old Courthouse, and totally reimagined the museum in the Arch lobby, now a state-of-the-art examination of the nation's westward expansion.

Gateway Arch, St. Louis

Saint Louis Art Museum, the city’s premier visual arts institution, offers a comprehensive survey of art from every continent and epoch. On view now: Kehinde Wiley: Saint Louis, eleven large-scale portraits of St. Louisans by the celebrated painter, and Graphic Revolution: American Prints 1960 to Now, a comprehensive look at the expanding universe of printmaking. Admission to the museum and its permanent collection is free, fee for some special exhibits.

Saint Louis Art Museum

It’s a spectacle you have to see to believe: the world’s largest collection of mosaics under one roof covers the domes, arches and walls of the breathtaking interior of Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis. Completed in 1914, the cathedral welcomes visitors of every faith to marvel at its astonishing opulence and follow the story of Christianity through its images.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis

Missouri Botanical Garden rewards visitors with a beautifully calibrated array of gardens, vistas and indoor conservatories artfully arranged over its spectacular 79 acres, a grand walk in any season and a must-see for every visitor. Indoor exhibits include the Shoenberg Temperate House, an exquisite recreation of a Mediterranean garden; the Linnean House, home to a glorious collection of sub-tropical plants; the geodesic-domed Climatron tropical conservatory housing a stunning collection of some 1,400 exotic  plant species, including banana, cacao, coffee, orchids and coconut; the Kemper Center for Home Gardening, equipped with a reference library and indoor gardening displays. The Garden Glow offers a nighttime holiday spectacle starting Nov. 17.

Garden Glow at Misoiuri Botanical Garden (©Mull, courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden)

The Saint Louis Zoo is widely recognized as one of the best in the U.S., and it just keeps getting better. Plenty of indoor exhibits during inclement weather, and it's free!

Sea Lion Sound at the Saint Louis Zoo (©D. Lancaster)

David Lancaster
About the author

David Lancaster has been editor of Where St. Louis...