St. Louis' light rail system, MetroLink, is the largest in the Midwest by ridership, and the 10th-largest in the U.S. And while it doesn’t quite connect everything in St. Louis, the attractions, restaurants and shops it does glide by form a formidable list. Hop on (for a basic fare of $2.50) and see the sights. As an organizing strategy, we’ll arrange things by sphere of interest and list the possibilities at the relevant MetroLink Station.
First, you should know that MetroLink, while not complicated, does have two overlapping lines. The Red Line runs from Lambert Airport in north-St. Louis County to the Shiloh-Scott Station in southern Illinois. The Blue Line runs from the Shrewsbury-Lansdowne-I-44 station in mid-St. Louis County to the Fairview Heights station in southern Illinois. Both lines run through downtown St. Louis and overlap from Forest Park-DeBaliviere (the primary transfer station) to Fairview Heights. Pay attention to which line you’re getting on. We will indicate stations that are exclusively on one line.
Also make sure your ticket is validated. If your trip begins on MetroLink, you can purchase your fare at a Transit Vending Machine (TVM) located at each MetroLink station. All fare media (tickets, transfers and passes) must indicate a time period in which they are valid. All tickets purchased at TVMs must be validated, including 1-Ride Ticket, 2-Hour Pass, Round-Trip Tickets and tickets from 10-Ride Ticket Booklets. To validate your ticket or pass, insert it into a Red Validating machine located on the MetroLink platform to imprint the time frame your ticket is valid. Upon request, be prepared to present your valid fare to a Fare Inspector. Passengers who board without possessing a valid transfer, pass, or ticket may be issued a citation and be required to pay a fine.
Okay, nuts and bolts out of the way, let’s ride.
Gotta eat, right? Well, you’re on the right track. Here’s where to find everything from soup to nuts.
Downtown is loaded with restaurants within 2 blocks of MetroLink stations.
The Central West End Station was located primarily to serve the medical complex along Kingshighway. It’s a bit of a hike north to the restaurants on Euclid Ave., but the closest ones are International Tap House, Tortillaria, Taste, Wild Flower and Little Saigon Café.
The Delmar Loop Station (Red Line) anchors the far east end of The Loop, St. Louis’ most multi-faceted neighborhood. Dining options from closest to farthest include Gokul Indian Restaurant, Pi Pizzeria, Mission Taco Joint, Peacock Loop Diner and Three Kings Public House.
Clayton’s two MetroLink stations drop you off near two of the city’s best steak houses.
Forsyth Station (Blue Line)—801 Chophouse
Now that you’re properly fueled, let’s see some sights. The list is long.
On the eastern leg of MetroLink, the College Station (Red Line) drops you off a short walk from the Schmidt Art Center, a handsome gallery space at Southwestern Illiniois College that mounts exhibits of contemporary art.
Downtown offers a rich assortment of cultural opportunities within easy walking distance of MetroLink stations.
Convention Center Station—National Blues Museum
The Grand Station puts you within a ten-minute hike of the museums of Grand Center: Samuel Cupples House, Museum of Contemporary Religious Art, Saint Louis University Museum of Art, International Photography Hall of Fame, Moto Museum, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis and the Pulitzer Arts Foundation.
The Central West End Station takes you within about 8 blocks of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, home to the largest collection of mosaics under one roof in the world, a spectacle well worth the hike. This is also the closest MetroLink stop to the Saint Louis Science Center.
The Forest Park Station hovers just a block north of Forest Park and the Missouri History Museum. The rest of Forest Park’s superb attractions—Saint Louis Zoo, Saint Louis Science Center, Saint Louis Art Museum, Forest Park Boathouse—are a bit of a hike, but it’s a beautiful hike. The Forest Park Trolley, which connects all the park’s attractions to the Forest Park Station, operates May-September.
The Delmar Loop Station (Red Line) offers more regional art at the nearby Regional Arts Commission Gallery. By the way, hotel taxes in St. Louis help fund RAC, so you might as well stop in to see what you paid for.
The Skinker Station Blue Line) drops you off at Washington University and its outstanding Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum.
There are two stations that serve the University of Missouri St. Louis. UMSL North Station (Red Line) takes you practically to the front door of Gallery 210, the university’s showcase for contemporary art.
Yes, you’ll have to cart those bags around without a trunk to stash them in unless you can get the store to ship. Get the store to ship.
Convention Center Station—Gallery Furniture & Home Accents.
Forsyth Station (Blue Line)—The Wine & Cheese Place
Clayton Station (Blue Line)—Timekeepers
Be mindful of the fact that MetroLink service ends, Cinderella-like, before midnight; check the schedule to make sure you’re not stranded. With that in mind, here are some nighttime diversions you may want to check out.
East Riverfront Station—Casino Queen
Laclede’s Landing Station—Lumiere Casino
Busch Stadium Station—St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium
UMSL North Station (Red Line)—Touhill Performing Arts Center