San Diego, CA
St. Louis. My home from the summer of 2015 to the summer of 2019. This has been a place of growth for me and a place for adventure. I'm so happy to move home to California, but will definitely miss so many things about this city. Below are all my favorite restaurants, places to explore, and must sees! I hope if you make it to St. Louis, you check out these recommendations.
Louie: This spot quickly became a favorite haunt for me...and basically all of St. Louis. The food is simple and yet, out of this world. They care about what they do and it come through in each dish. And you can't beat the service. The staff (especially by boos, Jordan and Alex) makes each person who walks through the door feel like family. And never, never skip the hummus.
Fav Foods: the white bean hummus with hearth bread, any pizza, and the fish special is always phenomenal.
Mission Taco: Mission taco has been a staple of my diet here in St. Louis. We eat it at least one to three times a week. This was the only place that fed us tasty Cali Mex food that was packed with flavor. The food has been made fresh and all in their own kitchen, even their own tortillas. And there are lots of options for anyone, even those with dietary restrictions.
Fav Foods: chips, guac, and salsa are a must, the chicken flautas, chili crusted fries, and of course tacos! My favorite tacos are the grilled fish and the seasonal Balkan Treat taco.
Location: Central West End. Okay there are multiple locations, some in Kansas City now too. But CWE is near our house and a favorite ice cream shop Jeni's.
Katie's Pizza and Pasta Osteria: Katie's is definitely my favorite brunch spot for the weekend, but also just a great place for dinner with the girls or date night. Katie is the sweetest and watching her business and family grow has been such a treat.
Fav Foods: watermelon salad, fried artichokes, anything with figs or squash blossoms. The menu changes for the season, but bascially everything is spectacular!
Location: Rock Hill. There are two locations now, but this is the one I love and is closest to the city. The patio is a necessity and drop into Lucky's Market afterwards for some fun grocery finds!
Cinder House: This has quickly become a favorite spot. Sitting on the roof and overlooking the city, while eating charred onion dip. I'm pretty sure there is nothing better. Basically anything Gerard Craft does is magic, and we have spent almost every celebratory meal in St. Louis at one of his restaurants. This is where we had Tyler's graduation party so it will always hold a special place in our hearts.
Fav Foods: arugula salad (best salad on earth), charred onion dip, piri piri chicken, risotto, and the fries are fire
Location: Downtown St. Louis on the 8th floor of the Four Seasons hotel and available at the rooftop pool!
Winslow's Home: All my friends at work tease me that this is always my go-to when picking a lunch spot. But it's close-ish to campus, amazing food, and the atmosphere is amazing. And when the weather is good, I love sitting on the patio (shocker).
Fav Foods: chocolate chip cookie (best in STL), cinnamon roll (also best in STL), chai latte with oat milk. The menu here also changes seasonally, but the heirloom tomato salad is always my favorite when it makes an appearance.
Location: University City (UCity). It's actually a pretty goofy location, not too much in the walkable area. But so worth it.
Other amazing spots: Olive + Oak, Pizza Head, Pastaria (eat the risotto balls), Lulu's Local Eatery, Union Loafers (pizza please), Taste, Brasserie (floating island), Nudo House, Wicked Greenz, Urban Chestnut Brewing Company (try the pretzels - and attend Craftoberfest in the Fall!), Broadway Oyster Bar (grinder and bread pudding), Sugarfire (my favorite BBQ), Retreat Gastropub, Sardella, Fork & Stix, Rasoi (best vindaloo), Olio
Clementine's Creamery: This creamery serves some of the best ice cream in the world. It's all homemade as are most of the main ingredients. Another fun fact, they serve "nice" flavors, "naughty" flavors (alcoholic), and vegan flavors.
Fav Foods: the flavor ranking goes - salted crack caramel, toffee butter brickle, gooey butter cake, and then all the amazing seasonal flavors!
Location: DeMun neighborhood. Like I mentioned above, it's near Louie and a perfect spot to visit after or to get a scoop (or pint). There are other locations, and besides this one, my favorite spot is the original location in Lafayette Square.
Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream: Okay, I have an ice cream obsession. I'm aware, stop judging. But seriously, this is also another must stop in St. Louis (or any of their other locations in the US). I love Jeni's and their love for inclusivity, diversity, and of course their amazing ice cream. Also, Jeni is an inspiration and a hoot to follow online. Oh! And they have dairy free options as well and the BEST waffle cones.
Fav Foods: the flavor ranking goes (some are seasonal) - bramleberry crisp, green mint chip, nina west's dream puff, honey vanilla bean, lemon & blueberries parfait, churro, supermoon
Location: Central West End, next to Left Bank Books and across from Mission Taco! But they do have locations all across America and pints are available in stores and online.
Donut Drive-In: There are a lot of fun and delicious donut shops in St. Louis, but this one takes the gold. Be sure to go early in the morning or around 9pm when fresh donuts are coming out!
Fav Foods: apple fritters
Location: Shrewsbury neighborhood.
Park Avenue Coffee: Park Avenue is a coffee shop, but they are known for gooey butter cake. This is a St. Louis treat and this place has the best ones. You can even purchase the box mix of the Ann & Allen's Baking Company.
Fav Foods: the flavor ranking goes - mom's traditional, cinnamon roll, apple cinnamon, red velvet, pumpkin, and anything with berries
Location: Many locations, but my favorite is the on in Lafayette Square.
Other fun spots: Sucrose Bakery, Ices Plain and Fancy, Hot Box Cookies, Pint Size Bakery, Ted Drewes (frozen custard), Knead Bakehouse and Provisions (chocolate chip cookies and amazing juices), World's Fair Donuts (bring cash, get the caramel long john)
Shops and Stops
Bowood and Holliday: since day 1 this has been one of my all time favorite spots. They sell plants for inside and outside your home, and there is also have a new shop across the way where they sell home goods, stationary, and more. And their cute Cafe Osage inside the nursery is such .a fun breakfast/lunch spot. They also have events and super fun workshops with local vendors.
Collections by Joya: Okay, so it's not really a shop that's open all the time, but they have sales days and workshops open to the public. And they sell the most amazing jewelry and bring so much to the St. Louis community.
Left Bank Books: They are the oldest and largest independently owned full0line bookstore in STL. With new and used books and amazing cards and gifts. It's such a fun spot that gets involved heavily in the community and is a treasure to the city.
K. Hall Studios: I have a candle obsession and this place makes some amazing smelling candles, diffusers, and more. They also have some very cute shops around town and even an annual warehouse sale...where things get serious.
LoKey Designs: So, this also isn't a physical shop, but Laura's work is in multiple local shops. We met years ago at one of her workshops and over the years I've loved watching her business grow, taking photos of her business and family, and becoming close friends.
May's Place: Katie's place is absolutely amazing. In its new front on Manchester next to Rise Coffee, it's a perfect location to "be green and buy vintage". And the upstairs space can be rented to host events or workshops!
Rise Coffee: Another amazing lovely coffee shop. Located in the Grove and a fun place to hang and enjoy a cup of coffee...or a nice iced chai!
Rudy's Flower Truck: The truck isn't its own location, but rather a traveling flower haven that stops in on the best cafes, restaurants, and shops in town to sell beautiful bouquets. And in 2018 we collaborated for a "Pop-Up Brunch Club".
Live Performance Venues
Fox Theatre: showcases amazing shows, where we've seen favorites like Hamilton, Waitress, The Color Purple, and my favorite of favorites: Wicked! It's a beautiful and old venue, but we choose to try to sit on the orchestra floor because our legs are a bit too long for the other levels.
The Muny: has been open for over 100 years and is one of our favorite things to attend in the summer. It's a huge outdoor theatre opened during the summer to watch professional musicals. It is within walking distance of our house. We've seen so many shows...Mamma Mia, Into the Woods, Fiddler on the Roof, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and so many more. The price of tickets really varies. You can pay a pretty penny for the closer (better) seats, or move back all the way to the back of the house where there are free seats, so that all members of the community can enjoy the theatre.
The St. Louis Symphony: is housed in the amazing Powell Hall. The symphony offers amazing concerts as well as concerts that play alongside movies like Harry Potter.
Hi Pointe Theatre (and the Backlot): is one of the oldest running movie theaters in St. Louis. We love this old theater and spending time here, seeing Jurassic World, Florence Foster Jenkins, and more.
Chase Park Plaza Cinemas: now this is our favorite theaters. Again, another oldie, but goodie. And it's within walking distance from our place.
Nail Salons (I mean, important to know!)
Clayton Nail Spa: my go-to nail salon. They now have two locations, both remodeled. But what puts them above and beyond others is their customer service. But if you don't have appointment, be sure to go first thing in the morning because they get busy
Tints Polish: it is by far the most beautiful salon in St. Louis. They have high hygiene standards and basic standards that aren't add-ons like scrubs, massage, and even the tip is included in the price. They also have memberships! Oh and they are conveniently located next to a Juice Bar.
Parks, Museums, and Gardens
Forest Park: this park is one of our favorite places in the world. It's one of the world's largest parks and houses all of the below, as well as the Boathouse, the Muny, and event golf courses. It's a great place for walking, ice skating in the winter, and festivals.
Saint Louis Art Museum: there are so many fun museums in the city that you can visit for free, but this one is my favorite. And with the monthly SLAM Underground events, as well as the Art Hill Film Series, this museum stand out above all others.
Art Hill Film Series (month of July usually): is such an amazing way that the city comes together. Thousands of people come together to enjoy food trucks, art projects, and sitting on the massive hill to enjoy a film. And luckily, we live close enough to walk!
Missouri History Museum: there are always new and exciting exhibits at this museum, but the continuing exhibits that teach you about St. Louis' rich history makes it so special. It's another free museum!
Saint Louis Science Center: now this is Tyler's favorite museum for obvious reasons. They have great exhibits, an OMNIMAX theatre, and a lot of games and experiments to be had. Again, free entrance to the center.
Jewel Box: is a display greenhouse you can pay $1 to enter and explore. Many weddings and events take place here.
Saint Louis Zoo: people love this zoo. There is no place more crowded during decent weather.
Missouri Botanical Gardens: This is another favorite spot. The gardens are amazing and vast. With a lowered admission for locals on Wednesday and Saturday mornings, free admission. And so many great events, but our favorite event is during the summer, every Wednesday, the Whitaker Music Festival. Pack a picnic basket, some drinks, and a blanket and listen to some amazing music. Another great event is the Garden Glow that takes place every winter holiday season. Walk the gardens, drink some cocoa, and enjoy the lights.
Tower Grove Park: this is another amazing park that is packed with so many events. Outside of their own signature events, Food Truck Fridays, Festival of Nations, and the best farmers market (more details below).
Tower Grove Farmers' Market (open April - October): this is the best market in St. Louis and in the summer, the best activity for a Saturday morning. You want to get there early to beat the rush and immediately get in line for the Kounter Koulture "the sandwich": sourdough, cheddar, over medium egg, honey, salt, and if you wish, bacon. Grab a tea, coffee, or cocktail at nearby vendors. Then explore the tents of veggies, fruit, honey, flowers, and so much more. You can also enjoy yoga in the mornings or if you have a kiddo on a hot day there, grab their swimsuit and let them run through the fountains.
City Museum: This museum is a hoot and so much fun for the kiddos to run around in (or big kids, aka adults). My favorite part is the ferris wheel on the rooftop.
Gateway Arch: The grounds and museum were recently redone in 2018 and are phenomenal. Now, the arch itself is an experience. I've done it once and am happy to never go back up! I'm just slightly uncomfortable with heights and the wobble of the arch itself. But I've done it once! And you should too if you can handle small spaces and heights.
National Blues Museum: St. Louis is known for it's history and love for blues music and the history of blues and rock 'n' roll, especially the king Chuck Berry. This is a very new and fantastic museum to visit.
Where to Stay
My absolute favorite spot for the spa, rooftop pool, and amazing food. I've written a little about it's amazing-ness here!
This is a fun location near the Arch, Busch Stadium, City Museum, and more. Read more about it here.