This lively, cultured Midwestern city may be famous for the blues, but it certainly knows how to show visitors a good time.
St. Louis earned its nickname, Gateway to the West, when it was sold by France to the US as part of the Louisiana Purchase and became the key point of departure for pioneers heading westwards. Today, St. Louis remains an attractive combination of tradition and modernity, with historical monuments and neighbourhoods rubbing shoulders with chic and modern apartments, offices and sports venues.
Originally a Native American settlement, and later a key trading port, St. Louis' heyday was in 1904 when it hosted the World's Fair and the Olympic Games. Its fortunes took a turn for the worse in the middle of the 20th century, followed by a period of investment and regeneration.
For a better understanding of this city's long history, head to one of its well-regarded museums, such as the Missouri History Museum or the Museum of Transportation, which explores the city's manufacturing heritage. The Museum of Westward Expansion and Old Courthouse in Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Park also provide a great insight into St. Louis' fascinating past.
Also located in the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Park, the 192-metre Gateway Arch is a great place for visitors to get a birds-eye view of the city. If you're keen on the outdoors, head to the Missouri Botanical Gardens and Arboretum, or enjoy some al fresco culture at the 40-hectare Laumeier Sculpture Park, where works of art are displayed in an idyllic woodland setting. Back in the city, the celebrated Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts is a ground-breaking art gallery and cultural centre, located in the bustling Grand Center entertainment district.
Families should make sure to visit the wildly popular Magic House-St. Louis Children's Museum, and the weird and wonderful City Museum. At lunchtime, follow the locals to the city's Italian neighbourhood, The Hill, and order a slice of butter cake or a plate of deep-fried toasted ravioli.
St. Louis has long been known for its vibrant nightlife and club scene, and has produced not one, but two musical legends. St. Louis native Miles Davis passed away twenty years ago, but the inimitable Chuck Berry is still performing in the city. As night falls, head to Laclede's Landing or the Delmar Loop. There's a variety of bars to choose from serving a wide selection of drinks, although by rights you should be drinking Budweiser - its oldest brewery is located just outside town.