The 2010 Hot List: Culture
200+ things we love about St. Louis
Compiling a list of the city’s top spots to eat, drink, dance, shop and play is no easy feat. And this year, we had an endless list of buzzworthy newcomers, rediscovered classics and established spots that have stepped it up a notch to choose from. Not that we’re complaining; in fact, we’ve never been more proud of our city’s restaurants, shops, clubs, gyms and cultural institutions. If we could write St. Louis a love song, it would go a little something like this.
We love that our cultural destinations are world class. Hometown pride isn’t hard to come by in a city like St. Louis, as all the ways our trend-setting cultural institutions give us to fill free time make us fall in love with the city all over again with every outing. Our arts, music and entertainment scene puts us on the map just as much as our beloved baseball team and gives us plenty to show off to out-of-town guests. The best part: Many of our sacred spaces don’t cost a dime to enjoy.
Best Bragging Rights Destination: Forest Park One of the largest public green spaces in United States—even surpassing the size of New York City’s Central Park—St. Louis’ scenic soul houses our city’s cultural crown jewels (the Zoo, Muny, Science Center, Art and History museums) and gives us the ideal gathering area for everything from a theater performance under the stars to a round of golf to tying the knot.
Best High Culture Destination: Grand Center Four solid city blocks boast 12,000 theater seats and 12 galleries and museums—among the notables: Bruno David Gallery, CAMSTL, Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts and Sheldon Art Galleries—forming a fine arts and entertainment district like no other in the nation that draws millions to 1,500 cultural events every year.
Best Concert Venue: Fox Theatre With incredible acoustics, great views no matter where you sit and a perennial performance schedule of the world’s most famous musicians and Broadway acts, this legendary venue constantly delivers the hottest tickets in town. Grand Center, 314.534.1678.
Best Place to See Rising Stars: Stages St. Louis You never know who you might recognize on Broadway or the big screen one day from Stages St. Louis, as the theater company casts top local talents (who hold the area’s highest numbers of the prestigious Kevin Kline awards) for an annual lineup of not-to-be-missed musicals. Kirkwood, 314.821.2407.
Best No Cost Family Outing: Saint Louis Zoo Visitors worldwide praise the Saint Louis Zoo as one of the best, and the now 100-year-old St. Louis staple certainly gets our vote as one of the top places to round up the troops for a budget-friendly outing. Forest Park, 314.781.0900.
Best Place to Play Indoors: Saint Louis Science Center Ranked one of the top five science centers in the nation, our favorite indoor place to let our inner child go wild continues to outdo itself every year, beating out other major cities in landing world-renowned exhibits like Body Worlds and SciFest that draw millions to the Lou every year. Forest Park, 314.289.4400.
Best Place for Eco Exploration: Missouri Botanical Garden Whether you’re donning a coat and gloves or shorts and sandals, there’s always a way to get your green on at the world-renowned Missouri Botanical Garden, as activities are in full bloom year round from winter bird watching to a summer garden stroll. Tower Grove, 314.577.5100.
Best Place to Re-Experience A Classic: Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra This internationally recognized ensemble’s resurrection of some of the most popular masterpieces ever written for orchestra have music aficionados of all ages snapping up tickets these days, especially for a spectacular summer classic series. Grand Center, 314.533.2500.
Best Place to Impress Out of Towners: City Garden What better place to introduce a newcomer to St. Louis’ cultural scene than the City Garden, a spectacular outdoor showcase of world-class public art, design and landscaping that’s made other urban leaders nationwide take notice.
Best Contemporary Art: Philip Slein Gallery The works of the nation’s top figurative and abstract artists adorn the walls of this always-ahead-of-the-curve gallery that keeps St. Louis at the forefront of the fine arts scene with edgy and provocative pieces. Downtown, 314.621.4634.
Best Spot to Spend A Summer Evening: Old Post Office Plaza Deciding on a date night or hangout spot with friends is a no-brainer now that this former parking lot turned lively gathering space buzzes with things to do, from theater performances to film series and more. Downtown 9th and Locust.
Best Historical Midwest Exhibits: Missouri History Museum You don’t have to be a history buff to appreciate the thought-provoking local and traveling exhibits at the Missouri History Museum that deepen our understanding of past choices, present circumstances and
future possibilities in the Bread Basket. Forest Park, 314.746.4599.
Best Place for Top-Notch Music & Dance: Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center Today’s most popular performing acts, musicians and seriously talented Dance St. Louis troupes keep this intimate theater setting alive year round and our social calendars constantly full. Florissant, 314.516.4949.
Impress out of towners at City Garden
Photo credit: Photo by Jennifer Silverberg