10 Places to Visit in Downtown St. Louis Before a Blues Game
In this sports-loving city, the cool weather of hockey season won’t put a damper on Stanley Cup fever. Thanks to the team’s first-ever NHL championship in June 2019, the Blues are drawing full houses to the Enterprise Center. And thanks to massive investment in Union Station and throughout Downtown West in recent years, there are plenty of pregame hangouts for fans of all ages and interests. Here are 10 of our favorites.
The St. Louis Wheel
This newly opened attraction at Union Station lifted its first passengers 200 feet into the sky this fall—promising visibility of 20 miles from the top on a clear day. After your awe-inspiring 15-minute ride in The Wheel’s 42 eight-passenger gondolas, enjoy a round of mini golf on the 18-hole course, ride the classic carousel underneath the wheel or head next door to Union Station for ice cream at its Soda Fountain or the 3D light show in The Grand Hall, inside the historic former passenger train station built in 1894.
Schlafly Tap Room
One of the cornerstones of Downtown’s revival ever since Schlafly started producing craft beer in 1991, this brew pub still puts out a very select 2,000 barrels per year (with the bulk of the company’s beverages coming from its Maplewood Bottleworks). The menu is packed with hockey-friendly snacks like housemade pork rinds, Bavarian-style pretzels, burgers, brats and meatloaf muffins.
Follow your nose to the streetside smokers at this Kansas City-style barbecue joint and indulge in classics like burnt ends and wings or newer innovations like belly bacon on a stick and nachos with pulled pork and smoked beans. Beers come from Missouri and Illinois craft brewers.
The Crack Fox
This one-of-a-kind bar revels in its eclectic mix of customers and edgy events. Thursdays and Fridays, the fun starts at 4 p.m., when thirsty fans can stop in to The Crack Fox for a choice of 60 beers and a full bar selection. Or stop in after the game for live bands, karaoke, dance parties and all the usual types of nightlife—always with a unique twist.
Brick River Cider
As the city’s first hard cidery, Brick River has made its mark with both its flagship ciders and its limited-edition releases. Be sure to sample the Sweet Lou, with notes of blueberry and lavender. Its 100-percent gluten-free menu is also vegetarian and vegan friendly, with rich and hearty combinations like cornbread with apple butter, cheesy potatoes and applewood-smoked pulled pork.
At both its Downtown and Sunset Hills locations, Maggie O’Brien’s has a reputation as a local hangout where longtime customers become lifelong friends. Over the past 40 years, the company has worked out the perfect formula of food, drinks and hospitality—including Blues pregame parties and a shuttle from the Downtown location. Given the name, it’s no surprise that Irish pub fare is the way to go—from hand-rolled buns for the Reuben sandwiches to smoked corned beef to Irish potato soup.
Charleville Brewing Company
It’s an easy drive across the rail yards over the 18th Street Bridge to the strip of restaurants along Chouteau Avenue, including this sleek tavern. Charleville’s beers range from the lighthearted (Tornado Alley amber ale) to the robust-but-still-lighthearted (Hairy Cow Wee Heavy). The menu comes from the Hamilton Hospitality Group Tuesday through Saturday, and it’s all burgers all the time on Sundays.
The Sliced Pint
What could be more quintessentially St. Louis than toasted ravioli … made into a pizza? The Sliced Pint excels at creative combinations like this one. It makes its tomato sauce in house, effortlessly bridges the Provel vs. mozzarella debate and then pulls off perhaps the greatest coup of all: pizza nachos. Its beer menu is in constant rotation, with the majority of its selections from Missouri and the upper Midwest.
St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station
In December, this 120,000-square-foot, two-story water wonderland opens, complete with 13,000 animals and a million gallons of water. Visitors who went shopping at the Union Station mall in years past will marvel at the complete transformation of the space into an aquarium with habitats for 80 varieties of sharks plus jellyfish, eels, sea dragons and more. Outside, the train shed includes eateries and attractions like the fire-and-light show at the lake. The $45 million renovation project is a centerpiece of Downtown West’s revitalization.
Soldiers Memorial Military Museum
Unlike the other spots on this list, the Soldiers Memorial doesn’t offer food or drinks. The sustenance it offers is more for the heart and soul, by way of riveting exhibits about individual St. Louisans’ dedication and bravery during armed conflicts from the city’s founding to the present day. The free museum, completely renovated and reopened in 2018, is a fitting way to get into a star-spangled mood for the national anthem before puck drop at the Blues game.
Featured image courtesy of the St. Louis Wheel at Union Station.