48 Hours in Gay-friendly St. Louis
In his book, "50 Fabulous Gay-friendly Places to Live," Gregory Kompes included St. Louis among the hundreds of US cities he researched. If you think this might indicate that the city is also a good place for gays to visit - you would be right.
Commonly known as the Gateway City, St. Louis has a rich history as the hub for the westward expansion of the United States. Today it is a vibrant urban metropolis - well known for its beer - but also a city that celebrates diversity (just ask openly gay St. Louis Alterman Shane Cohn) and offers visitors a wealth of attractions.
Here’s what EDGE found...
2 pm: Eclipsing Accommodations
One of St. Louis’ first boutique properties, Moonrise Hotel "blends cool modern design and quirky sophistication" to create accommodations that are equal parts comforting and welcoming. New kid on the block, Moonrise fits perfectly into The Loop’s vibrant and funky six-block shopping and entertainment district, which includes Blueberry Hill restaurant and music club and The Pageant performance hall. The hotel features 125 well-appointed guestrooms, complete with moon-themed art.
3 pm: Up, Up and Over
Officially named the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, the Gateway Arch is a 630-foot stainless steel tribute to the spirit of the western pioneers. A unique tram system takes visitors to the top for spectacular views of St. Louis and the Mississippi River. At the base of the arch is the Museum of Westward Expansion, which preserves some of the rarest artifacts from the days of Lewis and Clark.
Just a few blocks away is one of St. Louis’ newest attractions - Citygarden. Open and accessible to the public 365 days a year, the lush landscaped urban park is home to twenty-four pieces of sculpture by internationally renowned artists, including Fernand Leger, Mark di Suvero, Keith Haring, Martin Puryear, Jim Dine, Tony Smith and Aristide Maillol.
6:30 pm: Cocktails with a View
The rooftop bar at Moonrise is a perfect spot for a pre-dinner cocktail. It provides more views of the city and an up-close look at the hotel’s iconic rotating moon. Following drinks it’s time to head downstairs to the hotel’s onsite restaurant. Like the hotel itself, Eclipse is a self-declared creative blend of classic, contemporary and casual. It offers new flavors and updated preparations of classic American cuisine.
10 am: Clang, Clang, Clang went the Nightlife
Many of St. Louis’ gay bars are clustered along a few blocks of Manchester Avenue in the city’s "The Grove" neighborhood. Among the fun finds are Just John, Attitudes and Novak’s Bar & Grill.
9 am: Playing in the Park
St. Louis’ nearly 1,300-acre Forest Park is a natural oasis of parkland, lakes and cultural attractions. An early morning visit should start with a grab ’n go breakfast from Forest Perk Cafe, the cheerful coffee shop within the Lindell Pavilion visitor center, originally built in 1892 as a shelter for streetcar riders.
The park is not only one of St. Louis’ premier attractions, but also the seventh largest urban park in the nation - approximately 500 acres larger than Central Park in New York. Some of the Gateway City’s major cultural attractions are located within the park including the renowned Saint Louis Zoo, Art Museum, Science Center, Missouri History Museum and The Muny outdoor theater.
12:30 pm: Vroom, Vroom Lunch
The Triumph Grill is a restaurant that takes casual dining very seriously. The fried tempura battered asparagus spears are a great starter and the Angus burger topped with gruyere cheese, caramelized onion and roasted garlic mayonnaise on a toasted brioche roll hits the spot...especially with a cold beer. The restaurant’s décor is motorcycle-themed, which is not a surprise given that it is connected to the Moto Museum. Moto houses more than 100 rare and vintage motorcycles collected from Europe and around the world.
For a sweet treat, head to The Fountain on Locust, a modern-day malt shop, for some ice cream. The Fountain is located along St. Louis’ Historic Automotive Row in the building that once served as the showroom for the Stutz Blackhawk and the Stutz Bearcat. Nearby is St. Louis’ Grand Center arts and entertainment district. Among the area’s major venues are the Jazz at the Bistro, The Kranzberg Center for the Arts, Powell Symphony Hall (home of the renowned Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra), Fox Theatre and the Grandel Theatre which is the main stage for the St. Louis Black Rep and the St. Louis Shakespeare Company.
3 pm: Many more Museums
In midtown St. Louis is another collection of must-do museums. The Contemporary Art Museum is a non-collecting institution featuring local, national and international, well-known and newly established artists from diverse backgrounds, working in all types of media. Adjacent to the Contemporary is The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, which seeks to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of art in the context of architecture. A few blocks away but a world apart from its sophisticated peers, is the City Museum, an eclectic mixture of playground, funhouse, surrealistic pavilion and architectural marvel made out of unique, found objects.
7:00 pm: Dinner, Drinks and Dancing
In the city’s Central West End (CWE) neighborhood, where playwright Tennessee Williams once lived and based his play The Glass Menagerie, is Herbie’s Vintage 1972 bistro that features such classics as beef wellington and New York strip. For after dinner drinks, head down the street to The Loading Zone, a popular gay video bar. After a few cocktails, it will be time to head to The Complex for a night of dancing on the club’s multiple dance floors.
11 am: A Historic Brunch
The phase "this is the oldest [fill in the blank] west of the Mississippi" is commonly heard when locals speak of their city. Clementine’s has the distinction of being the oldest gay bar west of the Mississippi. Its Oh My Darlin’ Café is a popular spot for brunch and the required accompanying librations.
For more info: St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission.