Staying local for your holiday break this year? St. Louis has a lot to offer in winter. When you’ve exhausted the city’s holiday events, treat yourself to a real hometown vacation by hitting the town like a tourist. Even in the most brutally cold weather, you’ll enjoy these STL hot spots.
100 Washington Ave.
St Louis, MO 63102
www.gatewayarch.comIts’s the symbol of our city, but St. Louisans typically only make the pilgrimage to the top of the Arch when we have out-of-town guests — and some of us have never even been inside. Watch “Monument to the Dream,” a 35-minute documentary about the building of the Arch, and then take the tram ride to the top. Afterwards, wander around the expansive underground Museum of Westward Expansion (it’s free) and revel in St. Louis’s history as the Gateway to the West.
Saint Louis Art Museum
1 Fine Arts Dr.
St. Louis, MO 63110
www.slam.orgHave you visited the Art Museum since its expansion last year? There aren’t many free museums in the world that can rival our beloved SLAM. The collections are diverse, from mummies to modern art, and the atmosphere is friendly, warm and elegant. If you have small children, don’t miss the Museum’s creative family activities on Sunday afternoons. Keep an eye on SLAM’s online calendar so you can enjoy the Museum’s special exhibits, films, dining events, lectures and other happenings.
Missouri Botanical Garden
4344 Shaw Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63110
www.mobot.orgDon’t rule out MOBOT in the winter. Seiwa-En, the Japanese Garden, was designed to showcase snow as the crowning “flower” of the garden in winter. Even if there isn’t snow, the bridges, stones, water and tree trunks of Seiwa-En offer beautiful landscapes even without foliage. When you’re ready to warm up, step into the balmy Climatron and find yourself in a steamy jungle scene, with palm trees, waterfalls and orchids in bloom. The Mediterranean house is also indoors and has a charming collection of semi-tropical and carnivorous plants.
750 N. 16th St.
St. Louis, MO 63103
www.citymuseum.orgWhen was the last time you visited the zany, original world of City Museum? About 600,000 square feet of indoor space combines fantastical sculpture with an indoor playground to create a funhouse for mind and body. Different areas of the Museum appeal to different age groups, but there is something for everyone here, from young children to adults. If you’re one of those St. Louisans who’s never visited the space, either because you think museums are stuffy places or because you think this one is just for children, you are going to be amazed.
6605 Delmar Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63130
www.fitzsrootbeer.comThe best part of a vacation is going off your diet and enjoying great food and drink. Many of St. Louis’s most fun dining experiences take place on rooftop terraces or in courtyards, but there are still plenty of great choices in winter. Fitz’s Restaurant is great staycation food because it’s affordable, informal, very local and indulgent for adults and families alike. Watch bottles of root beer and cream soda ride past on conveyor belts in the bottling plant while you nosh on burgers and root beer floats.
Related: Top Indoor Playgrounds In St. Louis
Lauren Haas was the founder and publisher of The St. Louis Area Family Gazette magazine, and editor-in-chief of Marketplace Magazine. Now, Lauren is a full-time freelance writer who travels the world, using St. Louis as her base. Contact her at Lauren@LaurenHaas.com