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Explore St. Louis: Things to See and Do in St. Louis During Entomology 2019

St. Louis on the Mississippi river by night

St. Louis on the Mississippi River by night. Photo by Daniel Schwen via Wikimedia Commons.

By Aditi Dubey and Jocelyn R. Holt

Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series contributed by the ESA Student Affairs Committee. See other posts by and for entomology students here at Entomology Today.

Aditi Dubey

Aditi Dubey

The ESA Annual Meeting in St. Louis is almost here! While you are likely busy getting ready for ESA by putting the finishing touches on a talk and asking yourself what you need to bring (think warm clothes, reusable water bottle, and USB) we would like to provide a brief overview of some of the cool things to see and do in St. Louis.

St. Louis is a vibrant city with a great diversity of food and activities and is sure to have something for everyone. Whether you prefer to visit museums, explore nature, or enjoy the food and music scene, our list below should help get you started on your St. Louis adventure.

Traveling Around St. Louis

The easiest way for visitors to get around St. Louis is the Metro transit system. The MetroLink light rail has stops throughout the city, including at the convention center and a number of tourist attractions, and runs from around 4 am to 1 am all days of the week. The Metro bus system has over 70 routes and is a great way to get to places that may not be light-rail accessible. MetroLink costs $2.50 per ride and Metro bus costs $2 per ride. If you plan to travel around the city a lot, two-hour, one day, or weekly passes may be a good option. Tickets and passes can be purchased at MetroLink stations, and the buses also accept fares in exact change.

Jocelyn Holt

Jocelyn R. Holt

St. Louis Districts and Local Scene

While downtown St. Louis is the home base for ESA 2019, there are plenty of exciting places and neighborhoods to explore. Take some time to check out what each unique neighborhood has to offer.

Downtown – Experience the hustle and bustle of the city. Home of the Arch, Ballpark Village, and the home base for ESA 2019.

The Loop – Recognized by the American Planning Association as “one of the 10 great streets in America.” Home to neon signs, trolley rides, the famous Blueberry Hill restaurant and music venue, and eclectic shopping.

The Grove – Diverse selection of bars, nightclubs, and restaurants. An artsy and trendsetting neighborhood that is considered a green dining district.

Maplewood – Where hip meets old school. Home to arts, crafts, and breweries.

Midtown – Home to the major museums in St. Louis as well as Forest Park.

Grand Center – At the edge of Midtown, this is the art and entertainment hub of St. Louis.

South Grand – Considered the international district of St. Louis. This neighborhood is also home to the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Local and Cheap Eats

St. Louis offers a variety of food and local eats. Although this city is known for its wonderful Italian cuisine, toasted ravioli, St. Louis Style ribs (Pappy’s Smokehouse, Salt+Smoke), St. Paul Sandwich (Delmar Chop Suey), frozen custard (Ted Drewes Custard), gooey butter cakes (Gooey Louie, Park Avenue Coffee), and bionic apples (candy coated apples from Merb’s Candies), there are plenty of other options to choose from. Below is a list of restaurants close by America’s Center Convention Complex, although we certainly encourage you to expand your culinary horizons by visiting places just a short drive away.

For those who prefer vegetarian or vegan food here is a short list of options: Small Batch, Tree House Vegetarian Restaurant, Utah Station, Seedz Café, PuraVegan Café & Yoga, and Bombay Food Junkies. And for those craving a taste of the Midwest, you can always get your White Castle fix or visit the St. Louis Bread Co. (aka Panera everywhere outside Missouri).

314 The City Bar – Try a smashed burger, sandwich, or hot dog. Also offering some salads and a small selection for all-day brunch.

Mango – Peruvian cuisine. Delicious food for lunch or dinner. A must visit!

Sauce on the Side – Calzones and salads along with a selection of local beers. Need we say more?

Gioia’s Deli – Fresh-made sandwiches made the way you like it. Offering cold cuts, salads, and hot toasted sandwiches. Winner of the 2017 JBF Award.

Caruso’s Deli – Soups, salads, and sandwiches. Open for breakfast and lunch.

Pickle’s Deli – Sandwiches and soups. Also a close walk from the convention center.

Rooster – Breakfast, brunch, and lunch spot. Offering food for carnivores and vegetarians.

Caffeination Stations

Need a quick cup of caffeine? Looking for a chill place to work or have a conversation? You’ll find a number of coffee shops within a few blocks of the Convention Center. If you are short on time but still want a hot or caffeinated beverage, you can head to Center Cafe inside America’s Center Convention Complex. And of course, you can find a Starbucks just a stone’s throw away from most places you’ll be.

Catalyst Coffee Bar – Catalyst Coffee Bar is an extension of Art Saint Louis, a nonprofit that beautifies St. Louis through the work of local artists. Their menu features a carefully curated rotation of coffee, tea, and espresso drinks from selected roasters across the United States along with the best locally-baked pastries.

Kaldi’s Coffee Roasting Co. – With several locations throughout the city, this specialty coffee roaster with a focus on sustainability is dedicated to creating a memorable coffee experience.

Park Avenue Coffee – A local chain known for its small batch air-roasted coffee and 73 flavors of St. Louis gooey butter cake.

Visit the Museums and Monuments

Monsanto Insectarium

Monsanto Insectarium at the St. Louis Zoo.

Looking to take in a bit of St. Louis history and culture? St. Louis has a museum for just about everything, including sports, science, architectural and engineering feats, art, and jazz. With so many to choose from, you can stay out of the winter chill and take in the St. Louis scene.

City Museum – This one-of-a-kind museum consists of repurposed architectural and industrial objects in a former shoe factory. It has miles of tunnels, slides, climbers, and bridges to explore, so make sure to dress for an active experience. On Friday and Saturdays, you can also visit in the evening after 5 pm.

National Blues Museum – Opened in 2016, this museum celebrates the history, evolution, and impact of blues music. Explore the exhibits and enjoy live music every Thursday, Friday, and Sunday.

Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum – Featuring stadiums, players, and championship moments, the Cardinals Museum boasts one of the largest team-specific collections of artifacts and memorabilia in the world

The Gateway Arch – The world’s tallest arch and the most famous symbol of St. Louis, the Gateway Arch is just a 15-minute walk from the conference center. Take the tram to the top of the arch, visit the museum celebrating America’s pioneering spirit, or take a riverboat cruise on the mighty Mississippi river.

St. Louis Art Museum – Located in Forest Park, this free museum houses paintings, sculptures, cultural objects, and ancient masterpieces from around the world, spanning 5,000 years of history. See works by artists such as Van Gogh, Monet, Rembrandt, and Gauguin.

Missouri History Museum – This free museum in Forest Park includes both national artifacts and materials related to Missouri and St. Louis, including artifacts from the St. Louis World’s Fair, items relating to Charles Lindbergh and his trans-Atlantic flight, and artifacts from the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

St. Louis Science Center – Another free attraction in Forest Park, the Science Center includes a planetarium and a science museum with exhibits spanning a number of topics from space exploration to energy to ecology and the environment.

St. Louis Zoo – The St. Louis Zoo is recognized as a leading zoo in animal management, research, conservation, and education. See animals such as polar and grizzly bears, penguins, gorillas, Komodo dragons, and a number of amazing arthropods in the Monsanto Insectarium.

Enjoy the Outdoors

Although ESA is a ton of fun, you might need a break from spending the day inside a convention center. Nothing beats going outside and getting some fresh air, and luckily, St. Louis has a number of outdoor attractions where you can take a stroll and enjoy the fall weather while experiencing beautiful art and nature.

Citygarden – This urban sculpture park located in downtown St. Louis is an oasis of free interactive art, fountains, and gardens spanning two blocks, including 24 sculptures and six rain gardens.

Laumeier Sculpture Park – This 105-acre open-air museum and sculpture park near St. Louis houses over 60 outdoor sculptures and a 1.4 mile walking trail. There is also an indoor gallery and a Tudor stone mansion from 1816.

Forest Park – This 1,300-acre park is one of the finest urban public parks in the country. In addition to beautiful landscapes, forests, nature reserves, lakes, and streams, the park houses the St. Louis Art Museum, the Missouri History Museum, the St. Louis Science Center, and the St. Louis Zoo.

Missouri Botanical Garden – This 79-acre botanical garden is home to the United States’ second largest herbarium, a geodesic dome conservatory, and a number of formal and international gardens, including a Japanese strolling garden, an English woodland garden, an Ottoman garden, and a German garden.

Catch the Live Music Scene

St. Louis is known for its diverse local music scene, and there’s something for everyone! In any given week, there are up to 300 performances and you can choose between concert halls (The Ready Room, The Pageant), clubs (Bottleneck Blues Bar, Blueberry Hill, The Way Out Club, BB’s Jazz, Blues and Soups), bars (Broadway Oyster Bar, CJ Mugg’s, Venice Cafe, Pop’s Blue Moon, Helen Fitzgerald’s, The Heavy Anchor), lounges (Sky Music Lounge), and restaurants (Evangeline’s Bistro & Music House, SqWires Restaurant & Annex, Hammerstone’s) to enjoy rock, jazz, blues, rap, classical, punk, swing, and any other genre you can think of. Many of these venues have live music in a number of different genres several days of the week, and multiple times daily, so make sure to check out their lineups before you plan your visit.

Check Out the Local Breweries and Tap Houses

Another enjoyable aspect of visiting different cities can involve exploring the craft brew scene and gastropubs. Below we have listed some of the craft brewery highlights to consider while staying in St. Louis. And if large scale breweries are your kind of thing, St. Louis is home to Anheuser-Busch and the majestic Budweiser Clydesdales. If you prefer not to drink beer, no worries. St. Louis has numerous interesting cocktail bars (Planter’s House, Trust, Narwhal’s Crafted, Rhone Rum Bar, Small Batch Whiskey & Fare, The Fountain on Locust) and speakeasy style bars (make sure to make a reservation and have your password ready when necessary; Taste, Thaxton Speakeasy, Blood and Sand, The Bullock Room at Planter’s House, The Gin Room) and is also home to non-alcoholic kombucha (Confluence Kombucha). As always, remember to check hours of operations before visiting.

Schlafly Bottleworks & Taproom – If variety is the spice of life, then you’ll definitely find Schlafly to be lively. They offer IPAs, stouts, lagers, ales, seasonal beers, and even hard cider. If you get hungry, they’ve got that covered too, offering a range from light bites, salads, and sandwiches to hearty main dishes.

21st Street Brewers Bar – Their philosophy is “craft beer with no attitude.” With around 50 beers on tap and over 80 beers in cans/bottles from breweries in St. Louis and beyond, there is sure to be something for every beer drinker’s palate. There are also snacks and the ability to order from PW Pizza, for those who want to hang out.

Morgan Street Brewery – One of the oldest breweries in St. Louis, Morgan Street boasts a chill and low-key vibe. You’ll find the staple pilsner, wheat beer, lager, and porter offered on tap. And if you want a bite to eat, they’ve got that covered too.

Perennial Artisan Ales – Their rotating taps offer a variety of Stouts, Saisons, IPAs, and Hazy IPAs, to name a few. And they also have a tasting room with predominantly locally sourced ingredients used to create food you can enjoy alone or pair with a beer.

Side Project Brewing & Side Project Cellar – An endeavor that literally started out as a brewing side project from Perennial Artisan Ales. Specializes in Saisons and Wild Ales, which are categorized as Sour beer. If barrel-aged beers with acidity are your thing, then this is a must-try.

Civil Life – Currently on tap they are offering pale ales, lagers, and porters, which are all solid beers for chilly winter weather. You can also catch a bite to eat from their ever changing food menu.

4Hands Brewing – Serving a variety for every beer palate from pilsner, IPAs, brown ale, and lager along with a list of seasonal rotating beers that generally includes stouts during winter. Also offering a variety of snack foods by Sidney Street Cafe and Peacemaker.

2nd Shift Brewing – An eclectic collection of beer with interesting artwork and names. Definitely an interesting venue that contains most beer styles and an in-house Guerrilla Street Food with a heavy focus on pork. And in case you need some motivation, their slogan is “You have a choice to make: drink good beer or don’t. We can’t make the decision for you, we just make the beer.”

Eclectic Nightlife

While you are in St. Louis, consider exploring what the nightlife has to offer. There are so many options from bars to clubs to axe throwing (yes, you read correctly, axe throwing is a thing). Whatever you plan, remember to be safe, travel with friends, and consider using ride-share services if traveling to new areas or after dark. And if you are looking for somewhere to go after the Student Social or ECP Social, consider checking out Tin Roof (bar with live music), Wheelhouse (bar), Start Bar (arcade bar), or Three Sixty (rooftop bar with city-wide views).

We hope that this gives you some great ideas for what to see and do while visiting St. Louis. To explore more opportunities you can visit Remember to share your adventures with the rest of the entomological community by using #EntSoc19 when posting to social media.

Aditi Dubey is a Ph.D. candidate in entomology at University of Maryland and is the Eastern Branch Representative for the 2018-2019 ESA Student Affairs Committee. Twitter: @Addie_Dubey. Email: Jocelyn R. Holt is a Ph.D. candidate in entomology at Texas A&M University and is the 2018-2019 chair of the ESA Student Affairs Committee. Twitter: @JocelynRHolt. Email:

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