Welcome to St. Louis…an accommodating, affordable, fun city right in the middle of everywhere for your convention or meeting!

St. Louis is a rich, vibrant community steeped in history. It was founded by Pierre Laclede and August Chouteau in 1763 as a small fur trading post due to the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, and was named for King Louis IX of France. Laclede and Chouteau traveled up the Mississippi River from New Orleans and most of the early settlers were French…you will see much French influence still present in architecture, street names, and decorative areas around the city. St. Louis became part of the United States due to the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, and was the starting point of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, which was the 1st expedition to the Pacific Coast…hence the nickname “The Gateway to the West.” St. Louis was incorporated into a city in 1823, burned in 1849, hosted the 1904 World’s Fair (aka “Louisiana Purchase Exposition”) and the Olympics in the same year…and the rest is history!

Today St. Louis is divided into 79 neighborhoods, each with a distinctive personality. The America’s Center Convention Complex is located in downtown St. Louis and convention participants have many options nearby!

Stop for your Starbucks coffee on your way to the convention center at the Hilton at the Ballpark, at the Hyatt Regency at the Arch, or on the corner of Olive & 6th. Local brews can also be found on your morning walk at 6 North Cafe (Market & 7th) and Cafe Breve (Chestnut & 9th.)

St. Louis is known for culinary treats such as toasted ravioli, gooey butter cake, provel cheese, and pork steaks. Although settled by the French, there is a large Italian influence in restaurants today. Favorites include Lombardo’s Trattoria (20th just south of Market-inside the Drury Inn), J.F. Sanfillippo’s (Broadway & Lucas-inside Drury Inn Convention Center), and Kemoll’s (Broadway & Olive-inside Metropolitan Plaza). Keep your eyes peeled for a man on bended knee at Kemoll’s as it is a local spot for engagement proposals! What better place to find beef than in the Midwest? You will see an abundant of steakhouses all around the city, but the downtown favorite is Carmine’s (4th & Walnut-inside Drury Plaza Hotel). Local sports celebrities seem to like to open restaurants in St. Louis and Joe Buck and family’s J. Bucks (Clark & 10th) won’t disappoint when it comes to BBQ and other local casual fare. When it comes to Contemporary American cuisine, Clark Street Grill (Spruce & 8th-inside the Westin Hotel) and Harry’s (Market & 22nd) are downtown faves and great for people watching. St. Louis is also known for super thin crust pizza and Imo’s St. Louis Style Pizza (1 South Broadway-inside Hilton at the Ballpark) is a hometown hit that is now known throughout the United States. Check out the local “fro yo” spot Yo My Goodness (1 South Broadway-inside the Hilton at the Ballpark) for dessert. And when it comes nightlife and casual eats, you’ll be singing the blues at BB’s (700 South Broadway) and Broadway Oyster Bar (736 South Broadway) or enjoying a local brew at Schlafly’s Brewery & Tap Room!

Immediately to the west of the convention center is the Washington Avenue Loft District. This community was established at the turn of the 20th century as the garment district. Unfortunately the industry and this area saw a decline after World War II…but Washington Avenue was revitalized starting in the late 1990′s and has popularized “loft living” in St. Louis!

Your morning…or afternoon…cup of coffee can be found at the Starbucks across the street from the convention center. Or if you would prefer to try a local brew, just walk a few blocks to Park Avenue Coffee (10th just south of Washington), Washington Avenue Post (Washington & 13th), or Gelateria Tavolini (Washington & 14th).

Locally sourced products are featured at Capri (Washington & 8th-inside the Renaissance Grand) and Bridge Tap House & Wine Bar (Locust & 10th). Another award-winning St. Louis steakhouse is Prime 1000 (Washington & 10th) and an award-winning fusion foodie haven is Mosaic Modern Fusion Tapas (Washington & 10th). There are also 2 notable local sushi restaurants in this neighborhood…Wasabi Sushi Bar (Washington & 12th) and Mizu Sushi Bar (Washington & 10th). Dessert is best served cold at Gelateria Tavolini (Washington & 14th). And when it comes to nightlife, you’ll find pubs and clubs…Irish pubs include The Dubliner (Washington & 10th) and Flannery’s (Washington & 14th) and clubs come and go so fast that walking down the street is the best way to find them!

To the east of the convention center and on the riverfront of the “Muddy Mississippi” is Laclede’s Landing. “The Landing” is home to 15 unique restaurants, bars and nightclubs, as well as several retail shops, theaters, and attractions. This is the oldest district in St. Louis…cobblestone streets and all!

If you are staying at the Four Seasons or Hotel Lumiere, you can enjoy Pete’s Coffee & Tea before you ever leave the building.

You might not think of seafood when you think of St. Louis, but St. Louis Fish Market (901 North 1st Street-inside the Embassy Suites Hotel) does not disappoint as fresh shipments arrive daily. And the best steakhouse on this block is Al’s Steakhouse (1200 North 1st Street). If you are feeling lucky, Lumiere Place Casino is the place to be to the roll the dice and make a bet. West Coast favorite Burger Bar and best kept secret Asia are great places to eat, and if you want to catch the game head over to Stadium Sports Bar & Grill. Otherwise just walk up and down The Landing and step in to the bars and nightclubs wherever the mood strikes you…but be sure not to miss local brew house Morgan Street Brewery!

If you want to explore away from the downtown core, there are 4 nearby neighborhoods that are a destination unto themselves…full of history, architecture, restaurants, bars, coffee houses, dessert bars, shops, and more!

LAFAYETTE SQUARE was the 1st “suburb” of St. Louis (a whole 1 mile away from the original St. Louis settlement) and was the fashionable place to live in the mid-late 1800s, full of Victorian painted ladies surrounding a pretty park. Unfortunately the Tornado of 1896 destroyed the area, and many families decided to migrate to the west. Lafayette Square was saved by a small group of locals who had a fondness for old homes, and in 1972 the city of St. Louis deemed Lafayette Square the 1st historic district of St. Louis. The neighborhood is once again a hub of activity and family living! Restaurant favorites include 1111 Mississippi, Ricardo’s Italian Cafe, and SqWires as well as dessert favorites Baileys’ Chocolate Bar and Park Avenue Coffee.

SOULARD is the heart of “old Frenchtown” and sprang to life around 1840 when waves of immigrants started developing the land just south of downtown. New homeowners built on European-style narrow lots, and used popular-at-the-time American architecture styles including Italianate, Federal, and Second Empire. Unfortunately Soulard became a slum in the 1960′s as families got tired of crowded streets and urban sprawl started to take effect. Luckily urban pioneers began Soulard’s rebirth in the 1980′s and it is now home to St. Louis’ Mardi Gras and Bastille Days festivals. There are many upscale and casual restaurants and bars in the area including 1860′s Hard Shell Cafe & Bar, Franco, Hammerstone’s, Joanie’s Pizzeria, Llywelyn’s Pub, John D. McGurk’s Irish Pub & Restaurant, Old Rock House, and Tucker’s Place. Look out for the Cajun influence and the spicy fare, and be sure to cool off your palate at local brew house Square One Brewery & Distillery!

THE HILL is the original Italian neighborhood in St. Louis, settled in the 1890′s when immigrants from North Italy and Sicily came to work in the clay mines and smelters. It was named The Hill because it was the city’s highest point. It is a modest, self-contained neighborhood, where houses are passed down through families and life moves at a slower pace. Although St. Louis is home to many renowned Italian restaurants, many believe those that are on The Hill are the most authentic. Local favorites include Zia’s, Mama Campisi’s, Riggazi’s, Charlie Gitto’s, Gian-Tony’s, Giovanni’s. Don’t forget to stop by Gelato de Riso for authentic Italian dessert…and watch out for those bocce balls!

THE CENTRAL WEST END was the area where the wealthy and the business leaders escaped the crowded city to build stately homes on streets that were set up as private places starting in the 1870′s. This “westward expansion” and the building boom of the 1904 World’s Fair heavily contributed to the neighborhood. It surrounds the north and the east borders of Forest Park, and its beauty was heavily protected by its residents. Unfortunately the Depression and World War II started the decline of the area, and the highway system built in the 1950′s took people away from the CWE in another round of “westward expansion.” Fortunately home and business owners have reclaimed the original beauty of the area and it is now a commercial and residential hub of activity! You have your pick of just about any type of restaurant or bar in the CWE including Bar Italia Restorante, Dressel’s Pub, Eau Bistro, Herbie’s Vintage 1972, India’s Rasoi, Liluma, Little Saigon Cafe, Llywelyn’s Pub, Pi Pizzeria, Scape, Sub Zero Vodka Bar, The Tenderloin Room, and Wild Flower Restaurant.

Enjoy your time in my hometown…and let me know if there is any other information I can provide to enhance your visit!