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St. Louis is known as the Gateway to the West. This was certainly the case for Lewis and Clark, who stopped here for provisions during their famous expedition. In the years that followed, the city became a manufacturing center for wagons, guns, blankets, saddles, and everything pioneers would need on their journeys west. St. Louis was originally settled by New Orleans fur trader Pierre Laclède in 1764 at the junction of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. This location proved ideal, and St. Louis quickly surpassed its downstream neighbor, Ste. Genevieve, in growth—by 1860, the city had more than 160,000 residents. Because of its size and location, St. Louis became a center for government and finance, and the 1904 World's Fair brought increasing growth and diversification to the local marketplace. The Roman Catholic Church dominated the religious life of early St. Louis, and it remains a powerful voice in the local religious, social, and political debates to this day. The city's educational institutions, including Washington University and St. Louis University, are global leaders in scientific and social research. Forest Park's Muny Opera is the largest open-air theater in the nation, and the St. Louis Art Museum is known throughout the world. But St. Louis is indisputably a baseball town, and a fanatic love of the sport—and specifically the Cardinals—is a way of life for many here. Fans also support the NFL's Rams and the NHL's Blues, but rooting for the redbirds trumps everything.
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Grant Farm is one of the stables of the beloved Budweiser Clydesdales. There are 25 mares, geldings and, sometimes, even foals. Get ready to gush.
Taylor S. Kennedy / Getty Images
Want a cool trip down memory lane? Go to Ted Drewes on Old Route 66. It opened in 1941 and serves the silkiest frozen custard.
Eric O'Connell / Getty Images
Don’t limit your search to just hotels. St. Louis surprisingly has quite a few bed and breakfasts. Lots of beautiful old homes.
Svitlana Prada / Getty Images
If there's one site you must see in St. Louis, it’s the Gateway Arch—and at a lofty 630 feet, it’s kind of hard to miss, really. Wait 'til you get up the top.
Steve Geer / Getty Images
Streetcars once used Delmar Blvd to loop back to downtown St. Louis. Today, the strip is its own destination, known for dining, shopping, and entertainment.
Rick Gerharter / Getty Images
It’s hard to imagine what these two blocks must have looked like before Citygarden was a thing. Today, they make up one of the country's great urban parks.
Morey Milbradt / Getty Images
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Inexpensive diversions in beautiful — and budget-friendly — towns.