St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis, Missouri - the Gateway City - was founded by French settlers and later ruled by Spain. Its position along the Mississippi River made it a perfect point for launching the Lewis and Clark expedition and for shipping goods by steamboat. The importance of St. Louis was celebrated at both the 1904 Olympics and the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition.

The St. Louis Art Museum was originally commissioned for the 1904 Exposition. Admission is free and the museum houses an expansive collection of African American art. The Museum of Westward Expansion is worth a visit, too, with its showcase on the early years and people of St. Louis. Then, get outside for a walk through the fantastic Missouri Botanical Garden, designed in 1859. Or, ride a bicycle along the 5-mile bike and walking trail of lush Forest Park.

Head to the Broadway Oyster Bar and sit down to a lobster po' boy and a SoCo Hurricane, while a live blues band plays. Follow it up with praline-flavored frozen custard at Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. Discover more bands at The Gramophone in the exciting, eccentric Grove District. Check out the SoHo Restaurant in the Grove for cat fish, crab cakes - and more live music.