St. Louis at a Glance
“What St. Louis Tells Us About America,” by Jane Smiley.
While the St. Louis metropolitan area is home to more than 2.8 million people, it’s a “city of neighborhoods” comprised of 79 unique and distinct communities. As such, St. Louisans celebrate their variety and differences as well as their likeness and similarities. They appreciate a diversity of cultures and perspectives, but are united by loyalty to their sports teams (Go Cards!) and businesses. The region is a great place to raise a family, yet offers a life of excitement to singles. It’s a flagship Midwestern city represented by a global variety of political viewpoints, religious beliefs, and various lifestyles. The people of St. Louis are caring, friendly, and consistently ranked as one of the most charitable in the country (St. Louis was ranked the 2nd most charitable city in America by Charity Navigator in 2016).
St. Louis is packed with business and educational opportunities, recreation, entertainment, history, and natural beauty. Innovative and exciting industries, such as plant and medical sciences, information technology, and advanced manufacturing are all thriving here. Greater St. Louis is the headquarters for 26 Fortune 1000 companies, nine of which are in the Fortune 500. It’s also home to some of the country’s largest privately held companies and some of the fastest-growing businesses in the country. After BJC Health Care, other major health care systems are SSM Health Care and Mercy Health System.
- In 2016, the St. Louis Zoo was chosen as the nation’s best free attraction by USA Today’s 10 Best Reader’s Choice Awards. It was also ranked 3rd best zoo in the country and 8th best in the world by TripAdvisor. And it’s free!
- St. Louis’ Forest Park was named the Number 1 best city park in America (Thrillist, May 2016), as “nowhere else in America will you be able to walk manicured green space, look at a Van Gogh painting, and visit with polar bears and red pandas — all without spending a dime.”
- The Missouri Botanical Garden — a world-class Botanical Garden founded in 1859 — is the oldest botanical garden in continuous operation in America and was awarded the third best public garden in the United States (TripAdvisor, 2013). Their 14-acre Japanese Garden is one of the largest and most beautiful in North America, while their orchid collection is one of the largest in the world.
- The Muny is America’s oldest and largest outdoor theatre devoted exclusively to musical theatre—the 11,000-seat amphitheater features 1,500 free seats!
- The St. Louis Symphony is widely respected and the second oldest symphony orchestra in the country.
- St. Louis is home to the famous Ted Drewes frozen custard, hailed as the best ice cream in the world (Soolnua’s World Ice Cream index, 2016)
Quality of Life
With more than 20 universities and colleges enrolling about 113,000 individuals in four-year institutions, the St. Louis area produces nearly 26,000 graduates with bachelor’s, graduate or professional degrees each year. The area also has an extensive network of community colleges, which enroll an additional 74,000 students, as well as vocational and technical training facilities and some of the best elementary schools and high schools in the country.
Cultural and entertainment offerings are plentiful here. Many of the hallmark cultural and educational institutions boast free admission, including the Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis Zoo, St. Louis Science Center, the Missouri History Museum and the Municipal Opera (Muny). Festivals and fairs of all types — arts, music, ethnic, and others — happen year round, from the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival in Forest Park to the St. Louis Jazz and Heritage Festival in downtown Clayton to the Mardi Gras Barkus Pet Parade in the historically French Soulard neighborhood. Live theater and musical performances cater to all tastes and price ranges. St. Louis was rated the #2 foodie city nationally (Yelp, 2019), offering a wealth of independent restaurants of every ethnic and fusion style, many near the Medical Center.
Single Life in St. Louis
Singles in St. Louis can mingle and spend free time at a number of venues and events. The St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Blues draw sell-out crowds to their respective stadiums, while college-level sports teams frequently compete at the top of their leagues here. Gateway International Raceway (auto racing) and Fairmount Park (thoroughbred racing) are just a short hop away on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River.
The closest and most popular neighborhood is the Central West End (CWE), a lively and historic district in the heart of the city that’s bustling with dining, entertainment, shopping, and nightlife. Also nearby is the Delmar Loop, an ever-evolving center of nightlife with unique stores, original boutiques, and iconic restaurants (such as Fitz’s Soda Microbrewery and Restaurant). Finally, downtown Clayton boasts high-end dining, fine art galleries, prominent boutiques, and luxury hotels. And these are just a few of the exciting areas St. Louis has to offer!
Greater St. Louis is home to more than 100 parks and some 200 miles of trails for cycling, running and walking. At 1,293 acres, Forest Park — adjacent to the Medical Center — is approximately 500 acres larger than Central Park in New York and offers a multitude of outdoor opportunities. A network of hiking and bicycle trails that follow the area’s great rivers (the Great Rivers Greenway) is emerging as one of the best in the country. Many state parks, both in Missouri and Illinois, are within easy driving distance. Three hours away is the 55,000-acre Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri’s largest body of water, as well as many beautiful rivers and streams ideal for canoeing. They include the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, the nation’s first scenic waterway, established by Congress in 1964. Many destinations for hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, rock climbing — even spelunking and skydiving — encircle the area. And with four distinct seasons, there’s a new set of activities to enjoy every few months.
Raising a Family in St. Louis
A number of family-friendly attractions are sprawled across the St. Louis area. Perhaps the closest and most exciting family event of the year takes place in Forest Park, which hosts a hot-air Balloon Glow and Balloon Race each September. The Magic House is a children’s museum filled with fun, educational, and interactive events and exhibits. Purina Farms is a pet-centered attraction that hosts a number of kid-friendly (and many pet friendly!) gatherings, parties, events, and celebrations. Lone Elk Park delivers a free, scenic car ride through a wildlife setting populated with elk, bison, deer, turkey, and waterfowl, and is neighbor to the World Bird Sanctuary, a 305-acre environment the rescues and cares for over 200 animals and bird species. Finally, the City Museum is a 600,000 square-foot surrealistic, urban playground designed by the internationally acclaimed sculptor Bob Cassily inside the former International Shoe Company building.
St. Louis is centrally located, making travel to all parts of the country convenient for visiting family members. Lambert-St. Louis International Airport is a national hub served by 20 airlines. St. Louis is a stop on multiple Amtrak routes. You can easily drive to Chicago (5 hours), Memphis (4 hours), Indianapolis (4 hours), or Kansas City (4 hours). The Missouri Ozarks are a few hours away for a getaway as rustic or indulgent as you wish.
WUMCHA, the Washington University Medical Center Housestaff Auxiliary is a support group that addresses the needs of spouses, partners, residents, fellows, and attending physicians in the medical center since 1982. It is a great resource for all newcomers to the medical campus, especially partners of residents who have recently relocated to St. Louis!