Missouri license plates are emblazoned with the words “The Show-Me State,” our unofficial motto. And we wouldn’t blame anyone for adopting a little of that same skepticism when arriving in St. Louis. But the region wins over transplants with its unexpected assets in everything from architecture to arts and education to adult beverages. We’ve collected some of them here, and we can’t wait to show you more!
The architecture is spectacular.
From bridges (Eads) to buildings (Wainwright), to monuments (Arch) and parks (Forest), St. Louis is really something to behold.
And as for the single-family homes? You’ll find every shade of brick ornamenting housing filled with history, pathos, character and soul. There is Colonial, Cape Cod, Greek Revival, Georgian, Tudor, Federal, Mid-Century Modern, Industrial – even Second Empire Victorian and Craftsmen – throughout scores of neighborhoods as beautiful as they are unique. And for those who prefer a more uniform look, there are plenty of streets and subdivisions where orderliness reigns.
For renters, there are duplexes, four families, townhouses, highrises and apartment communities new and old – with pools, gyms, rooftop lounges and all the amenities. Many are within walkable neighborhoods.
The schools are competitive.
More than competitive – they’ll stand up against any in the country. Many newcomers and job candidates hail from places where there might be one or two viable public school districts for their kids. Thus, it can be a little perplexing to learn that there are not only one or two public school districts of note in the St. Louis region, there are over 100 – dozens of which carry National Blue Ribbon designations and other awards. Several of the public high schools are ranked among the best in the U.S., and countless public elementary schools are highly regarded, totally approachable and often mistaken for private until otherwise notified.
And speaking of private, there are over 300 wonderfully diverse independent schools as well, from gifted to language immersion, religious to preparatory, for every kind of learner. So from wherever your children arrive from and whatever their background, they can feel neither out of place nor alone.
The kids are going to love it.
… perhaps even more than you will. Almost any transferee carries a little guilt when it comes to moving the little ones to a new school or city. But enriching young lives is truly what St. Louis does best – elevating the "it takes a village" mentality to a whole new level. Raising children is the region's real commodity – even before the likes of beer or even baseball.
From toddlers to teens, young ones seem to instinctively know that the entire place is set up for them – they can feel it the minute they arrive. Nearly every museum, institution, venue and restaurant enthusiastically accommodates the whole family. Some of the craft breweries even have play areas. No joke.
The healthcare options are exceptional.
It’s never good to get sick, but if it happens, St. Louis is a great place to be thanks to its convenience, accessibility, parking and beds per capita. It has the headquarters of four major health systems, level one trauma centers, dozens of hospitals, NICUs, surgery centers, cancer centers, children's hospitals, two major medical schools (with two more a short drive away) and cutting edge, world-renowned research – nowhere in the world will you find such premium levels of care coupled with the impressive number of options.
Bring sunglasses to see the greenery everywhere.
There’s little pollution and even less northern haze. It’s bright, clean and clear on most days – and, actually, St. Louis is a pretty sunny place no matter the season. Those who believe the interwebs may be expecting a landscape of flat cornfields or frozen tundra. But St. Louis is more about giant old trees, trails, parks, gardens and leafy streets. Literally all over. And it's gorgeous.
Your life outdoors isn't over.
And your life on the water isn't either. There are literally hundreds of hiking, biking, running and walking trails in a myriad of parks and greenways, all within St. Louis proper. Forest Park alone has 30 miles of walking trails.
And while there is no ocean, that doesn't mean there is no shore. You'll find lakes and riverfronts with opportunities for rafting, boating, sailing and fishing galore – anywhere from right down the road to a short drive away. And within a 3- to 4-hour drive? You have everything from Table Rock to Lake of the Ozarks and more.
There's a lot to drink.
St. Louis might be known as the home of the King of Beers, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for anyone else. Anheuser-Busch was sold in 2006, and a number of former execs and family members took that buy-out and invested in what they knew best: breweries and beer. As a result, St. Louis has nearly 100 craft breweries large and small.
Add the distilleries, winemakers (even a gorgeous little wine country, one of the oldest in the U.S.), and headquartered national distributors, and you will find a drinkers’ paradise with the accommodating laws and ordinances to match. For example, if you've never been to a grocery store selling wine, beer and liquor, together, on a Sunday, you're about to. We can go into the golf carts, "road sodas" and liberal open-container laws later. In the meantime, you now have a heads up, and please drink responsibly.
And that's not new. Many worry that in a place like Missouri (or the even Midwest in general), they'll find an LGBTQ community that's teeny-tiny, totally underground or perhaps relegated to a single neighborhood, organization, entity or bar – if it even exists. On the contrary, the gay community in St. Louis is established, expansive, multi-faceted and thriving – found in half a dozen neighborhoods, celebrated in three separate pride parades and showcased in dedicated publications.
The art, food, music and culture hit way outside of their weight class.
Within a 25-minute drive in any direction, you’ll find cultural destinations on par with those in much larger cities, most of them in neighborhood settings where you can easily park and, in many cases, walk right in without paying a dime. There are 300 weekly live shows at a range of indoor, outdoor, intimate, historic and epic venues; it can be hard to know where to begin.
The independent food scene is excellent, and the neighborhood, artisan, regional and international grocery stores ensure that you will find local flavor as well as a taste of home, wherever you’re from.
Throw in institutions such as the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, the Fabulous Fox Theatre, The Muny outdoor amphitheater, the Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University, The Black Rep, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, as well as world-renowned art museums and galleries, PLUS the country's second-oldest symphony and the National Blues Museum, and you'll find St. Louis is as much a culture town as it is a sports town.
Anthony P. Bartlett is Founder of Acclimate. Acclimate helps companies attract, hire and retain top talent within the St. Louis region by connecting prospective candidates and new hires with the lifestyle, communities, preferences and affinity groups that maximize their quality of life.