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The City of St. Louis is home to 78 recognized neighborhoods and is surrounded by a metropolitan area containing numerous municipalities, including 91 in St. Louis county alone. In an interesting twist, the city itself is not part of St. Louis county, owing to the City's decision in 1876 to separate itself from the county. Within the city there are a variety of neighborhoods of interest.
The Central West End boasts chic restaurants, trendy nightlife and magnificent architecture. The neighborhood is home to many stately mansions built around the turn of the 20th century and features a charming, European flair with independent, boutique-style shops and many restaurants offering outdoor dining.
Adjacent to the Central West End is Forest Park, an urban park which encompasses several attractions, including the Saint Louis Zoo, the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Missouri History Museum, the Muny Opera and the World’s Fair Pavilion.
Downtown, once written off as moribund, has benefited from a surge in investment, especially along the Washington Ave. corridor, which is now home to a plethora of upscale loft residences and new restaurants. Of course, downtown is also home to what is probably St. Louis' most distinguishing feature, the Gateway Arch Riverfront (alternatively known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial), an urban park set on the river surrounding the Arch, along with the Museum of Westward Expansion, and the historic Old Courthouse.
Laclede’s Landing, often simply called "the landing" by locals, lies on the northern section of the downtown riverfront. It is an historic area on the Mississippi riverfront with shopping, dining and entertainment, including an active nightlife, located near the docking points of the riverboat casinos and the historic Eads Bridge.
Just south and west of downtown is the Lafayette Square neighborhood, with trendy restaurants, wine and antique shops.
Cherokee street , once noted mainly for its antique row, is now a thriving Hispanic neighborhood, with many restaurants and also celebrations such as Day of the Dead and Cinquo de Mayo.
Soulard, just south of downtown, is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city. Soulard farmer's market sits among quaint streets and housing, with numerous popular restaurants, shops, and the neighborhood hosts the annual Mardi Gras celebration, which some say is the second largest in the nation. Many restaurants reflect the French heritage and have cajun cuisine, while a number of music bar/restaurants provide venues for local bands, esp. blues.
Another popular neighborhood especially among those with alternative lifestyles is Tower Grove, which encompasses town houses of over 100 years in age. The area draws an eclectic mix of residents, with or without families, who can be seen hammering and painting their historic homes on sunny week-ends. The area also encompasses Tower Grove Park, where the annual Lesbian and Gay Pride Fest is hosted. The annual Internatinal Festival in the park during the summer celebrates the numerous ethnic traditions in St. Louis and the range of immigration here. If you visit, be sure and check out the park's beautiful refurbished gardens.
Just south of the park on South Grand Blvd. is a lively strip of shops, cafes, bars and restaurants with some of the most renowned Asian restaurants in the city, such as Pho Grand, to name only one.
The Shaw neighborhood is home to the Missouri Botanical Garden and Tower Grove Park itself. Both were founded by Henry Shaw, hence the name. The land was formerly Shaw's 'country' estate, when the 'city' was further east.
If you ask about local cuisine, most folks will direct you to The Hill. It is like little Italy with great food and plenty of atmosphere. Not only are the restaurants in the Hill great, but it is home to the original Volpi Italian Salami and Meat Co. which is worth the trip just for the wonderful aroma.
Besides Forest Park and Tower Grove Park, there are many other parks in St. Louis. In the south city is Carondelet Park,the third largest in St. Louis, right off the hwy 55 exit at Loughborough. In the Lafayette Square area, just north of 44 and 55 (Truman blvd exit) is Lafayette Park. In the Southwest part of the city are Wilmore and Francis parks. The largest parks feature walking and bicycle paths. On most weekends and during daylight hours during the week, there are St. Louisans out enjoying their parks, walking dogs, pushing baby carriages, playing soccer , baseball or football, in leagues or just impromptu. Some St. Louisans might say that St. Louis parks are one of St. Louis' most popular 'hidden' attractions.
This website provides tons of pictures and details about each neighborhood in the city: http://nextstl.com/urban-living/groth...
Outside the city proper, there are several neighborhoods notable for their nightlife. One such neighborhood is University City, so named due to its proximity to Washington University. It's "Delmar Loop" is maybe the trendiest spot in town, with lots of restaurants and nightlife. A couple of up and coming neighborhoods include The Grove, along Manchester Boulevard just east of Kingshighway, and downtown Maplewood, a couple miles further west on Manchester. Stretching further into the subrubs, Kirkwood features a great downtown area with restaurants, bars and shopping.