Neighborhood Spotlight: Downtown

Neighborhood Spotlight

Ya’ll ready for this? Introducing Full Circle’s newest blog series: Neighborhood Spotlight. Every month I, Patricia Kilbride, vow to take on and explore a new neighborhood of this quirky, vibrant, beautiful city and bring my reporting back to the you, the young and upcoming of St. Louis. The ultimate goal? To expose the hidden gems this incredible city has to offer, and motivate all of us, whether born-and-raised St. Louisans, or transplants like myself, to break out of our comfort zones and explore all the wondrous nooks and crannies this place has to offer.


St. Louis is an unusual city in that “Downtown” isn’t the obvious place to live, socialize, or work for many young people. In fact, I might go so far as to argue that if it weren’t for the Arch or Busch Stadium many of us would rarely go Downtown. As I drove down Locust Avenue with my Full Circle supermodels we lamented the abandoned lots and empty warehouses. The architectural dignity and character of many of the historic brick buildings is contrasted by their state of neglect. But don’t fear: Downtown is on the rise.

For a good part of the last fifty years a major revitalization effort has been underway to regain the spirit and bustle of a hoppin’ Downtown. Amazing bars, restaurants, and tourist attractions alike are popping-up on the reg. Want to check out this neighborhood on-the-rise, but not sure where to start? That’s what I’m here for. I researched and personally visited all of these hotspots and am bringing my recommendations back to you.

1. Alpha Brewing

YUM. The beer here is unique and delicious. I recommend getting a flight of the Beta brews. I had never tried a sour beer before, but I think I have a new favorite beverage. On top of that they have this rad loyalty program: the more beer you drink, the better prizes you win. Rumor has it that on your 1000th (yes ONE-THOUSANDTH) beer, the brewery will throw you a free kegger. Start drinkin’ folks!

2. CityGarden

As someone who works at an Art Museum, the thought of children climbing on sculptures horrifies me. This was before I checked out CityGarden and rediscovered the absolute joy of just climbing on stuff. Why did we ever outgrow playgrounds? Whether you’re looking to crawl into a bronze head, discover a new artsy space, or just want a chill spot for a picnic, I highly recommend visiting the CityGarden.

3. St. Louis Public Library

Regardless of whether or not you like books, you need to check out the Saint Louis Public Library Downtown. The building is honestly breathtaking – and even though it’s over 100 years old, it’s totally decked out with wi-fi and our usual 21st century amenities. Also – I’m not sure how many of you have forgotten how a library works, but the stuff is FREE. You can just borrow books, movies, music, etc. for FREE. Say goodbye to your Kindles, Netflix, and Spotify. Go to SLPL!

4. Schlafly Tap Room

You can’t live in St. Louis and not take pride in Schlafly beer. Whatever your opinion on beer is, Schlafly as a brand rocks, and the Tap Room downtown has seen it all. When they opened in 1991, their beer was only available on tap at this one location. Now it’s blown-up, and people from coast to coast are guzzling down Schlafly. My personal fave: Grapefruit IPA. Check it out and all their other varieties at this Downtown gem.

5. Start Bar

Cancel whatever you're doing this weekend and go to Start Bar, STL’s newest adult arcade. Immediately upon entering my friends disappeared into the sea of arcade games. When I caught up with them they appeared to be in childhood bliss, eyes glued to the neon screens. I experienced the same moment of nostalgic joy when I saw the Nintendo 64 lounge areas. This place is every 90’s kid’s dream. Oh…and there’s a bar.

6. The Gateway Arch

Cliché, right? But actually, the Gateway Arch is incredible. At 51 years old the Gateway Arch remains the tallest man-made monument in the Western hemisphere (take that, Washington Monument). Not only is it just physically impressive, but the arch itself is also an engineering masterpiece.

Even today the monument is still inspiring innovation: the Arch grounds, including the Museum of Westward Expansion, are currently undergoing massive renovations to make the National Park (yes, it’s a National Park) and the museum a more open, interactive, and accessible experience. BONUS: next month CityArchRiver is unveiling an awesome new ice skating rink (for the first time ever) during “Winterfest at the Arch.” SO, if you haven’t been down to the arch in a while go check it out, and give it a thank you from all of us for putting our lil’ Midwestern city on the map.

As my models and I left, following an afternoon of laughs and significant civic pride, we lamented the misconception of Downtown. There is SO much happening on those city blocks that goes unrecognized. So people, GO DOWNTOWN!