St. Louis holds a remarkable place in the history of the U.S. as the kickoff point for the westward expansion of the nation. In 1904, St. Louis hosted a World's Fair to celebrate the centennial of the Louisiana Purchase. The grand exhibition was immortalized in the movie, "Meet Me in St. Louis." The movie ends with exclamations about the amazing fair: "It's right in our own hometown! Right here in St. Louis!" Optometry's Meeting 2019 will be right here in St. Louis in the hometown of the AOA and AOSA.
St. Louis is where the history of tomorrow is being written today. It's ranked one of the top 10 large American cities of the future, in the top 7 U.S. innovation districts, the best startup city in America and the fastest growing city for tech jobs. But it's not just a great place to live; it's a place where locals never stop being visitors. That's why it's ranked the #6 best U.S. city for staycations and one of America's 20 most popular places to visit. St. Louis has all you could want in a city—museums, green spaces, good music, sports and exciting new restaurants—plus that friendly Midwestern feeling that if you stop random people on the street, there's a very good chance they grew up nearby and are excited to share the name of their favorite restaurant or bar with you.
St. Louis is known as the Gateway to the West, a nickname born of its position marking the start of uncharted territory acquired in the Louisiana Purchase and commemorated by the Gateway Arch. While the 630-foot arch remains the same skyline icon it has been since opening in 1965, the surrounding area has been transformed and was formally reopened on July 3, 2018. The $380 million renovations include an expanded 90-acre national park and a new state-of-the-art museum and visitors center. If you plan on taking the tram to the top of America's tallest man-made monument to peek out the windows, you might want to book your ticket online and ensure yourself a seat.
The National Blues Museum is an absolute must-see; the wonderfully-curated venue explores this pivotal music city's location along the Blues Highway. The Blues Museum hosts concerts every Thursday, and the magic continues every night at rocking venues all over the city. In any given week in St. Louis, there are up to 300 chances to treat your ears to some phenomenal musicianship. One of the coolest places to listen to music is on the Delmar Loop with multiple music venues plus boutiques, galleries, restaurants and bars. Delmar was named one of the 10 Great Streets in America and includes an electric trolley and a star-studded sidewalk dubbed the St. Louis Walk of Fame.
You could easily spend a week in St. Louis enjoying music nonstop, but then you'd be missing out on one of the city's premier attractions: Forest Park, ranked as the #1 city park in the country, and its free museums. Enjoy some of the best publicly-funded institutions in the nation: the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Saint Louis Science Center, the Saint Louis Zoo, and the Missouri History Museum. A St. Louis tradition since 1917, The Muny is America's oldest and largest outdoor musical theatre. The Muny stages seven weeks of American musicals under the stars each summer. Visitors to Forest Park can picnic on green hills or take a paddleboat ride through sparkling blue ponds. Those who prefer a more active itinerary can play golf or tennis or walk, run or bike the dual path through the 1,300 verdant acres. Not far from Forest Park, explore 79 acres of lush gardens, landscape architecture, greenhouses and conservatories at the Missouri Botanical Garden, the oldest Botanical Garden in the United States.
St. Louis is a treat for the whole family. For children, the Magic House interactive children's museum is truly magical. For the inner child in people of all ages, explore the zany and fun-filled City Museum. There really is no other museum like the City Museum—it's a 10-story urban playground with airplanes, secret passages, a 10-story slide and a Ferris wheel on the roof. Sports fans rejoice! You can cheer on our 11-time world champions, the St. Louis Cardinals, at Busch Stadium and check out the new sports-anchored entertainment district in the heart of downtown, Ballpark Village!
St. Louis has long been a melting pot of cultures and cuisines. Whatever type of cuisine you're looking for, chances are that it's somewhere to be found in St. Louis: Italian restaurants on The Hill, Parisian pastries, a Bosnian food truck, Vietnamese and, of course, barbecue (they're called "St. Louis style ribs" for a reason). St. Louis is not only home to Anheuser-Busch, the world's largest brewer but is also now a craft beer mecca and the 2018 Best Beer Scene in the country. Check out this city guide for the best of what to eat and drink in this underrated, overly delicious city.
Optometry's Meeting will convene at America's Center, located in downtown St. Louis and within walking distance of all Optometry's Meeting hotels. Click here for more information on visiting and parking at the America's Center Convention Complex.