Queer Girl City Guide: St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis, Missouri hides in a three-state-sized cornfield.

Demographically, it is preposterously uneven. There was the nook of the county where I went to prep school. I graduated in a wedding dress, attended debutante balls, and had a near-constant Frappuccino as part of my polo-khaki-skirt uniform.

And then there is the city itself. In my youth, it seemed dangerous and full of broken metal things. Buildings were abandoned, I was told it was unsafe, and I didn’t know anyone who actually lived there. It seemed to me that St. Louis was the greatest schism imaginable. The East held gang violence and puddles with needles, and the West was a Shirley Temple at the racquet club and an outing on horseback.

I sung the angsty-teen refrain of “I have to get out of this town.” But I didn’t do that. I went to college roughly four miles from my childhood home and stayed in a dormitory roughly two fire hydrants away from my elementary school.

What I really dug came at the end of my college experience. Finally, a porthole to another world spontaneously opened: The Actual City Of St. Louis.


Parks, Museums and Other Places for Everyone

City Garden - Yes, that girl's head is coming out of a vagina

With the advent of the City Museum and City Garden (and general re-building efforts), a diverse population has begun to creep into the downtown streets. In the summer, City Garden is alive with families. Kids can swim and play in a series of fountains and pools, there is plenty of green space for running around, and it’s an oddly artsy-hip retreat.

The City Museum is a wonderland for grown-ups, teenagers, and kids. It is an epic five-story playground (formerly a shoe factory) made out of recycled junk. It has a multitude of slides, some circus acts, a chamber of skate ramps, and a shoelace display. Outside, you can climb up a net to a gutted airplane (and fully panic,if you’re afraid of heights).

This isn’t an acid trip; it exists. If you’re just passing through St. Louis, the City Museum is truly the actual Number One must-see. Queer, not queer, whatever: fun. Eat Ted Drewes Frozen Custard after that.

And then there is Forest Park. It is locally rumored to be the largest urban park in the country. Regardless of its rank, it lays claim to a jaw-dropping Art Museum, History Museum, Science Center, and Zoo. Admission to those attractions are all FREE. As a college student (as well as for many others of all kinds/ages), it was a constant place of wonder.

Near Forest Park is The Delmar Loop. Swarming with Washington University students, The Loop holds roughly six blocks of varied (and sometimes touristy) attractions. It is a busy district with shops from the wacky to chic, restaurants from the diner to the slightly-better-diner and a great coffee shop, Meshuggah (6269 Delmar). While I imagine that once The Loop was the place for a twenty-something person to really let go and exist, the collision of the yuppie parents and increasingly violent crime can make it less-than-pleasurable.

Blueberry Hill (6504 Delmar), bragging to be “The Home of Chuck Berry and Rock N’ Roll” is a fun time capsule of a bar and restaurant with frequent not-to-be-missed shows. It is probably the most “historic” attraction in the Loop, and a great place to pass through when visiting.

Forest Park and The Delmar Loop surround the Washington University Campus, and are also close to nearly-neighboring institutions like Fontbonne and St. Louis University. In college at Wash U, I didn’t see many queer people or know where they may be lurking. The surrounding neighborhoods like Clayton, Richmond Heights, and even The Loop didn’t seem to have a vibrant or visible population of gay people.

The Central West End is also close to some of the Universities of the city. Though it is a thoroughfare for the frat-esque, it has a couple of gay-friendly places. The Loading Zone (16 S. Euclid), is a gay bar with omni-popular Show Tunes Tuesdays. Coffee Cartel (2 Maryland Plaza) is a gay-friendly coffee shop that’s open twenty-four hours. With its all night availability, Coffee Cartel was a venue for both my end-of-college course load and babygayness.

Of course, there came a time when I’d transformed into a sort of Ani-wannabe, cargo-short-wearing, nose-ringed queer. And I got thirsty for a brand new part of the St. Louis fun:



When I could stop brooding and painting with watercolors long enough to leave my apartment, I would go to (what I considered) the epicenter of STL girlqueerness — MoKaBe’s Coffee House (3606 Arsenal Street)

Picture The Planet, and then take everything away, including the people, and replace it with everything that is the opposite of that. It’s Missouri! Neon lettering on the menus, a cigarette machine across from the bathroom, people doing crosswords at a long counter while chatting with baristas, potentially some blaring Alanis Morisette, and LESBIANS.


I could write fifty pages or a novel about MoKaBe’s and its bizarre fairy-tale-esque quality that sometimes brings to the life of Midwestern queers. I actually think I will. But I’ll give it to you later. MoKaBe’s (with plenty of good food choices) most exquisitely boasts a great Sunday brunch, full of veggie/vegan choices and traditional breakfast-y things.

If you’re moving to St. Louis, MoKaBe’s is a really excellent place to meet people who might be a lot like you or might not be anything like you. Lesbian owned and queer-ish-ly operated, it is a community-minded place for all kinds of people. Get a latte, and then look around:

You’re on SOUTH GRAND! It’s like someone drained Park Slope, Brooklyn of its inhabitants, left it abandoned for twelve years, and then attempted to re-populate with a slightly anarchist agenda!

In South City, check out:

Tower Grove Park (3196 S. Grand Blvd.) Home of Pride Festivities and a farmer’s market in the summer and Absolutli Goosed, which has phenomenal cocktails.

Basil Spice (3183 S. Grand Blvd.) has incredibly affordable and delicious Thai Food. Not gay, just good.

The best Ethiopian food (outside of Ethiopia, but otherwise internationally) is Meskerem (3210 S Grand Blvd.)

CBGB (3163 S. Grand Blvd.) This is not an illegal homage to the NYC hardcore punk-spot. Luckily, it breeds its own agenda. A front patio with heavy-graffiti picnic tables, a kick-ass bartender, shuffleboard, pinball, and a bathroom without stalls, just two face-to-face toilets with an ashtray between — CBGB can be a great way to spend an evening.

On the other side of Tower Grove Park is Sweet Art (2203 S. 39th Street), a vegan/vegetarian wonderbakery and cafe.

Mangia, Jade Room, and Upstairs Lounge are all good places to drink on South Grand, and though they are not specifically gay, the right night could mean a total uprising of asymmetrical haircut activity.

St. Louis goes wild for Pride. The parade goes down South Grand to Tower Grove Park, where there is a two-day festival of overheated fun. You will really not believe the amount of queerness that Pride pulls out of St. Louis and its surrounding regions.

The bars of The Grove have a bevy of activities for Pride Nights that include the White Party — an annual, expensive, dressed-in-all-white gathering of debauchery.

If you need to do some superqueer shopping and get something pierced, you should stop by TRX Custom Tattoo and Piercing (3207 S. Grand Blvd.). The artists are friendly and the art is both good and reasonably priced. The merchandise will probably not appeal to your mother.

Go down the road just a piece and land in Cherokee Street:

In the wake of the closed-down (haunted) Lemp Brewery is this new-ish hipster haven. My thoughts on gentrification aside, the up-and-coming-ness of this neighborhood has distinctive benefits for city business and life. Things left dormant for some time seem to be waking. There is actual social/political/ethnic diversity in the people who walk there, work there, and live there.

Check out: The slew of antique, vintage, and thrift stores, bookstores, St. Louis’s most authentic Mexican cuisine, and up-and-coming local artsy-craftsy places. You can get a tote bag with a map of the city! Or check out the Firecracker Press (2838 Cherokee Street) and bring home all sorts of sweet STL-inspired prints.

Mud House

The Mud House (2101 Cherokee Street) has magnificent espresso and breakfast/lunch. It is surely gay-ish, and you’ll catch plenty of hip people taking their time with fancy beverages and enjoying the excellent outdoor space.

Then make sure to eat another spicy shrimp (or veggie) burrito at La Vallesana (The Taco Stand) (2801 Cherokee Street).

Black Bear Bakery (2639 Cherokee Street) is an anarchist house of baked goods and coffee is home to a delicious brunch. (But actually anarchist — worker owned and operated — so if you need artisan bread and you need it very quickly, you could end up in a pickle).

There are plenty of shows to catch on Cherokee. At Cranky Yellow (2847 Cherokee Street), an antique shop/performance space , or at Off Broadway (3509 Lemp Avenue), there are frequent events that span the known and bizarre.

Cherokee Street

Just north of Cherokee street, you’ll get to Benton Park and Soulard. Soulard is home to the biggest Mardi Gras outside of New Orleans, and one may catch the evidence year-round.

Check out:

Shameless Grounds (2650 Sidney Street) is a Queer-ish Sex-Positive Coffee House with a Sex-Positive Library. Home to barrier-defying drag shows and delicious lunch. Seriously? Yes. The owners are lovely and community-oriented, and all shapes, types, and fetishes are welcome.

Soulard Farmer’s Market (730 Carroll Street) is a weekly semi-sheltered and seemingly ancient arrangement of goods of all sorts.

Keypers (2280 South Jefferson Avenue) seems to be a relic from another era. A piano bar: be prepared to be serenaded with show tunes.

One step closer to downtown and you’ll find The Grover! The Gayborhood! (A neighborhood with a cluster of supergay drinking places.)

Check out:

Novak’s Bar and Grill (4121 Manchester) Probably the capital of lesbian drinking. Cited sometimes by locals as “the place you love to hate,” or “my abusive girlfriend,” it is the hubbub of Missouri lesbians of all ages. It is an expansive space with a large patio. If you have any (really any) hint of agoraphobia and it’s the weekend, do try one of Novak’s neighbors.

Handlebar (4127 Manchester) is right next-door. While it couldn’t be called a “gay bar,” it is certainly swarming with queers most nights of the week. It has a really lovely beer selection and back patio, delicious Russian-inspired food, and you may even catch a super-rad DJ.

Attitudes Nightclub (4100 Manchester) and Rehab (Yes, Rehab the bar) are across the street. You might run into what appear to be elementary-aged children at either of these places, but Attitudes is a good place to dance.

Also to consider:

Atomic Cowboy (4510 Manchester) is a HUGE bar with multiple spaces for musical performances. If you’re not caught in a web of weird feet at Swing Night, you very well may be in for a treat. Once a week is Fifty Cent Stag Night.

Sanctuaria (4198 Manchester) is for the refined palate. Not gay, but delicious.

Everest Cafe (4145 Manchester) is a Nepalese, Korean, and Indian smorgasbord for when you’re up for something other than the bar.



In the summer, you can catch the huge Shakespeare Festival; just below the beautiful Art Museum will be thousands of St. Louisans, gathered to hear that year’s choice play. (Also, it’s FREE). In midtown, you may find something big and shiny at the (fabulous) Fox Theatre, or a more innovative theatre experience at HotCity Theatre or Upstream Theatre.

Beale on Broadway is certainly Not Gay. But it is certainly not to be missed if you are interested in truly homegrown sound. Incredible blues artists rattle the walls of this petite shack nightly. With the river just yards away and freight trains rumbling overhead, you may have a sort of transcendence and merge with the history of this riverside city.

Left Bank Books (321 N. 10th Street) has a great collection of used, not used, queer and not queer books.

Crack Fox (1114 Olive Street) is a new-ish and lady-owned bar that explores the limits of fringe. Different each night, and also fun. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to check out BOYPOISON, “Dancing Riotously/Queering Cores,” the dance party (where all people are welcome). This occurs monthly at the Crack Fox. One of its organizers, Hulee, describes this new showdown as “A place where you can just look at the freaks of the city, enjoy that you are one, and dance all night long. Or watch people dance. Or don’t.”

Downtown, of course, is also home to the aforementioned City Museum and City Garden.

Maybe you’d be interested in seeing a game at the new-ish Busch Stadium, home of last year’s WORLD CHAMPIONS, the Cardinals. The Blues games are a good time. Football? Questionable.


Feeling Nature-y?

Castlewood State Park

Castlewood State Park is about forty minutes from the city and a great place to have a truly Missouri-esque hike.

Laumeier Sculpture Park has tons of room to walk and explore some massive nature-meets-not-nature art. For some reason, queers seem to love sculptures in the woods. And for some reason, this wonderland is free of cost.

The Butterfly House is a sheltered reserve for our transformative insect-friends.

The Missouri Botanical Gardens is an art-and-plant delight that has monthly outdoor free jazz concerts in its scenic center.

The Riverfront. There is a central path that has been re-configured and is not trodden enough. It follows the St. Louis floodwall and levees for about eleven miles. It begins close to The Famous Arch and winds up to the North Side’s Riverfront Park. Sunrise is a good time for that.



Information and Resources For Your Well-Being

If one is moving to St. Louis, one could expect the following:

1. Cheap housing. Being a distinctly un-chic place to call home, St. Louis area housing is inexpensive. There was a point at which I was a “cocktail girl” at the Atomic Cowboy and paid my roommate in my weekend’s cash that I stowed in my sock drawer. We lived across from Tower Grove Park in a lovely duplex with a purple kitchen. Dream!

2. Disparity of income. St. Louis has incredibly fancy-ass residential areas that are accompanied by upscale shopping and racist police. Four miles away, you’ll find incredibly cheap housing, less-than-stellar public schools, and business that have been sitting unoccupied for fifteen years. Is this just the state of the world right now? Perhaps. It’s still distressing.

3. Friends. If you’re in the market, they will be there. After stints in Chicago, New York, Pittsburgh, and a couple of foreign cities, I have felt the choking strain of “no one here knows me.” While I’m positive that there are open-minded, life-and-brain-changing people in these bigger places, I have yet to find a group as accessible as the St. Louis scene. There are a host of queer-ish groups, and hangin’ around the queer-ish places, you’re likely to find someone to chat with. It may actually be quite difficult to hide.

4. People saying “Be Safe.” St. Louis is no stranger to violent crime. For a while, it was the Murder Capital of the country. It was also ranked among the places with the most STDs and methamphetamine use. There are areas where it’s best to do just that: “Be Safe.” I wouldn’t argue that common sense can combat all danger, but it’s pretty palpable when you’re in a risky situation. The Grove neighborhood is a crime target because of the hundreds of young-ish, queer-ish, drunk-ish people wandering back to their cars at late hours. Leave the bar in a group. If you’re new to St. Louis and plan to walk around until you’re lost in the night, it’s certainly best to do that with a friend. North City has beautiful architecture and a couple of choice places to hang out, but has a reputation for its poverty and crime. If you meet/know someone familiar with the area, it is an interesting place to explore.

The St. Louis Gender FoundationThe LGBT Center of St. LouisSouthampton Healthcare Inc. and  the ACLU of Eastern Missouri St. Louis Gender Foundation all have your back, so check them out if you’re headed to St. Louis.

You can also join the Confluence Crush Roller Derby, The Queerios Book Club (mostly internet-based), The St. Louis Frontrunners, or any number of activist groups. The LGBT scene has its (unfortunately common) divide between the lesbian/gay spots. As a queer girl, you’re likely to feel invited into a seedy/loving/slippery/incestuous family. A friend from the Bronx recently visited St. Louis, toured its gayness, and noted just how accepting the group was. There, she thought, people weren’t connected by the place where they lived, but by strong interpersonal bonds, acceptance, and a desire to “really just hang out.” There is a robust queer life to be had, which includes the trans community, though I imagine more merging is (hopefully) on its way.

Now that I go to grad school elsewhere, I miss the expansive nature of St. Louis. From the riverside path to the abandoned industry to the cows grazing next to my mother’s house, I love its pockets of treasures. When the PBR is cheaper than water, the arms of the queers are open, and the dancing doesn’t stop, it’s hard to remember a better place to be.

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Liza has written 1 article for us.


  1. I spent my first year of college as a student at Wash U and I wish I’d had this guide! I had no luck finding queers there which is half the reason I transferred to a school in sunny L.(g)A(y) california. I miss St Louis terribly, though, so when I go back to visit this will definitely come in handy :]

  2. this guide is great!
    i grew up in st louis, ran far away to the east for college, and now live in new york. but i did spend about a year in st. louis early in my 20s, and discovered it was really a much more lively and wonderful place than i’d ever known growing up there.
    my best friend is getting married at the city museum next moth, and she and i have been excitedly discussing the logistics of playing on the best playground in the world in our wedding attire.

    hey, anyone actually live in st. louis? i’ll be in town from the 14-21st of june and would love an autostraddle meetup to happen.

  3. I live in stl and would love an AS meetup!

    Side note – Loading Zone caught fire a while back and, to my knowledge, show tunes Tuesdays are still being held at Erneys in the grove. Also, premium lounge is one of my favorites. Not gay, per se, but owned by the same people as Coffee Cartel. It’s a lot more chill than novaks if you just want to hang and talk to your friends.

  4. This is the most appropriate post ever. Moving to St. Louis from NYC in a month for grad school and I know nothing about the Midwest. Thank you!

  5. Great guide! Ima Lou-local, too. Sort of. Metro-East, actually. Definitely interested in a meetup!

    I agree City Museum is must-visit. And plenty of good vegan and local coffee options exist throughout the city. Try I Scream Cakes (Cherokee) for alternative ice cream from scratch. It’s a “gory zombie prom queen” situation. Check it out. You won’t be disappointed.

    Also, I’ve been to great (queer-ish) shows @ The Pageant and @ Off Broadway venues. Hank and Cupcakes opened for Jenny Owen Youngs (I crushed so hard!) I might have been delirious from the crushing but Cupcakes kissed Jenny on-stage and it was perfect. Merrill Garbus was in town for tUnE-yArDs. And Indigo Girls will be here in July, I heard.

    Once in awhile I get around to basil libation(s) @ PI (Central West End), then head across the street to Left Bank Books (CWE) to browse the queer selections. They have a Lesbian Reading Group open to the public that meets once a month. Alison Bechdel’s Are You My Mother? is June 21st.

    But currently my city search is getting zero returns: where does one get a respectable alternative lifestyle haircut here?

    • My hair is pretty not at all alternative, but I have a lot of faith in my hair guy. Justin at Philip Johnson Salon in the central west end. He’s pretty fantastic.

    • My friend swears by some hair salon on Cherokee by the Archive bookstore. I just cut my own.

    • Thanks for the recommendations! I cut my own hair now but it’s very long (and bangs). I’m more than a little intimidated by the idea of cutting it all off and going for a boy cut. Need a professional to bring out the hedge cutters and work some magic.

  6. Ah, STL, my adopted home town. So many other cities may be bigger or brighter, better in every measurable way, but you’re still my favorite.

    Nice to see a write up, Liza, that doesn’t include Crown Candy. Nice enough place and all, but it gets a bit overhyped. Yet another plug for Ted Drewes? I just don’t get what everybody sees.

    City Museum is about the most fun place. If you aren’t behaving like a 8-year-old let loose on a playground inside of ten minutes, then you have a problem. As good as the website looks the reality is even better.

    The St. Louis Zoo is so nice that the only reason not to go there is if you like the zoo near where you live. You may realize how sad your zoo is in comparison. It will doubly sting when you remember that most everything to see in the STL Zoo is free. On a nice day I sometimes gather up as much of my work as I can and go camp out at the zoo all day because I can.

    I kind of miss the old days when the queer scene was a bit more split up and integrated with the larger straight community. There were a few places on the Loop, a few in the CWE, some stuff down on Washington Ave, and the Landing. Innumerable neighborhood and small bar parties where you needed to know just when and where to show up. Now the Landing is for tourists and Washington has been tamed. Pretty much everything seems to have just shifted down to the Manchester Grove & South Grand area. Nice for having it all in one place, but still…

    This is a good guide for even a local like myself. Haven’t connected into the local queer scene in years. This might give me the kick in the pants to head out and see some of these places.

  7. Wow – this is awesome! I’m from STL, now live in NYC, and have considered moving back but was frightened away by the notion that there weren’t many queer people there. While I’m not quite ready to move back for good, I visit a lot and will be sure to bookmark this for my next trip. Thanks! (Love the City Museum!)

  8. anyway really though, i LOVE the sculpture park, i’ve been going there since i was a toddler. they used to have movies in the park there (family fun) and sometimes they have music performances. Bee Tree park is my favorite for hiking and admiring the river from the bluffs, unless i’m going east of the river then i go to Pere Marquette in Graffton.
    aaanyway just totally appreciating this. my gf is new to the area and i’m newly out so this gives us Tons of ideas for stuff to do!

  9. I want to visit St. Louis simply for the City Museum. That place looks amazing.

    • It is!! I travel from memphis to stl and hit this place up every time and never feel like i see everything there. it’s the best place for the curious.

  10. Ah yes, the joys of St. Louis! I moved here almost two years ago for AmeriCorps, and haven’t left yet. Going to be here for a least another two for grad school.

    This place worms its way into your heart somehow.

    Anyway, you brought up the love of my heart: Mokabe’s! And while I have yet to visit City Museum in all its glory, I really need to.

    Anyway, I’d love to join an AS meet-up here in the Lou. Getting to know more local queers and folks outside my AmeriCorps circle is always welcome.

  11. Also, I live down the street from Shameless Grounds, and the monthly drag show there is awesome. As is the library. Koken Art Factory, in the same building, has some great shows as well.

  12. I live on the other side of the state in Kansas City, MO but I would love to go to St. Louis sometime to check out the gay scene. I have been to the zoo and City Museum and they are both awesome! As well as the art museum. Maybe I will have to make a weekend trip out there sometime to visit friends and check it all out!

    • also, I won a shimmying contest and they said I was cute and bought me drinks and took me dancing. CHANGED MY LIFE.

    • Yes, Show Me Burlesque! I’m glad someone else mentioned them. I was about to. You can sometimes check them out at The Jumpin’ Jupiter (7376 Manchester St.). If you have the chance to see Lola van Ella or Gravity Plays Favorites, do NOT pass it up. Beautiful, queer burlesque performers.

  13. I LOVE St. Louis! I live in LA now but St. Louis would be a great place to settle down. My mom’s family is there–my grandfather is in the mainstage Shakespeare in the Park production just about every year, including this one!–and all of my best childhood memories are tied to that city. Reading this guide was fun, and now I have many new places to go when I visit again. :)

  14. I sat next to a pretty gay boy on a plane from Las Vegas to Saint Louis recently. He said he had been living in StL for a few years. I couldn’t help but ask his opinion on my city. His response,

    “It’s really cliquey and segregated. And then all of the sudden it wasn’t. Now I don’t think I can ever leave…”

    I myself could not think of a better description.
    I’ve lived here for maybe nine years now, with a stint in Phoenix and a bunch of touring with bands to many cities across the states.

    When I was in high school, I only saw the cliques, the exclusivity. There seemed to be a small town mentality of EVERYONE being up in people’s business. So I left for elsewhere, and discovered a few things.

    For one, Saint Louis had a hayday. I wasn’t a part of it, I wasn’t even born yet! But the blues scene was mean. Beer was brewed here and flooded this damn river city. All the awesomeness of Forest Park (Muny, Zoo, Jewel Box…etc) is thanks to the world fair in 1904. Houses were erected, grand and luxurious. Then it was kind of forgotten about. But those who live here have knowledge of the HISTORY of this place. What keeps the city’s pulse is the respect of the history. Second, and like you said, THERE’S NOWHERE ELSE FOR LIKE 5 HOURS IN EVERY DIRECTION. This is not a bad thing. We have to build everything from art to business to events with our friends and for our friends.

    I came back because I missed the brick buildings and free yoga at the Tower Grove Farmer’s market and running into city personalities like Baton Bob. And then “all of the sudden” it was ridiculusly inclusive. I kept on meeting cool folks of all ages and creeds who inform me about artsy and usually free events all over town where I’d meet more crazy kooks who help make this city great.

    Only thing I have to add to this gorgeously thorough post is that Cranky Yellow is sadly no more. Some dudes took it over and I’m pretty sure they have no idea what they’re doing. Like I saw them playing video games inside. But! El Lenador across the way deserves a shout.

    ALSO if you do write something anything about Mokabe’s, be sure and let me know I’d love to read it. That’s my hub, and Mo is fucking righteous I was once part of a protest going down grand the cops went nuts and we all scadaddled away; Mo ushered us to the Mokabe’s patio and shoved free coffee in our hands and then yelled at the po-po for bothering her patrons and thusly kicked em off her property. Word.

    • Re: Mokabe’s

      That is so ridiculously Mo. I work with her on homeless winter outreach stuff, and the things she does are amazing.

  15. This makes me so happy! A guide to my city that actually includes my gayborhood–South Grand is the best!

  16. This is the last place on Earth I excpected to become A Place I Want to Visit. This is the most excited I’ve been since the beginning of these City Guides, and I love ALL the City Guides.

  17. This is a great write-up! I lived in St. Louis for 7 years for college and law school, and now live in DC, but went back last weekend for a visit. St. Louis can be a challenging place if you’re not from there (I never need to hear the question “so where did you go to high school?” again), but it definitely has its charms.

    While not lesbian-specific, I thought I’d mention my two all-time favorite places in STL, which both happen to be donut shops :) The first is World’s Fair Doughnuts, and is at 1904 S Vandeventer Ave (get it? 1904…) and the second is Donut Drive-in on 525 Chippewa St. The first specializes in cake donuts and the second in yeast donuts, and they’re both inexpensive and delicious. They fall into the category of Ted Drewes or Crown Candy (kind of kitchy, but entertaining STL traditions), but it’s definitely worth stopping by and getting half a dozen if you’re in the area.

  18. Lived in St. Louis for 2 years now.. (therealpotter’s roommate, actually!), and live within walking distance of half these places! Now if only I was in town often enough….

    Did someone say AS meetup?

  19. YES! i needed this. St Louis is my favorite easy driving distance city to visit and i’m so glad to see city museum at the top. Climbing around outside is pee a little in your pants thrilling on so many levels. Left Bank books is where i bought my first lesbian romance novel. The ZOO and forest park are must hit ups also. Totally printing this out for a queer guide because i hope to come back to this amazing city for my birthday in july. yaya thank you!

  20. Ahhh such a great guide! I spent a few weeks in STL back in high school. Nothing like munching on froyo and catching fireflies on the walk from the Loop to Wash U. Still, I wish someone could do a guide for Kansas City (Missouri). I’m stuck here until school starts and I’m perishing from the abject lack of queerness.

  21. Liza, this is an awesome review of St. Louis! I hope it inspires more queers to visit. We have a good but limited train system called the Metrolink that can take you to most of the neighborhoods mentioned. Our bar scene is big but not for everyone. Fagelles can meet each other at various Team St. Louis sporting events, flag football, rugby, volley ball, softball, Big Crank bike rides or Frontrunners runs/walks (thanks for mentioning them). There are several affordable and safe hotels in the city. If you have friends in town, kip up at theirs and spend lots of time exploring!

  22. This is a pretty good guide. I’d also add Old North St. Louis (north of downtown) as a neighborhood to check out. It’s not the supergayest place I’ve ever been but it’s got an interesting and diverse population of folks fighting gentrification, a lot of urban gardening/homesteading/chicken-raising, and an awesome coffeeshop (La Mancha) where — if you stick around — you will quickly become part of the neighborhood’s community. Crown Candy is all very well and good, but avoid mentioning it lest you be branded as a tourist just in from the county for a bit of recreational “slumming.”

    I do have to disagree though that it’s easy to meet queers in St. Louis. I guess maybe if you’re into going to bars, but my experience of six years has been that the queergirl scene in STL is very bar-centric, pretty assimilationist and, frankly, anti-intellectual. I have no doubt that there are more radical, intellectual queers in st. louis but i think most of them are pretty alienated from the community and have withdrawn in frustration.

  23. I’m so happy to see my favorite places all listed here; excellent overview!

    I love St. Louis for its rich history, awesome breweries, and pockets of unexpectedly hip hoods, like Cherokee St. and The Grove. I live a couple blocks from the City Museum; definitely an experience, especially at night and while inebriated.

  24. Love this post! I would add The Pageant as a queer-ish space, as well. Tegan and Sara played there in 2010 and will be there again in March. :)

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