93 St. Louis

PopulationMetro: 2,170,000
One of the world’s top music cities is an energetic crossroads of the American dream.

St. Louis may have ranked near the bottom of the world’s 100 best cities, but it’s right in the middle of the Nightlife action in bars and clubs, at #59, and ranks #64 for Culture, our measure of concerts, shows and major cultural events. (Not surprisingly, Miles Davis is a native son.)

There’s often a correlation in the rankings between good nightlife and prosperity, and St. Louis is no exception—it’s #42 in cities that are home to Global 500 companies.

CITY PERFORMACE
Place
Place 32.17
Product
Product 15.97
Programming
Programming 7.09
People
People 49.05
Prosperity
Prosperity 41.39
Promotion
Promotion 6.61

Since 2016, St. Louis—long a pilgrimage for blues fans and musicians from all over world—also boasts a National Blues Museum. It’s the source of some 50 live acts a week and events from the Nevermore Jazz Ball to the Big Muddy Blues Festival. You can do the St. Louis shuffle any day of the week in the Blues Triangle on the edge of downtown. Live acts in many musical genres abound—there’s some 300 live gigs every week around the city, and the city’s symphony has been performing at Powell Hall for 50 years.

But humankind can’t live by nightlife alone, especially if children are involved, so there’s always the zoo and there must be a visit to City Museum, a former International Shoe Company building that’s an all-ages funhouse, trippily surrealistic pavilion and architectural marvel rolled into a massive 600,000-square-foot edifice with the only museum gift shop that sells knee pads. Air out in Forest Park, one of the largest urban parks in the United States and long a lauded urban green space.

For the perfect combination of nightlife and culture, check out the historic French neighborhood of Soulard during Mardi Gras or Oktoberfest, or at least take the Anheuser-Busch factory tour. And whatever you do, don’t leave town without getting an eyeful of the stainless steel Arch.