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St. Louis is one of the midwest's most exciting destinations and the soulful city puts on an action-packed gay pride that welcomes more than 200,000 attendees annually. We're packing our bags for the upcoming Pride St. Louis on June 24-26 to discover all things queer in the Gateway City, hitting up the notable restaurants, cultural attractions, special gay pride events, and places to party down. Book your Amtrak ticket today!
Friday, June 24
4 PM: Check into Four Seasons St. Louis. The 200-room, five-star pad is perfectly located downtown near the gay pride festivities. Crowning the Lumiere Place Casino entertainment complex, the hotel offers striking views of the Arch and the Mississippi River, and the outdoor pool is a magnet for gay travelers. Over Pride weekend, The Four Seasons lights up the entire building in rainbow colors to celebrate.
Photo courtesy of Four Seasons St. Louis
5 PM: From 4:30 to 10:30 PM, PrideFest at Soldiers Memorial Military kicks off for the weekend, providing tons of free entertainment, food trucks, cocktails, a dance pavilion, and a main stage for live performances.
Photo courtesy of Scott Lokitz
8 PM: Grab a table at Byrd & Barrel, a new restaurant that celebrates all things fried chicken (incidentally occupying the former space of a Popeyes). The laid-back hot spot has outdoor seating and even a drive-thru! Fried chicken is all the rage in St. Louis, and diners are treated to a rather elevated experience with buttermilk brined nuggets, confit chicken thighs with gnudi, and a spicy fried chicken sandwich, which can be washed down with one of the 50 craft beers offered.
Photo courtesy of Byrd & Barrel
9 PM: The Big Gay* Soiree is the prime LGBT event on Friday night. The cirque-style production will feature acts in drag, aerial acrobatics, burlesque, and all-night partying.
11 PM: Hit up The Grove, or should we say the "gayborhood" of St. Louis with tons of gay bars to choose from. Erney's 32 Degrees gets packed with those look from a club experience thanks to its great beats, and Just John is a popular bar with outdoor patio and toned bartenders.
Photo courtesy of Just John/Facebook
Saturday, June 25
11 AM:Rehab Bar & Grill may be packed at night, but its a popular afternoon spot for lunch and day drinking thanks to its sun-drenched patio. Expect the best in low maintenance dining with its lunch buffet, cheap booze, and daytime drag performances. For more highbrow patio seated dining, J McArthur has appeared on plenty "best of" lists with elegant New American bistro fare from locally sourced and even foraged ingredients. Brunch highlights include cornmeal pancakes with blueberry maple syrup and house-made pecan and raisin cinnamon rolls.
2 PM: Pop into St. Louis City Museum, a visually commanding "playhouse" museum with whimsical interactive exhibits that include a jungle gym made out of repurposed airplane fuselage, multi-floor slides, a rooftop ferris wheel, caves, tunnels, and even a bar.
4 PM: Soulard's Farmers Market (founded in 1779) is almost as old as St Louis, and the two buildings in which they run are well preserved. A visit here is a walk through history. Pick up some tasty products made by local farmers.
Photos courtesy of Soulard's Farmers Market/Facebook
6 PM: Head to Pridefest for a number of live acts, including DJ Havana Brown (who collaborated with Pit Bull for the hit "We Run the Night") and headliner Jordin Sparks, former American Idol winner.
Photo courtesy of Scott Lokitz
9 PM: In St. Louis, it's all about blues, brew, and barbecue. Get your fill at Pappy's Smokehouse (owned by Mike Emerson, local BBQ chef hero), which triggered the BBQ revival when it opened in 2008 and is still considered the best ribs in town.
Photo courtesy of Pappy's Smokehouse/Facebook
10 PM: Across the river in East St. Louis, gay night owls hit up a handful of gay bars in droves. Stop by Bubby & Sissy's for a fierce drag shows.
Sunday, June 26
11 AM: Get ready for an action-packed day! The Grand Pride Parade kicks off at noon at 8th and Market.
Photos courtesy of Scott Lokitz
2 PM: Head back to Pridefest to catch more live entertainment (Karmin, Shawn Hook, and Melanie Martinez) and grab a bite at some of the vendors there.
8 PM: Saddle up at Guerrilla Street Food, St. Louis' most highly acclaimed food truck turned fast-casual spot. The Filipino-inspired fare (Filipino food is hot in St. Louis right now) serves up a mean chicken adobe and modern-twist dishes like pork asado with chile and calamansi.
10 PM: Pop into The Monocle and The Emerald Room, a swanky, vintage-themed nightlife venue with live entertainment, from cabaret to drag shows. The handcrafted, seasonal cocktails are a hit. If you're feeling saucy, dance the night away at JJ's Clubhouse, an institution that's always a good time.
Photo courtesy of The Monocle and The Emerald Room
Enter the Amtrak + OUT sweepstakes for a chance for you and a friend to attend St. Louis Pride weekend, courtesy of Amtrak.
Jimmy Im is a nationally recognized travel expert and award-winning journalist based in Los Angeles. He's appeared as a TV host and cast on various television shows including Confessions of a Travel Writer on Travel Channel, Best New Restaurant on Bravo and TripOut Travel on Logo. He also is a recognized travel personality on Nightline. Having visited more than 100 countries, Im writes regularly for top publications including Details, YahooTravel, HollywoodReporter, Travel + Leisure, Robb Report, New York Post, Passport, BridalGuide, and more. He also works as a writer for tourism boards Visit West Hollywood and Greater Palm Springs, and travel companies, such as Preferred Hotel Group.