The Best-kept Secrets in St. Louis for a Total Mind and Body Escape
Traveling is a sweet—and necessary—mind and body escape from the demands of everyday life. Whether you enjoy following a loaded itinerary or venturing a bit off the beaten path, traveling closer to home or abroad, exploring with a travel buddy or solo, you'll experience a mental health boost as you hop from one adventure to the next during your time away from home, sweet home. That being said, I spent a weekend experiencing the best-kept secrets in St. Louis, Missouri, and the surrounding area, on an all-expenses-paid-for-trip full of farm-to-table cuisine, outdoor fitness, spa pampering, the city's rich history, and spectacular views of the Gateway Arch. Read on to learn more about this fun mind and body escape you'll want to take, too.
Yoga at Tower Grove Farmers Market is the best way to start off the weekend.
If you're a yogi who loves fresh produce, handmade goods, and beautiful blooms, then you absolutely must spend a Saturday morning exploring Tower Grove Farmers Market. Fun fact: What's pretty inspiring about this market is that a lot of small St. Louis businesses started out here.
Checking out one of the biggest farmers' markets in the area is the best way to get up and active in the AM. Trust me on this one—you'll feel all-around healthy, energized, social, and ready to take on the rest of the day.
Before weaving through the vendors and grabbing a breakfast burrito, I headed to the grass in Tower Grove Park to get my namaste on. The turnout was incredible and made me feel like I was part of the local crowd. Everyone spread out their mats in the most perfect location for a rejuvenating yoga sesh. A studio can be a bit intimidating for some, and taking a yoga class in the park where you can breathe in the fresh air and go at your own pace is a refreshing alternative.
After the market, the Missouri Botanical Garden is a close walk away. Check out to see what's in bloom before you go! Right now, you'll be able to see the tropical water lily, sweet coneflower, bluebeard, lily of the Incas, Madagascar periwinkle, and more.
Riding 630 feet up to the top of the Gateway Arch is a highlight for the books.
Sure, the Gateway Arch is incredible to look at from the outside, but did you know you can ride all the way to the top of it, 630 feet in the sky? I rode the very tiny tram to the very top of the 43,226-ton stainless steel giant—which is the highest monument in the National Park System in the country—and it's certainly an experience for the books. The ride up took four minutes, and the ride back down three.
After swooning over the views from the top, I checked out the museum and watched a video on how the Gateway Arch was built. It took 2.5 years and $13.4 million for this iconic landmark to come together.
The farm-to-table cuisine scene is unreal.
Confession: I fell in love with a restaurant, and its name is Vicia. This trendy JBF-nominated venue is celebrated for its vegetable-forward dishes, and for good reason. It's one of the best-kept secrets in St. Louis if you're visiting for the first time. And even if you aren't a vegetarian, I highly recommend adding this spot to your bucket list. (I had pork loin and pork belly dressed in a blueberry BBQ sauce along with my veggie plates!)
Dinner consisted of a three-course "farmer's feast," and it's safe to say both my tastebuds and tummy were beyond satisfied. The menu items in the "feast" are constantly changing depending on what can be sourced from local farms and what's in season. "By focusing on what's fresh, we aim to present a memorable dining experience that can be enjoyed in a new way each time," Vicia's website states.
Ready for your mouth to water? To give you just a small taste of my "farmer's feast" experience, I had creamy farro and corn risotto, prosciutto-wrapped peach with fresh basil and balsamic drizzle, homemade sourdough bread with homemade butter (which I honestly could have eaten by the spoonful), fried okra with homemade honey mustard, and goat's milk gelato with basil oil and elderflower.
Next up, we're heading over to Olive + Oak, a lively and beloved neighborhood haunt in Webster Groves. "Our philosophy on food is simple. We work tirelessly to source the best ingredients, locally whenever possible. In the kitchen, we use solid, old school cooking techniques," writes the Olive + Oak team on their website.
For apps, I had gorgonzola-stuffed dates with chorizo vinaigrette (my favorite!), along with charred octopus with smoked paprika aioli and crispy papas bravas. For dinner, the gaucho steak was perfectly cooked and hit the spot, paired with malbec marinade, spinach, fresh tomatoes, and chimichurri potatoes.
Pro tip: If there's a wait for the table, grab a fun cocktail at the bar—gin, strawberry, rhubarb, honey yogurt, and cracked pepper, anyone?—or head on back to Perennial for some pre-dinner sips.
The wellness is on point and on-trend.
What's a getaway without a little pampering sesh? I have to admit, my accommodation experience was incredibly luxe and pampering at the Four Seasons. The L'Occitane toiletries were so comforting, along with the cozy bathrobe I snuggled up in after showering. My room's floor-to-ceiling windows overlooked the rooftop bar and pool (which was the ultimate spot for golden hour selfies and cocktails), and of course, the iconic Gateway Arch off in the distance.
Allow me to let you in on another one of the best-kept secrets in St. Louis: The resort's spa has one of the most spectacular views of the city. Before my treatment, I sunk back into a plush lounge chair while sipping a cold glass of coconut water and soaked up my view of the Mississippi River, the Stan Musial Bridge, and the Gateway Arch. Talk about relaxation at its finest! The spa's lounge features a hot tub that you can totally spend hours soaking in while being in awe of that view.
Then, it was time for my treatment. I got the 100-minute Lavender Dreams massage, and it lived up to its name of being a dream. Lavender is linked to a plethora of potential health benefits, including improving your sleep, lessening inflammation and pain, relieving anxiety, and helping with menstrual pain, so I knew I was in for a wellness treat.
To start things off, my masseuse used a combo of lavender and earthy minerals for total-body exfoliation and dry brushing. (Dry brushing unclogs your pores and rids your skin of toxins. It's celebrity-approved, too!) After that came an amazing—and much-needed—shoulder, neck, and back massage with warm healing stones and lavender oil. I was then wrapped in a super-cozy cocoon while enjoying a foot massage.