The city of St. Louis celebrates its 250th birthday this year. In 1764, Pierre Laclede Liguest, along with his scout Auguste Chouteau, selected the site of St. Louis to be a French fur trading post named after King Louis IX, and the rest is history.

Today, St. Louis is host to a variety of neighborhoods, each with their own distinctive styles and characteristics, including festivals, quality dining, sporting events and attractive parks.

Throughout the city’s history, it has contributed multiple food inventions to the world. These include toasted ravioli, pork steaks, peanut butter, St. Louis-style pizza, provolone cheese, gooey butter cake, the concrete and cotton candy. The popularizations of ice cream in a waffle cone and a hot dog in a bun took place in St. Louis as well.

Is this making you hungry? Well, you’re in luck. St. Louis is home to hundreds of one-of-a-kind restaurants ranging from Vietnamese to Italian, Bosnian to Lebanese, and Mexican to Ethiopian. You can also expect some of the best barbeque food. There’s a reason why it’s known as the “St. Louis-style” rib. There is a restaurant for every craving and within every price range.

St. Louis is also home to a vast amount of parks, including the renowned Forest Park, which was host to the World’s Fair in 1904. Several people don’t realize that Forest Park is larger than Central Park in New York City, and that it’s also home to the No. 1 zoological park in America. Forest Park is also home to the Saint Louis Science Center, the Municipal Theatre Association of St. Louis, the Saint Louis Art Museum and the Missouri History Museum.

What sets Forest Park apart from other urban parks is that it is known as a zoo-museum district, which allows a zero cost of admission. The zoo, art museum and history Museum are all free of charge every day.

St. Louis also hosts several farmers’ markets during the summer on Saturday mornings. Clayton, Ferguson, Tower Grove and Maplewood are a few to check out around the area. Along with these, the Soulard Market is one of the oldest farmers’ markets in the country, first opening its doors in 1779. Market-hopping is a fun way to spend a Saturday morning and see the different neighborhoods of St. Louis.

Don’t forget the classic attractions, including the Gateway Arch, the Old Courthouse and the City Museum, which make St. Louis an exciting city that is worth exploring. Look past the stats about crime and open your mind to a culturally and historically rich city, but be sure to travel with common sense along the way. Happy Birthday, St. Louis!

Image courtesy of Julia Suber