When you think of the arts scene in St. Louis, the Muny and the Fox Theatre probably come to mind first. Surprisingly, St. Louis has a burgeoning, under-the-radar, arts scene happening in Midtown called the Grand Center Arts District? Have you heard of it? I hadn’t really explored this area until recently when I was invited to take a tour. If you’re looking to mix up the classic dinner-and-a-movie, this would make for a very fun destination date. Here are a few highlights:
On the second floor of the .ZACK building (where Plush nightclub used to be for all you locals) is Sophie’s Artist Lounge, a modern-yet-chic, chandelier-lit cocktail bar. It’s the perfect place to begin or end an evening, with a full bar, outside deck, and plush velvet seating. Also, all the money above the liquor costs at Sophie’s gets donated back into the arts community. Definitely worth toasting too!
Down the hall from Sophie’s is the Music Record Shop, an appropriately named small store with an impressive assortment of new and used vinyl records. Remember the days of wandering the aisles flipping through rows of albums? It’s just as much fun now.
The .ZACK is a multi-use venue, so it also houses Turn Restaurant, private-event space the Urban Ballroom on the fourth floor, and the .ZACK Theatre, the first of three theatres in the district. The Lion King Jr. is playing Aug, 11-12 if you’re in search of a fun date night out with your kiddos.
From the .ZACK, grab a Lyft or walk the five-minute city stroll up to Grand Avenue and over to the Dark Room, a cozy, intimate bistro.
Listen to live jazz and piano music, sip from the artisanal wine menu, peruse the photo gallery, and nosh on small plates (the hummus and chicken artichoke dips were delish), sandwiches, and entrees. I tried the Shrimp & Grits and Quinoa Veggie Bowl and both were tasty dishes.
I’m a big fan of date days, and the Dark Room’s Sunday Brunch would be especially fun with the rotating list of live musicians each week.
The Grandel Theatre, the largest of the three theatres, is a few steps from the Dark Room and features leather booths, along with traditional seating, which you can reserve when you order your tickets. The Naked Magicians did catch my eye when I was looking at the upcoming calendar of events;)
A short walk down the street from the Grandel is The Kranzberg Arts Center, located inside the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Building. The Black Box Theatre, the smallest of the theatres with 100 seats, is housed there along with an art gallery, a studio space, and an education/maker center by Craft Alliance.
It’s worth noting that the Grand Center Arts District would not be what it is today without the forward-thinking vision of the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, a community-centered organization which provides local, emerging artists the resources needed to support, build, grow and thrive. I love this quote on their website: “The soul of a city is shaped by its artists.” Isn’t that lovely, and oh so true? It’s this kind of visionary thinking that we see in larger, coastal cities, and I love that it’s all here in our own backyard.
Overall, the Grand Center Arts District is an impressive and innovative arts and entertainment area with an authentic, artistic vibe. It was fun to ditch the car, walk the city sidewalks between venues and get caught up in the energy of the city. Between the restaurants, bars, theatres, performing arts and gallery spaces, there is always something to do, see, eat and enjoy, and will definitely elevate date night.
Thank you to Socially Jen & Co for inviting me to participate and explore the Grand Center Arts District.
And thank you to my readers for supporting the brands and businesses that support CityMomCo.
All photos by me unless otherwise credited.