A culturally diverse and exciting city, St. Louis is one of the most affordable and livable major metropolitan centers in the United States. Perhaps the greatest surprise to visitors and newcomers is just how green are our neighborhoods. One rarely goes more than two or three city blocks without finding an attractive and welcoming park in which to stroll, run, bike, or rollerblade. In addition, with affordable housing, excellent restaurants, numerous sporting events, and varied cultural activities, St. Louis is one of the most pleasant American cities in which to live and to work.
The city's extensive park system provides natural beauty in almost all neighborhoods. Forest Park, the crown jewel of this system, not only borders Washington University to the east but also boasts the St. Louis Art Museum, the St. Louis History Museum, the St. Louis Municipal Opera, and miles of biking, jogging, and strolling paths. Tower Grove Park is also a popular place to relax, while the Missouri Botanical Gardens, with its free summer jazz concerts and annual Japanese Festival, is one of the city's most scenic spots.
Affordable housing can be found in several neighborhoods. With monthly rents averaging between $400 and $700, one can often find distinctive apartments and homes that feature hardwood floors, steam radiators, and excellent interior woodwork. In addition, neighborhoods are quiet and often include community gardens that add to the natural beauty of St. Louis's urban environment. The University runs an apartment referral service to assist incoming students in their search for housing.
The number of excellent restaurants and bars that cater to a variety of tastes contributes to the genuine sense of community experienced in the city's different neighborhoods. For example, the Delmar Loop, an area just north of the Wash U campus, includes Italian, Lebanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Persian, and Ethiopian restaurants in addition to the (reputedly) best hamburgers in town at Blueberry Hill. The city's Italian district, known simply as the Hill, includes some of the city's best dining, while the Soulard area features New Orleans-style restaurants in all price ranges and perhaps a dozen or so family-owned pubs.
The St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Blues guarantee that professional sports action is always nearby. In addition to the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and Opera Theatre St. Louis, the city is the home of a number of repertory theatres. The St. Louis Art Museum, one of the finest in the Midwest, has recently been joined by two contemporary art museums: the Pulitzer and the Contemporary Museum of Art.