The atmosphere in St. Louis is not one of a traditional college town, as most students agree. The city is big enough that kids feel they can get away and utilize the resources of a semi-metropolis. At the same time, the campus is in a calm suburb, where there is a laid-back Midwestern atmosphere that many students from both the East Coast and West Coast find appealing. The immediate area surrounding the campus also offers plenty of fun opportunities. Forest Park to the east has a 10K bike trail, an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, the world-class Saint Louis Art Museum, lakes with gondolas, and plenty of picnic grounds. The Loop is a commercial district bordering campus on the north, with plenty of cafés, bars, shops, restaurants, a nice movie theater, and a few music venues. Most students seem to stay in the general area of campus, but there is plenty to do downtown and throughout the metro area.
The city seems to be on a slow but steady upswing. Washington Avenue houses a strip of trendy, hip bars and nightclubs, worth at least a weekend night visit. There are also neat little areas stashed around town that take a little digging to discover, like the cool stores on South Grand Boulevard, the bars on Pestalozzi Avenue, and the vibrant African American neighborhoods in North St. Louis. The most common complaint about St. Louis is the lack of centrality. The Metrolink makes it possible to get pretty much anywhere, but a car makes basic tasks like going to the dry cleaner significantly easier.