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5 ways St. Louis saw national recognition in 2021

We know St. Louis has awesome attractions and delicious dishes, but several studies and rankings put that in writing this year.
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St. Louis Gateway Arch in Missouri with pink flower and blue sky

ST. LOUIS — If you're from St. Louis you probably agree with Nelly, you're pretty proud of the place. But we don't have to tell you, we can show you with just some of the accolades The Lou has received in 2021.

From high marks for being one of the best foodie cities to getting some serious recognition for the St. Louis Zoo, St. Louisans know they're part of something special.

5. St. Louis drivers named 2nd best in country

Credit: KSDK

Anyone who has driven during rush hour in St. Louis, or tried to leave a Cardinals game might not agree with this ranking, but a study out this year says it's true.

The study came from analysts at QuoteWizzard, which is a Lending Tree company that helps users compare car insurance quotes and companies. They used four key metrics to figure out overall driver quality.

  • Accidents
  • Speeding tickets
  • DUIs
  • Citations (running a red light, using a cellphone while driving, etc.)

St. Louis was actually almost the best city for drivers. It narrowly missed the top spot which was claimed by Birmingham, Alabama. To see more of the study's results, click here.

4. WalletHub recognizes St. Louis for food, fun and accessibility

Credit: UPI
Manager Hailey Mattof delivers a double cheeseburger with all the fixings to a customer in the dining room at the Hi-Pointe Drive In, in St. Louis on Tuesday, November 16, 2021. The World Food Championships held in Dallas on November 10th, crowned the Hi-Pointe Smash Burger the best burger in the United States. Chefs in the category were challenged to create a burger using Impossible vegetarian meat. Hi-Pointe owner and chef Mike Johnson said he made his famous Cowboy Burger for the competition. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

In 2021, WalletHub, a personal finance website, gave some high marks to St. Louis in several studies.

St. Louis was named third best city for people with disabilities, getting points for lowest cost of doctor visit, highest percent of population with walkable park access and most family medicine physicians per capita. To see the full breakdown, click here.

It's also not a shock that St. Louis ranked among the "Best Foodie Cities in America" according to WalletHub. The city known for its toasted ravs, gooey butter cake and Imo's Pizza came in 16th overall. We scored well in three categories: restaurants per capita, most gourmet specialty-food stores per capita and affordability & accessibility of highly-rated restaurants. Here's the full list.

RELATED: Awards and national rankings: How the St. Louis food scene made us proud in 2021

Last but not least, St. Louis was named in the top 20 for "Most Fun Cities in America." We scored the 20th spot thanks to our bar accessibility, restaurants per capita and festivals per capita.

3. Forest Park named 2nd best city park in U.S.

Credit: Katy Grant

With attractions like the St. Louis Zoo, The Muny and the Saint Louis Science Center, it's easy to see why Forest Park ranked second for best city park in USA Today 2021 10Best Readers' Choice travel awards

READ: Forest Park named second best city park in the US

Its widely used outdoor recreations like skating, jogging trails, boating and soccer fields also made it a favorite among the panel. And this isn't the first time the park has earned this honor, in 2016, Forest Park earned the top spot.

2. Children's Museums get high marks

Credit: KSDK

St. Louis scored not one, but two spots for our children's museums. Both The Magic House and The City Museum ranked in the top 5 of USA Today's 10Best Children's Museums.

The Magic House took second best, with USA Today saying it helps visiting kids “explore their curiosity, enhance their creativity and develop their problem-solving skills.” City Museum came in fifth, being promoted as having a little bit of everything, including “the world’s largest jungle gym, a 10-story spiral slide and a rooftop garden with stellar views of the city.” 

1. St. Louis Zoo one of the best in the U.S. 

Penguins seem to enjoy the 20 degree weather as they stroll outside of their temperature-controlled building at the Saint Louis Zoo Sunday, Jan. 10, 2010, in St. Louis. The penguins are brought outside to roam for about half an hour to the delight of visitors each Sunday in the winter when the temperature outside is below 50 degrees. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Tell us something we don't know. It's no secret that St. Louis gets to have the benefit of one of the best zoos (that's also free!), but someone went and put it in writing. Travel + Leisure named our zoo in their "9 of the Best Zoos in the U.S." ranking.

But it's not just on the list because of the food or fun you see upfront, the zoos on the list are also "doing their part to fund and initiate animal conservation efforts." The article talks about how the St. Louis Zoo "is recognized worldwide for its innovative approach to animal care and wildlife conservation." 

The St. Louis Zoo joined a select group for this ranking that includes the Smithsonian National Zoo, San Diego Zoo, Omaha, Columbus and Disney's Animal Kingdom.