Although generally categorized as a suburb, Florissant's history belies the standard suburban image with its own particular charm. Historic Old Town Florissant combines shopping, dining and other small business ventures into rows of lovingly restored historic buildings, along tree-lined, walkable streets. Exuding nostalgic charm and a small-town feel, Old Town features unique gems like Hendel's Restaurant, housed in an 1870s historic building on Saint Denis Street. Enjoy a "build your own Bloody Mary" with a loaded kale salad on the shady outdoor patio, or come in for a local beer and live acoustic music on a Friday or Saturday night.
Also found in the Old Town District, Helfer's Pastries & Deli Cafe exemplifies the cozy neighborhood bakery. With offerings ranging from beer breads to gooey butter Danishes, the Helfers create old-fashioned products the old-fashioned way. Don't miss your chance to grab lunch at the Deli after picking up a custom birthday cake. The Helfer's Special Sandwich (made from smoked turkey breast, Volpi Genoa salami, roast beef, a unique Colby Jack cheese and Helfer’s special sauce on fresh French bread) is a satisfying choice you won't find anywhere else.
Although many residents head downtown for the nightlife, Florissant houses a handful of distinctive bars, pubs and late-night venues. Deaver's Sports Bar and Restaurant, with its warm interior and spacious outdoor patio, is an inviting spot to catch a game on television, meet with friends or just enjoy the expansive menu. Entries such as the sweet and smoky Kansas City pork shanks and beer-battered fried cod keep the locals coming back, while Deaver's green initiatives (using recycled and biodegradable products, sourcing local ingredients and recycling their frying oil for bio diesel fuel) help distinguish this local establishment among its competitors.
Originally settled in the late 1700s, Florissant grew from humble French roots into the thriving city it is today. Old Town remains the hub of historic nostalgia, and is home to multiple festivals and annual events. The Annual Florissant Fall Festival attracts upwards of 35,000 people with its craft show, flea market, food booths, wagon rides, art activities and much more. The Valley of Flowers Festival in the Spring, a three-day affair with a carnival atmosphere, presents games and rides as well as culturally diverse musical performances.
The Old St. Ferdinand Shrine, found on Rue Street, resides in a group of buildings of unusual historical and architectural importance. The Shrine is the oldest Catholic Church west of the Mississippi in the upper Louisiana Purchase Territory, which makes for a fascinating tour location for history buffs and kids alike.
While not very feasible to bike into downtown, residents of Florissant can find many biking paths for recreational use in the town's parks. Bike lanes on major streets are not common, but the city's quiet residential streets lend themselves to family bike rides or walks.
MetroBus line #74 provides direct public transportation from Florissant into St. Louis proper, charging only $2 for a one-way pass. Travelling within Florissant with public transportation is a bit trickier, making a car necessary for daily errands. Public parking is not generally a problem, and off-street and on-street parking is commonly found in residential areas.
In addition to local cab services, Uber is an option in this area, which works well for returning safely home after a night out on the town.
Florissant is known for its low cost of living, which is almost 20 percent lower than the national average. The neighborhood's gas prices sit at 14 percent lower than the national average. Rent is also quite reasonable, with a standard one-bedroom apartment costing approximately $650 per month. Further eating and drinking out is generally going to cost less in this suburban area compared to eateries in the city center.
Although Florissant provides the standard big box options one would expect to find in a thriving suburb, specialty shops and family-owned establishments are not uncommon. Old Town provides a handful of locally owned businesses. Andrea’s Boutique, located in what appears at first to be a nondescript house on North Lafayette St, welcomes shoppers with an impressive array of women's clothing, handbags, jewelry and other accessories. Andrea herself is ready to help you pick out the perfect piece to match your outfit for a special occasion or a gift for a friend.
The Chappel House Art Gallery is another favorite shopping spot, found on Washington St. just north of I-270. Located in yet another historic building, Chappel House was designed as a special place for local artists to showcase and see their works, as well as to meet others in the artist community. Now over 60 local artists and artisans display their pieces here, ranging from paintings and sculptures to quilts, handmade cards and original poetry.
While Florissant supplies the standard chain grocery stores found elsewhere in the St. Louis area, such as Schnucks, Dierbergs and Shop N’ Saves, this suburb also offers one-of-a-kind locations like the small health food store Blue Sky Nutrition, found in the Grandview Plaza Shopping Center. Not as large or exhaustive as a Whole Foods, Blue Sky still presents a reasonable selection of frozen foods, beauty products, dry goods and plenty of supplements.
Shoppers looking to buy local usually head to Old Town, where a flea market and a farmers market are available, hosting more than 40 vendors.
Multiple city and neighborhood parks dot the landscape of Florissant. Saint Ferdinand Park, just north of highway 67, is a favorite for joggers. A picturesque pond in the center attracts ducks and other waterfowl, while the multiple shelters and BBQ pits make it ideal for birthday parties and family get-togethers.
Koch Park, off Shackelford Road, encompasses an aquatic park with a large slide, pool and sunbathing deck area. Beside the park lies the JFK Community Center, with a fitness center, an indoor racquetball court, gym and game room. Kids will love the available playgrounds. Furthermore, Koch Park is also dog-friendly, hosting an annual Doggie Pool Party and other events.