Last week I shared all the beauty of St. Louis’ Forest Park. I just couldn’t cut out any of those stunning photos. Our time at Forest Park was quite representative of our trip to St. Louis. I’d never been to the Gateway City and I really didn’t know what to expect. By the end of our two days, we’d had so much fun! I was surprised by all the lush beauty, public parks, the great food, all the little nooks and crannies of the city, and the pride of St. Louisans for their town. When it was time to leave the city, I couldn’t wait to write this St. Louis travel post – the city was such a pleasant surprise and a fun destination for a getaway…
City Museum was one of the highly recommended destinations. Throw out everything that comes to mind when you think of a museum. This artistic, quirky spot is crazy fun for the whole family. From the bus hanging off the roof, you enter with eyes wide open. On the roof, out front, and on the first floor are various things to climb, slide, and wander through.
My favorite? The ferris wheel on the roof! You get a great view north of the city. Best to avoid on a super hot day, but there are ice cold beverages (for kids and adults) and delicious smelling nachos at the concession stand up there. And word to the wise, take the elevator to the roof, not the stairs. I think we lost half our body weight sweating up those ten flights of stairs.
Forest Park was a dreamland when it comes to city parks, but it wasn’t the only one in the Gateway City. City Park downtown is a recent addition with lush gardens, water fountains, and art installations. The city really does have something for everyone everywhere!
Visiting the Gateway Arch
The Gateway Arch is a must in St. Louis for obvious reasons. The park below is currently under construction, so allow extra time to walk from the Old Courthouse where you buy tickets to the Arch. There’s a movie that shows the building of the Arch – the astounding engineering and extreme weather surrounding its rise. The gondolas up to the top are small, so not for the easily claustrophobic.
At the top, you can look out windows to see for miles east and west. I always heard announcers of Cardinals’ games saying fans could watch from the arch. While you may not see the strike zone, you do get a good view of the stadium. The arch doesn’t look that big until you’re underneath it or up in the lookout. Then you understand just how big 630 feet vertical really is!
Another highlight was Soulard Market – a large farmer’s market open year round Wednesday to Saturday 8am-5pm. We found every kind of fruit and vegetable imaginable and at fabulous prices. So great were the prices, in fact, that my mom bought a butternut squash for $1 to bring home! If I lived in St. Louis, I’d be at this market multiple times per week. The number of vendors is minimal on Wednesday and Thursday, but expect a bustling market by Saturday.
Where to stay in St. Louis
We stayed at Hotel Ignacio during out stay in St. Louis. The rooms have a modern art and architecture vibe with an amazing shower! It’s quite central and not too far from the metroline (a 15ish minute walk). Their building sits across the street from St. Louis University, an absolutely stunning campus. Every night, we wandered around the area to work off some of that great food we found in every part of town.
The hotel is within walking distance of the Fox Theatre and Powell Hall, two of the arts destinations in the city. You can also find jazz clubs and other theatre options as well. Midtown is arts central for the city!
One of the trendiest parts of town is the Delmar Loop. We only got to spend a short time there (grabbing coffee at Blueprint), but the area deserves a much longer visit. It’s home to Chuck Berry and the famous “Blueberry Hill” club. Beside music and coffee, there’s a Mission Taco (mentioned in Eating My Way through St. Louis) and a movie theatre that plays old movies. You could spend a late afternoon and evening up here for sure.
Day Trips from St. Louis
If you find yourself with a car and time to get out of the city, the Mounds at Cahokia are a twenty minute drive. Cahokia was the most sophisticated civilization north of Mexico around the 13th century. I wrote a number of papers on Cahokia in undergrad and was excited to see it in the flesh.
There is a museum with exhibits and a movie to provide you with background on the site and the people who lived there. Across the street, you can climb the steps to the highest mound and get a great view of this section of the Mississippi River Valley.
About an hour from St. Louis are the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. As you drive through Illinois, you’ll see a devotion to our 16th president that I haven’t seen anywhere else. Streets, towns, and businesses have incorporated Lincoln into their name in astonishing ways! The museum is fun for everyone and a great representation of the difficult times of Lincoln’s presidency prior to and during the Civil War.
For not knowing what to expect, we really enjoyed our time in St. Louis. The city has so much to offer for a few days of good fun (and the Cardinals baseball team wasn’t even in town)! Head to the Gateway City ready to walk, explore, and eat to your heart’s content!