Traveler: Danielle Gervalis
When: March 2019
Good ole St. Louis, Missouri, a bustling city on the Mississippi River which was virtually unknown to me before I landed at Lambert International Airport. The only recognizable landmark I knew was the Gateway Arch. Much to my surprise, this city is chalk full of historic monuments, tremendous food and distinctive neighborhoods. I embraced the activities and new cultures and dove right into St. Louis.
Things to Do
Gateway Arch National Park
This national park sits on the Mississippi River surrounded by plush grassy fields and two accompanying duck ponds. It’s an absolutely delightful place to go for a run or have a relaxed picnic!
If you are feeling more ambitious and have at least two hours to kill, then take the tram all the way to the tippy top of the 630 ft tall Gateway Arch
, which is America’s testament to the pioneers who shaped the country. The queuing process is what really takes the bulk of the tour time. You’ll watch a documentary about the arch and the 60s era when it was built and hear the same ridiculous fun facts, especially about the tram speeds. Finally, you will cram yourself into a tiny Jetson’s pod with four other strangers and zip up 63 floors to get a bird’s eye view of the city in all directions! This is a popular attraction so it’s best to purchase tickets online
at least a day in advance (last ride up is at 4:50pm).
Great city views at the top!
The Gateway Arch Museum
This free museum lays out the history of St. Louis, including its establishment by French fur traders from New Orleans, how it was acquired in the Louisiana Purchase and the role the city played in the western expansion of the United States. It was basically a frontier city in the 1840s where people would buy their provisions before continuing to follow their manifest destiny.
There is a large display about the Great Fire of May 1848 and the toll it took on the riverfront where 418 buildings burned down and 23 steamboats, destroying 15 city blocks in the process. Finally, there is tons of information about the Arch’s construction which was quite the engineering feat. You can also view the other models that were submitted during the design competition. It’s hard to imagine St. Louis with a different skyline!
The beautiful domed old courthouse building would make any lover of classical architecture tear up. It’s especially appealing framed against the Arch. The interior dome is decorated in frescos depicting scenes in St. Louis’ history.
View of the dome
The building is free to tour and has a small museum dedicated to the Dred and Harriet Scott Case, which began here in 1846 when they filed suit for their freedom. The case ultimately went to the Supreme Court which horrifically ruled that citizenship did not apply to black people. This outrageous court decision became a contributing factor to the Civil War, as it continued to divide the north and south of the country over the issue of slavery. The museum provides the historical backdrop to the case and features some quotes and personal items of Dred and Harriet Scott. After 11 years of fighting in court, Dred and Harriet finally won their freedom.
Exhibit on Dred and Harriet Scott
A peaceful three acre park in the heart of downtown with unique sculptures all over the art spectrum, gardens and water features. There is a Kaldi’s coffee shop to take a break, grab a snack, or drink a perfect cup of coffee and contemplate the creative works. It’s just two blocks from the Old Courthouse and absolutely worth checking out to engage with some mind blowing pieces that effortlessly lift you out of the bustling city.
Inside the Economy Museum
Big Suit by Erin Wurm
Aesop’s Fables by Mark di Suervo
Untitled (Two Rabbits) by Tom Classen
Located within the St. Louis Federal Reserve, just a few short blocks from the Cardinals Stadium, the Economy Museum
is free to tour and perfect for young people (and old people who need a reminder) who are getting a grasp on how the economy, trade and markets work. It’s a small museum but with impactful and interactive exhibits that entice the visitor to consider the affect the economy has on their everyday life. As a bonus, you get a free bag of shredded money at the end of the tour!
This is what a $1 million looks like!
The City Museum is a wild ride of crazy rooms and crawl spaces. It’s as if a cartoon charter’s imagination created a museum! It’s housed in 600,000 sq ft of the old International Shoe Company and features castles, bridges, fire trucks, an old plane and a 10 story slide!
If you have children, then they will absolutely freak out and have the best day of their lives here! They even sell knee pads so the adults can keep up with the activities! If you are looking to enjoy the sculptures and absurdity without the hoards of little people, then I highly recommend visiting after 5pm on Fridays or Saturdays. You can explore the eccentric spaces with a little less noise and have a cocktail!
Budweiser Brewery Experience
The largest and oldest Budweiser Brewery sits in the Soulard neighborhood waiting to share all of their delicious brewed creations! For $10, you can join the Day Fresh Tour and explore the estate with tastings along the way. The first stop is to see the famous Clydesdale horses, chewing away on some hay, and the signature red carriages in a beautiful brick building with stained glass windows.
Moving along, enter the massive beach wood aging cellars, then the brewing room with stunning chandeliers, and then to the packaging facility. The packaging facility building was constricted in 1917 and features tiled motifs decorating the lobby. You’ll head to the 7th floor where the bottling process finishes 1,300 bottles a minute! Finally, catch the trolley ride back to the tasting room to enjoy a fresh Budweiser and relax in the beer garden.
Places to Eat
The St. Louis food scene features neighborhood strongholds of specific cuisines! You’ll find your favorite offerings all over but here’s where we recommend:
The Hill – Italian Food
The Hill is a residential neighborhood which was historically settled by Italian immigrants. Fun fact, Yogi Berra grew up here! Today there are delis, bakeries and authentic family owned Italian restaurants scattered through out the single family homes and mini yards.
When eating in the Hill, check out Zia’s. They have generous portions of pasta and cheeses and classic Italian decor! The food and atmosphere are perfetto! Try the toasted ravioli which is a St. Louis delicacy!
Soulard – Southern Food
Soulard is a charming neighborhood, famous for live blues music with red brick row homes lining the tree shaded streets.
Hammerstone’s at 9th and Russell
The oldest building in the city now houses Hammerstone’s, a dark and cozy bar and restaurant popular with locals and tourists alike. They have outdoor seating, live music and cheap and tasty food!
Live music at Hammerstone’s
Broadway Oyster Bar
A NOLA themed restaurant with absolutely divine creole cuisine! The decor is festive and makes you feel like you’re on Bourbon Street! If you’re stopping by, make sure to get a dozen oysters and any of the crawfish dishes.
Cherokee Street – Mexican Food
Welcome to the Oyster Bar!
Cherokee Street has the largest concentration of Latino owned and operated restaurants and shops in St. Louis. It’s filled with vibrant street art and the aroma of savory taco fillings.
This no frills restaurant serves up some delicious Mexican dishes at reasonable prices. Be sure to save room for dessert as they have an extensive menu of ice cream and fruit popsicles.