St. Louis, Missouri
VISITED: AUGUST 2016
St. Louis lies on the western-bank of the Mississippi River and is known as being the gateway to the West. The city has a rich history and has recently undergone an extensive reconstruction in order to make the downtown a more pedestrian friendly area. That being said, my latest trip to St. Louis was met with a lot of fenced off areas, cranes, and exhibit closures, which made for an interesting challenge. Nevertheless, once the enhancements are complete, the Gateway Arch and the surrounding area will be a wonderful place for families, runners, and tourists to experience. One thing is for certain, there are plenty of monuments, structures, and landmarks that are a must-see when visiting St. Louis. Here is a list of my personal favorites:
The Gateway Arch – The Gateway Arch is a 630-foot monument that overlooks downtown St. Louis and the Mississippi River. It was constructed in 1965 as a memorial to honor early settlers who pioneered westward in the 1800’s. . This awe-inspiring monument offers visitors to go to the top to view the city from the arch’s observation deck. Tickets can be purchased in advance online and it is $13 for adults and $10 for children. The short tram ride may be difficult for those who feel claustrophobic, since 5-6 adults cram into an egg shaped elevator as it traverses the curve of the arch.
Busch Stadium – Busch Stadium, also known as “Busch Stadium III” and “The New Busch Stadium,” is the third of its namesake and is home to the St. Louis Cardinals, which is a major league baseball (MLB) franchise. The stadium opened in 2006 and although the original stadium was named after the team owner, Gussie Busch, the current stadium’s naming rights belong to Anheuser-Busch. Every seat in Busch Stadium has a wonderful vantage point, but the best go to the Infield Terrace seats since they are high up and offer a great panoramic of the stadium with the arch in the background.
Ballpark Village – Ballpark Village is 10-acres of land dedicated to creating the St. Louis Cardinals’ vision for the most engrossing baseball entertainment experience. It will ultimately consist of residential units, restaurants, and entertainment that will be completed in various stages. Phase 1 first opened in 2014 and included an outdoor festival area, an assortment of themed bars, a restaurant, and the largest indoor big screen in the mid-west. The village provides fans and visitors a chance to sit back and enjoy the game (on game day) while socializing and grabbing a bite to eat.
Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park – The Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park resides across the Mississippi River and has an elevated platform that offers the best view of the St. Louis Arch and St. Louis skyline. The park also has a fountain, called that Gateway Geyser, which erupts to the height of the Arch at 12pm, 6pm, and 9pm from April to October. For those without a car, the best way to get to the park is either by cab, Uber, or taking the metro the East Riverfront station and walking along South Front Street until you reach the park.
Anheuser-Busch Brewery – The Anheuser-Busch Brewery offers free brewery tours that detail the brewing process and culminates with a free tasting of the beer of your choice. The brewery is a local treasure and has been labeled as being a National Historic Landmark District thanks to its rich history and ties to the city of St. Louis. The grounds of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery spread over 142-acres and include a field and stables for the famous Clydesdales, brewing plant, packaging stations, and more. The Clydesdales have a handful of specialized handlers that tend to their every need, which includes their balanced diet, perfectly manicured manes, and immaculate stable area. Along with the stables, a quick scan of the brewery grounds will surely impress, as its 189 structures of ornate, red brick Romanesque designs exude the company’s heritage. The interior of these buildings are just as exquisite as the exterior, with the building’s natural light being utilized to focus and highlight the use of the elaborate iron work.
City Museum – Opened in 1997, the City Museum is an 11-floor playhouse museum that is made up of repurposed architectural and industrial objects. The museum was built in the city’s old International Shoe Company, which provided a space that was over 600,000 square feet to create the interior and exterior attractions. These attractions are deeply rooted in the city’s history, as the materials used have strict guidelines where they must be salvaged from within the city limits. Such reclaimed building materials include planes, buses, and even bridges, just to name a few. The ingenuity of the sculptors has tourists and locals marveling at the level of creativity required to imagine and construct this modern masterpiece. General admission to the City Museum is $12, but for an additional $5 visitors are given access to the roof top slides and rides. It is a wonderful place for young and old alike, where nothing is off limits and visitors can spend a full day navigating the passageways, stairwells, and slides, and still stumble upon something new.
Kiener Plaza Park – St. Louis is home to many popular parks like Forest Park and the Gateway Mall, but my favorite is the Kiener Plaza Park. Kiener Plaza Park is a 1.9 acre public park located downtown and in my personal opinion, has the most charming view of the Old Courthouse and Gateway Arch. When framed correctly this location is perfect for sunrise with the Old Courthouse and Gateway Arch in the background and the park’s fountain in the foreground. During my last visit, the park was under construction in order to update the park’s amenities and to better connect it to downtown’s other points of interest. Although this reconstruction has been an area of contention for St. Louis natives, the project is close to completion and will surely provide the same iconic view as in the past.
The Loop – The Loop, also known as the Delmar Loop, is a vibrant six-block area along Delmar Blvd. that offers shopping, bars, and cultural eateries. Along with all of the shops and restaurants, the Loop is also home to the St. Louis Walk of Fame. This stretch of sidewalk is where visitors can find star-shaped brass plaques that commemorate the local icons like Chuck Berry, John Goodman, Miles Davis, and more. This eclectic stretch of road was recently ranked as one of the top ten streets in America by the American Planning Association.
Missouri Botanical Gardens – Also known as Shaw’s Garden after founder Henry Shaw, the Missouri Botanical Gardens are one of the most beautiful and biggest gardens in the nation. The gardens are over 75-acres and are complete with a 14-acre Japanese garden with koi fish pond, Henry Shaw’s original home, the Climatron with reflection pool, and more. The Climatron is dome shaped greenhouse that simulates the climate of a low land rainforest for research and academic purposes. Admission into the gardens is $8 for adults living outside the St. Louis area, $4 for local visitors, and free for all children 13 & under. The Missouri Botanical Gardens makes for a great visit to stroll along the well manicured grounds while marveling at the diversity of flowers and other flora.
Sunrise and sunset recommendations:
SUNRISE – Kiener Plaza Park – With the Gateway Arch cresting over the Old Courthouse in the background and the fountain with the reflection of the vivid sky in the foreground, this composition for sunrise is extraordinary.
SUNSET – Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park - An ideal location to watch the sun set behind the St. Louis skyline and Gateway Arch. Be sure to arrive early and carve out a spot for you and your tripod as this spot is quite popular and can fill up fast.
Recommendations for some of the local must eats:
*Pappy’s Smokehouse - Popular order-at-the-counter spot for wood-smoked Memphis-style barbecue with all of the classic sides. When it comes to barbecue I am a firm believer in the “family style” plate for the sole purpose of having an opportunity to taste each selection of meat.
*Iron Barley - Creative take on American comfort food, craft beers, and late night music out back. They are best known for their meat on a stick and the Monte Cristo double dog, which is an open faced hot dog topped with strawberry jam and Swiss cheese.
*Ted Drewes – Ted Drewes sells delectable vegan treats like soft serve, sundaes, frozen custard, and malts.
*Lombardo’s Trattoria – No visit to St. Louis is complete without trying the toasted ravioli, which is a local tradition and Lombardo’s Trattoria is said to make some of the finest in St. Louis.
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