Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Tour of St. Louis

Kathy G from Kathy G blogs at The Second Half of My Life and Kathy at 49. She lives in Manchester, Missouri and is taking us through the nearby town of St. Louis (which you've perhaps heard of?) Enjoy her words and pictures!

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If you come to St. Louis, you'll find plenty of fun things to do. We have great attractions, wonderful museums, sports, and outdoor activities.

The Gateway Arch (part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial) is the city’s marquee attraction. The nation’s tallest man-made monument towers 630 feet over the Mississippi River. The Museum of Westward Expansion under the Arch is free, but there is a charge for other activities and the tram trip to the top of the Arch.

St. Louis Gateway ArchForest Park is one of the largest urban parks in the United States-approximately 500 acres larger than Central Park in New York City. The park contains, among other amenities, the Art Museum, Science Center, Zoo, and Muny Theatre, as well as biking, jogging and skating paths.
The Saint Louis Art Museum is housed in a building that was built for the 1904 World’s Fair. It has a comprehensive collection from every culture and time period. The museum has free admission every day. There is a fee for the special exhibits, but they’re free on Fridays.

The Saint Louis Science Center is made up of multiple buildings, all providing hands-on exhibits on ecology, space, and humanity. In the main building you’ll find life-size animated dinosaurs and a human hamster wheel that powers the Energizer Ball Machine. In the Planetarium, you can see the star field in the night sky, or get a glimpse of what it's like to live and work on the International Space Station. The two buildings are connected by a bridge over I-64/US 40 (which is currently closed for rebuilding). Instead of watching cars whiz by underneath your feet, you can watch the construction equipment at work. There is no admission fee to the Science Center, but there is a charge for special exhibits.

St. Louis ZooThe Saint Louis Zoo was named America’s #1 Zoo by Zagat. It, too, has free admission, although there’s a charge for a handful of activities. Parking in the zoo lots can be very expensive, but there is a limited amount of free on-street parking. In the zoo, a few of the original buildings from the 1920s mix with state-of-the art habitats for chimpanzees and gorillas, penguins, and big cats.

The Muny, or Municipal Opera, is the nation’s oldest (since 1918) and largest outdoor theater. It produces seven musicals every summer. Although tickets are affordable and easy to come by, the best-kept secret in the city are the free seats for each show. The last nine rows of the theater are available on a first come, first served basis each night.

Forest Park isn’t the only place in town that has museums. The Magic House, located in a renovated Victorian mansion in a suburb of St. Louis, is one of the most popular children’s museums in the country. It’s a hands-on museum that has activities for children of all ages. There are four floors and more than 100 exhibits.

It’s almost impossible to describe the City Museum! Its tagline is where the imagination runs wild. The museum is a mixture of playground, funhouse, and architectural marvels made out of found objects. There are activities for all ages, but since the museum is open until one in the morning on weekends (the lights go out at 11:00 and you can explore with flashlights), the adults can come back in the evening and play by themselves.

The Basilica of St. Louis, King of France (also known as the "Old Cathedral") is the oldest Roman Catholic cathedral west of the Mississippi River, and is located adjacent to the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. The Cathedral Basilica (New Cathedral) has the world’s largest collection of mosaic art, which took nearly 80 years to create using more than 41 million pieces of tile.

Missouri Botanical Garden (also known as Shaw's Garden) is one of the oldest botanical institutions in the United States. It contains modern and traditional gardens, including the largest Japanese strolling garden in the Western hemisphere, and a geodesic dome conservatory called the Climatron.

Just across the Mississippi River, Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site is the site of the largest prehistoric Indian city north of Mexico. In 1982, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), designated Cahokia Mounds a World Heritage Site. Standing at the top of the 100 ft high Monks Mound, the largest earthwork in North America, you can see for miles in every direction.

When you’ve had enough culture, head over to the Anheuser-Busch brewery for a free tour. The tour stops at the historic Brew House, Budweiser Clydesdale Stables, Beechwood Lager Cellars, and Bevo Packaging Facility. If you’re “of age” you can sample products in the Hospitality Room. During the warm weather, Grants Farm (ancestral home of the Busch family) is another good option. It’s located just south of the city, and it’s filled with more than 100 different species of animals, including the iconic Budweiser Clydesdales, and much more. Admission is free, but be prepared to pay for parking.

At some point, you’re going to get hungry. The Loop, a six-block entertainment and shopping district, was named one of the 10 Great Streets in America last year. You can find just about any type of food here, but favorites are Blueberry Hill, where you can spend hours looking at all the pop culture memorabilia, and Fitz’s American Grill and Bottling Works. If you’re lucky, you can get a table by the window and watch the rootbeer bottling line in action. The Loop also contains the St. Louis Walk of Fame, which consists of more than 100 bronze plaques set into the sidewalk.

Another unique area is the Hill, an Italian neighborhood where the fire hydrants are painted red, white, and green (the colors of the Italian flag). There are restaurants ranging from corner pizzerias to four-star gourmet. You can find authentic sausage, pastries, and breads.

For dessert, take a short drive to Ted Drewes. This frozen custard stand, which has operated since the 1930s, may best be known for concretes. A concrete is custard that’s so thick that it and its spoon don’t fall out when the cup is turned upside-down. The lines at Ted Drewes may be very long, but they move fast.

If you like professional sports, St. Louis has got it covered. The baseball Cardinals play at Busch Stadium, the Rams play football in the Edward Joness dome, and if you like hockey, the Blues face off at the Scottrade Center.

This just touches the surface of all the great things there are in St. Louis. Hope to see you soon!

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If you'd like to write about the activities in your area you can see the details at Your Chance to Play Tour Guide.

Congratulations to Karen of New York, New York for winning this weekend's Starlooks Boutique Giveaway and also to Michelle of Los Angeles, California for winning the red silk earrings from Alison Kelley Designs from the week before. Oh and to Karen from Rosedale, Maryland for winning the Chronicle Books giveaway. Whew!

Sponsored by Tiny Prints for the graduation announcements and by Wedding Paper Divas for wedding invitations.

10 comments:

Mandy said...

This is home for me! Love the info...even for a native!

Inkling said...

Until I moved to BC to live with my Canadian hubby, this was home for me. I used to pick out my dad's work (Ralston Purina - now Nestle-Purina)and the old pop bottle cap shaped stadium from the top of the Arch. STL is a special place, and all the places she mentioned are wonderful. What is really amazing are all the free places to take kiddos, and I have to say that the STL zoo is far better than many high priced zoos I have visited. STL had the best field trips when I was teaching, and it is a great family friendly town.

Munchkins and Music said...

I didn't know there was so many things to do there, I've never been there but is sounds like a great place. I bet they have great jazz...

bluecat said...

I love this post! My family and I used to live in Cahokia, just across the river from St Louis, from 1984 to 1991. It's great to see that the zoo is still free. I think it's the best zoo. The Arch is another great attraction. I've been to the the top and what a great view! Grant's Farm is another family favorite. If I ever get to visit St Louis again those three will definitely be on the list. We used to go down to the Illinois side of the river to watch the fireworks on the Fourth of July. Best Ever!

Monkey's Momma said...

Michelle and Kathy, Thanks for featuring "The Lou". I live around 65 miles from St. Louis and have for most of my life. Kathy is right! There is something for everyone in St. Louis.

Our favorite spots are City Museum, where I love to take photos, the Zoo and The Botanical Gardens.

Amy said...

This is my hometown!!!!! I live in California now, but got a pang of nostalgia the second I saw the Arch.

SarahHub said...

Mmmm... Ted Drewe's...

Janet said...

I went to St. Louis in 1993 or so. I loved it. We went up in the Arch of course. It's pretty wild. To see out the windows, you have to lean forward onto these carpet-covered ledges. It's a lot like launching yourself out into space. I was completely freaked.

Tamara said...

I love reading all about things to do in different places. I should print them and put them all in our vacation folder. I haven't been to St. Louis since I was a kid visiting my great-grandfather. The arch was so fascinating to kids from Alaska who had never seen such a thing.

At the end of May we are headed to Minneapolis and South Dakota (Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands etc.) and would love to hear what are things that we shouldn't miss in these areas. And also some great kid friendly activities would be fantastic. If anyone can post travel suggestions that would be so great!

Thanks for doing this Michelle! What a great idea!

Dale Esdale said...

an interesting visit, I must say; I will definately bring the children next time I go.