The D.E.A.L. (Dining, Entertainment, Attractions, Lodging): St. Louis
by Jeanne Brei, Chiara Peretti & Explore St. Louis
St. Louis is a slice of Midwest Americana combined with a vibrant downtown, award-winning new restaurants, microbreweries and a rich array of cultural venues—many of which are budget-friendly or free. The big “must-see” is the Gateway Arch, whose renovated grounds were unveiled in 2018 after a five-year, $380-million project. Located in the Gateway Arch National Park (which is one of the very few urban National Parks in the country), on the west bank of the Mississippi River, the 630-foot stainless steel monument provides those who ride the tram to the top a beautiful aerial view 30 miles in each direction. In addition to the 45-60 minute ride, you can watch Monument to the Dream, a documentary film that covers the origins and significance of the famed monument, showing only in the Tucker Theatre in The Gateway Arch Visitor Center. Then stop by the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial to get a glimpse of where Lewis and Clark set out on their historic expedition or hop aboard a 19th century paddle-wheel boat replica for a narrated cruise down the mighty Mississippi.
Another unmissable feature in downtown St. Louis is the St. Louis Union Station (pictured left, photo credit: Explore St. Louis), which is not just architecturally stunning but is also still a functioning train station. Now also serving as a hotel, the St. Louis Union Station Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton, Union Station originally opened as the largest terminal in the U.S. in 1894 and boasts a lobby with a 65-foot, barrel-vaulted ceiling and stained glass windows known as the Grand Hall. The year-old St. Louis Aquarium, which officially opened in Dec. 2019, is an exciting addition to the 19th century Union Station. In the past two years the terminal has added the St. Louis Wheel, a 200-foot-tall observation wheel offering views of the St. Louis skyline, a carousel, mini golf, a rope course with more than 90,000-cubic feet of climbing space and 45+ obstacles, including a 100-foot long SkyRail® and a mirror maze where guests are able to experience a remake of this iconic 1904 World’s Fair attraction.
Let your inner child out to play at the City Museum (pictured right), a unique all-ages playground filled with caves, slides and climbing apparatus made from recycled and found objects. The playhouse museum is housed in the former International Shoe building in the Washington Avenue Loft District of St. Louis. Once inside, you get to climb, slide, explore and play—and there are more than 30 different slides, including four on the rooftop!
Sports enthusiasts will want to check out the new sports-anchored entertainment district in the heart of downtown—Ballpark Village St. Louis (pictured right)—or head to Busch Stadium to catch a Cardinals baseball game.
Breweries are a staple of the Midwest—take a tour of the historic Anheuser-Busch Brewery, visit the Budweiser Clydesdales and sample a variety of premium brands.
History and architectural buffs will want to take in the beauty of one of the largest mosaic collections in the U.S. inside the spectacular Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis or see the historic Old Cathedral and St. Ferdinand Shrine, both constructed in the early 19th century, visit the home of ragtime legend Scott Joplin or the century-old St. Louis Public Library, a magnificent building designed by world-famous architect Cass Gilbert in 1912 and restored for its 100th anniversary. And history and shows come alive at the Fabulous Fox Theatre (pictured left) and the newly-renovated Peabody Opera House.
The Missouri Botanical Garden is considered one of the best botanical gardens in the country. Forest Park (pictured right), the original site of the 1904 World’s Fair, is one of the largest urban parks in the U.S. At 1,371 acres, it is approximately 500 acres larger than Central Park in New York City. It’s home to the Art Museum, Science Center, Zoo, Jewel Box greenhouse, History Museum, The Muny amphitheater, 7.5-mile biking, jogging and skating path, skating rink and lakes.
And, with more than 70 outdoor sculptures, Laumeier Sculpture Park is one of the first and largest dedicated sculpture parks in the country. Judy Garland was right: Meet me in St. Louie for some great music, food and fun!
This story originally appeared in the Mar./Apr. 2021 issue of Exhibit City News, p. 48. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecn_mar-apr_2021