Arch City Adventure
Prove the naysayers wrong with a rendezvous in the Lou worth bragging about.
Let’s face it. Although we know St. Louis has lots of innovative residents, tasty dining options and fun places to frequent, sometimes the image that others carry of our fair city isn’t so…kind. Fortunately, that’s changing.
A few years ago, when my family and I hosted some out-of-town relatives for the day, one of our guests commented on her experience traveling to St. Louis for work a decade prior. Her opinion wasn’t very positive. But, after a trip to the City Museum, a walk through Forest Park and a fishbowl at Rigazzi’s, her impression was dramatically altered.
Those who write us off as just another “flyover” city are clearly missing out on a host of hidden gems St. Louis has to offer. So, for any visitor or resident who’s ever been down on STL, I’m willing to bet there are several attractions you’d love that you’ve yet to discover or have simply overlooked. I’ve lived here for more than 16 years, and I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’ve only recently visited the St. Louis Ballet and The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts.
Whether you decide to play tour guide to outof-towners or opt for a staycation, here are a few aspects to consider when planning your Arch City adventure.
Think about what makes St. Louis special
Sure, we’re known for Budweiser beer, toasted ravioli, The Gateway Arch and St. Louis-style pizza. But, did you know The Griot Museum of Black History & Culture is one of only two like it in the country? If your guests are fans of movies and television shows that happen to feature some St. Louis surroundings, drive them past the locations filmed. Sweetie Pie’s and Jilly’s Cupcake Bar & Cafe have earned national accolades, so why not treat guests to those great places?
Share your favorite spots
When my son was a bit younger, he loved to visit the Butterfly House. Then, we’d often stop by the St. Louis Carousel at Faust Park. As a result, that became our go-to spot when hosting visitors with kids. Whether it’s a favored eatery, farmer’s market or coffee shop, show off your St. Louis.
Keep ages and interests in mind
For a single, child-free friend of mine who lives in Dallas, I’m thinking we’ll spend some quality time in The Loop. Perhaps we’ll visit the Third Degree Glass Factory, and depending on what’s going on at The Pageant, we might take in a concert and hit the Rooftop Terrace Bar at the Moonrise Hotel. We’re also expecting extended family to visit this summer. We’ll be entertaining three boys ages 10 and older. I’m thinking a trek to Alton, IL for a Mineral Springs Haunted Tour would capture their interest.
Do your homework on your choice destinations
One day, we drove 40 minutes to Cahokia Mounds only to realize the attraction was closed. Most attractions in the area have websites, so your best bet is to check them first for hours of operation, especially if you’re entertaining during a holiday like Memorial Day or the Fourth of July. In some cases, attractions are open only by appointment (like the Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park).
Don’t forget health limitations
Laumeier Sculpture Park is a lovely place to explore, but for someone who’s got knee or hip problems, the walk might be a bit much. If you’re planning any outdoor expeditions, like a bicycle tour around the city, you might want to check the air quality for those days. For someone battling outdoor allergies, check the ragweed and pollen count.
Hatch a back-up plan
Maybe you had your heart set on browsing the Saint Louis Art Museum’s latest exhibits, followed by lunch in the onsite café. If there’s an unexpected issue that impedes you, try visiting the Contemporary Art Museum instead. If you were hoping to delight motor enthusiasts with a visit to the Museum of Transportation, but the weather won’t cooperate, why not check out the Kemp Auto Museum?
The bottom line? There’s plenty to do and see in St. Louis, as well as its surrounding areas—so start exploring!
Photo credit: Illustration by Sarah Quatrano