We had an early start to our first and only full day in St. Louis. Everyone met in the hotel lobby restaurant for breakfast bright and early to enjoy a beautifully plated meal. At each place setting, there was a quartet of colorful fresh juices and smoothies and fruit and pastries were served family style. The chef himself brought out our entrees of eggs benedict on a cheddar biscuit and lemon pancakes with strawberry compote. I did not partake in the eggs of course, but the pancakes were delicious, as were the juices.
After we were fed, we got back on our bus and drove over to our first stop of the day: The Gateway Arch. The Arch is one of those attractions that you absolutely must see the first time you’re in a city, and afterwards you can cross it off the list and forget about it. It’s beautiful, an impressive architectural feat for sure, but I could do without the lines.
We had tickets (which I would suggest you buy ahead of time online), but this basically meant that we had a designated time to wait in the long line that led to the elevators that ascended the arch. I had a feeling that there might be a panic attack in my future, as the size of the elevator car (teeny tiny) and the ride up the arch (shaky and rough) had been a topic of much discussion.
Because of all the hype, I was nervous to go, and once I saw for myself how small the cars were, I had to trick myself into getting in. The pods sat five people each without much room to spare, and we all had to duck our heads while we sat. I looked at pictures of my adorable niece on my phone to distract from the jerky movement taking us up to the top via a vertical zig zag track.
After all that, the top seemed a little anticlimactic. The view was beautiful, of course, but you could only see it through small rectangular windows that you had to lean into to see out of. We could feel the arch sway beneath us as we stood back in line, waiting to get back on solid ground. The ride back down was three minutes, one minute less than the way up. Once we were back in the park that surrounds the Arch, which was currently under renovation, we strolled north to take in the scenery.
It was a lovely park, and it ran right along the muddy Mississippi River, lending some bright contrast to the murky water. Our next stop was Busch Stadium for a private tour, which included the many club levels of the park and a peak of the press box. My favorite part of the tour was walking out near the field and checking out the Cardinals’ dugout. They were watering the grass while we were there, which they did in a line of about 5 men, all holding the hose so it didn’t drag through the manicured field.
We had lunch in Ballpark Village, a dining and entertainment complex across the street from the field. The lunch was typical bar food, but we did get to try a St. Louis specialty: fried ravioli, which was so good.
The next stop of the day was the National Blues Museum on the main drag of Downtown St. Louis: Washington Avenue. The museum doubled as a music venue and bar, and the exhibits there were incredibly interactive. I loved all the exhibits (especially the nod to the Chicago blues scene), and our guide was very enthusiastic. It was contagious. We didn’t have a whole lot of time to spend there, but I think we all really enjoyed being able to pop in and check it out.
Down the street from the Blues Museum is a museum of a completely different school of thought. I’m not sure I even have the words to describe the City Museum. At first glance it looks like an elaborate dump, but upon further inspection, it’s clear that it is actually a giant play place of found objects and repurposed equipment.
An old school bus hung off the roof, hollowed out planes connected to tunnels that adults and children alike were scrambling through. There was a massive ball pit in the center of metal pathways. And that was just the outside. Inside was a whole other whimsical land of caves and statues and slides and ladders. It was amazing, I loved it. I probably could have spent all day there, but, sadly, we only had thirty minutes.
We only had a couple of stops left for the day before we went our separate ways for the evening. The next stop was the Delmar Loop, a neighborhood near the Washington University campus. It was full of restaurants, stores and music venues, the most exciting of which (to me, at least) were Vintage Vinyl and Blueberry Hill.
Vintage Vinyl was amazing and such an excellent selection; especially their soul music section which I loved. As we didn’t have a whole lot of time in this neighborhood, a few of us ran down the street to Blueberry Hill to have a quick drink in the legendary restaurant/music venue.
The sidewalk in front house a St. Louis walk of fame, including such celebrities as John Hamm, Miles Davis, and Chuck Berry. The restaurant itself was full of kitsch: knickknacks and novelties littered every surface and free wall and one whole room was dedicated to Pacman. This establishment is famously one of the venues Chuck Berry played in his later years, and we got to sneak downstairs and peep into the room he played in while we finished our beers.
We popped into the Fountain on Locust for a bite to eat before everyone parted ways for the evening. This fountain-style restaurant is known for its beautiful décor and ice cream martinis, so that’s what I had. I asked the waitress to bring the best one, and she served us the Thin Mint which consisted of chocolate liqueur, crème de menthe and vanilla ice cream. It was amazing.
We also split some small plates, including fig and goat cheese pizza and a roasted vegetable bruschetta. We were headed to the ballgame next, so I was saving my appetite for stadium snacks. When we left the restaurant, half of us went to the Cardinals game and the other half headed to the circus.
We met up with Beer Tony outside Ballpark Village and his enthusiasm overtook us as he led us straight into the Budweiser Brewhouse. We got drinks there and then headed up to the rooftop bar/bleachers. It was a really fun place to watch the game because we had a perfect view of the park and room to roam around in.
Because we weren’t spoiled enough, Tony insisted on taking us up to the 360 Rooftop bar at the Hilton across the street, which just so happened to have been voted one of the best rooftop bars in the country. We could still see the game from the top, as well as the whole skyline, the arch, and the Mississippi River. The sun set while we stood up there and we had the best view possible.
I tried a guava beer by 4 Hands brewery that solidified that bar as my favorite of the trip because it was so dang good. I did a couple of laps around the bar to take in the view from all angles before we had to tear ourselves away to see the last inning inside the stadium.
It was really cool to see the stadium earlier in the day, empty apart from our little group, but it was even better to see it full of passionate Cardinals fans. They are some of the fiercest and the most loyal fans in the leagues and they have a special place in my heart because my Grandpa was one of them. I loved being at the game and cheering for them because I knew he’d be so proud.
We decided to have one more drink at 4 Hands Brewery. I tried the City Wide Pride Pilsner in honor of Pride Weekend, and it continued the trend of amazing beers. We ended up talking so much that we closed the place down; it’s true what they say about time flying. Tony and his wonderful fiancé drove us back to the hotel, where I stumbled back to my room to eat the rest of my St. Louis snacks and watch a movie in bed. I had an early flight in the morning, and I was kind of bummed I had to leave with so much left to see. Who knew that the city across the river, just a short train ride away, had so much to offer. Until next time, St. Louis!
Have you ever been to St. Louis? What was your favorite attraction?
**A HUGE thank you to the wonderful people at Explore St. Louis, LHM, and DCI for having us and for being such wonderful hosts!**