Thursday morning, Julie and I took our trip West for a turn South. With Einstein Bros breakfast sandwiches in hand, we got an early start out of Chicago and headed toward St. Louis, Missouri.
We spent almost two days exploring St. Louis, but not without first making a stop in Illinois’ capital city of Springfield. Three hours and acres of open land Southwest of Chicago, we parked Julie’s car near the state capitol building and went for a walk.
Among the small city’s greatest offering is the Lincoln Home National Historic Site. We saw the home Abraham Lincoln shared with his wife and children before moving to Washington, D.C. in 1861. White picket fences line the four-block historic neighborhood and several exhibits fill the houses and nearby visitor center. Though we did not go inside, the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum stands nearby for those interested in diving deeper into the former president’s history.
Two hours later, we reached St. Louis to explore more new adventures:
Anheuser-Busch Brewery. After living in Colorado for three years, a state known for its abundance of breweries, I did not plan for even the world’s largest brewing company’s headquarters to surprise me. I was wrong. We toured this 140-acre complex by walking brick paved streets lined with red brick buildings. We visited the Clydesdales immaculate stable and finished the tour with two free drinks in the Hospitality Room. The Anheuser-Busch Brewery reminded me more of a small city than a brewery. And, we were happy to be the city’s beer-loving tourists.
St. Louis Arch. Few famous structures project from their cities so vividly as this 630-foot “Gateway to the West.” Opened in 1965 to commemorate one of America’s most significant historic events, the Louisiana Purchase, the Arch towers St. Louis and the city’s adjacent Mississippi River. For a reasonable $10, we rode a tram up one of the Arch’s legs to an enclosed observation platform. Just below the Arch, we saw St. Louis’s Old Courthouse where Dred Scott and his wife, Harriet, sued for their emancipation and helped spark the Civil War. While simply driving past the Arch is an experience in itself, a visit to its platform completes the trip. After all, who wouldn’t want to ride a tiny egg-like elevator up an enclosed, curved structure? I felt like I was in Mork and Mindy.
City Museum. Had we not received recommendations to visit City Museum, we might have passed this attraction. That would have been a mistake. Our visit to St. Louis would have been worth it had we only visited this adult playground. We crawled through caves, jumped in a large colorful ball pit and slid down a 10-story tall twisty slide. We even ran inside a large hamster wheel, which confirmed this as one of the most unique attractions I have ever visited. The rush of climbing through the air within coiled steel tunnels paired with hours of continuous laughter made this a top adventure of our trip.
We topped off our city visit with lunch at the St. Louis Bread Company, a cafe many now know nationwide as Panera Bread. We ate the best pizza we had eaten in a while at PW Pizza then enjoyed drinks and dueling pianos at Big Bang Bar downtown.
While we planned our trip around some of the city’s top attractions, St. Louis’s red brick buildings and clusters of restaurants also caught my attention. We did not have enough time to explore the city’s neighborhoods in depth, but another visit will be in store to do so.
Categories: American Culture