t had been a while since I had been to St. Louis. Quite a while. So long, in fact, that they were actually building the arch the last time I was there! Completed in 1965 as a monument to the settlers who headed west from St. Louis, the Gateway Arch is the iconic symbol of St. Louis and definitely one of the places you will want to visit during your stay. The tiny trams run very quickly to the top of the arch for an incredible view of the surrounding city and the Mississippi River, which flows just a few hundred yards from the base of the arch. Tickets can be purchased at the arch and there is also a visitor center as well as a museum and two theaters, so allow plenty of time.
After checking out the arch, stroll down to the riverfront for a different view of the city from one of the riverboats supplied by the Gateway Arch Riverboat Company. The replica 19th century paddle-wheel boats cruise down the Mississippi and provide an enjoyable narrated tour of the St. Louis riverfront area.
But before you even begin your tour of the sights of St. Louis, check into the Embassy Suites St. Louis – Downtown. An easy walk from the arch, conveniently located across from America’s Convention Center Complex and the Edward Jones Dome, which is home to the NFL’s St. Louis Rams, the LEED certified hotel is uniquely located in the beautiful and historic Laurel building. Built in 1906 as a department store, the building has now been reimagined as a vital part of the downtown community and includes luxury apartments in addition to the hotel.
We were very pleased to relax and spend a few days in a comfortably furnished, spacious suite with a separate living room, small kitchenette and dining area, and a separate, large bedroom with a nice view of downtown St. Louis. A complimentary cooked to order breakfast which included a fresh omelet bar made our stay especially nice.
Plan to spend a day or two exploring the Missouri Botanical Garden and Forest Park. The Botanical Garden is lovely and Forest Park is expansive – even larger than Central Park with 1,371 acres – and includes the St. Louis Art Museum, the Missouri History Museum, the St. Louis Science Center, the St. Louis Zoo, and the Muny, the world’s largest outdoor theater. Amazingly, all of these attractions are FREE aside from shows at the Muny, which is virtually unheard of in a big city. There is also a very interesting free tour of the Anheuser Busch Brewery.
Since the attractions are free, you will have plenty of money for food! Don’t forget to sample some of the local delicacies including fabulous Italian food on The Hill, the Italian district of St. Louis; the local scrumptious and aptly named Gooey Butter Cake; soft and fresh pretzels; and St. Louis style pizza, which I guarantee you is wonderful and not like any pizza you have ever had.
Enjoy your visit to the Gateway to the West!
By Jan Ross, Staff Writer