Meet Me in St. Louis

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The gateway arch distinguishes the St. Louis Skyline. Photo courtesy St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission.

Splendid St. Louis is one of those cities that has everything for singles, couples and families. With its proximity to Oklahoma (by car, it’s 6 hours from Tulsa and 7.5 hours from Oklahoma City), you can enjoy your stay, regardless of duration.

St. Louis appeals to any phase of life. Young adults can enjoy brewery tours and casinos, but will find themselves going back later in life to visit museums, Cardinals baseball games, the zoo and the planetarium with their families. Older tourists might like the slow pace of the botanical garden, historic neighborhoods and grand churches.

A Sea lion brings smiles at the St. Louis Zoo. Photo by Robin Winkelman.
The Forest Park Fountain anchors the World’s Fair Pavilion. Photo by McElroy Fine Art Photography.
Grant’s Farm Features bison and the Budweiser clydesdales. Photo courtesy Grant’s Farm.
Busch Stadium sits in the heart of downtown. Photo by Dan Donovan.
A riverboat paddles past the arch on the Mississippi river. Photo courtesy St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission.
City Museum is 10 stories of unique adventures. Photo by McElroy Fine Art Photography.

Regardless of age, here are some attractions special to everyone.

People might know the obvious details about the Gateyway Arch being the symbol of the “gateway to the west” for the westward expansion, but there are several interesting factoids about this iconic landmark. Its dimensions are 630 feet tall by 630 feet wide, and it was designed to sway with the wind. It’s the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere and the world’s tallest arch. If you take the daily one-hour sightseeing cruise on one of the Arch Riverboats (March 5-Nov. 30; $20/adults, $10/kids), you’ll learn about the Mississippi River, the Arch and the history of St. Louis.

City Museum, a highlight of St. Louis, is a place you’ll visit repeatedly because it’s nostalgic for families and just plain fun. Thrilling and stimulating with a lot to process, this converted 600,000-square-foot shoe factory is full of whimsy and creativity. Where else can you go inside a whale sculpture, enjoy a rooftop playground or ride down a 10-story slide? City Museum is the brainchild of Bob Casilly, a classically trained sculptor.

The St. Louis Zoo was recently voted one of America’s top free attractions by USA Today. You pay to park but can enjoy the zoo for free. It’s in the same complex as the St. Louis Art Museum and the Missouri History Museum, just across Skinker Boulevard from prestigious Washington University in St. Louis.

Grant’s Farm, on 281 acres, is free, too, and the former home of the Busch family (of beer fame). Named after President Ulysses S. Grant, who farmed the land in the 1800s, Grant’s Farm houses the famous Budweiser Clydesdales and other animals from around the world.

Soulard, within two miles south of downtown, is an enchanting, historic French neighborhood named for Antoine Soulard, who developed the area in the early 1800s. Old churches, restaurants, bars and stately architecture convey the attractive area’s feel. Live jazz and blues pulse in surrounding bars. Soulard is most famous for its Farmers Market, reportedly the oldest west of the Mississippi. Second French Empire architecture of this area is impressively picturesque.

The Anheuser Busch Brewery, near Soulard, and Brewery Tours of St. Louis offer 3.5-hour excursions on luxury buses.

LaClede’s Landing, named for the fur trader (Pierre LaClede) who formed the first settlement in what became St. Louis, is a historic district near downtown and within walking distance of the Arch. The Mississippi’s waters lap against cobblestone streets hundreds of years old. Plus, there are some trendy bars and restaurants.

A quintessential tradition (besides seeing a St. Louis Cardinals game) is Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. Locals drive to stands and wait in line for this gastronomic delight.

Other sightseeing or tour spots include the Missouri Botanical Garden, the Cathedral Basilica, the St. Louis Science Center (and planetarium) and the Ameristar Casino Resort Spa in suburban St. Charles

For dining, try Sidney Street Cafe, Twisted Tree Steakhouse, Aya Sofia and Olive + Oak.

Fine lodging can be found at Beall Mansion (billing itself as “an elegant bed-and-breakfast inn”), the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch or the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark.

It’s no wonder this city is named after a French king who became a saint. Its regal vibe remains today in the city’s pride and atmosphere.

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