The Gateway Arch & beyond in St. Louis

A long weekend means road trip time for us. Since spring has not yet sprung in Chicago, going up further north meant facing more cold which we did not fancy. We were looking for a place with warmer weather but within a days drive from Chicago. We also wanted a place which would have monuments, museums, great restaurants and natural beauty. We love those things!! And so the search began…

LOOKING FOR A DESTINATION IS NOT AS EASY AS IT SOUNDS

Google maps is really helpful while planning a road-trip, there is no denying that. But the number of options it can present you with makes the task a bit more challenging. Have you ever faced a situation where every location sounds so great you can’t decide where to go? Well that is exactly what happened to me. I wanted to explore the Illinois capital of Springfield, visit the quaint town of Joliet, go up north to Doors County in Wisconsin and  the city of St. Louis was honestly not my first choice since I knew so little about it.

Upon suggestion of a friend we decided to look it up and I am glad we did that! The first thing that pops in the search window is the massive Gateway Arch of St. Louis. This structure looks so amazing and it is difficult to fathom that you can actually go right on the top of the Arch and get a birds eye view of the city. The next thing I saw was obviously the food….St. Louis style pizza, toasted ravioli, ribs, butter cakes and deli style sandwiches…I was sold! This was the location I wanted to visit. Plus it also met every criteria in our checklist –

  1. Was it warm out there? Not warm but yes more pleasant than Chicago!
  2. Could we drive there in a day? Yes!!
  3. Does it have good monuments, museums, great restaurants and natural beauty? Yes, Yes and Yes!!

And so we decided the next road trip had to be St. Loius.

IMG_20180330_201731.jpgThe drive from Chicago, IL to St Louis, MO is approximately 4 hours and 30 minutes. We drove leisurely taking a number of halts and made it in around 6 hours. We started in the morning reaching St. Louis just in time for lunch and our first spot, The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.

A STAINED GLASS WONDER

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The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis took 7 years to be completed and more than 30 years of planning. The cathedral was completed in the year 1914 and was designated a basilica in 1997. The cathedral is open for visitors everyday except when the prayers are in progress. The ceiling of the cathedral is decorated with stained glass mosaics to depict the stories of its namesake King Louis IX of France and the main dome depicts the biblical events of the Old and New Testament. It took us more than an hour to view the basilica although we could not access a few portions as it was closed for prayers.

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Outside the basilica in their lawn you will find the Angel of Harmony. This is a 14-foot high stainless steel sculpture by Wiktor Szostalo depicting racial harmony. The Angels wings are made up of wind chimes which play a delightful melody with every breeze.

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THE CITY MUSEUM – EVERY CHILD’S WONDERLAND

A former warehouse for the International Shoe Company now holds a museum which is fun, unique and a must-see on any travelers list, be it an adult or child. This is the City Museum whose exhibits consist largely of re-purposed architectural and industrial objects. Unlike the other museums, this one is to be explored without any map, you have to climb through caves and crevices and slide downstairs.

You ideally need a whole day to explore this museum in its entirety but we could squeeze in our visit just in the evening. Which is why we rush for the slides, the caves and all climbed, crawled and slid through most of this wonderland with childlike glee. Next time in town…do check it out for yourselves!

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DAY 2 – THE GATEWAY ARCH

The 630 feet huge monumental arch of the city was the first on our list on day 2. From a distance, this Arch seems like a thin arched sheet of steel and it is impossible to fathom that you can actually climb right till the top of it!! Constructed between 1963 to 1965 this Arch is internationally recognized as a symbol of St. Louis.

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We had booked our tickets online which helped us skip the line. The entrance to the Arch is from its basement which has wall dedicated to the history of the Arch and  explains the purpose behind its construction. After a short wait for our turn in the tram ride to the top we were led to the tram. This is a uniquely designed tram which gradually winds its way to the top where the breath-taking sights of St. Louis city and Mississippi river awaits you

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When the winds are strong, the Arch swings ever so slightly which adds to the adventure of the whole experience.

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The Brewery Tour

The Anheuser Busch brewery in St. Louis founded in 1852 is the largest and oldest brewery of Anheuser Busch, the creators of Budweiser. The brewery offer free tours to everyone and free beer of your choice at the end of tour. The tour itself is fun-filled where the guides take you from the stables of their ambassadors, the Clydesdale to the locations where the barley is sorted, fermented and then made into beer. The brewery is worth a visit for its architecture and a sneak peek into the cutting-edge brewing technology.

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You may have to wait for a while till the free tour starts, since this brewery attracts a lot of crowd, the tours tend to fill up fast. But the tour is worth a wait and you get to sample beer once while entering the brewery and then at exit, in their restaurant the Biergarten where you can choose a large glass of beer of your choice. P.S – The beer is not for minors but they can choose from a large variety of soft drinks available at the restaurant.

Do give this brewery a visit and let me know if enjoyed the trip as much as we did!! Need a more detailed itinerary…where we stayed,how we divided our time between the attractions, etc etc…go ahead and leave a comment and I would be glad to help you out!!

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