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Things to Do in: the Saint Louis MO metro
A few non-fishing fun places to go (and take the kiddos in most cases).
Below are My top things I tell anyone headed to the STL for the first time, esp. with family in tow, doubly so if not from the Midwest.
I know I am missing other good stuff too, but here are the ones that come to mind, order is not critical.
If time allows always take in a baseball, hockey game, or soccer if you are a sports fan.
W/in City Region:
- The Arch and Jefferson Expansion Memorial (and take a stroll on the riverfront, and walk over to the Old Courthouse):
The Gateway Arch is the defining
(human constructed) landmark for Saint Louis Missouri, and under it and around it is the Jefferson Expansion Memorial (a US National Memorial), which includes a pretty good history museum below the Arch, covers the time before and after the
Lousiana Purchase. A tram runs to the top of the Arch from the museum.
Parking is always interesting near it and around downtown, so be watchful if you have a vehicle. Reachable by bus or taxi, or by walking from the baseball stadium or
convention areas (though a healthy walk). The Old Courthouse, site of the Dred Scott Decision, is also walkable by the healthy from the Arch.
Forest Park Attractions
The Saint Louis Zoo, Turtle Park, and Forest Park Museums, if in summer, the Muny ( make sure hit Ted Drewes for Frozen Custard too):
(these will eat a whole day at least),
The Saint Louis Zoo:
Unique in most Areas of the US, Saint Louis has a free (as of this writing, and really good) zoo, i.e. no admission. However, a small fee will get access to the children's Zoo, and Zooline RailRoad, and let you pet sharks and rays, and get you good parking. One can park for free in other areas of the park also.
Make sure in the Zoo to hit the Reptile and Bird Houses (good for the architecture alone), the Penguin exhibit (you can get REALLY close, and even splashed, by them), the Insectarium, the Living World, and River's Edge.
Turtle Playground Park:
A quick hit, walk over the highway bridge south from the Zoo (Playground visible from Zoo Parking lot and I-64), to let the kids (or adults) crawl on giant turtles such as the multi-ton softshell turtle..very interesting and fun!
Forest Park: (which encloses the Zoo and Turtle Park):
Was used for the 1904 World Fair and (Summer) Olympics , now holds a decent Art museum, a Saint Louis Missouri-targeted history museum , and a (Free) outdoor Ampitheater (the Muny) among many other things
such as the remaining pavilion .
- The City Museum(bring sweats and kneepads, anytime):
No other place like this one. A very cool place of touchable Urban-industrial art mixed with a super-spectacular playground for kids and adults, made for crawling, climbing, jumping, sliding (!). Worth going for the art and museum side alone, but if you are up for it,
do the whole nine yards, and climb and crawl till you drop. Maybe even feed the tropical fish, and crawl in the shark tunnel. There is a lunch room w/expresso to keep you running.
I could win bets 100% of the time that the kiddos will sleep well after this one (they will sleep on the way home).
Very good for the cooler months, but good anytime. Dress for adventure. I bring athletic shoes, knee and elbow pads, and wear active clothing (sweat pants and shirt if winter).
(note: for the over 21 crowd, they have a grownups-only evening time w/wine and beer bar w/food, roasted marshmellows and climbing if you want too)
Inside the City Museum is the World Aquarium, an interesting attraction itself, and though it requires a seperate, small, fee, is very interactive and fun for tykes and adults, including many opportunities to touch animals, a shark tunnel, and a chance to feed the biggest Pacu you might ever see. The architecture itself is interesting, just like the Museum.
- The Missouri Botanical Garden (all months but best in warmer months)...
picnic in Tower Grove Park nearby
The Shaw Botanical Park, MO Botanical Garden is a maze of gardens spanning several acres, and multiple cultures and continents, featuring excellent art,
a climatron with tropical rainforest plants, and a kid garden for running and climbing. Make sure to get fish food at the shop as you enter to feed the Koi and bluegill at in the Japanese section on the lake. You can also
purchase plants for home and garden at the shop near the entrance, and get lunch. Tower Grove park is just south of the Botanical Garden and has lawns and Victorian era fountains, sculptures,
- Lemp Mansion (for overnight if you dare, or lunch, dinner) and Anheuser-Busch Brewery .
South end of town.
St. Louis is a beer town due to the caves and springs under the city (note: St. Louis was not the first big city at the site, the Cahokians had a big city here also ~1000 A.D.).
The Lemp family was one the Beer Barron families of the mid 1800's, and their mansion was state of the art for the 1850's. It is believed by some to be haunted, but is an interesting place to get lunch, dinner,
take in a murder-mistery, or if so inclined, get a bed and breakfast ( the upstairs bath is very interesting all by itself).
The Lemp sucessors, the Busch's, made a super-brewery nearby (now owned by InBev), whihc is historical in its own right, and like the Lemps, intertwined with St. Louis history. The A-B brewery offers daily tours, has lots of Clydesdale horses,
and free beer samples for the grown-ups.
- The Saint Louis Cathedral Basillica (very good mosaics)
Spectaular world class mosaic art, definitely worth seeing.
- The Fabulous Fox Theater Take the tour of this historic 1929 art deco theater and or take in a play.Very interesting interior art all over.
- (For the Musically Inclined) Scott Joplin House Historic Site , Blueberry Hill, and statue and the Loop (for Grown ups).
Scott Joplin was the father of Ragtime music, and his house is dedicated to him and his 'key' works pushing forward music evolution.
Not over far away is the University City Loop, featuring Chuck Berry's Blueberry Hill venue and statue, where one
can see live music and eat southern food.
Drives w/in 2hrs:
Note: If you are around the St. Louis MO region in the winter around the Thanksgiving through Christmas to just past New Year timeframe, take in the many excellent light displays:
- Way of Lights, Our Lady of the Snows...fyi this is also an interesting and peaceful place to walk in the Summer
- Winter Wonderland, Tilles Park
- Garden Glow, Missouri Botanical Garden
- Wild Lights, St Louis Zoo
- Brewery Lights, Saint Louis Anheuser Busch Brewery
- Celebration of Lights, O'Fallon, MO
- Holiday Night Lights, Wentzville MO
- Santas Magical Kingdom, Eureka MO
- Hannibal MO: 2 hrs northwest of STL (up US 61), Mark Twain Stuff galore: Mark Twain Cave, Lighthouse, Mansions, MS riverfront...and take a riverboat cruise.
One of a few places (San Francisco and Connecticut can too)
that can claim Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain, born just to the west of Hannibal in Florida MO), though this one can lay the strongest claim to his early development.
He drew from the rivertown for his books such as Tom Saywer and Huckleberry Finn, and the town knows it well.
There are many interesting 1800's era buildings in Hannibal, including a lighthouse over the buff, and many mansions for both touring and staying at (as Bed and Breakfasts).
There are riverboat excursions from the docks on the riverfront and good views from Lover Leap just south of town.
The cave is pretty cool ;) and very long (a labrynth cave system) though with fewer features then Blanchard Springs Caverns in Arkansas (if you ever get that way, worth doing fyi, Blanchard ranks with Mammoth and Carlesbad)
- Onondaga Cave State Park
Far less of a tourist trap then many show caves in Missouri, family friendly with a nice Meremec River access area to swim and play in or canoe from.
Around 1.5 hrs southwest on I-44.
- St. Genevieve MO
Oldest French colonial town in Missouri (older than St. Louis), shopping B+B's, wineries, and old buildings (18th, 19th Century) of course.
- Springfield IL
Capital city of Illinois, Home of Abraham Lincoln, location of Lincoln's tomb and historical sites.
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