The Gateway to our great country’s western expansion, the home of the 1904 World Fair, the murder capital of the USA, the small city with a lot of people carrying big hearts and a love for BBQ. Why are you in St. Louis? How has your path led you through these dark, uncertain downtown streets? Perhaps you’re just passing through during your road trip and figured, why not? Or maybe, you actually planned to visit a city where you may step outside of a bar and get hit by a man riding a 4 wheeler down the sidewalk. Whatever the case may be, I have good news for you: you made the right choice, my friend. Welcome to this beautiful city.
Now, when I say a Wednesday in St. Louis, understand the city still stands all other days of the week. However, for those of you bargain travelers out there, spending a Wednesday here will keep you very satisfied, and it’s worth discussing why. I will warn you, this city will pain you to leave after a short 24 hour visit. The city is in fact much smaller than its reputation, but if you find yourself here for more than just a day and night stay, you won’t be twiddling your thumbs in the hotel room. I promise you that.
So where do you begin? How about that giant…arch looking thing you could see from the highway, standing amongst the sky scrappers as if it’s trying to blend in. This thing is massive and it makes you wonder, are we taking “the gateway to western expansion” too seriously? I mean, did we need a gateway that could fit a Boeing 747 through it? I suppose this is the American way, and I am certainly not here to complain. With a brand new museum underground in the basement of the arch, you can now tour the history of the city and its significance to the growth of our country, which believe it or not, is quite a lot. I suppose something I should mention here is that admission to the museum is free, much like most things in the city. Matter of fact, if you show up to this city on a Wednesday, you can do just about any of the activities on this list free of charge (don’t you love when they say the title of the movie in the movie?).
Getting back to the steel rainbow… riding up is not for the weak or faint of heart. Four people will be placed in a small pod built for three. Once fully stuffed and “possibly” secure, the pod that I refuse to relate to an elevator starts moving up and at a slant, all while rocking from side to side. Click, Knock, Bang. Don't worry though, you have a pretty good idea as to what’s going on outside the pod thank to the windowed door providing a view of the sheer drop tunnel you are currently rocking through. Once at the top, you can see the entire city. It’s loud, it’s crowded, and the windows are very, very tiny up there. To be honest, the best view is from the ground looking up at this magnificent thing. But once there, staring up from the ground at what looks like a halo in space, you will understand what I mean when I say, you cannot stand under the arch and not ride to the top.
After the ride back down in the “pod” it’s probably time for a drink. There are a few Anheuser-Busch breweries around the country but the original calls St. Louis home. This “compound” is like walking through a miniature Brooklyn. Floor to ceiling, all brick. The best way to see it? By taking the brewery tour. If you haven't guessed it, yes, it’s free! Pair that with a restaurant/bar, gift shop, small museum, more interactive beer tours/lessons, and view of America's favorite horses, and you will have yourself a brewery experience only an American lager could give. On a side note, if you like IPAs with your lunch and a stout with your dinner, and prefer your beer to be placed in a 4-pack with a $15 price tag, this is not your pace to be. But, do still take the tour; I believe you will find it interesting at the very least.
After dinner (and one too many drinks) swerving down the streets on a city rental bicycle I found outside a bar, and probably took from a poor guy thinking he’ll skip the cab ride home and save a buck (sorry buddy) I come across union station--your next stop. This is a massive, steel beam structure. I mean truly, sitting inside of this thing is just mesmerizing. Let’s put it into perspective. This train station pushed 100,000 people through it daily during the 1905 World Fair. I have seen a lot of tall buildings. They all have their “wow” factor. Height isn't what draws you into this one. This building covers multiple blocks in the city. You may be picturing a beautiful building with our greatest stone architecture from the early 1900’s and you couldn't be further from the truth. This building is like standing in the ribcage of the world’s largest dinosaur. Just a skeleton of a building. If you look up, you can see the stars shining or the rain pummeling you in the face. Inside the steel ribcage sits a “lake”, two restaurants with more on the way (summer 2019), a market area, and two hotels, one reaching five floors. You would be lucky to notice a train in sight. Right about now you should be picturing Marvel’s planet “Knowhere” and are probably wondering if The Collector will be present. You’re almost spot on. This place is breathtaking. If you show up here at night, you’ll be treated to a musical show of loud music, dancing lights and 12-foot tall flames all surrounding the lake every hour on the hour. It’s quite the entertainment for 10 minutes, but for this trip, we have other plans, so a sightful walk through the exoskeleton will do just fine.
Not your Pappy, St Louis’s Pappy,and BOY do they love him. After asking countless locals what to never miss before leaving town, I got two answers. Some said catfish, all said don't you miss Pappy’s. It wasn't the GPS that helped me find the restaurant (the GPS had unknowingly shut off on me)... what helped me find it was riding by their six sidewalk placed, commercial sized smokers. The sight, the smell, the heat. “This must be Pappy’s.” Don’t let the long line fool you. This is a cafeteria style eatery so it moves quickly, and for the love of all things southern and smoked, don’t skip it.
Think back to the joy you had as a child at McDonalds, crawling around the germ tunnels of the play tower. Now picture taking out the horrible food and increasing the play tower to the size that would excite a grown adult. Welcome to the city museum, your Wednesday admission is free. A maze and obstacle course of art, art sculptures, art structures, everything art. The very method you use to get around is art. This is a museum like no other and well worth the trip.
If it’s a Wednesday, you are going to want to be here and you already know why. After 5pm you can enter the park for free and walk around enjoying the beautiful sights of some pretty amazing gardens and vegetation. Once 7 o’clock rolls around, you’ll be treated to a free concert at their center park amphitheatre. I happened to be lucky enough to have caught an amazing brass band. I also happened to be lucky enough to have spotted the whiskey dealer. A plastic folding table set up on the sidewalk to hold multiple bottles of liquor ready to be poured into a plastic cup for pennies in exchange. Oh to be in the wild midwest. I’m a long way from New York. This park sits in a residential neighborhood and, as you can imagine, it is packed with coolers full of food and drinks, chairs, blankets, and people enjoying what I believe to be the best Wednesday night event in all of St. Louis. The horns keep playing, the whiskey keeps pouring, and the crowd keep enjoying.
Don’t Go To Bed Yet
You have one last stop before you call it a night. ThreeSixty. Located on the top of St. Louis. This rooftop bar above Ballpark Hilton is where you will unwind, have a drink, and enjoy the views of the lit up city below you. Stunning sights of what is a lively, beautiful culture-filled city.
And there you have it. St. Louis on a Wednesday. Choose to stay longer? You will certainly not be sorry. Here are some options that we did not touch on above:
Ballpark Village. This is a must see for baseball fans. With multiple restaurants, frequent events and, of course, the Cardinals stadium and museum. Oh and let us not forget, if you arrive on a Wednesday at 6pm, you’ll be happy to attend free yoga in the outfield.
Laumeier Sculpture Park. 700 acres of sculptures throughout hiking trails up to 45 minutes long. Looking to find some nature, peace and quiet in the city? Look no further. Bring good walking shoes. Maybe even lunch.
Famous Route 66. What once was the route across this great country is now just a back road left to the folks living in the old days. The bridge that crosses the great Mississippi and connects our country is still alive and well, although you’ll have to trade your car for some walking shoes to cross it.
Side Note: Download the Lime App & OFO App for city wide bike rentals/pick up and drop off locations. $1 for every 30 minutes. You check the map on the apps for the closest bike to you, walk to said bike, and use the app to scan a code and unlock the bike. Then you cycle wherever you want and park the bike on the sidewalk. Clicking “end ride” on the app ends the ride and locks the bike. This is different than many other cities where there are designated bike pick up and drop off locations.