Fun Filled Visit to St. Louis: “The Gateway to the West”
“If you refuse to live an average life, you will have no choice but to be exceptional!” -Unknown
Amanda and I visited my hometown of Saint Louis, Missouri this past weekend. St. Louis is in Middle America near the intersection of the Mississippi River and the Missouri River. St. Louis has the big Arch, and is known as the Gateway to the West. Like many Midwestern cities, the people are awesome and the weather is not so great. The good news about the weather: “If you don’t like it today, it will be different tomorrow.” There is an old joke: Question: “What is the hardest job in the world?” Answer: “Bank guard in Alaska…everyone is wearing ski masks!” The second hardest job in the world has to be forecasting the weather in St. Louis, since it’s pretty much the opposite of San Diego’s steadfast sunshine.
Amanda and I are both from the Midwest. She is from Michigan, and we visited her hometown of Traverse City, MI over the July 4th holiday. (Read about it here!) So we now have both made our obligatory trips back home. As all of us Midwesterners that live in Southern California now say: “St Louis (or wherever) is a great place to be from.”
Some Fun Aspects of Saint Louis
With that said, other than Chicago, I think St. Louis is one of the nicest major cities to visit, especially in the summertime and the fall. The people are amazing, the food is great, the bar scene is hopping, and the St. Louis Cardinals are always one of the best teams in baseball. If you weren’t born in San Diego, as most of us were not, it is always great to venture out of “America’s Finest City” once in a blue moon to visit your hometown, see the relatives, eat some comfort foot, and see some of your best buddies and friends from high school.
There are three dry dock “riverboat” casinos on the Missouri side of the river in the St Louis metro area. Two are near St. Charles: Ameristar and Hollywood Casino, and one is in downtown St. Louis called Lumiere. All of them are traditional Vegas style casinos with blackjack, poker, craps, and lots of slot machines. There are a couple more casinos on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River as well.
The bars and nightclubs in St. Louis are super friendly, and most of the bars are open until 3:30am. If that isn’t late enough for you, then there are some more nightclubs in East St. Louis, which is on the Illinois side of the river, and they are open either until 6:00am or 24-hours!
Some of the best bars in St. Louis near downtown are clustered into four main areas: Soulard Market, Clayton, Laclede’s Landing, and Ballpark Village near Busch Stadium where the Cardinals play. And, of course, East Saint Louis. We went to a bar right next to Soulard Market one night called the Social House, which is famous for their body-pained waitresses, which often times pay tribute to the local sports teams!
In addition to the Cardinals, St. Louis also has a professional hockey team, the Blues, but they recently lost their NFL team, the Rams, to Los Angeles.
There are a bunch of fun things to do for kids in Forest Park including the St. Louis Zoo, the Jewel Box, the Planetarium, and the Museum of Natural History. There is also a Six Flags amusement park in the metro area, and, of course the Arch.
The Saint Louis Arch and the Old Courthouse
Amanda and I have been together to St. Louis before, but this was the first trip where we really did the tourist thing. One of the major landmarks in St. Louis is the Arch. There is a massive renovation underway to the St. Louis Arch, the Arch Museum, the Old Courthouse, and surrounding grounds. Even though we saw it mid-renovation, it was still really cool to see the Arch and visit the Old Courthouse which is famous for one of the darkest times in American history, the Dread Scott case in the 1850s, that determined that Black Americans were property and not people. It was one the major catalysts of the Civil War in the United States. Strange that over 150 years later, we still have so much racial tension in the United States. A good example of this is the racial situation that occurred in Ferguson, which is in the suburbs of St. Louis where I grew up.
Unique Food to Saint Louis
One of the coolest things about St. Louis is the unique variety of food available, including Toasted Ravioli, BBQ Pork Steaks, Saint Louis Style Gooey Butter Cake, and St. Louis Style Pizza. There is also a famous landmark dessert place in St. Louis called Ted Drewes Frozen Custard that is worth checking out.
There are also a number of foods that St. Louis has been said to have introduced for the first time, or at least popularized during the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, including Ice Cream Cones, Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Peanut Butter, Iced Tea, and Cotton Candy. Dr. Pepper and Puffed Wheat were also first introduced to a national audience at this World’s Fair, which was later popularized in the movie, Meet Me in Saint Louis, starring Judy Garland.
Visiting “The Folks” and My Best Friend from High School
My parents are getting up there in years now, as they are both in their early 80s. It was great to see them, and we also got a chance to hang-out with my best friend from high school. It is always awesome to reminisce about old times, but also to talk about the future. What are some of your best childhood experiences? Do you visit your hometown often? Do you love it or hate it? We’d love to hear some of your stories!