Saint Louis Things to Do Tips by deecat Top 5 Page for this destination
Saint Louis Things to Do: 377 reviews and 624 photos
Grand Basin in Forest Park
Forest Park, site of the 1904 World's Fair, afterward became home to many St. Louis cultural institutions: Saint Louis Zoo, Saint Louis Art Museum, & Missouri History Museum.
The 1,300 acre park is used by bikers, golfers, joggers, & picnickers (one & a half times the size of New York's Central Park!)
Sadly, after many years, Forest Park fell into some disrepair; the nonprofit agency called FOREST PARK FOREVER decided to restore it. They want it to become a shining jewel for this year's many celebrations.
The signature attraction was a 250-foot "observation wheel" with 36 cars that each held 60 people each. Named after its inventor, Chicago engineer, George Washington Gale FERRIS; thus, the name Ferris Wheel. Besides the Ferris Wheel, iced tea, the hot dog, & the ice cream cone were all introduced at the Fair. So, 100 years later, St. Louis has brought the park back to its former splendor.
The Grand Basin ( the centerpiece of the 1904 extravaganza) has a new Venetian fountain which sprays water more than 30 feet into the air. It is in front of the only structure built for the exposition that remains, The Art Museum, formerly called the Palace of Fine Arts. The restoration committee is also having a Ferris wheel, similar to the original one, running for the entire year.
South of the basin, the Saint Louis Zoo features the 1904 World's fair Flight Cage ( a giant walk-through birdcage.) The zoo has also scheduled self-guided walking tours of animal life encountered by Lewis & Clark.
The North end of the park houses the Missouri History Museum presents "Lewis & Clark: the National Bicentennial Exhibition" & "The 1904 World's Fair" semi-permanent exhibition.
Near the park's south boundary is the indoor floral conservatory, The Jewel Box, an Art Deco structure of glass that reopened in 2003 following a nearly four million dollar renovation.
Forest Park is an amazing place which you must visit in order to taste the Urban flavor of Saint Louis, Missouri.
Address: A few miles west of downtown
Bunnies at the Farm
If I were traveling with children in Saint Louis, there are a few "must see" sites besides the St. Louis Zoo that I would see:
1. Grant's Farm:
10501 Gravois Road
Grant's Farm is a 281 acre wildlife preserve just south of the city limits in St. Louis County. Anheuser-Busch owns it, & it takes its name from Ulysses S. Grant who actually farmed a portion of the 281 acres in the 1850's. Today it is home to the Busch family estate, the Clydesdale Stables, the Deer Park, Grant's Cabin, & a petting zoo.
Admission FREE but paid parking.
2. The Magic House (St. Louis Children's
516 South Kirkwood Road (Lindbergh Blvd
This Children's Museum is a place for exploration, discovery, experiencing, pretending, creating, & constructing.
It provides a hands-on learning experiences designed for fun, stimulation, and creativity.
$6.50 Regular Admission and free parking.
3. St. Louis Science Center
5050 Oakland Avenue
The St. Louis Science Center is the number one educational attraction in the St. Louis area. Using science and technology, this center hopes that visitors will gain a better understanding of self & the world around them while having a great time doing it.
The center includes OMNIMAX THEATER,
PLANETARIUM, BOEING SPACE STATION, ORTHWEIN STARBAY, and EXPLORADOME.
Admission is free.
4. Purina Farms
200 Checkerboard Drive
Gray Summit, Mo. 63039
This adventure is to explore the special role that pets play in our lives. You are able to cuddle cats at the 28-foot tall Victorian style cat house, participate in a dog show and learn how to teach your dog tricks, pet a variety of dogs and puppies on display, and milk a cow at the Farm's regularly scheduled milking times. These are only a few of the activities available. There is a gift shop, children's play area, snack bar, interactive exhibits, & a barn full of farm animals.
Free admission and parking.
Address: See text
Directions: Purina Farms Directions:
Off Interstate 44, take the Gray Summit exit and go north 2 blocks on Missouri Highway 100. Turn left on County Road MM & proceed 1 mile to Purina Farms. Entrance on left.
Zoo Entrance and Long-Tailed Monkey
It had been more than 30 years since I had visited this zoo, and since the Saint Louis Zoo is ranked among the top zoos in the nation, I knew that it was time to see it again.
Being off season, it was easy to find street parking for free. Otherwise, lot parking cost $8.00 per day. Admission to the zoo, however, is FREE.
The zoo is divided into six distinct areas to accomodate 7,000 animals.
This area includes the elephants, cheetahs, & hyenas.
This area includes the polar icecaps & tropical rain forests & the animals who inhabit these inhospitable places.
Basically, this area is for children to learn about & mingle with such creatures as goats, bunnies, and butterflies. It's an interactive & hands-on area.
This is a slow paced strolling area with architecture of the 1920's. It includes primates, reptiles, & birds.
This area has a natural setting for big cats, zebras, giraffes, camels, and antelopes.
The zoo has special areas for pay such as the Children's Petting Zoo, The Conservation Carousel, The Insectarium, The Zooline Railroad, & The Sea Lion Show.
The zoo provides many places to eat with four restaurants and numerous snack stands. Also, two gift shops are open each day.
A Safari Pass is available & includes admission to the railroad, children's zoo, Sea Lion Show, and the Insectarium.
The 1904 Flight Cage (a huge rounded-top Cage for birds) is a structure that remains from the World's Fair of 1904. A new Cypress Swamp has been built inside the cage.
Located in the Southwestern part of Forest Park, it's a short ten minute drive from the city center.
Open in the summer from 8am-7pm
Open in the non-peak Season from 9am-5pm
Address: One Government Drive
Directions: Southwestern part of Forest Park.
When St. Louis is mentioned, the famous Gateway Arch soaring skyward is always conjured up in ones imagination. The Arch is the central focus of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.
t is the tallest man-made monument in the USA, towering 630 feet high. Its gleaming, curved stainless steel is a work of art. The monument was designed by the Finnish-American architect, Eero Saarinen, as a tribute to the "soaring mind" of Thomas Jefferson and as a graphic representation of St. Louis's historic role as the "Gateway to the West."
Since November 11th, security has increased immensely. Be prepared to stand in line (as in the airport) and to go through the X-ray. My ankle bracelet set off the alarm!
Before going on the tram to the observation room, be sure to see the Academy Award nominated Documentary which shows how workers built the Gateway Arch. It's an incredible movie.
The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial also includes the historic Old Courthouse (11 North Fourth St.) where the Dred and Harriett Scott case began. In addition, you can board the NEW Gateway Arch Riverboats and discover the legendary Mississippi River.
We took the Metrolink Light Rail from Union Station to the Arch/Laclede's Landing Station, paying $4.00 for an all-day pass.
Address: St. Louis Riverfront
Walls of Museum of Westward Expansion
There's a wonderful museum tucked away underground beneath the Gateway Arch in the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial called The Museum of Westward Expansion. This museum documents man's irrepressible urge to explore. The museum made me feel as though I were on the trip to explore and settle lands further and further westward. I was delighted to see that Park Rangers are on hand to answer questions for visitors.
Also under the Arch is a bookstore and gift shop run by the National Park Services.
Personally, I was quite impressed with the size and scope of this museum. My favorites were the gigantic photographs of Indian Chiefs who are wearing the Peace Metals given to them by Lewis and Clark.
Here are Jill's impressions of this museum:
"Underground at the bottom of the arch is the free Museum of Westward Expansion, recording the westward movement of pioneers and their effect on indigenous peoples. It describes the Lewis & Clark expedition. Although this exhibit is 30 years old, it has worn well. It uses the technological advances of the time. Two robotic figures, Lincoln and a Cavalryman with Custer, introduce the exhibit. There are also a number of dioramas with stuffed animals in their habitat. Bear, bison, and long horn steer give a sense of being there. This permanent exhibit uses small artifacts in wall cases and the walls themselves to show shifting scenes as viewers walk by.
Although the scope of the exhibit is the chronology of populating the west, quite a bit of the space deals with Lewis & Clark. Words from the journal illustrate the numerous photo murals. Much of the exhibit's impact comes from the large photos and painting reproductions. One criticism is the lack of identification of famous photos and their photographers."
Open daily 9am- 6pm Winter
Address: St. Louis Riverfront
Saint Louis Art Museum
The Saint Louis Art Museum is the only permanent structure of the 1904 Fair and was designed by the famed architect, Cass Gilbert. It was then called the Palace of Fine Arts and is a combination of Classical and Renaissance architectural elements.
Construction began in 1902 and took one year to complete. It is constructed of gray limestone, and the main building's entrances are marked by Corinthian columns and lunette windows. Interestingly, the central space of the interior, Sculpture Hall, was modeled after the Roman Baths of Caracalla!
Galleries are arranged on the east & west sides In addition, this museum is the first municipally-supported art museum in the nation and admission is free to all.
The museum's location is just ten minutes from downtown St. Louis in the Forest Park along with the Zoo, the Science Center, and the history Museum.
Free gallery tours are given and usually last about 45 minutes at 2:00 pm Tuesdays through Sundays. There is a popular Museum Restaurant which overlooks Sculpture Terrace. Richardson Memorial Library, located within the Art Museum, owns over 80,000 catalogued volumes and is opened to the public from 10am-5pm Tuesday through Friday
MAIN LEVEL houses American & European Painting and Sculpture, Ancient & Islamic Art, Asian Art, Sculpture Hall, Shoenberg Exhibition Galleries
SOUTH WING includes the membership offices, Museum Cafe
Includes African Art, American & European Decorative Arts, Period Rooms, Native American Art, Oceanic Art, Pre-Columbian Art.
Houses the Auditorium, Student Galler, Classrooms, and the Museum Shop
(It is a great Museum Gift Shop where I purchased a metal frog for my garden.)
Displays Modern Art, Contemporary Art, Prints, Drawings, and Photographs.
Home of Richardson Library, Education Offices, Friends Room, and Resource Center.
Address: Forest Park - One Fine Arts Drive
Jill at Missouri History Museum
The Missouri History Museum is a combination of two structures:
The Jefferson Memorial Building which faces Lindell Blvd., and The Emerson Center which faces Forest Park.
The Jefferson Memorial was built in 1913 with money from the 1904 World's Fair and was the first national memorial to Thomas Jefferson because of his role in the Louisiana Purchase.
The Emerson Center is a recent addition and is organized around the MacDermott Grand Hall with its replica of Charles Lindbergh's plane, the Spirit of St. Louis, suspended 18 feet overhead. In addition, it features a "shimmering marble river mosaic sweeping dramatically 60 feet across the floor".
The museum has Permanent and Special Exhibitions. The Permanent one is entitled "Seeking St. Louis" and is a time capsule "representing more than 200 years of dreams, ideas and efforts". It is held in two galleries called "Currents and "Reflections" and uses interactive exhibitions, thousands of artifacts, and displays.
The Special ones so far this year:
1. "Through the Eyes of a Child Growing Up Black in St. Louis, 1940-1990."
2. "American Wanderlust" (RV travel in US)
3. "Many Voices" (Reflecting on American Indian Objects)
4. "Sidewalks of St. Louis Selections from the Swekosky Collection"
5. "Today's Girls, Tomorrow's Women" (Girl Scouts in Greater St. Louis, 1918 to Today)
While we were there we saw the
6. "Lewis & Clark The National Bicentennial Exhibition"( See General Tips for Personal Reaction)
And we saw them setting up
7. "The 1904 World's Fair" (Looking Back
The Museum has a restaurant called "Meriwether's" and a museum gift shop called "Louisiana Purchase"
Address: Lindell and DeBaliviere in Forest Park
The Train Shed at Union Station
The third main area of the historic Saint Louis Union Station is the Train Shed which was designed by architect George H. Pegram. It covered 11.5 acres of sweeping arches! It was the largest single-span train shed ever constructed. It once covered the greatest number of train tracks of any train station in the United States. It covered 32 train tracks and measured 606 feet wide by 810 feet long. It is a Victorian-engineered shed that soars to 140 feet and its massive space is divided by five structural bays.
The Shed, as it is affectionately called, currently houses retail shops, restaurant facilities, a portion of the Hyatt Regency Hotel, the lake, event facilities, and the parking areas.
It was close to impossible to take a photograph of this massive structure with my camera, but I was able to take a panoramic that managed to capture most of it.
During the 1950's when many people chose other forms of transportation other than rail, Union Station became less crowded and finally languished for many years until 1978 when the last train pulled out of The Shed, which marked the end of an era.
Thanks goodness preservation-minded individuals had the fortitude to create a new reason to save The Train Shed!
Address: One St. Louis Union Station, St. Louis, Missouri
Dee at the "fake" caboose in the Midway
The second main area of architect Link's design was called the Midway. The Midway was the covered transfer area for passengers. It was located just beyond the Headhouse and received its name because it was the midway point where friends would bid farewell or would welcome home visitors from across the USA or from around the world. During the 1940's (which was considered the "heyday" of Union Station), the Midway was the spot where over 100,00 passengers a day walked on their way to or from a train.
The Midway was constructed with a light steel trussed roof of glass and iron which gives the feeling of wide open spaces.
Today, the Midway serves as a passageway filled with about 34 shops and 13 restaurants. Much to my personal dislike, there are also those specialty carts. In addition, there are 18 specialty food and drink locations. CITY Improv is also housed in the Midway section.
Jill and I also enjoyed the St. Louis Union Station Memories Museum.
Here are the names of the places that I recall:
Hard Rock Cafe
Key West Cafe
Route 66 Brewery/Restaurant
The Station Grill
A&W Hot Dogs & MOre
The Candy Station
Mrs. Field's Bakery Cafe
St. Louis Coffee Roasters
St. Louis Daiquiri
B. Dalton Bookseller
Beatles For Sale
Teddy Bear Factory
The Body Shop
It's quite a shopping/eating area indeed!
Station Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10 am-9pm
Sunday 10 am-6pm
(The photo was taken by Jill Martin. There was a "fake" caboose for people to take photographs)
Address: One Union Station in St. Louis, Missouri
While visiting Saint Louis Union Station, be sure to look at the wonderful "Allegorical Window" in the Grand Hall located in The Headhouse, the first of three main areas in architect Link's design.
It is a hand-made stained glass window with hand-cut Tiffany glass that is positioned above the Station's main entryway. The window features three women who represent the main United States train stations during the 1890's: New York, Saint Louis, and San Francisco. It is magnificent and framed by the famous "Whispering Arch" The end walls were decorated in low relief tracery that also emerges from the female figures in the window.
Note: Don't take a photograph until you have reached the lobby of the the Hyatt Regency Hotel (The Grand Hall) because that is the closest spot for photo taking. I was so awed by the Allegorical masterpiece that I first took the photograph at the bottom of the steps. Once I arrived in the Grand Hall, I realized how much better location it was. The photograph on this page is the second one that I took, and it is so much better than the first one.
Address: One St. Louis Union Station, St. Louis, Missouri,
Directions: Grand Hall of the Hyatt Regency at Saint Louis Union Station
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