November 16, 2015

How I Fell in Love with St. Louis

Last week, I headed to St. Louis for a conference. The conference didn't start until Thursday morning so I flew in early Wednesday and spent the day exploring. It was a cloudy, overcast day, but I was staying right downtown so I took advantage of being right in the middle of everything to try and see as much as I could!

The conference was scheduled for Thursday, Friday, and most of Saturday morning, but I tried to fit in as much exploring as I could! So as soon as I got off the plane and checked into my hotel, I grabbed some breakfast and a cup of coffee and headed out to see as much of the city as I could!

First up, The Gateway Arch - The Gateway Arch is one of the most iconic monuments in the country and it didn't disappoint. Towering over the city, the Arch is built so that no matter which way you're looking at it, you still have the ability to look through it. I couldn't help taking a snapshot of the Arch from a dozen different angles at every time of day!

The Arch just celebrated its 50th anniversary two weeks ago and several people had told me it was a must to go to the top of the Arch. I was shocked when I got there to realize that I wouldn't be taking stairs or an elevator up, I'd be taking a teeny, tiny little tram that takes you the 3-minute ride up to the top! The view from the top offers a great view over the Old Courthouse, the City Garden, and Busch Stadium.

City Garden - This public sculpture garden in the middle of the city is perfect for walking around with a cup of coffee, which I grabbed from 6 North Cafe.

The Old Courthouse - The Old Courthouse is the courthouse where Dred Scott case was first tried and it was beautiful! They've turned it into a museum with a few different exhibits (including one about Dred Scott) and I spent some time there while waiting for my turn to go up the Arch. (You pick up your tickets at the Old Courthouse.)

Busch Stadium - Of course I couldn't take a trip to St. Louis without taking a tour of Busch Stadium! I actually didn't think I was going to have time for it, but I landed Wednesday morning with enough time to spare before the 12:30 tour. The Cardinals' Stadium is one of the eight remaining ballparks I have yet to visit. When I walked into the stadium, I thought, "Here we go, Ballpark #23" but after the tour, I don't think it counts as much. I've taken tours of Nationals Park and US Cellular Field, and in both of them, we saw the whole stadium. The tour of Busch was great and really dived into the history of St. Louis baseball, but we didn't leave the area behind home plate. We saw the Cardinals Club and the Redbird Club (aka places that  I will never sit in at a baseball game), went onto the field and into the dugout, and visited the press box, but I didn't really feel like I saw the stadium, so that was a little disappointing.

After my day of sightseeing, I went for a run and got caught in a downpour a mile from my hotel. It was super cold out and I'm pretty sure that that mile run is the reason I'm now nursing a really bad cold. I brought my phone along on my run and snapped some pictures along the way.

That wrapped up my first day in St. Louis, but here are some other things I did while I was there.
  • Central West End - Sara recommended CWE as a great neighborhood for dinner and I made my way there on Thursday after the conference for dinner. I ate at this adorable little restaurant called Wildflower and sat at the bar. The food was incredible, the bartenders were really nice, and the chef even came out to say hello.
  • 360 - the rooftop bar at the downtown Hilton, with gorgeous views of the Arch.
  • Gooey Butter Cake - I've seen this stuff all over Pinterest and never knew it was a St. Louis treat until I was there, so of course, I had to try it! I stopped by Park Avenue Coffee for a slice of the traditional cake and I wasn't disappointed! I can't wait to try out one of those Pinterest recipes!
  • Laclede's Landing - St. Louis's historic district with a bunch of bars and restaurants.
  • Venice and Frazer's - Sara and I met up on Friday night for drinks at Venice (such a fun, eclectic bar!) and dinner at Frazer's (incredible cheese plate, even better food!) in Benton Park. We had an amazing time catching up and I loved that she showed me her favorite parts of St. Louis!
  • Mud House - I found this place because it was the only thing open at 7 am on Saturday. My brother called me Friday night because he was road tripping to Chicago with his team and due to arrive in STL around 7 am so of course, we met up for breakfast before he dropped me off at the conference and hit the road again! Mud House is a cheap, counter-service, breakfast spot with exceptionally good food and coffee.

I fell in love with St. Louis and I will definitely be back! There were some things I didn't get to do that I would have loved to - the Budweiser Factory, Forrest Park, and the City Museum -but I just didn't have time. 

Have you been to St. Louis? 
What are some things that you would add to this list?
If you haven't been there, do you think you'd visit now?

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