Monday, July 2, 2012

St. Louis Shouts

Last time Brian and I did a cross-country road trip, which was before we had responsibilities or children, I noticed St. Louis. I had never thought much of anything about the city, but as we passed it in a blur four years ago I remember thinking it looked like a cool place.  I noticed the new baseball park right off the interstate in downtown and the sun was setting over the city, which, together with the shining Gateway Arch, made the city look sparkling clean and welcoming. So I planned to spend a good day in St. Louis on our road trip this year.

The day we drove into the city the boys colored a picture of the Gateway Arch and the cityscape (I found this coloring sheet online), so they sort of had an idea of what the arch looks like. We got into the city a little before sunset, and the boys immediately recognized it.

This is talent.
Drury Inn and Suites, Forest Park What really set the tone for our day in St. Louis was the hotel we stayed at the night before. Up until then we had been staying at friends’ houses, which is hard to top as far as a friendly overnight experience. Drury Inn and Suites are quite prevalent in the Midwest, as well as in some southern and western states. We stayed at the Forest Park location in St. Louis, which is near the zoo and some of the museums. At that point I had a bunch of writing to catch up on and we stayed in a suite, which allowed me to stay up (way too late) to work on it while the boys slept in the other room. I’m no hotel connoisseur but the people at Drury clearly know their business because I’m not sure I’ve felt more welcomed and clean at a hotel in the past. Everyone was nice and professional from the front desk to the room service personnel. We were a little too late to take advantage of their 5:30 Kickback—which is a daily event with free hot food and cold drinks. 

The boys thought the hotel was heaven after the car ride.
Brian had some unanticipated paperwork he was working on in the hotel computer room, but their scanner wasn’t working. A manager came and helped him out by taking the document back to the office, scanning it, and emailing it directly to him. This was hugely helpful since it was a time-sensitive document.

Breakfast in the morning was no plastic tray of stale supermarket donuts and watery coffee, but a huge spread of hot food as well as easy-to-grab food like yogurt and fruit. There were hotel staff constantly refilling the breakfast foods and the boys got to help make their own waffles. They didn’t want any help eating them, however. They wolfed them right down. We were full of a yummy breakfast to start our day of exploring St. Louis. Of course we brought Scratchy Cat and Smoochy Bear along for the ride.


Core of Discovery Riverboat Cruise The first thing we did was to take a cruise on a Mississippi riverboat. Our boat was the Tom Sawyer and our cruise took us first up the river and then down. The tours start on the riverfront down just below the Gateway Arch. There are a couple different riverboats and they take a few cruises each day. The boat dock also has a restaurant and gift shop with restrooms. The trip takes an hour and is kid-friendly. The captain meets all the children and warns parents to cover the kids’ ears before he blows the whistle. The boys got to steer the wheel, and Scratchy and Smoochy even took over the controls at one point. Some photographers take pictures of your family before you get on the boat and you have to option of buying them when you get off. I'm not a fan of that type of thing, but there's no obligation.

The top of the boat is where you can see the river the best from, but it did get pretty hot. There are also seats down below in the cabin, and refreshments. Our little sunblocked boys didn’t want to go anywhere else though. The best views were clearly on the top with the sun and the breeze. As we took the tour the captain explained the various sites along the river and the history of riverboats and the navigation rules they follow. I kept looking for Huckleberry Finn’s cave, but I didn’t see it. I guess that was the idea, though. Top secret. It's a fun outing. Just don't do it in the rain.

Our boat
Happy boater
Riverboat Captain Clark
Scratchy and Smoochy take the wheel!

5 SHOUTS for Gateway Arch Riverboats

The Arch! We heard interesting facts about the towering Gateway Arch on our riverboat cruise—things like how many daredevils have tried to land on and climb up the arch—as well as the history and building of the monument. It is 630 feet high, which makes it the tallest monument in the US. After the riverboat cruise we climbed the many steps up to the arch. It is gigantic! We live by the Washington Monument, which is tall and seems huge, but the arch is even more dizzying. You can take trips to the top of the arch via the Core of Discovery's underground visitor’s center located right below the arch. I heard the view is amazing, but I think our guys are a little young to brave the shaky elevator ride to the top and down. Let me be a little more forthcoming-- they might be fine, but I would be a mess. So we skipped that part this time. Underneath is a big field that the boys loved running through.There are actually vintage baseball games played under the arch in the summer, but there wasn't one the day we were there. It was a beautiful day on the Mississippi. Scratchy and Smoochy loved the arch too.

Westward ho!
Touching the arch
Scratchy and Smoochy liked the arch too!
In the arches
CityGarden Beyond the arch and the courthouse (which looks like the National Capitol Building and the White House combined) is a bustling downtown. I had read about downtown fountains for kids, so we headed there on foot to check them out. There are several ornamental fountains behind the courthouse and then four or five blocks beyond is CityGarden, an area with sculptures and fountains to play in. It was built just three years ago, and is a little kid’s summer haven. It was a hot day and St. Louis kids were out frolicking in the water. If only Cal and Clark didn’t have an irrational fear of water…we could have had so much fun. They loved watching the other kids play in it and Brian and I cooled off in it a little, but it wasn’t enticing enough for them to leave their fears behind and embrace the water. Boo.

The boys loved this pink water.
A visitor's center is next to this fountain.
Swimming time at CityGarden!
The Reluctant Splasher
Normal kids in the summer
On the way back to the car we bought some hot dogs from a street vendor and ate them by the arch before we hopped in the car to drive on down the road toward Idaho.

If we had had more time to spend in St. Louis we would have toured Busch Stadium, home of the world champion St. Louis Cardinals’ baseball team and gone to a Cardinals’ game. (They were out of town while we were there.) We noticed that baseball parking is only $5 just a couple blocks from the stadium, which amazed us since you can pay $40 to park by Nationals Park in DC. We would also love to visit the zoo and some of the museums. 

This city is located in a perfect place for us-- I think we'll probably be able to go through the city on most of our road trips out to Idaho, and each time do something different! What a gem of a city. Maybe next time the boys won't be afraid of water.

To read my other road trip reviews, go here.

1 comment:

  1. The view from the Arch is pretty cool, but the elevator ride a bit scary and it made me claustrophobic, so probably better to skip it!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...