This week took me to St. Louis for an education conference. Although I had to spend the majority of my time at the Hilton pondering the social foundations of schooling, I couldn’t help but take a bit of time to explore. Luckily, I was well-located next to the baseball stadium, which is adjacent to several top attractions. If you find yourself with a few days in Missouri, here’s what I recommend:
1. Take yourself back to middle school history class and stand on the banks of the M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I. The park that contains the iconic Gateway Arch will lead you down to the edge of westward expansion.
Pro tip: You can go to the top of the arch, but beware that it will cost you $25. Many conference-goers opted for the views from the rooftop bar at our hotel instead.
2. Get yourself some ribs at Pappy’s Smokehouse.
I really wanted to try St. Louis/Memphis style BBQ, and this place is seriously legit – and seriously delicious. Worth the slight trek! There was also a pleasant bar next door where we got dessert and giant pumpkin ales while waiting for our cab.
Otherwise, Washington Avenue seemed to be the main street for going out on the town and grabbing some eats – we enjoyed Mango and il Posto, and the architecture took us back to another era. Closer to our hotel, Charlie Gitto’s was one of the few non-hotel restaurant options.
Pro tip: Arrive at Pappy’s early – the lines get very long, and they sell out of food quickly.
3. Unleash your inner kid at the City Museum.
I can’t even truly describe the crazy playground and fun house combo that constitutes this place – an artist’s vision come to life in an old shoe warehouse, filled with slides, tunnels, climbing structures, bridges, sculptures and fantasy lands made from various scraps and odd objects. Everywhere you went, folks were climbing from floor to floor, popping out of windows, or shooting down multi-story slides to get around. There was a human-sized version of a hamster wheel, the world’s largest pencil, a walk-in vault, various curiosities, an indoor skate park, a slide made out of rollers, 3 and 10 story slide extravaganzas, a castle, a treehouse, suspended airplanes that you could crawl inside, ball pits, a fire pit complete with marshmallows, a midget driving kids around in a miniature train, caves, an aquarium, a vintage shop, a shoelace factory, a full bar – and zero maps, and very few staff directing your experience.
I have never seen so many people filled with uninhabited joy – and we didn’t even go up on the roof, or check out some of the higher (and scarier) attractions. One bad head bump later, I can see why they’ve been hit with various personal injury lawsuits – but I totally approve of the spirit of the museum and declare it to be absolutely awesome!
Pro tip: Wear sneakers and long pants – and if you do get injured, the friendly bar staff will give you an ice pack!