How did I do? Family of 4 with 2 kids around 10 years old. INTENSE!
Hi again, Lauren! Here's the last of my tips! This month sure enough flew by! It's a lot of info, and let me know if you need any specifics on places.
If you're doing the St. Louis Downtown thing, Cardinals Game + Arch Visit is good. The Budweiser plant is alright, its a little boring though. There's a better brewery with MUCH better beer (well bud light is great, too) -- but that brewery is in one of the boroughs of St. Louis that's about a 20 minute drive from downtown. It's the Schlafly Brewery, but you can go to the Schlafly tap room to try the best local micro-brews...if you're staying downtown you can walk there. Here's my dream 4 days in st. louis. (I usually end up doing most of these things when I visit, too) - I probably get a little wordy, but hope it's more helpful than overwhelming to you!
Top 4 must do:
Forest park (and allllll that's there!)
FRIDAY - settle in hotel (I'm assuming its downtown, and I'm assuming you'll get in around the evening time). If you feel like ice cream, hop in the car and go to Crown Candy kitchen (I'm recommending the Fireman's special, so delicous) and be sure to visit the cafe next door if it's open.
But you'll probably want to walk around near your hotel!! Washington ave is the primary business strip, Flamingo Lanes is a bowling alley, might be interesting....anyway, take a walk down there and then to the city garden, its a brand new public garden that just completed about a year ago. Its fun for kids to run around in. Then walk down to Laclede's Landing (its down by the riverfront) just to look at the only remaining cobblestone part of downtown St. Louis - it gets to be a pretty big nightlife scene so after dark, expect it to get a little bit of a party-vibe. Walk down the arch grounds, look at the river. Its awesome! Picture time, etc... have dinner at either the Broadway Oyster bar (on broadway by the white castle) or at BBs Jazz Blues ans Soups.
If you feel like it, take the car further south to eat in Soulard, the french neighborhood - I'd suggest Mcgurks - they've got live irish music every night and a lovely garden.
If you get in on Friday during the daytime - head straight to the City Museum! it's the "recycle museum" you've heard so much about. It's THE place to go if you want to make your kids (and yourself) tired. So you might want to save it for Saturday or sunday.
I'd also reccomend downtown - the Schlafly Tap room is a very cool place, and it serves our local microbrews if you're into the beers! The building was also featured in the lovely movie Escape From New York...though the block's gone through a bit of rehab there since it was scouted as the set of a post-apocalyptic new york! ;)
SATURDAY - Wake up early early early and head to the arch? Or maybe that's a better bet to head to the Arch on Monday. This morning might be a better time to go to Soulard - there's the Soulard Market (just go south on broadway, you can walk - pretty far ...like 15 minutes - or drive) Maybe you're going to the baseball game today? Then go visit the Budweiser Brewery - the tour's not all that exciting at all, but the grounds are really pretty. In the afternoon, I'd recommend a visit to the Central west end, then Forest Park and then the University City Loop. You can drive from downton to the Central West End, forest park and walk around. There's shopping and generally just a city neighborhood to look at, grab lunch. In the Central west end there's some st. Louis style pizza to be had at Cecil WHitaker's pizza (its my preffered St. Louis style pizza shop - get the supreme with bacon, so good). If you like perfume, go to Cassie's, its on euclid.
Forest Park has a lot going on, especially for kiddies. There's the Zoo (free!) or the Art Museum (free! be absolutely sure you see the reservoir in front of the art museum, its a total photo op) and a planetarium (free!) which has a bridge over the highway to the St. Louis Science center, which is also free (!). You can visit the Muny Opera Grounds (its a huge outdoor theatre, BIG tradition in town) and rent bikes and ride them all around Forest Park. The park is bordered by big ol stately homes the likes of Meet Me in St. Louis, so that's fun to look at. There's also the Missouri Natural History Museum in forest park - it's pretty cool...its got some Charles Lindbergh stuff and all that if museums strike your fancy. On one end of the park is the Central west end, and on the other Washington University. I'd suggest driving to the middle of forest park (the muny parking lot is really near where you can rent bikes) and once you're through with Forest park, head in your car down lindel to Skinker and head to Delmar for the University City/Delmar Loop. There's fun shopping and hamburgers and a record store etc...be sure to check out the St. Louis Walk of Fame! A good little urban strip to walk around. Blueberry Hill is a burger place where Chuck Berry (yes, chuck berry - he's from st. louis!) performs one Wednesday a month.
SUNDAY - I would make this a South Side day - you could also switch this with Saturday. South side is where St. Louis locals hang out but there's PLENTY for tourists type stuff - it just doesn't get all that much press (untill now!) It's got some great neighborhoods! You have to go to the south side, it's the best. You can go early to the Missouri botanical gardens, and go to brunch at the Royale (its a bar/restaurant that a friend of mine owns and it's VERY st. louisy and the folks are very friendly and will give you tips if you need'em).
After you've met the folks at the Royale, head to Morganford Mini business strip. (its off of arsenal, a street which borders Tower Grove Park, another park...not a lot going on, but there are some funny pavillions b/c it was supposed to be structured originally as a British walking park-apparently Brits like pavilions) On Morganford is good vintage shopping (super cheap super quality!) - the Vintage Haberdashery and TFA are must sees for shopping. If you want st. louis syle pizza, there's an IMOs pizza on Morganford. Its made with special cheese that's only made in St. Louis! I'd get the supreme. From morganford, head to Grand South Grand - it's basically a city business strip for about 5 blocks, but I like walking around on it. Lot's of Vietnamese folks and some bosnian restaurants in this area. Pho Grand is good as is the City Diner (get the toasted ravioli!). Also there are donut shops everywhere. Go in one if you see one! Also if you like italian food, the south side is home to The Hill, our italian neighborhood at the top of a hill.
Another must visit section of town is CHerokee street. There's a LOT more walkability going on here. I'd drive to cherokee and Jefferson (I'd recommend visiting around lunchtime), park down by the old dairy store - head to mississippi mud coffeeshop, walk to the Purple Cow for some crazy antiques (say hi to grouchy jim), Cherry Bomb vintage for some really good vintage shopping, then cross over to visit Foam, new coffe/food shop. Go further west on Cherokee to the Mexican business area of the street, I recommend the quesadillas at La Vallesanas or the fish at El Bronco, and go down a bit further to the Firecracker Press for some really great prints of St. Louis -- from forest park, to just lovely graphic prints of town. Plus, its in a section of the street that's basically printers row - the folks here use actual printing presses so it might be fun for the kids to see. Near there are some other vintage stores. It's definitely the artsy part of town, so there's all the spoils of that! If you're looking for good st. louis clothing, hop back in the car and drive further east on Cherokee to STL-Style's storefront at 3155 Cherokee St.. Its a tshirt company owned by a couple brothers and they make good tshirts.
This might also be a good day to head to the Schlafly Brewery in Maplewood and take a tour, its about a 20 minute drive down highway 44.
You should also visit Ted Drewes Frozen Custard (I HIGHLY recommend getting a raspberry, chocolate shell and pecan sundae) on your SOuth Side day, its an ice cream joint on the Old Route 66 - now Chippewa.
MONDAY - The Arch? Ride up in there look around! Pick some ideas from above! Enjoy yourself!
For local whatever happenings, the Riverfront Times http://riverfrontimtes.com is your friend. It's free and you can pick it up anywhere.
Don't be shy about asking me questions etc...!!
Now for trivia:
Here's famous people from st. louis:
And here's some local specialties you should try!
You definitely shouldn't leave without trying toasted ravioli - its also a really good kids food.
I would suggest looking up these places and others on http://yelp.com - it will give you hours they're open etc...addresses and alllll that!
Have fun! Eat! Be a little quirky! It's the st. louis way!
This was a fun walk down memory lane for me.
All the best,
Below there's some notes I took on places I like before I tried to make them make a little sense - might have more details!
- Cardinals Stadium
- Schlafly Tap Room (good food, local beers)
- The City Museum (that's the "recycle museum" -- go early on a saturday....you'll easily want to stay for 4+hours. And you can't beat the views or the ferris wheel on the roof!!! I love this place, I've gone with my 3 year old baby cousins and I've gone to parties at night with my friends and its always so magical and very quintessential St. Louis funky, don't miss it)
- the Rooftop is open on the weekend! There's a ferris wheel, its so cool!
---- they also do a nighttime thing where you can run around the place with a flashlight - http://www.riverfronttimes.
- Crown Candy Kitchen (my mom's best friend used to date the owner....take a cab up a little bit to visit or drive there, get the Fireman's Special...its in the middle of a neighborhood on the up and up, i like to go and look at the development...friend of mine just opened up the neighborhing coffee shop -- but the kids will LOVE THE CANDY. As a kid who visited this place when I was around 9, i loved it.)
- Broadway Oyster Bar, Beales, Bb's -- take the kids for an afternoon of blues/zydeco/hippie/r&b music, depending on the day. Its just south of the baseball stadium. St. Louis is a live music town, so you gotta sample some of that local flavor.
- Soulard is our french neighborhood...this is about a 10 minute walk south of the baseball stadium. St. Louis was a french king! Its about a 15 minute walk south of the baseball stadium, 5 minute cab ride, since we haven't quite worked it out so its the most friendly walk in the world.
- The Soulard Market happens on Saturdays and its got that crazy market vibe that should keep the kids entertained, plus you can imagine what it's like during mardi gras, where st. louis has the 2nd largest celebration in the US.
( also if you love irish music, you MUST go to mcgurks - live irish music 7 nights a week, usually played by actual irishfolks - and they have great food in the daytime)
- The Royale - i always go here first to find out what's up. I know the owner, Steven Smith. Everyone's very friendly there, and dont' be shy about mentioning that you know Lori White (me!) or The White Sisters! Especially if you see Steve. If you're good, you might even get a tour of the town in his Cadillac. But especially be sure to ask the folks around and working there about what's going on in town, they're always in the know and happy to share.
- Botanical Gardens - it's gorgeous and if it's nice outside it's great to run around in. For the kids, visit the greenhouse with all sorts of rainforest stuff, the shrubbery maze and feed teh fish in the aj
- Tower Grove Park
- Cherokee Street - antiques
- Little Bosnia - this is in the Bevo Mill neighborhood, an old German Neighborhood that now has the 2nd largest population of Bosnians...2nd to Bosnia! How crazy is that?
Forest Park, Central West End and The Loop:
- The Hill
Central west end:
- Wash U
- science center
- Schlafly Brewery