The last time I visited St. Louis I was probably 10 years old and I don’t remember a lot to be honest. That’s one of many reasons why I was excited when a stop in the city was added to my whirlwind trip around the country with The Ritz-Carlton. The goal was to discover some great cities around the US that don’t always appear on top ten lists, but probably should. St. Louis was a little different though, my time spent exploring the city wasn’t just nice, it was inspirational. So today I thought I’d share how I spent my 24-hours in St. Louis, what I think are must-do experiences for anyone traveling to the city for the first time.
How To Get High
The 630-foot tall Gateway Arch is St. Louis’ most recognizable landmark and should be at the top of the list for every first-time visitor to the city. I sadly don’t think a design as forward-thinking as this would be built today, but it was the winning concept back in the 1960s when it was constructed as a nod to the importance of St. Louis in the western expansion of the United States. Now a National Park, visitors can purchase timed tickets to take the 3-minute tram ride to the top of this mighty structure, which is exactly what I did first thing in the morning. I could tell it was going to be another hot day, but the skies were clear as I looked out across St. Louis in one direction and then towards the mighty Mississippi River and Illinois in the other. It was beautiful, and I wasn’t the only one who stood there transfixed by the scenes below. So much more than just a panoramic window, standing there stirred up something deep inside, a respect for the amazing growth and progress this country has seen over the years. Standing under the incredible Arch itself, the sun twinkling off of the stainless steel I couldn’t help but be drawn in by its inherent beauty. It’s a languid monument, with no rough edges it seems to flow almost like the Mississippi that runs alongside it.
Where To Have Family-Friendly Fun
The City Museum is a strange place, and I’m still not completely sure that I understand what it is exactly. If anything can be said of it though, it’s that this unique museum experience is the epitome of the creative spirit. To be blunt, the City Museum is not your average museum, but it never wanted to be. Created by artist Bob Cassilly in 1995, the concept is a playhouse museum where everything can be touched, played on or otherwise contorted. Home to a wide variety of eclectic objects and “exhibits,” the City Museum encourages the imaginative spirit in a way I’ve never before seen. It’s weird, but it’s fun, which is why it’s often named as one of the great public spaces in the world. While I didn’t necessarily click with the museum, it’s hard not to be inspired by the incredible levels of creativity on display around every corner of it. Sure, it’s a more visual style of artistry than what I do, but the underlying creative spirit is the same and it helped awaken in me those creative impulses that led to the creation of LandLopers in the first place. I needed that reminder, I needed a kick in the pants and when added to all of my other experiences throughout the day, was the match that lit the flame of innovation for me personally.
When It’s Time To Eat
There are few travel experiences I enjoy more than discovering a new city through its most treasured foods. Luckily, most of the time these delicacies also fall under the category of comfort food, which means that my discoveries are almost always tasty, if not slightly fattening. St. Louis is no exception, and there are a number of beloved foods that you’ll only find in the city. Classic Provel cheese pizza isn’t your normal pizza using this soft cheese it’s then very well baked before being served. It’s tasty and perfect with a side of fried ravioli, another St. Louis staple. It’s a nod to the many immigrants who settled in the city, and is now my preferred way to enjoy this pasta. Other classic food moments for me included St. Louis ribs and BBQ with a heaping serving of creamy Ted Drewes custard for dessert, once a Route 66 must-have.
Why You Should Be Blue
A few weeks before my trip to St. Louis, I watched a news story about the brand new National Blues Museum and I knew I had to spend some time there while in the city. Although I’m not a big fan of Blues music per se, the museum sounded so interesting that I knew a visit was mandatory, and it turns out I was right. Opened earlier in 2016, the museum explores the history and roots of classic Blues music, a story that really is the story of America as well. It was amazing walking through the exhibits learning about this unique style of music and the important role it’s played in the cultural history of the country. It was also amazing to learn of the many musicians in a variety of other genres who credit the Blues for their own musical journeys in life. The National Blues Museum is conveniently located downtown and is very well curated and presented, making this a fun as well as fascinating place to spend the afternoon.
Where To Stay
The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis is located in the suburb of Clayton; close enough to get in and out of the city quickly, but also calling home the beautiful and massive Forest Park where I discovered the Missouri History Museum as well as some peace and quiet. It’s the perfect location really to both enjoy the city while being able to relax, and it was in this setting where I was able to reflect upon my day in the city. The hotel also honors St. Louis in any number of ways, but especially through its food offerings, including those toasted ravioli I had come to know and love. More than creature comforts and food though, The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis effuses Midwest charm and kindness that was refreshing to experience. As a classic Type-A Easterner, I forget that not everyone is as sarcastic and surly as we are. I forget that huge swathes of the country are full of nice, good-hearted people who really do care when they ask how your day is going. I loved feeling that way again and for that I am very grateful to The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis. It all came together in the perfect package of St. Louis-ness and provided me the unique opportunity to unwind in true luxury comfort.
My only regret in visiting St. Louis was that I had such limited time to explore the city. I know that I missed a lot of experiences in and around town, but all that means is that a return visit is all but demanded.