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What is there for a timid traveller to see in St Louis, MO?


stutterfish
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We're going to be in St Louis, MO, for a week at the end of April with our First Lego League team from the UK. We won't have a lot of free time, I expect, but as I don't travel much (only my second time out the UK in the past 20 years) I'd like to see *something* that makes me feel as if the credit card debt and stress to get us there was worth it.

 

When I google St Louis, all I'm reading is that there's absolutely no reason why a tourist would want to visit the place. This isn't very helpful, seeing as we don't have a choice! 

 

So, someone, tell me about St Louis. I'm a country girl at heart, so I find cities daunting and people scary, but y'know, the UK is tiny, our weather is bland and we queue a lot (yes the rumour is true), so a change would be good :) Tell me what to expect...what to see...what to avoid...what to pack. Just tell me stuff!

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We thought St. Louis was fun! We especially loved the City Museum and seeing a Cardinals baseball game. Going up in the Arch was worth the time and trouble too, but we could walk there from our hotel.

 

I know there's a thread on St. Louis. Let me look for it...

 

ETA: here's one: http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/473233-st-louis-travel-question/

 

I would check weather.com for sample temps and pack what would be comfy for you in that weather. It's so hard to say what other people should wear, kwim? Definitely casual clothes are fine!

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I just read about Monk's Mound in this article. It's under #5 in the article: http://www.cracked.com/article_19864_6-ridiculous-lies-you-believe-about-founding-america.html

 

I have no idea what's there now. Probably just like in the picture--just a field with some construction trucks on it. Or maybe it's really cool. Dunno.

 

Another website about it: http://cahokiamounds.org/explore/cahokia-mounds/name/monks-mound/

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I've only been there briefly for a convention. The Arch is a must see, nice museum of western expansion. The Missouri Botsnic Garden is wonderful to visit; in terms of researc, it is one of the top botanical gardens in the world.

 

I love classical music and was able to get tickets to a St Louis symphony concert at Powell Hall.

 

This website actually makes me want to go to St Louis again:

 

http://explorestlouis.com/mobile/#/see-and-do

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The arch is the classic tourist attraction and it is interesting. The zoo is nice and is free (or was the last time I was there a few years ago).

 

Depending on the time of year going to a Cardinals baseball game could be fun. My husband toured Budweiser as a kid and still talks about it. I believe St. Louis is where the Clydesdales are stabled.

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One must see the Arch and visit the museum underneath.

 

Cahokia is a UNESCO world heritage site about 20 min out--an ancient mound city that is partially excavated.

 

City Museum is so much fun! 

 

The Botanical Gardens and Zoo are both enjoyable and have a good reputation, but aren't unique travel experiences.  Near the Zoo in the Central West End are some fun little shops and restaurants.  The little French restaurant is headed by a nationally recognized chef.  I had one of my top ten best meals ever there.

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Weather in April is... interesting. It could be hot, or rainy, or below freezing. Sometimes in the same day.

 

City Museum is always highly recommended. What kinds of other things do you enjoy seeing/doing?

 

What things do I enjoy seeing/doing? Hmmm...I will be with my teenage boys: what I get to enjoy will be limited a little by what I can persuade them to do without rolled eyes and sighs ;)  One is into rock music and photography/film-making, the other is into anything techie and manga/Japan, and me, well everything will be new to me, so it''ll all be good, but a bit of history, architecture and natural history (and some happy teens) would tick my boxes. 

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My family really doesn't like City Museum, but I think your boys might enjoy it.  I think it's way too loud, but, hey, you're going to First Lego League so you must have a higher tolerance of that than I do.

 

And, yes, the Arch is a must see!

 

Cardinal baseball is so quintessentially American, and the Cardinal ballpark really is one of the best -- the crowd is wonderfully family-oriented.  However, if you're not familiar with baseball it's about as exciting as watching paint dry -- dh has gone with various visitors from overseas, and they often just don't get the attraction since the strategy isn't apparent (otoh, his aunt loves baseball and thinks soccer is boring, mostly because she doesn't understand what's going on).

 

Really, if the weather is nice, I'd just hang out in the Delmar Loop/Central West End absorbing the sound of U.S. midwestern life going on around you. 

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City museum is our favorite reason to visit StL

Arch (museum currently closed, but you can ride up)

Art Museum

Cahokia Mounds just across the river in IL

Zoo

Botanical Garden

 

I can't recommend the river boat tour on fake steam boat; the riverfront is not very inviting, we found it disappointing.

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I loved St Louis.  :)

 

The suggestions above are great.  I'm partial to the arch/museum underneath, and Cahokia.

 

But here's the Must Do:  Ted Drewe's.  Find one.  Stand in (a long) line.  Order the most delicious ice cream (it might be frozen custard?  I can't remember.)... Savor it.  Seriously.  Don't miss it.

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"Cardinal baseball is so quintessentially American, and the Cardinal ballpark really is one of the best -- the crowd is wonderfully family-oriented."

 

Yes, I wondered about taking them to baseball.  My kids have never even been to a football (soccer) match in the UK as we're not a sporty family (well, only one sport),  so I'm not sure what they'd make of baseball. It feels like something we should just go to for the experience, iykwim? 

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"Cardinal baseball is so quintessentially American, and the Cardinal ballpark really is one of the best -- the crowd is wonderfully family-oriented."

 

Yes, I wondered about taking them to baseball. My kids have never even been to a football (soccer) match in the UK as we're not a sporty family (well, only one sport), so I'm not sure what they'd make of baseball. It feels like something we should just go to for the experience, iykwim?

The Cardinals are actually out of town all that week/weekend. Although you won't get to see a game, it's a good thing as far as traffic and crowds go. It will be much easier to get into restaurants.

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My kids had a competition there one year.  I absolutely LOVED St. Louis (especially compared to Branson,MO where we usually are stuck going).  Anyways lthings we loved (many have already been mentioned)

 

City Musuem (absolute top destination and we must stop there any time we are even remotely close)

Arch (also the courthouse where the Dred Scott case was heard, may not be as interesting to you coming from the UK but since I love US history I found it very educational)

Grant's Farm

Science Musuem

the Zoo

and did I say CITY MUSUEM!!!  (you must pull this up on the website to understand it.  I mentioned it to a fried a her kids, before I even got the word musuem out, her daughter was like no, just no.  I tried to explain there was nothing musuemish about the place and the daugher just kept saying no.  Later that night my friend called me back and said they looked it up the website, now her daughter very much wanted to go.  SHe was convinced it was a boring (to her anyways) musuem despite my trying to explain it.

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My son's team made it to Worlds 3 years in a row and their favorite is the City Museum.  One year, my daughters tagged along and hubby took them to the zoo and science museum. The Arch is also a must.  What some teams like to do is to leave one person on top of the Arch while the rest go back down and lie down on the grass below making letters or figures. Then the one on top takes pictures.  There is a security check that could be long at times (which you're used to anyway ;) )

 

Being from the Northeast, we do find St. Louis pretty quiet.  The trains are very convenient.  If you're just staying in St. Louis, you can get by without renting a car.  You can take the metro from the airport to nearby the convention center.  It also depends on where your hotel is.  Call the hotel directly also to compare prices. You might be able to get a cheaper rate booking it yourself.

 

There is this food market nearby called Culinaria which is our all-time favorite place to eat.  Decent price and great hot sandwiches/burgers.  It's a short walk from the convention center. 

 

DS's team is still in the midst of competing for a slot to Worlds.  Congratulations to your team!

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St. Louis is a great city! Currently, our family's favorite destination is the Botanical Garden. Even in the winter, there's so much to see, and by the end of April, there will be so much more.

 

A Cardinals game is a must if you can. And if you're interested in baseball at all, either because you enjoy it or because you want to learn more about it,  a Busch Stadium tour and/or visit to the Cardinals museum is a lot of fun.

 

Anything in Forest Park is great, and mostly free...the Zoo, the Science Center, Art Museum and History Museum. Some exhibits have fees, but basic entry is always free.

 

A Budweiser tour is also fun, and helps you understand a bit more about the history of the city. Same thing goes for Grant's Farm.

 

I have tons of St. Louis info on my website...all the stuff we love to do around town. I hope you have a great visit! :)

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One must see the Arch and visit the museum underneath.

 

Cahokia is a UNESCO world heritage site about 20 min out--an ancient mound city that is partially excavated.

 

City Museum is so much fun! 

 

The Botanical Gardens and Zoo are both enjoyable and have a good reputation, but aren't unique travel experiences.  Near the Zoo in the Central West End are some fun little shops and restaurants.  The little French restaurant is headed by a nationally recognized chef.  I had one of my top ten best meals ever there.

:iagree: These were the exact things I was going to suggest.  We especially loved Cahokia's low key, wander around, no rush atmosphere.  We're thinking of going on Vaca out west this year and that is one of the "must see" stops along the way (especially as we'll do it for a quick break, last time we were there for about 2-3 hours). 

I remember visiting Lacledes Landing (adjacent to Arch area) when I was a teen and I loved the shops.

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Chelle in MO   :laugh:

 

:iagree: You survived your visit, Jean, so stutterfish probably will, too, right?   :laugh:

 

Stutterfish, you're going to have a GREAT time in St. Louis!  Congratulations to the team!  

 

Everyone has given great advice on what to see.  My top 2 recommendations for you would be:

 

1.  City Museum:  unique, amazing, and one-of-a-kind, but it's not for everyone (see GailV's post above  ;) ).  My boys all LOVE it. It's an old shoe factory fashioned with reclaimed materials that have been made into walkways, crawlways, pathways, and slides. It is NOT museum-y at all, imo. It's a very active, multi-level, busy experience.  Indoor and outdoor exploring.

 

2.  Gateway Arch:  incredible.  You have to go to the top, too.  Don't just look up from the ground.   :001_smile:   I'm somewhat claustrophobic (small trams to ride up in) and afraid of heights, and I can do it!    I don't stay up there for long, though!

 

Enjoy the planning!  It'll be here before you know it!

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I thought of a few more things. The New Cathedral has the largest mosaic collection in the world. They're stunning, and the building itself is also beautiful. The Old Cathedral has just been restored, and while it doesn't have the grandeur of the New Cathedral, it's a great piece of St. Louis history. Laumeier Sculpture Park is also a cool place, but not near downtown. The City Garden has some cool art, too, though, and is right in the heart of downtown. And there are so many cool neighborhoods, like The Hill and the Delmar Loop where you get a meal that isn't from a chain restaurant.

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We went a few years ago.  Things we did

 

Tour Cardinal stadium

 

Went to Arch -- we didn't go up,  2 of us are claustrophobic, (I went up back when I was young and remember it though). But we walked around the arch and did the underground Museum

 

Riverboat tour

 

Budweiser brewery tour -- very interesting and cool -- and saw the Clydesdale, lots of cool facts and cool old buildings 

 

Grant's Farm

 

Zoo

 

Science Center

 

 

St Louis has LOTS to see and do. 

 

 

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I loved St Louis. :)

 

The suggestions above are great. I'm partial to the arch/museum underneath, and Cahokia.

 

But here's the Must Do: Ted Drewe's. Find one. Stand in (a long) line. Order the most delicious ice cream (it might be frozen custard? I can't remember.)... Savor it. Seriously. Don't miss it.

My mom drove by there the other day when it was way below freezing. They had a tent set up outside the order window, and there was a line outside the tent. And this was a weeknight!

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But here's the Must Do:  Ted Drewe's.  Find one.  Stand in (a long) line.  Order the most delicious ice cream (it might be frozen custard?  I can't remember.)... Savor it.  Seriously.  Don't miss it.

 

 

My mom drove by there the other day when it was way below freezing. They had a tent set up outside the order window, and there was a line outside the tent. And this was a weeknight!

 

Stop it, you two!  I NEED one, but it's a 30 min. drive for me!   

 

Yes, Spryte, it's frozen custard, and though the line may be long, it's FAST!!!  

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For FLL Kids, if you have a car drive out to exurbia and go to the Museum of Transport[1]... It is either a huge collection of junky old trains or a completely magical experience(don't let the fact it is county park deter you)... Having visited St Louis from Minneapolis a half dozen times,  the Arch is nice; the botanic gardens are solid; the City Museum is a real gem; the Museum of Transport is the secret attraction.

 

[1] http://transportmuseumassociation.org/

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Thanks for all your help...keep it coming!

 

More questions...

 

...in terms of getting around, the metro is the best option, right? (We have no intentions of hiring a car) Can you buy a week's pass? How safe is the metro for lone woman + kids? We'll travel as a group most days, but to avoid beating each other to death with lego bricks there will be some days when we'll need to be apart. In London I'd be happy to go most places on my own on the tube during daylight, but would stick to busy, well-lit areas after dark. Do I assume the same guidelines for St Louis? Are there any absolute no-go areas I should know about? In terms of time/cost is it ever worth taking a taxi somewhere? Not meaning to be dim, but do people walk places? I like to explore new places on-foot, but I know some cities aren't designed with pedestrians in mind.

 

Next thing...food and food shopping. I'm vegetarian, with one almost-vegan teen and another who will eat anything that once had a pulse. We have kitchen facilities at the hotel where we're staying, so I'm figuring it should be reasonably easy to work around, right? 

 

Sorry if these questions sound stupid. 

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My son's team made it to Worlds 3 years in a row and their favorite is the City Museum.  One year, my daughters tagged along and hubby took them to the zoo and science museum. The Arch is also a must.  What some teams like to do is to leave one person on top of the Arch while the rest go back down and lie down on the grass below making letters or figures. Then the one on top takes pictures.  There is a security check that could be long at times (which you're used to anyway ;) )

 

Being from the Northeast, we do find St. Louis pretty quiet.  The trains are very convenient.  If you're just staying in St. Louis, you can get by without renting a car.  You can take the metro from the airport to nearby the convention center.  It also depends on where your hotel is.  Call the hotel directly also to compare prices. You might be able to get a cheaper rate booking it yourself.

 

There is this food market nearby called Culinaria which is our all-time favorite place to eat.  Decent price and great hot sandwiches/burgers.  It's a short walk from the convention center. 

 

DS's team is still in the midst of competing for a slot to Worlds.  Congratulations to your team!

 

Good luck to your son's team! My boys' team has only been together for 2 years. Last year they did so well they were invited to the European Championships in Spain, which was amazing, and the World Festival is going to be even bigger.

 

How do you manage for fundraising? We've only just managed to pay off last year's trip after months of fundraising, so getting 9 kids plus adults all the way to the US seems very daunting! There are times when I wish we had the resources of a large school community behind us, like most of the other UK teams.

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How do you manage for fundraising? We've only just managed to pay off last year's trip after months of fundraising, so getting 9 kids plus adults all the way to the US seems very daunting! There are times when I wish we had the resources of a large school community behind us, like most of the other UK teams.

 

We're more of a neighborhood team.  Our members go to different schools or are homeschooled.  The plane fare to St. Louis for us definitely costs less than yours.  But with hotel and food, it does add up.  That's another reason why I love Culinaria for meals.  It is also a grocery store that stocks quite a variety of items.  I can give you more specific info if you pm me.

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Thanks for all your help...keep it coming!

 

More questions...

 

...in terms of getting around, the metro is the best option, right? (We have no intentions of hiring a car) Can you buy a week's pass? How safe is the metro for lone woman + kids? We'll travel as a group most days, but to avoid beating each other to death with lego bricks there will be some days when we'll need to be apart. In London I'd be happy to go most places on my own on the tube during daylight, but would stick to busy, well-lit areas after dark. Do I assume the same guidelines for St Louis? Are there any absolute no-go areas I should know about? In terms of time/cost is it ever worth taking a taxi somewhere? Not meaning to be dim, but do people walk places? I like to explore new places on-foot, but I know some cities aren't designed with pedestrians in mind.

 

Next thing...food and food shopping. I'm vegetarian, with one almost-vegan teen and another who will eat anything that once had a pulse. We have kitchen facilities at the hotel where we're staying, so I'm figuring it should be reasonably easy to work around, right?

 

Sorry if these questions sound stupid.

Maybe another St. Louisan or frequent visitor can advise on MetroLink. Personally, I never use it (I live too far out) and wouldn't feel safe except in a large group or during daylight.

 

Whoops, posted too soon. Anyway, St. Louis is more car-oriented and there are several reasons our mass transit isn't great, but you should be able to get from the airport to downtown and around a bit without renting a car. It will be easier if you are staying at a hotel in the city rather than up by the airport.

 

I went to a great vegetarian restaurant (Tree House) not long ago but it is a bit out of the way. Pi should have vegan pizza options. Caleco's is our go-to downtown restaurant, and they have salad, pizza, and burger-type fare.

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More questions...

 

...in terms of getting around, the metro is the best option, right? (We have no intentions of hiring a car) Can you buy a week's pass? How safe is the metro for lone woman + kids? We'll travel as a group most days, but to avoid beating each other to death with lego bricks there will be some days when we'll need to be apart. In London I'd be happy to go most places on my own on the tube during daylight, but would stick to busy, well-lit areas after dark. Do I assume the same guidelines for St Louis? Are there any absolute no-go areas I should know about? In terms of time/cost is it ever worth taking a taxi somewhere? Not meaning to be dim, but do people walk places? I like to explore new places on-foot, but I know some cities aren't designed with pedestrians in mind.

 

 

Sorry if these questions sound stupid. 

 

Your questions aren't stupid!

 

We don't have much personal experience w/MetroLink, but dh (I just asked him) and I would feel comfortable w/the guidelines you mentioned.   

 

I don't think there would be any areas you'd be interested in going to for sight-seeing that would be "no-go" areas, but you might inquire at your hotel.

 

I don't know anything about taxiing around down there, but I don't think there will be very many places you'd want to walk to.  It seems to me that the area attractions are fairly spread out.

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I am not from St. Louis, but I think it's a great city!  If you just have a short amount of time, do the gateway arch and check out Forest Park (I agree the zoo is great).  If you have kids under like 13, you can do a junior ranger program at the gateway arch. 

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I loved St Louis.   :)

 

The suggestions above are great.  I'm partial to the arch/museum underneath, and Cahokia.

 

But here's the Must Do:  Ted Drewe's.  Find one.  Stand in (a long) line.  Order the most delicious ice cream (it might be frozen custard?  I can't remember.)... Savor it.  Seriously.  Don't miss it.

 

 

I forgot we went here too.  Stood in a long line.  Then sat in the car eating while watching a wedding party (full wedding clothes) get out of a bus and get in line.  Yes the bride and groom were 1st ones out of the bus and in line.

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Where are you staying? I live in the St. Louis area and we have a lot of great things to do here. But it is tricky to get around without a car and we do have a lot of unsafe areas. In other places I have lived there has been more of a separation between the good and bad parts of town.

 

Downtown. I get the impression that will be where most of the teams will be staying.

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Downtown. I get the impression that will be where most of the teams will be staying.

Yes, most teams stay downtown.  Lots of hotels within a few blocks around the Dome, and the blocks are short.

 

Once the official schedule starts, there is no time during the day to do anything.  Pits usually close around 5-6 pm.  Quite a lot of people walk from their hotels to the City Museum, but definitely go as a group if you're walking.  There is also a bus that looped around downtown which cost $1--2 per person.  I did that the first year we went since I didn't know the area and did not want to walk at night. Inquire a the hotel about the buses and trains.  At the Center, they will also have people manning the tourism desk.

 

There are quite a bit of international teams so once you meet them, maybe you can plan to do some stuff together as a group.

 

We've never had a problem flying into the airport and taking the train to the hotel and back to the airport.  Oh, okay, we did have a problem the first year we went.  Our plane was delayed so we landed around 10:45 pm instead of 6 pm.  The train only went up to a certain stop after 11 pm.  Had to take a cab from that point to the hotel.  

 

I don't know if they have this in FLL but a few teams sponsor special events.  One popular annual FTC/FRC event is the Roboprom. So there might be other things for you to do at night within the area. DS never went to Roboprom since he had to go back to the hotel to do his homework.

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