What city is very famous for its arch and not as famous for it’s loop? Ding Ding Ding! Yes- St. Louis, MO. My mum and I visited during Easter Weekend and it was a great time. And maybe not surprisingly, I felt our time at the Delmar Loop was more fun than our visit to The Arch.
Before the trip, I had spent some time researching what to do and where to go. I had actually been to St. Louis once before- in 2009, for Urbana (one of the largest student missions conferences in the world) but I didn’t do much sightseeing except for going up into the arch.
I was excited for this trip with my mum because last year, we also went on a trip together to Gatlinburg, TN, which was a lot of fun- I finally got to taste moonshine! This trip to St. Louis was also my first time booking accommodation on airbnb so I was curious to see how it would all turn out. Oh, you can use this link to create an account and get a discount on your first stay- you’re welcome :).
One thing I found from my research was, of course, to visit The Arch. However, even on tripadvisor, that wasn’t the #1 rated attraction in St. Louis. I discovered that St Louis had a culture of rich neighborhoods, about 78- each unique in its own special way. There was The Hill– the Italian neighborhood, Soulard– the French neighborhood and one of the oldest, Central West End, Laclede’s Landing, the Shaw neighborhood- where the botanical gardens is located, and so on.
I also knew to visit Forest Park and the Delmar Loop. I read about the Grant’s Farm and where to see Budweiser Clydesdales. To be honest, my head was spinning with all the information I had read and one thing was for sure- there wouldn’t be enough time to see it all.
So here’s what we did:
Drove to St. Louis- 4.5 hours. Pretty uneventful. One of the highlights of the journey was towards the end, driving into St. Louis and seeing the arch and all the skyscrapers downtown. The clear signal that the weekend fun was about to begin!
We found the accommodation, no problem. It was a nice studio apartment- very true to the pictures on the listing. Also, nice and quiet neighborhood. This one was called Forest Park South East which contains The Grove, a business district in St. Louis which has several bars and restaurants including the Atomic Cowboy, Sanctuaria Tapas, HandleBar, renowned soul food restaurant, Sweetie Pie’s, as well as music venue and bar, The Gramophone. I didn’t take many pictures of the area but here are some I managed to snap.
We didn’t do much Friday night except unpack, eat, relax, and explore the studio apartment.
The next morning, the run I had planned out in my head didn’t happen. Instead, we set off to the first place on my ‘list’- The Hill. It was still pretty early in the day, so that’s why I assume there weren’t much people around. Even the Italian Market I had on my list was closed but we still walked around and took some pictures. There were Italian flag colors everywhere- even the fire hydrants were painted green-white-red!
Next, we headed to the nearby Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Company. And yes, the Chocolate in the name is repeated twice. We went on the free tour, and of course we were given samples and had to wear these fancy hats. The chocolates were delicious! We definitely bought some to take with us. Side note: I did not see any oompa loompas.
Next, we headed to Delmar Loop. The Loop got its name over a century ago from streetcars that came west and “looped around” before connecting to other areas. It is lined with fun and exhilarating one-of-a-kind shops, restaurants from all parts of the world, art galleries, live music, café culture, and the St. Louis Walk of Fame. This was a busy part of town and there were a lot of people out and about. There was actually an Easter ‘Art’ Hunt going on in the loop- kind of like a scavenger hunt that we walked right into- but sadly, we didn’t win anything.
Before that day, I had no idea who Chuck Berry was- in fact, I walked right past the statue without much thought. Then I read up on him and decided a picture with the statue was a must! I also had some fun trying to recognize the names of stars on the walk on fame. Here are a few pictures, featuring my feet :).
We had lunch at a middle eastern restaurant called Ranoush and it was delicious! We both had the chicken shawarma. Then we bought some paintings from a guy called Jon Masters- he was working on a piece right there on the sidewalk when we saw him. We had a nice conversation with him, nice guy. He thought we were from South Africa, though, for some reason.
Next, we headed to the St. Louis Zoo- which is free, by the way, and huuuuuuge! Most of the ‘interesting’ animals were napping or sleeping in the shade – not a lot of action. The giraffes were cool, the zebras appeared more black and brown than black and white to me and the elephants were completely MIA- which was a bummer. But you can’t argue with free :).
After this, we headed downtown to the arch! We parked at Laclede’s Landing and walked over to the arch. There is some construction going on so access to the arch is limited. It was ok, we weren’t planning on going up but I recommend going up if you ever get a chance to. Laclede’s Landing was also a nice place- they have a wax museum but that was closed because it was already evening. They also had horse drawn carriages downtown where you could ride for a fee, but we didn’t- I just took pictures :).
That was it for Saturday- ~17,000 steps recorded on my pedometer!
On Sunday, I went for a nice run first thing in the morning. Then we headed to church to celebrate Easter- the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I looked online to find a church to attend and we ended up worshiping with Jubilee Church of St. Louis. The Easter service was held at the Sheldon- which was a very nice building. I really enjoyed the service.
Afterwards, we headed to Forest Park to visit the St. Louis Art Museum- SLAM for short- which is also free! The museum is huge and we barely scratched the surface before we decided to hit the road and head back to Indiana.
Even though we didn’t get to visit the botanical gardens, or try the famous Ted Drewes frozen custard, or eat Imo’s pizza, or wander through Soulard, or see a play at the Muny, it was an amazing weekend with my mum! This just means that when I return to St. Louis, I already have a list of fun things to do and I won’t have to spend as much time on ‘research’.
Oh, and I bought something cool at one of the fair trade stores in the Delmar Loop. A stone with ‘Love’ carved on one side and ‘Upendo’ on the other (which from a quick google search apparently means love or someone who is loved in African language- hello, what language exactly, google??). I was drawn to it because I had a similar stone that says ‘Hope’. Now, I just need one that says ‘Peace’ and I will add to my ‘collection; in the guest bathroom. If anyone wants to buy me one, be my guest :P.
Peace, Hope, and Love :).
Have you ever been to St. Louis, MO? What’s your favorite thing about St. Louis?