Thursday, August 28, 2014

Meet Me In St. Louis

This has been my official year of weddings, and I am having the very amazing opportunity to travel around the country celebrating with close friends.  Earlier this month, my husband and I headed out to St. Louis for the first time and really loved our time in the city.  Amazing food, great things to do and explore, and a perfect place to catch up with friends.  If you are planning a trip to the city, here are a couple of my recommendations of Free Things To Do:

The St. Louis Zoo and Forest Park
Unfortunately we were in a bit of time crunch to fit in all of our exploration of the city before the wedding, so we were only able to stay at the zoo for a few hours.  You could easily take an entire day there, and it is 100% free.  Parking is a bit of an issue, but if you want a scenic walk through Forest Park (the home of the 1904 World's Fair of Meet Me in St. Louis fame) then park where it is free along the road in the park before you get too deep into the Zoo traffic.

A beautiful stroll through Forest Park

Tons of animals to see at the zoo

St. Louis Arch and Museum
The Arch is really the symbol of St. Louis, and just admiring it from below is well worth the visit.  Underneath the Arch there is a museum (also free) where you can learn how the Arch was made -- truly an incredible feat. Another really fascinating thing happens as you walk through the 1970s-esque animatronics of the "old west" part of the museum; you can read the words of explorers Lewis and Clarke as they set off from the banks of the Mississippi River in 1804.  Personally, I was left with a sense of sadness as we walked through images of displaced Native American tribes and butchered buffalo herds. But if you don't get dour at places like this, Lewis and Clarke's journal entries are a constant source of amusement.  They were not very good spellers.  One of the journal entries said that they were starving and had to eat "two peasants."  Let's hope that was just a really bad misspelling.

Hanging out with friends at the Arch
The Budweiser Factory
If you are interested in learning a small bit about beer production on a mass-scale, then this free factory tour is a no-brainer.  We were shown the stabling area of those famed Clydesdales, and walked through manufacturing areas where temperature ranged wildly from unbearable heat to freezing cold.  I really felt for the people that had to work in those situations, because just a few minutes touring was enough to need the free beer samples that you get.  At the end of the tour you have a token to get a glass of a Budweiser product of your choice.  Because I don't get out much apparently, I had no idea they made so many different products -- Shock Top, Johnny Appleseed, Goose Island, Ichiban, and Modelo just to name a few.  

The Budwieser factory is really quite beautiful if you need a reason to go instead of for the free beer.  It was actually the original site of the Anheuser-Busch mansion circa turn of the 1900s.
Love this Kirin Ichiban poster.  I'm traditionally not the biggest beer fan, but I was happy to enjoy a glass of ice cold Ichiban after a scorching tour of the factory via
St. Louis Botanical Gardens
This is an area that I highly encourage anyone to visit.  It is a little outside of the downtown area where you can easily venture to all of the other sites on this post, but well worth the short trip.  Our friend's wedding ceremony took place at the lovely Japanese garden, but every garden we passed was enchanting.  I'm glad we got to the venue a little early so I could gawk accordingly.

Do you have any other suggestions of places to visit in this great city?  Please post your advice below!  If you are planning a trip, I will also have an upcoming post about great places to eat, so stay tuned.

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