State number 3 and day 13… perhaps ‘Unlucky Number 13’ after all. This was a very random next stop choice of mine. I knew I had a about a week after leaving my sis in Cali before meeting my Mum in Vancouver, so pulled out a map and picked a city in the ‘middle bit’. After the fun and sun of the past two weeks, Missouri presented an entirely different perspective on America.
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I’m sorry St. Louis – you weren’t for me. I also think I was there at the wrong time of year – I’m sure in summer when there is more of a local vibe, my experience might have been different…..
3 THINGS YOU REALLY CANNOT MISS:
GATEWAY ARCH | sits at the site of St. Louis’ founding down on the west bank of the Mississippi River. This is a great – and honestly my only notable – spectacle if you do find yourself in St. Louis (poor you). I’m pretty sure there’s more going on inside but I didn’t pay for the entrance!
CENTRAL WEST END | is a nice enough neighbourhood, with some family-style restaurants and decent streets. There’s clearly very little tourism in St. Louis (in March, certainly) and I struggled to find any non-business-vibe accommodation. I ended up in the Parkway Hotel in CWE, which, although perfectly adequate, turned out to be right in the middle of a weird hospital complex.
ARCHITECTURE | I hopped on the train from my hotel to downtown where there is indeed a lot of beautiful architecture, but a very transparent sombre feeling of emptiness and times gone by. Spare some time to have a good wander of the streets: you’ll most likely have them to yourself anyway.
3 THINGS WORTH A SNOOP:
AMTRAK | to get the hell outta there! (Joke). I actually quite enjoyed travelling by train, and caught it from St. Louis to Kansas, and then over night again to Albuquerque (offering lovely views of snowy Rockies the next morning). It’s not cheap though, and is slow and infrequent. Such a shame, as Greyhound buses are GRIM.
LACLEDES LANDING | has cobbled street charm and definitely some potential to explore for dining and nightlife, but unfortunately on the morning I was there it was completely empty. Didn’t even take a photo! It’s right next to the Mississippi river though, and Eads Bridge.
DELMAR LOOP | I read about this area in sometimes-overly-positive Lonely Planet. I found it to be grungy, with nothing going on. Perhaps remain open-minded?! I’ve read reviews about, quote, ”Restaurants, both fast food and neighbourhood specials make for variety and something for everyone,” but failed to find this….
3 THINGS TO STEER CLEAR:
CITY MUSEUM | comes up high in a lot of ‘To Do’ searches, but whilst it says it’s for everyone to enjoy I popped my head in and it’s most definitely for kids! As I was travelling solo and if anything trying to avoid kids, this was not a great stop for me. Couldn’t see what the fuss was about, despite generally enjoying Science/ Natural History-esque museums.
MISSISSIPPI RIVER | a name so famous from childhood spelling rhymes, yet so underwhelming in real life! A bit like the murkiness of the Thames, London, I guess. Unfortunately in St. Louis there’s nothing much to distract you on the river banks either.
WALKING SUBURBS TOUR | I did a lot of St. Louis on foot, as I had little else to do! From CWE to Delmar Loop I passed a weird mix of many private, gated streets with beautiful houses (I think Skinker DeBaliviere in hindsight), as well as more run down patches nearer Delmar Boulevard. Just to warn, in parts – and for probably the only time I recall in my whole trip – I felt a bit apprehensive.
1 THING I WISH I’D DONE:
TROLLEY TOURS | sad as I am aware this sounds, I honestly think I would have got a lot more out of St. Louis if there had been anyone around to TELL me about it! There’s clearly layers of interesting history that I failed to uncover on my own, and by missing the very infrequent bus times.
AND KNOW THIS: Aunt Jemima pancake flour was invented in St. Louis in 1889. It was the first ready-mix food to ever be sold commercially.