Beautiful parks, trendy dining and posh historic homes make St. Louis a surprisingly fun spot for a girls weekend away
My dear friends, Holly & Shauna, both have wonderful adult children living in St Louis.
These darling women have traveled to my children’s weddings in Montana, Washington State, graduations and so much more. When my father passed away almost two years ago, Holly was the friend who showed up at my door and asked how could she help- she helped me pack up and sort my father’s office- no small task. When one of my daughters was sick at the University of Washington as a freshmen, Shauna and her husband showed up at the dorm with Gatorade and chicken noodle soup since I was 2500 miles away in Florida.
These women are the very best of my friends and I am lucky to know them. So when Holly & Shauna suggested I leave the Utopia that is Montana in late summer for 100 degree St Louis to visit them and their kids, I said, “For you gals, absolutely.”
We are not night-clubbing, “shop til you drop” kind of gals. We like gardens, theatre, wonderful food, a great bar and history. Throw in a football game (or St. Louis Cardinals in this case), and we are happy.
Follow along as I share my favorite things to do in St. Louis, which was a beautiful and historic city to visit.
But first, a little history:
St. Louis gained prominence as a fur trading post in the late 1700’s. When President Thomas Jefferson commissioned the Corps of Discovery to find a route to the Pacific with Lewis and Clark leading the expedition, the growth of St. Louis exploded. The confluence of the Mighty Mississippi and Missouri rivers was the starting point of the 1803 adventure.
Before the expedition, 12-13 native tribes called the area home.
Between 1840-1860 the population of St. Louis exploded with the arrival of German and Irish immigrants.
The Germans, of course, brought their brewing techniques with them. Eberhard Anheuser and his son-in-law Adolphus Busch being the most prominent.
When the trans-continental railroad passed over St. Louis and connected Council Bluffs, Iowa/Omaha, Nebraska (chosen because they were well north of the Civil War fighting in Missouri and provided the shortest route to the Rockies in Wyoming), to Sacramento, California in 1869, the growth in St Louis shifted to Kansas City. Kansas City boomed as the chosen city on the route of western expansion.
Both St. Louis and Kansas City are home to incredible architecture. There are many tours you can enjoy that will make you to some of St. Louis’ most important historic mansions from back in the day of the railroad and copper barons. I photographed just a handful on my daily walks.
Above: No visit to St. Louis is complete without a tour of the Anheuser-Busch brewery-the largest brewing company in the world. Founded in 1852, the brewery still uses the original yeast from the first brews. The yeast is sent via Fed Ex every Monday to the 12 other breweries across the globe to ensure the highest quality. Photos: clockwise from far left- chandelier bought at the World’s Fair that hangs in the stables. Inside the main brewery, clad in white cast iron metalwork. Outside the clydesdale barns. One of the many fantastic light fixtures and brickwork at the brewery. Duke- a member of the Clydesdale team enjoying a grooming session .
In 1904, St. Louis hosted the World’s Fair and popularized our favorite foods like ice cream cones, hamburgers and iced tea. Almost 20 million people visited St. Louis’s Forest Park (which at 1300 acres is larger than the iconic Central Park In New York City) during the 7 month long exhibition. Ushering in the age of industrialization, architecture and industry in St. Louis expanded exponentially.
St. Louis is known today as the “Gateway to the West.”
Meggen’s Top 11 Must See in St. Louis:
- Gateway Arch
- Forest Park- Here is the guide
- Anheuser Busch Brewery Tour
- Busch Stadium
- Walking tour of the Historic Homes in Central West End
- Eat St. Louis Gooey Cake- Here’s where we enjoyed fantastic Gooey Cake
- St. Louis Blue’s scene
- The Lewis & Clark Boat House and Nature Center
- Hike Katy Trail
- St. Louis Botanical Gardens- final days of the Chihuly exhibit
- The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis
Where to Stay:
- Royal Sonesta Park Chase Hotel – This is where I stayed in August. Pro tip– ask for a room away from Kingshighway so you don’t hear ambulances going to Wash U hospital all night. The bar at The Preston and the movie theater are definitely worth visiting. Great coffee in the lobby every morning. Grab a cup to go and enjoy a stroll across the street to Forest Park or enjoy the mansions along Lindell Blvd. Walk over to Straub’s fine grocers next door- perfect for a picnic or a bottle of wine.
- Hyatt St Louis Within sight of the St Louis Arch and Busch Stadium, this beautiful hotel is perfect for walking tours of downtown when you don’t need a car. Two in-house bars, a Ruth Chris’ and Starbucks in the hotel means you don’t have to go far for a bite or a late night cocktail. Hunky Hubbie and I stayed at this lovely hotel about 10 years ago- wonderful.
- Ritz Carlton, Clayton– Just 10 minutes from the airport, located in posh Clayton, this Ritz Carlton offers quiet luxury and a great location for business travelers in St. Louis.
- Seven Gables Inn, Clayton- a charming boutique hotel offering complimentary breakfast and fine dining. Don’t miss the Pot Pie.
- 21c- St Louis- where art, fine dining and luxury fuse. Downtown. Close to Busch Stadium
Foodies- the must see, must eat:
- Straub’s- I’ve never listed a grocery store before, but located next to the Chase Palza hotel, pop over any time of day or night. The deli, bakery and wine shop at Straub’s are second to none. Grab a picnic lunch and walk over to Forest Park.
- Olio– Mediterranean. Fantastic. Open air. Fresh.
- Nathaniel Read Bakery– lush pastries. A must do for breakfast
- Bulrush– Rooted in Ozark cuisine
- Bogart’s– St Louis Style BBQ
- Pat Connolly’s Tavern– Open since 1942, this is a St. Louis institution