Updated: Oct 2, 2022
St. Louis used to be one of the most important cities in the USA. It was the starting point for many explorers who wanted to learn the secrets of the west, a significant base for the Blues music genre, especially the Saint Louis Blues subgenre.
The area was a central site for the historical American Indian Mississippian culture. A few significant events regarding abolishing slavery in America have started here.
Today, the city is divided into many neighborhoods – each one with its character and style. My three-day visit couldn't cover the entire options the city has to offer. So I will only write about the places I've visited without passing judgment on the whole town.
We needed three flights (23 hours total) to get to Saint Louis for Liat to attend her conference: Lessons and Legacies XV. We arrived exhausted and went to sleep right away. We planned to take advantage of the first day to visit several exciting sites in the city – Liat had time until the evening. Unfortunately, the weather changed our plans a bit - blowy winds and rain made it impossible for us to tour anywhere without a roof.
So, our first site was the city's icon – The Gateway Arch. It took us some time to find where to park and how to get there. Apparently, the entrance has changed, and now it's in front of the Old Courthouse.
Visiting the Arch was a unique experience: We sat in a tiny, crowded tram-car without windows, got a ride to the top of the Arch, 63 stories in height. From the vantage point at the top end of the arc, you can see the whole city lies at your feet.
Afterward, we visited the new museum they built under the Arch. The museum tells the story of the large icon and the background story: the journeys that set out from here to explore the west and to expand the territory of the United States of America.
Next, we went to the near Old Courthouse - A beautiful place where two very significant trials were held in the history of the United States. The Dred Scott case, which in the end sparked the civil war, and that of Virginia Minor, which sought to allow her and other women to participate in the elections.
In the evening, we went for a drink and a live music show in the Soulard neighborhood. There is a cluster of bars with live music performances - we skipped between several bars and chose one with a pleasant and less drunken atmosphere.
I started the 2nd day by visiting the Blues Museum downtown. This kind of museum in the USA is quite typical: an explanation about the history of the subjects, large images, a small number of authentic objects (like artists' clothes and instruments), and some interactive games for children that try to give some experiential demonstrations. However, it feels to me a little like they created the museum in a production line, not necessarily something created by a genuine desire for it.
Afterward, I decided to visit the City Museum, although I had no idea what it is. I paid 14$ to reveal it's addressed mainly for children. It's a four-floor building, full of tunnels, staircases, slides, canals, and various constructions throughout children go from one place to another. There are a few galleries in the buildings, but there is no central theme or logic.
After a quick lunch of pizza and a local beer, Liat joined me. We drove to Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, the remains of the largest native civilization north of Mexico. We had a short visit to the visitor center, including watching a short movie, and went climbing on the central Mound of the clan's chief. It's a fascinating place to visit.
Afterward, it was already 17:00 – the closing time of most museums in the city – so we drove to the Outlets Premium mall in Chesterfield, a 20-30 minutes drive from Saint Louis. We found some great deals over there. Finally, we closed the day in an Italian Restaurant nearby.
I wanted to start my last day in St. Louis, Saturday, with breakfast in one of the many farmer's markets in town. I chose the closest to my hotel: The Midtown Farmers Market. However, I must say it was a big disappointment: a small market with an inadequate supply, everything looks very sleepy. If you want to visit a market in Saint Louis – try one of the others. We walked around the Loop - the Walk of Fame of Saint Louis celebrities, looking for some coffee. We saw the stars of Tina Turner and Chuck Berry, who also got an impressive statue on the street.
A lovely stroll in the Missouri Botanical Gardens cheered me up. A charming place, beautiful and calm. I could have stayed there for the whole day.
I also paid a visit to the Missouri History Museum – pleasant but not remarkable. Finally, I drank a beer next to the lovely lake of the vast Forest Park.
I spend the afternoon at Washington University, listening to my wife lecturing. It was a very impressive lecture…
To conclude, the essential place to visit in Saint Louise is the Gateway Arch and the Old Courthouse. Then, if you have the time, go to the Botanical Gardens and drive to visit the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site. I also recommend visiting Forest Park. Finally, if you have children, the City Museum is cool, and the Blues Museum is also lovely for children and adults.