The Perfect Long Weekend Getaway – St. Louis, Missouri
by Taylor Deer
A Weekend with a True Friend for Life
After I graduated college in 2013, I came home and started an internship at a global public relations agency in New York City. At the time, I was just starting my career and testing out what my college major had to offer in the real world. (Little did I know what I truly wanted in life.) During that summer, I was feeling a bit down knowing that my college life was over and I was back to living in my boring hometown with minimal friends and getting used to working full time.
While commuting in and out of the city from New Jersey and working long, stressful hours, I had met some of the best and most important people of my life, including my friend from St. Louis, MO – Kathryn. Just like anything else in life; it is a true saying that people will come and go, but true friends will stay in your life forever!
Once our summer internship ended, Kathryn and I both got jobs at different companies, but since she was living in Brooklyn, we were able to see each other fairly often. After two years of experiencing NYC’s best happy hours as we laughed about our jobs and dating life, trips to the beach, Thanksgiving celebrations, Brooklyn rooftop parties and more, Kathryn found a new job and moved back to the Midwest. I was sad she was leaving the New York City area, but couldn’t wait to have the opportunity to visit and explore her home city when I had the chance!
Off to St. Louis
This past October, Columbus Day ended up being a rolling holiday at my company, so I booked a plane ticket to St. Louis to visit Kathryn. The cool part about the flight to St. Louis was that when you arrive in the area before landing, you could see awesome aerial views of the famous St. Louis Gateway Arch.
After settling in at Kathryn’s apartment, her awesome boyfriend Carey made us a delicious breakfast and we were able to catch up before exploring the area. Our first adventure led us to the vibrant Cherokee Street. This beautiful street gained commercial importance during the late 1800’s due to the convenience of the new electric streetcar lines. Due to that, Cherokee Street attracted merchants to establish stores, cafes and other businesses. I loved walking down Cherokee Street and admiring all of the colorful buildings, street art and lovely smiles that all of the local residents carried.
We stopped at the perfect coffee shop called The Mud House right on Cherokee Street. Right when I stepped into The Mud House, I already felt at home. The baristas were welcoming and they had an adorable courtyard where you can relax and enjoy your beverage in the sun. Once we grabbed our coffee, we strolled around and stepped into a few clothing and home goods boutiques, bookshops and antique stores.
Cherokee Street Art in St. Louis
Cherokee Street is known for a variety of awesome antique shops. My favorite was The Purple Cow as it offered unique paintings, art glasses, light fixtures, old street signs and store advertising. It is so cool to see how advertising, font letters and art has transformed dramatically over the years. The Purple Cow even has a backyard where there is a small pond and little walkway to maneuver around and explore.
The weather was beautiful in St. Louis during October so we definitely wanted to take advantage of being outside. We drove on the famous Route 66 that runs through the country and headed over to one of the most beautiful urban parks in the world, Forest Park. This wonderful treasure of St. Louis is 1,300 acres, making it larger than New York City’s Central Park. Fall foliage was just beginning in Missouri, so we couldn’t wait to stroll around the entire park.
St. Louis Art Museum
Our first stop was to the St. Louis Art Museum, located at the top of Art Hill. This stately building offers a collection of more than 33,000 works from all different parts of the world. You can walk around the different exhibits, attend a show or eat at the museum’s artistic restaurant, Panorama. As we walked through each exhibit, we were inspired by the variety of different talented and hard-working pieces of art. In addition, we got to see a beautiful wedding in the museum.
After exploring the St. Louis Art Museum, we couldn’t wait to run down Art Hill to the serene Emerson Grand Basin. On Art Hill, there were people lying out and tanning, reading or having a picnic. Circling around the park was a lagoon where families, couples and friends were paddle boating. You can walk around the park through beautiful Spanish moss, gardens and meadows. There is also an archery range, ball fields, chess tables, cycling tours, golf course, playgrounds, history museum, science center and zoo.
To take a quick break from walking around and catch up on each other’s lives, we relaxed and watched the stunning waterfalls at Government Hill – home to the World’s Fair Pavilion which opened in the early 1900’s as a gift from the Louisiana Purchase Exposition Committee
The Grove in St. Louis
Later that evening, we headed to St. Louis’ Towner’s Grove area (also known as ‘The Grove’). This thriving business district offers great places to eat, shop, drink, dance and listen to awesome music. Before we grabbed dinner, we walked around the area and stopped in a few shops, got freshly baked goodies at Insomnia Cookies and listened to live street music. St. Louis has been known for early blues and jazz, country and bluegrass music. All of the musicians that we heard in The Grove were extremely talented.
Kathryn is a vegetarian and wanted to introduce me to some of her favorite “foodie” spots in the city. Dinner took us over to Lulu’s Local Eatery in The Grove. This cute neighborhood restaurant started out as a food truck in 2012 and opened as a restaurant in 2014. Lulu’s practices sustainability by offering a 100% plant-based menu using all-natural, local and organic ingredients. They even sell craft beers from local breweries. I love places that support local businesses!
In addition to its mission and great food, one of the main reasons why I loved Lulu’s is because it has an awesome courtyard to the side that is lit up with Christmas lights. Kathryn and I both enjoyed our meals and beers while taking in the liveliness that The Grove carries.
It had been a while since Kathryn and I had seen each other, so we were excited to enjoy a fun night on the town with her childhood friends. After dinner, we headed back to her apartment, relaxed and got ready to go back out. Our first stop of the night was to Urban Chestnut Brewing Company, a fun biergarten that offers amazing lagers, ales, ciders, wine and German food. Since Kathryn lived in New York for a of couple years, she had met all of my childhood friends and family. It was awesome finally meeting all of the nice and welcoming people she had grew up with and Urban Chestnut was the perfect place to socialize and share stories.
After enjoying the delicious craft beers that Urban Chestnut offered, we couldn’t wait to take the party over to Taha’a Twisted Tiki. This cool place reminded me of the bars I go to when I am down at my shore house; it offers cool tropical drinks, boardwalk food and a fun ambiance. You would never think you were in the Midwest when visiting this fun tiki bar!
We had such a blast dancing to the best of 80’s and 90’s music and sharing funny stories in front of their cozy fire pits. All of Kathryn’s friends were super friendly and welcoming. It was a great night!
St. Louis has a long relationship with the classic American diner. Even though I can argue that New Jersey has some of the best diners, it is rumored that the original was founded in St. Louis. Kathryn told me that I had to try a classic St. Louis diner during my visit, so we decided to get typical late night munchies. We ended up getting a fulfilling “early” breakfast at Courtesy Diner, which originated in the 1930’s.
In addition to diners, St. Louis is also known for its donut shops. I grew up enjoying some of the best on Sunday mornings down the shore, so I appreciate a homemade donut. Kathryn, her boyfriend Carey and I went over to World’s Fair Donuts, one of the first bakeries to open in St. Louis. When we arrived, the line to get donuts was out the door, so I knew I was in for something amazing! When we finally got in, there were a variety of different donuts. I got a delicious, red velvet donut that easily melted in my mouth. At World’s Fair Donuts, it is suggested to enjoy your donut with a Yoo-hoo – a chocolate milk drink that originated in the 1920’s! It had been since grade school that I last enjoyed a Yoo-hoo, so it was definitely a great treat. (Yikes, I feel old saying that!)
Oktoberfest near St. Louis and Grant’s Farm
Since it was the fall, there was an Oktoberfest going on in a nearby town outside of St. Louis. When we got there, we realized it was more of a small town fair than a beer festival. The three of us were too dressed up, so we felt a little out of place. It was still fun, since we were able to enjoy music, art, wine from the local vineyards and delicious fried chicken.
We were only at the fair for a bit before we headed back to the city. Kathryn and I headed over to historic Grant’s Farm, named after President Ulysses S. Grant. We walked the Katy Trail that goes through the beautiful farm area and admired the changing leaves. The farm has a lot of great events and a zoo.
In addition to diners and donuts, St. Louis is also known for frozen custard. After we walked around, we headed over to the famous Ted Drewes to get the heavenly frozen custard staple called a Concrete. Since it was a gorgeous day outside, there were tons of people enjoying their Concretes. It definitely hit the spot!
We were super tired from wandering around, so we ended up having a relaxing movie night at Kathryn’s apartment. She did mention that there is a cool restaurant located in her suburban hometown of Maplewood, MO called Boogaloo. This awesome restaurant features a fusion of Cuban, Creole and Caribbean cuisines and their swing bar is what makes it famous. (Yes, you can sit on a swing and enjoy a refreshing drink as you pretend you are in the islands!) Next time I make my way out to Missouri to visit Kathryn I definitely want to check out this place!
My last day in St. Louis, or what I like to call my “Tourist” day!
My last day in St. Louis ended up being our “tourist” day. After we woke up and got ready, we headed into downtown St. Louis to explore a few historical places. One of the first places we saw downtown was FleishmanHillard’s headquarters – the PR agency where Kathryn and I interned the summer after graduating! It was so awesome that we got to see it in her home city. Right around the corner from FleishmanHillard is the famous Chili Mac’s Diner – known for their famous spaghetti and chili dish. I am not a chili person, so I just ordered the buttermilk pancakes and a coffee, but the diner made me feel like I was living in the 50’s and their staff were super welcoming.
After fueling ourselves, we walked down to the iconic St. Louis Gateway Arch – a monument symbolizing the city’s role as settlers pioneered out west. It now stands as a unique architectural wonder. This beautiful structure is the tallest man-made monument in the United States and is the highest point in downtown St. Louis
A trip to the Gateway Arch is not complete without taking the four-minute ride up to the Observation Deck where you can see up to 30 miles. You can purchase your tickets in the Old Courthouse that is located across the street from the Arch. To get to the top, you sit in a little yellow tram. It seems scary, but it goes super slow up to the top. Once you reach the Observation Deck, you can get awesome aerial views of the Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals; Ballpark Village; Edward Jones Dome; the magnificent Mississippi River along with the five unique bridges that connect Missouri to Illinois.
Another must-see while visiting St. Louis is the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, also known as the original Budweiser factory. When we first arrived at the brewery, the smell of fresh beer surrounded us. It was like visiting Hershey Park in Pennsylvania for the first time when you smell nothing but the warm welcome of homemade milk chocolate.
From the historical architecture to learning about the latest brewing technology, the beer tour has a captivating story that will have you excited to share with family and friends. As you walk around the campus, you can pet the famous Clydesdale horses that are used for promotions and commercials by Budweiser. These beautiful horses are most popular for Budweiser’s Super Bowl ads.
If you go to the Anheuser-Busch Brewery during the holidays, you definitely need to see the Christmas lights and parade with the Clydesdales.
After the tour, we were able to sample freshly brewed Budweiser and we even got a free drink at the Brewery’s bar! It was so cool because there were a ton of different flavored beers to try from Budweiser’s selection of brands that you can’t find at a typical bar in the New York City area.
Even though the Brewery has a restaurant where you can get great food, Kathryn knows I have an obsession for pizza and can’t go too long without having it, so she recommended we try one of the best pizza places in St. Louis called PW Pizza. Besides New York and Chicago, St. Louis is known for their pizza. I got a delicious mushroom and grilled chicken pie that did not disappoint me.
Before heading back to the airport, we strolled around St. Louis’ wealthy neighborhood where we grabbed ice cream and shopped around.
Overall, I had a great weekend reuniting with Kathryn in her neck of the woods and discovered so much more than what I thought St. Louis had to offer. If you have any questions about my trip to St. Louis, MO, please email me at Taylor@sitinmyseats.com.
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