The arch is, undeniably, the iconic symbol of St. Louis. But there’s so much more to the city—a world-class art museum, a delightful zoo (and we don’t ordinarily visit zoos), the finest botanical garden we’ve seen in our travels (and we’ve been to a LOT of botanical gardens), a cathedral that contains the world’s largest collection of mosaics, and delicious Balkan food. And, of course, there’s Gateway Arch National Park.
From National Memorial To National Park
Formerly known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, the arch was upgraded in 2018 to national park status. Along with 91 acres of surrounding land and the historic old courthouse, it became Gateway Arch National Park.
The arch commemorates Thomas Jefferson’s 1803 Louisiana Purchase (which doubled the size of the United States) and his vision of westward expansion, as well as the epic journey of Lewis and Clark, who were charged with the job of fulfilling Jefferson’s vision. Just a few miles from the arch, Lewis and Clark launched their two-year exploration in 1804. (In 2017, we visited the fascinating historic sites that document the westernmost point of Lewis and Clark’s expedition at the mouth of the Columbia River in Washington.)
Exploring Gateway Arch National Park
As part of spiffing up the arch to make it a national park, there’s a recently remodeled underground museum with colorful and engaging exhibits. The museum explores the history of St. Louis, the benefits and problems of westward expansion (no surprise that it was beneficial for the white settlers and the U.S., and detrimental for the Native Americans), and the intriguing story of how the arch was built.
Click on photos for larger images and captions
A Bit About The Arch
In 1948, a nationwide competition determined the design for the memorial. The task for designers was to create something that symbolized westward expansion. Possibilities submitted included giant sculptures of bison and American Indians, an outsized statue of Jefferson, elaborate bridges over the Mississippi, and random abstract works. The winning design—the simple, elegant arch that stands today—was submitted by Finnish-born, American-educated architect Eero Saarinen. The judges definitely made a good call.
Along with seeing the arch in person, the 1967 documentary called “Monument to the Dream” was one of our favorite activities in the park. The 35-minute film documents the building of the arch, and we found it surprisingly enthralling. More accurately, it was anxiety-provoking watching the workers as they grappled with giant buckets of concrete, fitted sections of the arch together, and welded seams, all while working hundreds of feet above the ground in high winds, rain, snow, and scorching heat.
In a synchronized dance of brute strength and painstaking finesse, the men steadily raised an arch unlike anything that had ever before been built. There was no fall protection, no safety gear whatsoever—except for hard hats. (I was thinking, “Why bother?? That hat is not helping AT ALL if you fall off that arch!”)
When the last section, carrying an American flag, was hoisted to the top and slipped into place, the audience erupted into spontaneous applause and cheers. (I tell you, it was a surprisingly moving little film!) If the measurements had been off by as little as 1/64th of an inch, the arch would have been an expensive, embarrassing disaster.
Construction began in 1963 and was completed in 1965, for a total of less than 15 million dollars. And while the insurance company speculated that 13 men would die during the project, not one man was lost. Although it was built more than half a century ago, the Gateway Arch is still the tallest monument in the U.S., and the tallest arch in the world.
If you are courageous, you can ride the tram to the top for a bird’s eye view of St. Louis. The park offers a model of the tram so that you can decide BEFORE you commit. The tram travels inside of the arch, and it ascends via sort of an elevator/Ferris wheel mechanism. Each pod is approximately the size of a giant industrial washing machine, kept upright by the weight of the passengers as it clanks its way 630 feet to the top of the arch. Haha, no way, no no no no NO. We did not do this.
The Historic St. Louis Courthouse And A Very Bad Court Decision
The national park also includes the historic Old Courthouse, which was closed for renovations while we were there. The courthouse is famous as the setting of the Dred Scott case, a landmark legal decision that helped to ignite the Civil War.
The short version is that Dred Scott and his wife, Harriet, filed suit for their freedom at the St. Louis Courthouse in 1846. It should have been a simple case, because although Scott had been enslaved, he was taken to Illinois and Wisconsin (both free territories) before being brought back to Missouri years later. Under Missouri’s “once free, always free” doctrine, Scott and his wife sued for their freedom.
Their case dragged on for eleven long years, with several reversals along the way. The ultimate decision, made by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1857—and widely regarded as one of the worst decisions ever made by the court—denied the Scotts’ freedom. The court ruled that the Scotts, and all African Americans, were not citizens of the United States, and therefore, not entitled to sue in court.
That decision, as history shows us, did not go over well. I’m thinking that the current court better take note.
Exploring Forest Park
Larger than New York’s Central Park, Forest Park is a peaceful 1300-acre oasis in the middle of St. Louis. In 1904, the St. Louis World’s Fair (AKA “The Louisiana Purchase Exposition”) took place here. Today, the park is home to a world-class art museum, a beautiful zoo, a small history museum, a science museum, and the sweet greenhouse known as the Jewel Box. And they’re all free to visit. We spent two days exploring the park, and could have easily spent more time there.
At the St. Louis Art Museum, we enjoyed seeing pieces by well-known artists, including one of Monet’s Water Lilies paintings (he painted 250 versions of his beloved water lilies). And we also enjoyed works by unknown artists, like the colorful painting by a 12-year-old African American boy who created “Vegetable Vendors” in a class offered by the Works Projects Administration in 1938. There is even a sculpture by Andy Goldsworthy, one of our favorite environmental artists, tucked into an outdoor corridor.
The art museum is located in the only building remaining from the 1904 World’s Fair. All of the other elaborate buildings for the fair were made from plaster of Paris and hemp, were meant to be temporary, and are long gone.
The Saint Louis Zoo
We almost skipped the Saint Louis Zoo. But we were walking in Forest Park, and passed by the striking metal sculpture entrance. “Let’s just go in for a quick walk-through,” I suggested. Four hours later, we finally emerged from our zoo immersion.
After our unexpected day enjoying our encounters with the animals and wandering the beautiful grounds, we understand why the Saint Louis Zoo consistently ranks among the top five zoos in the country. What really stood out for us is the dedication of the keepers to the animals they care for, and the impressive conservation and education efforts of the zoo. Inspiring people to care about how our actions affect the well-being of the creatures who share this planet with us seems like a good reason for zoos to exist.
The open-air metal Flight Cage, originally constructed for the World’s Fair, is the largest flight cage in the world. It now houses an authentic cypress swamp, where we felt right at home with the egrets, herons, ducks, and spoonbills that we see in Florida. A bonus was watching a Great Egret carefully tucking her beautiful blue egg under her wing. All of the exhibits at the zoo are well-done, the animals have plenty of room to roam, and the settings replicate their natural environments.
The penguin and puffin exhibit was one of our favorites. The cold-loving creatures live in a specially constructed cove of rocky cliffs, surging tides, and very chilly 45-degree temperatures. We almost froze coming in from the 95-degree heat wave outside, but the birds were very happy.
The Humboldt penguins, who are native to South America and thrive in warm climates, have a separate outdoor habitat. Watching the keeper trying to clean the penguins’ home while the penguins clamored for her attention was adorable.
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis
I love mosaics, so we stopped to see one of the largest mosaic collections in the Western Hemisphere. The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis is known for its beautiful mosaics, and it’s spectacular! Decorating the interior of the cathedral with mosaics took nearly 80 years and more than 41 million pieces of glass tesserae. The largest mosaic piece I’ve ever made was about 12 x 12, and it took me forever.
Missouri Botanical Garden
We’ve been to a lot of botanical gardens in our travels, and the Missouri Botanical Garden is without a doubt the largest. And it’s gorgeous! We spent most of a day walking the trails and appreciating the unique, spectacularly designed and beautifully maintained gardens. Two of the most popular gardens in the park are the Climatron, a geodesic dome filled with tropical plants, and a 14-acre Japanese strolling garden. We also especially enjoyed the wonderful prairie garden, the small Chinese garden, and the shaded paths through the native plant garden. It’s all beautiful.
An Unexpected Find: Great Balkan Food
One of the top-rated restaurants in St. Louis is the Balkan Treat Box, which started off as a food truck, and graduated to a cozy restaurant. The food is delicious and authentic and transported me back to my time in Serbia, where wood-fired bread, roasted red pepper spread, and salads of perfectly ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, and salty feta cheese were everyday fare. We’re still not eating indoors in restaurants, but we liked the food so much we got take-out twice.
Where We Stayed
We enjoyed our spacious electric, shaded campsite at Edmund Babler Memorial State Park. We’ve noticed that once you get into territory where winters are really cold, state parks do not offer water hookups. Which is a pain if you’re staying more than a couple of nights. We try as much as possible to book sites that are close enough to water faucets so that we can run a hose and fill our tanks without hitching up and moving. Site #15 was perfect!
P.S. We are currently in Minnesota, heading up to the Boundary Waters where it’s going to be just us and the mosquitoes, LOL. We’re not expecting to have connectivity, but we’ll be back in a few days and I’ll be responding to blog comments then. As always, thanks so much for coming along with us, and thank you for your wonderful comments!
Thank you for another update. What fabulous lives you lead.
Thank you for following along with us, Kathryn. We’re having a good time, Magnolia included! She loves watching the birds and chipmunks from the safety of her catio. :-)
We were in St Louis in 2012 on the start of our first Mississippi River cruise. We traveled with another couple and three went up in the arch, I stayed in a nearby hotel. Tom always said
the elevator quarters were extremely small. Wasn’t my cup of tea at the time..Glad you saw
what else the city has to offer, we were only there overnight.
Penny, it seems like you and Tom saw so many great places in your cruises along the Mississippi. We really enjoyed St. Louis, even though we didn’t go up in the arch. I just can’t stand the thought of being confined in such a small space!
Wow, I never knew St. Louis had so much to offer!! I will definitely visit for a couple of weeks, thx for the wonderful post and photos, and especially the little history lesson about the Supreme Court’s bad calls!
Terri, we were surprised at all that St. Louis has to offer, too. And everything is so beautifully done, and free to visit! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I hope all is well in your life….where are you these days?
Gee, that city looks SO interesting. I passed this on to my son Noah because when he lived in Cedar Rapids (2019-2021) he visited St Louis a couple times to go swing dancing. I doubt if he got to see any of these great things you visited, but maybe next time! However, in February he got a great job with Google (!!!) and he now works in Madison, WI. So I’m looking forward to hearing about your trip to WI! I’ve tried 3 times to schedule a time to visit him and my daughter in Chicago, but each time something comes up because they are TOO dang busy. I’m still hoping to get out there are some point this year. Happy travels!
(PS I thought of you recently when I ordered underwear. Hehehehe. Even though it was the exact same brand/style/size, it didn’t fit the same way. They are trying to drive us crazy Laurel!!!).
LOL!!! Okay, first, I am SO glad to know that I am not alone in the online underwear battle, Janet. Makes me feel not quite so crazy, even though it’s still annoying!
How cool that Noah is in Madison! That’s one of our very favorite cities. We first visited several years ago and liked it so much that we returned at the beginning of July for a week. You are going to LOVE visiting there. And how exciting that Nellie is in Chicago! That’s another city we really enjoyed. You’re going to have so much fun visiting them!
Love your header photo of the Arch and I’m with you, I admire the arch from the ground, I’m not going up inside it! That zoo entrance is so cool and that dang Chihuly guy shows up everywhere doesn’t he! Looking forward to hearing how you guys like the Boundary Waters.
Janna, I was very happy to admire the Gateway Arch from the outside, haha! We really loved the zoo…it was the unique entrance that drew me in. St. Louis seems to put a premium on creating beauty in all of their public places. (As far as the Boundary Waters, it is gorgeous up here! Hoping to do a canoe trip tomorrow. :-))
More zoos and fewer museums! OK, that’s my vacation, not yours :D Well, botanical gardens are good, too, except for that intrusive Chihuly dude. We’ll be needing pictures of your largest mosaic ever in your next post, don’t say no! I would not like going up in those little death pods in the Arch, either, EEK.
You mean no more zoos and more museums.
Liberate the caged animals.
They deserve to be free.
Oh good, I’ve got lots of company in “Just say NO to riding up in the arch!” I wasn’t especially enthralled about the idea anyway, but discovering that some people were stuck in a tram near the top of the arch just a month before we visited sealed the deal for me.
Other than that, you know there are few things we exclude in our adventures. We enjoy our outdoor adventures, and we also love art and museums and music. :-)
St. Louis is just such an awesome city, isn’t it? So much to see and so much to do and so much to eat – and you really showed a nice bit of it all. The photos in this post are especially wonderful – the arch, the gardens, the animals… all terrific!
We typically avoid zoos too, but you’re right – when done right, and with the right ethics in mind, they can be wonderful facilities. And I totally hear you on the Arch. That movie really made us proud (after the nausea subsided), and I honestly find it to be one of the most beautiful, inspiring, and impressive monuments in the country.
And yeah, while it’s disconcerting to realize just how many boneheaded decisions the Supreme Court has made over the years, it is somewhat comforting to remember these wrongs usually do get righted over time. And if what happened in Kansas is any indication, hopefully these most recent wrongs will be fixed post haste.
Laura, St. Louis is a great city, as you know! I’m glad we had five nights there, but honestly, we could have spent a couple of weeks. It’s really remarkable that the city has provided so many excellent parks and museums, and that admission is free for most everything.
I agree with you that the Gateway Arch is one of the most beautiful monuments in our country. I think they chose the perfect design—it truly is timeless and evokes the spirit of exploration. That little film was so inspiring! I found myself thinking, “This is symbolic of what we can do when we work together.”
As far as the Supreme Court, I like what you said about wrongs getting righted over time. I suppose in some ways it’s two steps forward and one back throughout history, but we do keep moving forward. (I hope.)
We love the arch! We’ve tempted fate by going up in it three times now. The wildest thing up there is, since it is V-shaped at the top, the windows are installed in that V. When kneeling on the carpeted platform to look through them, it becomes evident that there is nothing but a lot of air between the observer and the ground. Kinda like a glass bottom airplane. :)
Wow, you guys have been up in the arch three times?! I honestly wish I would have been brave enough to step into one of the pods, but I also knew that no one wanted to be cooped up in there with me should I panic, haha. I’m trying to imagine looking down at the world from a glass bottom airplane…and that totally freaks me out, Jim.
(P.S. We’re looking forward to seeing you two and you can show me pictures!)
Laurel, your header photo is, by far, the best photo I’ve ever seen of the Gateway Arch – nicely done! Along the lines of to each his own . . . We visited the Arch on one of our cross-country National Parks trips when our kids were young, and I bought our tickets to go up in the little washing machines (as we called them) before we had even left home. If they were not fully enclosed, I wouldn’t have been able to handle it due to my fear of heights, but I’d go up again in a heartbeat. To this day, whenever I see a photo of the Arch, I think, “Wow! We were standing right at the top!” That thought still inspires awe every single time. An interpretive Park Ranger is stationed in the viewing area at the top to answer questions, and the views of the city are incredible. (I’m okay as long as I look out, not down.) In the center of the viewing area, a section of the carpet is a different color than the rest, denoting the final piece that was placed at the top and center of this amazing piece of architecture. It was actually a very positive and memorable experience. One other quick comment . . . If you ever get back to St. Louis, consider trying to get into the Old Courthouse again. The building itself is simply stunning and standing in the courtroom in which the Dred Scott decision was handed down is thought-provoking and humbling. I’m enjoying your trip SO much! I trust you and Eric are, too! :)
Aww, thanks, Mary! We visited the arch on a beautiful day, and we enjoyed trying to capture the striking elegance in photos. I wish I had been brave enough to venture into one of the “washing machines” for a ride to the top…but alas, I had just read about the people who were stuck in the tram the month before we were there, and that was enough for me to say, “No way!” It sounds like you had a wonderful experience, though! How great that you have such vivid memories. Should we return to St. Louis, we will definitely visit the Old Courthouse, even if we don’t do the arch.
We’re having a wonderful trip, and loving all of our new adventures. I’m glad you’re coming along with us. :-)
This city seems to have the perfect balance of everything – parks, museums, a zoo, an amazing cathedral, and good places to eat. A decent hotel (which I am sure there are many) would complete the picture for me and I could see spending at least two full days there, thanks to your preview. I didn’t know the arch had an elevator. Very cool
loving your trip so far. It seems you are as well.
Thanks, Suzanne—we’re having a great trip, and it’s even better since we’ve been in cooler temps! St. Louis was a delightful surprise. We had a long list of things to explore, but we didn’t realize just how beautiful and interesting the city is. We planned four full days in the city (five nights), and it was barely enough time for all that we wanted to do. But we were taking our time and enjoying leisurely exploration. I think you would enjoy the city!
Wow you did my home town proud. Love the pix and descriptions as always. Just wish we were there with you guys. We will try the food you loved when there in September.
Beth, as you know, we really enjoyed our visit to your home town! I just wish you and Perry had been there to explore with us. Our adventures are always better with you two. :-))
I don’t think I’d be comfortable going up in the Arch… claustrophobic. In our younger years, every summer we used to vacation in the BWCA near Grand Marais. I love Lake Superior’s North Shore. It feels like home to me. Enjoy!
Ingrid, I’m not sure if I’m claustrophobic, but I hate being cooped up in small spaces that I can’t get out of. So yeah, I guess I’m kinda claustrophobic, LOL. And I really don’t like the idea of being stuck in one of those pods!!
We LOVE the North Shore and the Gunflint Trail! How wonderful that you’ve spent so much time here! We’re now in Grand Marais for a week and having a great time.
Beautiful photos. Thank you as always. Safe and happy travels.
Thank you, Christine. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the photos! I hope you’re doing well and staying cool this summer in Tucson.
Loving your trip…
We went up in the arch, but I had to sit real still in the little elevator thingy with my eyes closed. It was worth it (I think). The Botanical Garden is awesome and worth every hour spent there. Enjoy Minnesota and stay safe out there! Joe
Joe, you sound like me…if I went up in the arch, I’d be sitting really still with my eyes closed. I just couldn’t make myself get into the pod! But I’m glad that it was worth it (you think, LOL). You’re right about the botanical garden. It is spectacular! We spent most of a day there just wandering and enjoying the beauty. We were wondering when they do all of their maintenance? It is so perfectly cared for!
Thank you for the fabulous tour! I have lots of relatives in St. Louis so our trips there have been a combo of sightseeing and visiting. Now that I see a few things we missed, maybe we should add more time sightseeing next time. I’m so sorry that you decided not to go to the top of the arch. The trip up isn’t bad and the view at the top is stunning. I remember feeling the weight of history when I stood in the building the terrible, shameful, unconstitutional Dred Scott ruling was made. It illustrates that the court is made up of men and women with their own prejudices and political agendas. The myth of an impartial judiciary is just that, a myth.
Janis, I’m so glad you enjoyed our tour of St. Louis! I’d happily return to spend more time in Forest Park, and the art museum, and the zoo, and I would love to see the botanical garden in all different seasons.
I really do wish I had been brave enough to go up in the arch. I’ve seen photos from the top, and as you said, the view looks spectacular. Who knows, if we return maybe I’ll gather my courage and go for it! I do know that if we return we will for sure go to the Old Courthouse. I’m sorry we weren’t able to go inside this time, but I appreciated at least being able to see the beautiful bronze of Dred and Harriet Scott. I agree with you completely that an impartial judiciary does not exist. And the current Supreme Court is dangerously lopsided.
I’m glad to see that the arch park finally realized that they were causing people pain without warning them about the concrete egg stuffed with people that you would ride in. It is crazy small, not to mention being squished in with strangers in today’s world. Your photos are wonderful. The arch does make for awesome photos. Looks like a wonderfully designed zoo. I haven’t been to a zoo in over 20 years. The Balkan food looks yummy! We finally did our first inside dining here in town a couple weeks ago. We went at 5:00 to beat the crowd and were the first people! Worked out great. We left before many came. We do prefer outside. It’s tough keeping up with the blog isn’t it! John would write every night for a couple hours when we were on the road. That’s probably why he decided not to continue now with our shorter trips. Hope you and the mozzies become good friends in the Boundary Waters!
Pam, I’m SO glad they put a “pretend tram” out in the lobby so that people can try it out. I had already decided there was no way I was going up in the arch (reading about the people trapped in the tram in June 2022 was the final deciding factor, haha). Honestly, there were SO MANY reasons I didn’t want to do it.
I just can’t keep up with the blog, as you know. I spend a couple of hours most days working on the blog, and it seems to take me forever to get a blog post together. But I do like having a journal of our travels, and writing the blog helps anchor the experiences for me. Plus, I love hearing from our friends! It was really impressive that John kept your blog current for all those years. And I’m enjoying following along with you on Instagram now. Your photos are gorgeous!
You seriously write the best most interesting blog ever. As you know, I am NOT a city person and yet I would happily have gone to St. Louis with you to see and learn all of this. AND Andy Goldsworthy – sigh – my favorite. He is SO amazing. I wonder how long it took him to make it. Wonder what the zoo flamingos and spoonbills do during a St. Louis winter? Or the puffins during a 100 degree summer day. I guess they have AC right? I love mosaics too and had no idea the largest collection in the world was there. Fantastic pictures. I really should let you plan my itineraries. Why does it not amaze me that you know before you book a site whether it is close to a water faucet or not. How do you do it?
Sherry, you are so kind. I appreciate that you enjoy our blog and that you let me know you’re enjoying it…as you know, writing a blog is a lot of work!
I know you’re not a city person, but I think you would enjoy St. Louis. The botanical garden is spectacular! And Forest Park is just beautiful, with miles and miles of walking trails. The art museum and zoo are both well worth visiting. And I know how you feel about zoos, and you know that I feel the same. But this zoo is doing a fabulous job. I know they’ve created habitats to keep their creatures comfortable. For example, we almost froze in the penguin and puffin exhibit—they’re concerned about the animals, not about us humans, which is exactly as it should be!
The way I know about which campsites are close to water faucets is that I spend far too much time researching campgrounds and campsites, LOL.
Wow, you really made the most of your time in St. Louis! The city has so much to offer, from history to culture to architecture to sports. It’s a little hard to believe that it was once the western edge of the country, with a vast wilderness beyond it — today it feels like the exact middle of the country (even if that’s not geographically accurate). Like you, we did not venture up into the arch, and we have no regrets. But I do regret that the new museum wasn’t open yet when we visited in 2018. It looks fabulous and informative! At least we did get to experience the terrifying construction video, so we didn’t miss out completely. On a future visit we would definitely spend time in Forest Park. Your fabulous photos of the zoo and art museum show us what we missed!
Shannon, we really enjoyed our time in St. Louis. I know you guys had a great time there, as well. We only had five nights, but the four days we were there felt pretty relaxing. Not stay-at-the-campground relaxing, but wander through the botanical garden, or Forest Park, or zoo, kind of relaxing. To our way of thinking, it’s a perfect city with such a great mix of nature, art, and history.
You make an interesting observation that at one time St. Louis was the western edge of civilization, and now it’s the center of the country. (As you said, it definitely feels like the middle of the country, even if that isn’t exactly geographically accurate.) However it’s measured, that’s a crazy amount of change since Lewis and Clark set off on their journey in 1804.
By the way, the arch museum was well done, but the absolute best part was the film and you got to see that. :-)
Since St Louis is on our itinerary for the this route I’m especially excited to read this wonderful post! I’ve seen the arch on a business trip years ago, but from afar. I’m also not one who would make the washing machine voyage although your commenters who have make it sound worthwhile! We’ll have to see the film for sure :-) Love your pics and narrative on the zoo. While some are just horrible, I am a strong advocate for good zoos like this one. How else can we educate ourselves on why these beautiful creatures are worth saving and protecting – we know photos don’t move people like the real thing! And good zoos save a lot more animals than they lose. I hope it’s cooler when we’re there (than we are now) as I’d love to do the garden!! I love Chihuly’s work and am always delighted to find it interspersed in natural settings.
Jodee, I just love when it works out that our posts are timely and helpful! You are going to love St. Louis. Even not going up in the arch, we found so much to enjoy in the arch museum. Don’t miss the film!
We were still in the midst of a heat dome when we were in St. Louis, but even though it was 95 degrees during the day, it cooled off significantly at night. I know you will love the zoo and the botanical garden. (And I agree completely with what you said about people needing to see animals to connect with them.) If you need to cool off, the art museum is terrific! We also spent a couple of hours in the small history museum nearby, which you might enjoy (there’s an interesting exhibit on the World’s Fair). Have fun!!
Oh Laurel, what a wonderful story about your time in St Louis. I only remember hot hot hot and humid humid humid. I think I drove through there in a really old car with my kids in the back seat before seat belts in 1971. Always wanted to see the arch, but that was before traveling was very much fun and I couldn’t do much of the fun stuff. Loved the gardens. I have to say that so many of us have an immediate reaction to the zoo idea…no no no…but I have learned that many zoos are life saving endeavors for so many endangered animals and most of the big ones have amazing habitats and caring keepers. I have yet to visit a zoo where the animals seemed anything less than content if not happily free. I think it is a good exchange in the long run. Maybe not the little local cages that pass for zoos in some places, but I am thinking of San Diego, Chicago, and now this one. Even the Living Desert down near Palm Springs is stellar and does so much to help endangered animals.. So I no longer cringe at the idea of a zoo and I don’t think every animal needs to fun free no matter what. Just MHO. Thanks for the great photos and great stories! Watch out for those uncaged mosquitoes, though, they are wild animals too, very very wild.
Sue, we were definitely hot in St. Louis! We were in the middle of that horrible heat dome and the temps were 95 degrees+ during the day. But fortunately, it cooled down at night, and the humidity wasn’t terrible (well, it was about 65%, but that’s so much better than Florida, LOL). We planned our activities for very early in the morning and spent afternoons in air-conditioned museums.
If you get the chance to visit St. Louis, I think you would really enjoy it. The botanical garden is absolutely stunning, seeing the arch up close and in person is awe-inspiring, and the zoo is delightful. Like you, I’ve learned to appreciate zoos that do things “right,” and I think many more zoos are going in the direction of education and protecting (and saving!) endangered species.
Haha, by some miracle we’re not being eaten alive by mosquitoes in Minnesota!
What a lovely blog! We live about 6 hours from St. Louis but for some reason never thought to visit. We love museums and botanical gardens too. I’m looking forward to reading more of your adventures. Thank you for sharing!
Hi Virginia, thank you for your nice comment! I’m glad if our blog is helpful for you in planning your adventures. St. Louis is definitely worth visiting! If you travel with an RV, Babler State Park is a great location for exploring the city. :-)
Oh god, claustrophobia flashback to when I rode to the top of that arch in that teensy little “car” with a very large man as seatmate, and when we got to the top, the door got stuck! Only for a moment…and then it opened. But that was one LONG moment. Bleah.
Sorry to have missed all the other good stuff. I would definitely go back to that city, and your photos remind me why.
Gretchen, your experience in the pod is exactly why I didn’t want to ride to the top of the arch! I’m sure that was a VERY long “moment” when the door didn’t open. I’m so happy when I can cross things off of my bucket list without even having to do them, LOL. But I would go back to St. Louis for that botanical garden! I know you would love it.
It’s been YEARS since we visited St. Louis! Rod had a conference to attend, so I tagged along. The arch is very impressive, but I had no desire to go up in the tram, either. While Rod was in meetings, I visited the zoo. Twice! I grew up in San Diego and always thought it had the best zoo. St. Louis’ is almost as good. I enjoyed viewing the baby giraffe, which was only a couple of days old. Fun!! I also spent a lot of time in the Flight Cage. Very cool! I love botanical gardens, but didn’t see the one in St. Louis. I did see the Chihuly exhibit at the Dallas arboretum & botanical gardens several years ago, which was very impressive.
I hope you’re having a good time in Minnesota. We camped (in a cabin) on Lake Vermillion a million years ago. Beautiful part of the country. We’re currently at Elk Country RV Park just north of Trinidad, CA. We’ve been here several times, but this is the first time we’ve seen so many baby elk (and lots of bulls). Homeward bound on Wednesday for a few weeks then off to Montana after Labor Day.
Hi Les, we’ve been to the San Diego zoo numerous times, too. And we agree that the zoo in St. Louis is equally good! Smaller, but just as well done and with the same commitment to ethical practices. And you got to see a baby giraffe! How cute! If you ever return to St. Louis, you will love the botanical garden. It truly is outstanding.
We’re having a fabulous time in Minnesota, most recently far north in Grand Marais. I hope you’re having a wonderful time in California. It’s so fun to see the elk wandering through the campgrounds, isn’t it? Happy travels!
Great post. The only time we’ve been to St Louis, we were passing through on the drive from Salt Lake City to DC. We were moving there for Mui’s new job and had a limited number of days to get where we were going. Nonetheless, we took the time to visit the Arch … and yes, we did ride up to the top. We must have lucked out with no one else as in our car as I don’t recollect it being an uncomfortable ride. Or, I am just blocking what was a not pleasant experience as I do tend to sometimes get a bout of claustrophobia.
I bookmarked your post as a possible short getaway … maybe fly in and do an AirBNB stay for a week or so. Just have to find somewhere to fit in the getaway.
Erin, I’m so glad this post inspired you to visit St. Louis again! You’ve already been up in the arch, so you don’t need to do that again, LOL. But I really think you would love the botanical garden, Forest Park, and the fabulous cathedral. And don’t miss the Balkan Treat Box. I know you’re familiar with many of those delicious foods that are rooted in Turkish cuisine. :-)