St Louis, MO – March 2017 – Part 1 of 2
Last week, during my son’s spring break from high school, we took the five hour drive down to St Louis, Missouri, where my oldest daughter is currently living. My middle child, daughter #2, flew in from Seattle to join us. There are quite a few fun things you can find to do around St Louis. Here are some highlights from our trip.
- Day 1 – Friday, March 24
- Holiday Inn Express Check-In
- Culpepper’s Grill & Bar
- Insomnia Cookies
- Day 2 – Saturday, March 25
- Forest Park
- Tom’s Bar & Grill
- St Louis Metro
- The Arch
- Three Sixty Rooftop Bar
- Lemp Haunted Walking Tour
- Day 3- Sunday, March 26
- Wildflower Restaurant
- St Louis Zoo
- Sub Zero Vodka Bar
- Gamlin Whiskey House
- Bar Louie
- Day 4 – Monday, March 27
- Anheuser Busch Day Fresh Tour
- The Biergarten
- Day 5 – Tuesday, March 28
- Putting Edge
- AMC Esquire
- Mike Duffy’s
- Day 6 – Wednesday, March 29
- Rise Coffee
- Phillips 66 Petro
- Holiday Inn Express Check-out
Day 1 – Friday, March 24
We started our drive around Noon, heading out of Stoughton, WI on I-39 South into Illinois. We breezed through the tollways because I have an I-Pass account for my vehicles. I highly recommend getting an I-Pass or E-ZPass. It greatly simplifies your toll-road experience and saves you money as well as time! Stay tuned for a blog post on toll roads. We had to stop a couple of times so that I could stretch. I threw out my back March 14 and was still recovering during this trip. I made a lot of use of my Omron electroTHERAPY Pain Relief Device PM3030 to help me through the discomfort. We arrived in St Louis about 6pm and stopped in at my daughter’s apartment first.
Holiday Inn Express Check-In
Before going out to dinner, we checked into the Holiday Inn Express Central West End. The parking was limited for our over-sized vehicle (6’5” clearance on most of the parking spaces), but we were able to score a spot just as we were pulling in. We were greeted by very friendly staff and checked in with no issues. The hotel and room were dated but clean. We were able to adjust our room thermostat down to 65 degrees and we had a view of our vehicle in the parking lot from the 2nd floor. The stairs were just outside our room, so that was convenient as well. An elevator is also available. There is a free hot breakfast (more on that later). No pool, but that’s not important for us anymore.
Culpepper’s Grill & Bar
From the hotel, Culpepper’s Grill and Bar is just two blocks up Euclid Avenue, the main commercial zone for the historic and eclectic Central West End neighborhood. Culpepper’s is locally owned and has been operating for over 70 years. Temperature was cool, but nice enough to sit outside. I had the Fire Finger Salad which was really good (I’d definitely recommend and order again). The kids enjoyed a Cobb Salad, the Sirloin, and a burger. My oldest was disappointed because they no longer had the Stout on tap, but other than that, no complaints on the food. Service was a little slow. We had to wait even to get water/drinks ordered. Overall impression was very good. Rating 4/5
On our way back to the hotel, Insomnia Cookies caught our eye. Fresh baked cookies and ice cream. What’s not to like? Certainly hit the spot that night. Rating: 5/5
Day 2 – Saturday, March 25
Saturday morning, we had breakfast at the hotel. They were serving Denver omelets, sausage patties, sausage gravy & biscuits, pancakes, warm cinnamon rolls, oatmeal, cold cereal, bagels, bread, yogurt, and hard-boiled eggs. The only fruit were apples. I had to ask for and wait on coffee as well as the omelets. They did have hot sauce (always a bonus for my eggs) as well as natural honey and greek yogurt. All nice touches.
After breakfast, we walked over to Forest Park, a 1,300 acre urban park (Interactive Map of Forest Park). Forest Park is vast, but we found a sign and picked out a walking trail on the east end that took us about an hour to complete round-trip (I was a little gimpy and slow going with my back issues). The park is beautiful, even in early spring before nature fully awakens. Bikers and joggers were polite and dogs were leashed. The morning was cloudy and cool, but we managed to work up a sweat and get our juices flowing.
Tom’s Bar & Grill
For lunch, we ended up at Tom’s Bar & Grill. Another locally owned restaurant in the Central West End that serves house made meats, hand-battered delectables, and great beer selections. It looks small on the outside, but opens up into a large bar and dining area. There can be a line here during the week, but we were able to get right in. I had the French Dip recommended by our waitress and it was one of the best I have ever had. The roll was soft and fresh and the meat was tender and full of flavor. Burgers and a salad rounded out the selections and all were deemed great. Service was friendly and attentive. Rated: 5/5.
St Louis Metro
For our trip downtown, we decided to take the Metro with a station a short walk away. $2.50 per person one-way is not a bad deal and saves us parking headaches. Buying tickets was easy and the trains run every 10 minutes so we didn’t have long to wait. The trains were clean and security was provided at all of the main stations. I definitely recommend taking the train into cities you visit. This one is no exception.
The Gateway Arch
You can’t visit St Louis without seeing the Gateway Arch. With the tram ride still closed for upgrades, visiting (i.e. touching) the arch itself is currently free, but the walk to it is a little long since you need to go around all of the construction that is underway at the park. There were concession stands and horse-drawn carriage rides along the river that we did not take part in. We also did not go into the visitor’s center since we didn’t think the mace and jackknife that my kids had would get through security…. Therefore, I can’t give you any feedback on that either.
Three Sixty Rooftop Bar
After the Arch, we made our way over to the Hilton and up to the rooftop where the Three Sixty Bar resides. This bar has indoor and outdoor seating with a great view of St Louis, the Arch, and you can see down into Busch stadium where the St Louis Cardinals play. The Cardinals were playing out of town, so no game in progress during our visit. It was a little chilly, but we scored some outside seating and enjoyed a couple of (expensive!) drinks before taking the Metro back to my daughter’s apartment. It’s definitely worth a visit, but don’t stay long unless you like to spend $$$.
Lemp Haunted Walking Tour
We ended the evening with the Lemp Haunted Walking Tour. This is an outdoor walking tour in the neighborhood of the Lemp Mansion featuring several haunted residences and buildings put on by the St Louis Paranormal Research Society. Mark, our tour guide, was very knowledgeable and entertaining as he conveyed all of the historical (and creepy!) stories behind the hauntings and the unique aspects of this particular neighborhood. I would highly recommend this tour. Rating: 5/5.
Day 3- Sunday, March 26
Sunday morning included brunch at the Wildflower Restaurant, another locally owned eatery on Euclid. We did not have reservations, but they found room for us at a table in the bar area which ended up being a quieter area than the main dining room. It was cold this morning, so no one was seated outside. Eggs Benedict, breakfast wrap, sausage gravy & biscuits, scrambled eggs & sausage were all delicious. Mimosas were also very good and service was friendly and prompt. Rating: 5/5.
St Louis Zoo
After brunch, we headed over to the St Louis Zoo which is located inside Forest Park. The zoo is free and parking close by is $15/car. Since I didn’t want to waste any more energy than necessary, we paid for the parking which was not unreasonable in any case. I recommend the South parking lot with its close proximity to prime attractions and its central location. The zoo itself is spectacular – especially given it is free. It’s been around for over 100 years and yet has kept up with all of the latest in the care of zoo animals. There is a huge variety of animals with well thought out enclosures and viewing areas. With the cooler weather, many animals were very active and we managed to hit feeding time for several which added to the experience! We spent five hours and did not see everything. Well worth a visit if you’re in the area. The food and water was expensive for what it was, but not as outrageous as many other attractions and amusement parks. Rating: 5/5
After the zoo, my middle daughter and I walked to Brennan’s a unique wine, liquor, and cigar store as well as three bars and a restaurant all in one location. We sat outside upwind from the cigar smokers and had a couple of drinks. The restaurant is not open on Sundays. It was a nice, sunny afternoon and we enjoyed our visit. Definitely could come back to enjoy the other aspects of this bar.
Sub Zero Vodka Bar
We then strolled around the corner to check out the Sub Zero Vodka Bar. When we walked up to the bar, we were amazed by the ice! The bar itself has a strip of frozen snow/ice on it to keep your drinks cold! I had never seen that before (but, maybe I live under a rock). They have a huge selection of vodka (hence the name) and some interesting food selections. We stuck with the fried zucchini appetizer which was very good and enjoyed a couple of cocktails, including some Moscow Mules with EFFEN vodka, before heading out again.
Gamlin Whiskey House
For dinner, we walked a block to the Gamlin Whisky House where we enjoyed Kentucky Mules and some lovely hand cut steaks. This place is owned by the same guys that started the Sub Zero Vodka Bar and is another local gem. Great service, great food, and great drinks. Rating: 5/5.
We rounded out the night at Bar Louie, a recommendation from our hotel staff. It was a little quiet (it was Sunday after all), but the drinks were good and the bartenders were friendly. It’s a franchise, so nothing really that special about this place.
That’s enough info for this blog. Catch up the on the next one for Days 4-6! Let me know what you think and Thanks for reading!