Gateway Arch: A Pleasant Surprise

St. Louis’s Gateway Arch isn’t a place I would have planned to visit on my own, but a trip to this city and the park ended up being quite enjoyable to spend a long weekend.

arch
View from below!

We drove up to St. Louis this summer over Fourth of July weekend to attend a family event. In addition to the event, we had time to visit the city and it ended up being a very enjoyable trip.

We visited the Arch on a Friday afternoon after our event was done. Unlike most of my visits to national parks areas, this was spur of the moment and pretty much unplanned. This year, the museum had reopened after being closed for several years for a redesign.

One thing I never knew is that people can actually ride up to the top of the arch. Once at the top, you can take in the view from the top. Unfortunately, because the park had just reopened, it seems that the entire city of St. Louis was visiting the arch and tickets were sold out. My youngest was the most disappointed.

full arch

BUT… Where there is a national park, there’s a junior ranger badge. So while, we were not able to buy tickets to the tram up to the arch, ($13 for adults currently, $10 for kids. If you have a National Park pass, adults tickets are knocked down to $10) we were able to visit the museum which is free.

museum

The idea of the arch is kinda overrated. It’s another, “if we build it, they will come,” attraction/ploy. I guess Mt. Rushmore is kind of like that too. BUT…. the museum is really cool. It explores westward expansion and the exhibits are really interesting and well done. If you have seen exhibits at the Smithsonian, its similar to that, yet it’s not too big. You can go through it in a couple of hours in the afternoon.

It was an enjoyable afternoon. My little one was still pouting about the arch but was happy to add to his collection of junior ranger badges. Speaking of the Arch, the museum includes an exhibit on the engineering of the arch and how they defined the cars that go up the structure. That was cool and made us wish we had been able to get tickets.

Across from the Arch, also a part of the park, is the Old Courthouse, which is famous for the Dred Scott decision. We didn’t get a chance to go in there, but that would be another interesting building to visit and learn about an important part of U.S. history.

court house

I want to mention that leading up to the trip, my teenage son did not want to accompany us. He felt that a trip to St. Louis would be boring and begged us to leave him home with his grandparents. By the end of the weekend, he said he really enjoyed the city.  In addition to the Arch, he visited the Blues Museum and a bird sanctuary.

We also visited the city’s Forest Park (which is larger than New York’s Central Park and is home to a number of the city’s museums, all free).

forest gate park
You can rent canoes and paddleboats at the park. We rented a couple of canoes and really enjoyed it.

We drove by Washington University and ate at a restaurant off of Delmar Blvd. We also enjoyed root beer floats at Fitz’s as well. We had one full day, so we didn’t have time to visit the City Museum, which is also supposed to be a great place to visit.

When, we left the city, we all agreed that St. Louis was a great city to visit and we enjoyed the little time we spent there.

fitz's
a float from Fitz’s was a perfect way to end the day. These things are huge, so you can ask them to split them. This is only one half of a float!

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