ST. LOUIS • BRANSON • OZARKS
• ST. LOUIS
What to Do
— Top off your trip with a trip to the top —
• Claustrophobics beware: The capsule that transports folks to the top of St. Louis’s iconic arch is small, very small. There’s an elevator for those who like more breathing space.
• Reaching the tram / capsule necessitates traversing about two flights of stairs. The steps are shallow, but they’re steps nonetheless. Tell the folks in charge if this may be a problem, and they’ll direct you to an elevator.
•“Gateway Arch: a Biography” is a must-read for folks interested in architecture or political machinations. Author Tracy Campbell, a history professor at the University of Kentucky, Pulitzer Prize nominee and storyteller par excellence tells of architects as well as architecture, of the politicians as well as the business folks, of dreams as well as reality. Gateway Arch was selected as one of the Best Books of 2013 by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and won the 2014 Missouri History Book Award.
— Become French for a day —
• Walk through the narrow streets of Missouri’s oldest town, settled in by the French during the early eighteenth century. Guides dressed in outfits of the time provide narration and historic homes and shops provide the context. Check in advance to see if you can arrange a visit during one of their special events. (For more, check for our article titled “Small Towns Celebrate Christmas in Big Ways,” which is filed under the Featured Specials section of this website.) www.visitstegen.com
• While in Ste. Genevieve, stop by ASL Pewter, where Thomas and Patricia Hooper create traditional works of pewter using age old methods. Folks can watch as they make their own molds, devise their own forms, use an old lathe and, most important, create works that are of lasting beauty. Objects range from $9 Christmas ornaments to more expensive tankards and teapots. www.aslpewter.com
• For more on the French heritage of the Mid-Mississippi River Valley, pick up a free brochure titled “French Creole Corridor.” It provides directions for a self-guided driving tour that will take you “from St. Louis and Cahokia on the upriver end to Kaskaskia and Ste. Genevieve downriver.” www.les-amis.org
— Spend time downtown —
• Now on the National Register of Historic Places, the Campbell House is everything one would expect from the home of a renowned fur trader and entrepreneur during the late 1880s, which is to say that’ it’s very elegant and extremely opulent. While officially a museum, visiting it is like wandering through the home of rich relatives, very rich relatives who have an affinity for gilded treasures. www.campbellhousemuseum.org
• Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis may be best known for soothing the soul but it also dazzles the eyes. Its array of mosaics is one of the largest such collections in the western hemisphere. A museum on the lower level contains displays that explain the mosaic-making process. www.cathedralstl.org
• Two of Saint Louis’s major attractions — the Saint Louis Art Museum, which has a grand collection of more than 33,000 works, and the Saint Louis Zoo, which has more than 600 species of animals, many of which are rare and endangered — are both free to the public, every day, all day. The concept is so lovely that we, along with countless other appreciative visitors, drop some coins into a voluntary donation box. www.slam.org. www.stlzoo.org
— Gorge on The Hill —
• To get an overview of The Hill’s offerings, sign on to The Hill Food Tour offered by Eat Saint Louis. That way in three hours you can taste-test pizza, ravioli, baked goods, meats, cheeses — in short, the works. There’s even the possibility that as you walk from place to place, you’ll work off a few of the calories, but don’t count on it! www.Eatsaintlouis.com
• For celebrity sightings, go to Giovanni’s which has been winning raves and top ratings since 1973. Oprah has dined there so often that the chef has created a dish in her honor, the Pappardelle all Bella Oprah (wide, flat noodles with fresh tomato, basil pesto and imported ricotta cheese). You can eat like a star for under $30. www.giovannisonthehill.com
• After a saucy meal at one of The Hill’s Italian restaurants, a bit of Italian ice cream definitely hits the spot. Gelato di Riso features flavors that range from amaretto to Vanglia (vanilla), all made fresh every day from natural ingredients. www.gelatodiriso.com
Where to stay
• River City Casino is centrally located and definitely deserves great service. The room was clean, the restaurant offered good meals at a decent price, and the desk staff was superb. When we needed to ship a big box back home, they not only gave us the box but they also volunteered to pack it for us. Everything, including a few breakables, arrived in perfect shape. This place is a good bet! www.rivercity.com
• BRANSON (coming summer, 2017)
• OZARKS (coming soon, 2017)