I didn't post here before my trip, but I did mine older posts for information, and figured I'd add a trip report in return! There don't seem to be that many recent ones, and I know those are always the first things I look for on a board.
Anyway, BF and I had been hankering to see the Gateway Arch since it was featured on a Discovery Channel special a while ago, so we decided at the last minute on a road trip from Chicago.
Left the Chicago burbs at about 7am, and except for a stop for breakfast at IHOP (a roadtrip tradition), made it to the Arch in good time, around 12:15pm. Parked at the lot for $10 despite learning that tickets were already sold out for the day. I knew about buying online, yet didn't do it. Lesson learned! Buy tickets ahead of time! We decided to go anyway to buy tickets for the next day, take pictures outside, and walk through the Museum of Westward Expansion. Secured the next day's tickets (at that point, they were already selling the 2:20 tickets), then spent a good hour or so perusing the museum.
After that we decided it would be a waste to have paid the parking fee only to leave so soon after, so we crossed the street to the Old Courthouse. Note: As we were leaving, rangers were telling everyone entering that the NEXT DAY'S tickets were already sold out. Again - BUY ONLINE, BEFOREHAND! Loved the Dred Scott movie and exhibits, and I thought the Old Courthouse itself was such a lovely building. Afterwards, walked over to the Metrolink at 8th and Pine and went to Union Station to explore. Extremely commercialized, of course, but we did the self-guided tour through it, read all the informational plaques and wandered around the Museum of Memories. The Grand Hall is beautiful!
The only thing to note there is that the attendants manning the "visitor info" kiosk near the entrance didn't seem to know their stuff. We'd noticed a sign near an exhibit that said "learn more at the Museum of Memories" so we asked the attendant where that is. She pulled out a map of the mall and told us that what they mean by that is just the self guided tour outlined in the map. Uh, no, the Museum of Memories is an actual museum that is upstairs, near the 18th St. entrance. Don't let them fool you! It is worth a visit for all the cool train artifacts they have on display.
Tired out at that point from the long drive and all the walking, so we hopped on the Metrolink back to the Arch. Heard music as we got off the Metrolink, so we took a little walk and discovered an outdoor music event at Laclede's Landing! The band was playing some old school Bon Jovi and Def Leppard -- exactly what this girl loves! :P Didn''t have a lot of stamina left, though, so we collected the car and drove to our hotel, the Days Inn on Lindbergh Boulevard. It's exactly what you'd expect of a Days Inn -- small but clean and comfortable room, and it came with their free breakfast (toast, waffles, cereal, biscuits and gravy). Good service though -- our tv remote didn't work, and it took a while to fix, but because of the trouble they took 10% off our bill, so an already cheap room became even cheaper (less than $45).
The next day was rainy and gloomy, but we decided to brave the weather and go to the zoo before our 2:20 Journey to the Top of the Arch. Not many people, which meant we could park on the street. Yay! We loved the penguins, and I was amazed at how well landscaped and thought out the outside enclosures are. The only thing that made me sad about the zoo was going into Antelope House and seeing how small each enclosure in that is. Since there were so few people around, going inside that dim little building was quiet and eerie, and I wished the weather was better so that those animals didn't have to be shut in like that.
Left the zoo at 12:30 without actually seeing everything -- we skipped the herpetarium and the bird garden -- but wanted time to get a bite to eat at Sweetie Pie's at the Mangrove. Lines snaking around from the actual food to the door, but well worth the wait for some delicious soul food. Great service too! Highly recommended for the best fried chicken I've had in a while. Left at 1:50, found some street parking and rushed to the Arch. Waited a good long while past our 2:20 ticket time to get on the capsules. Note for those who are willing to be separated: just like at Disney World, single riders get to jump ahead. BF and I were willing to split up for the ride to the top, so we got to jump ahead at least 2 or 3 spots in line.
Weather was on our side, because the rain and clouds cleared up, and when we got to the top St Louis was drenched in sunshine! I loved the space age-y ride up, and loved that when you sit and close your eyes, you can feel the whole arch gently swaying in the breeze.
Anyway, since it was already about 4pm at that point, we decided it was time to head back to Chicago. Thanks for showing us such a great time, St Louis -- yours is a city full of unexpected charm!Edited: 29 March 2010, 14:43