St Louis

Picture of downtown It's been a while since we did a trips page for a US destination. We don't seem to take nearly as many pictures when we travel domestically for some reason. Well, here we are in St. Louis - part of our Spring Break trip this year. Of course, that was probably obvious because not very many cities have a giant catenary arch downtown. This is still one of my favorite monuments in the US (and the world).
Picture of grant_nhs But first, let's start at the Ulysses Grant historic farm a few miles south of downtown St. Louis. This is not a very big property and it turns out that Grant didn't spend all that much time here. It was really connected to him through his wife's family. Still, it's a National Park unit, there's a small but nice museum and the farm house to tour. Out in front of the site is a nice greenway and the Clydesdale horse farm (not part of the National Park unit).
Picture of stlouis_zoo Yes, it's a bird. This bird represents our entire visit to the St. Louis Zoo which is an enormous wonderful zoo that would take an entire day to see all of. We didn't take all that many pictures here though so we've distilled it to just a bird -- sorry. Incidentally, the St. Louis Zoo is free! Yes, free! Although most likely you will pay to park or for public transport to get there and if you want to ride the train (which really means your child wants to ride the train) you'll end up spending as much as if they just had an admission charge. Still, it's a great zoo in a great park.
Picture of flowers We went to see the arch on Easter Sunday. It had just reopened after a long restoration process that was not really complete. One leg of the arch is open, the museum underneath is still closed (as of April 2016). The ticket office is in the old courthouse (the domed building nearby) and we were given a time some three hours later than the time we bought the ticket. So we headed off to the Missouri Botanical Gardens to kill off a few hours.
Picture of waterfall The Missouri Botanical Gardens is quite impressive in Spring. It's also enormous and really not a bad place to take small children. At least our small child enjoyed it, particularly the hedge maze and the koi feeding pond.
Picture of gardens There are at least three restaurants scattered around the grounds. It appears they run a shuttle later on in the year but it was not running in early April. Nearly everything seemed to be blooming though.
Picture of up_at_arch Here we are back at the arch. If you look up at the top thin part of the arch, you can barely see the tiny double line of black dots which are the windows you can see out of once up there. If you've ever been up in the arch before -- nothing has changed. It is not for the claustrophobic as you get to ride up in a tiny ball suspended from hooks on a chain with four other people you will soon be good friends with.
Picture of inside_the_arch Once you get up there it has a bit of a funhouse feel. The floor is curved towards the sides as you may expect. The windows are angled both downwards and towards one leg of the arch (unless you're at the very center windows). This is pretty much all the space that is up there.
Picture of arch_windows It's a little bit awkward to look out the windows, depending on your height. Alaric managed to adopt his own style of viewing.
Picture of illinois To the east, the view from above is of southern Illinois farmland, a couple casinos and whatever river traffic may be passing by.
Picture of downtown_view The west is the more interesting side as you can see all of downtown St. Louis and likely the surrounding areas as well. As you can see it was rather wet with a low ceiling on our visit.

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