Do you want to go to St. Louis?
This was the question that was recently posed to me. The plan was to have a guys weekend in the city of St. Louis. Now I’m always up for a weekend getaway, but I have to admit, I was scratching my head a bit about the destination. It’s not that I have anything in particular against St. Louis, the truth be told I didn’t know the first thing about the city beyond some vague recollection of the arch that resides downtown. It was that lack of knowledge about the proposed destination that left me saying “Sure, I’m in…..but why exactly are we going to St. Louis for a guys weekend?” How little I knew…..and how much I learned….
This is the first thing I learned about St. Louis; they are serious about their beer. Beer has become a part of the fabric of the city, a result in a large part due to Anheuser-Bush. Anheuser-Bush has been brewing in the city of St. Louis since 1852. One hundred and fifty plus years of their brewing has created a culture that is passionate about beer and the science behind creating the product. St. Louis now boasts around 20 breweries, and those brew masters are serving up some world class suds.
We started our beer odyssey at the grand daddy of St. Louis breweries, Anheuser-Busch. We learned that the St. Louis brewery offers tours on a daily basis, so we piled into our Escalade and headed off in search of beer nirvana.
The tour at Anheuser-Busch is really pretty amazing. You will see every step of the process that goes into producing a Budweiser. You will meet the Budweiser Clydesdales. You will see three structures on the property that the park service has designated as national historic landmarks. You will learn the history of Anheuser-Busch. And at the end of the tour, you will have the opportunity to sample some fresh from the brewery beer. Did I mention that the tour is free? Yup….It costs zip to take the tour and sample the beer. You really can’t beat that deal.
After checking out the big gun in beer we decided that we wanted to try a St. Louis Microbrewery. We piled back into the Escalade and headed to the Schlafly Tap Room.
The Schlafly Tap Room is just plain cool. It is located a building that was at the time of opening in a less desirable part of town; the building itself had been vacant for 22 years. The building was in such disrepair that the directors of the film Escape From New York used it as a set to depict post-apocalyptic Manhattan.
That didn’t deter the boys at Schafly, and in 1991 they opened their doors, becoming the first new brewpub to set up shop in Missouri since the prohibition. Today the Tap Room boasts a full service restaurant on the main level and a craft brewery in the basement. The beers that these guys produce are all hand crafted and world class. Schlafly is a must stop in your St. Louis beer adventure.
Honestly….I don’t know where to start. While in St. Louis we took in a Cardinals game at Bush Stadium. It was everything you could want in a baseball game; an energetic crowd, a nice facility, and a party atmosphere complete with a roving drum line just outside the stadium.
We did the St. Louis Gateway Arch. At 630 feet, the Gateway Arch is the nation’s tallest monument. Half of the fun at the Arch is getting to the top. They designed this unique elevator…..you get in this egg shaped pod (ala Mork and Mindy)….it’s a tight fit…it pitches back and forth as you journey up….it’s noisy…but it gets you there. Once you arrive at the top you are treated to a view that is really pretty spectacular, offering a bird’s eye panorama of downtown St. Louis and the Mississippi river.
We checked out the park system. Yes, I said parks….on a guy weekend. The thing is, the St. Louis park system is pretty impressive. It boasts a world class Zoo, an Art Museum, a History Museum, a Science Center, and the 1923 acre Forest park. Best of all, the price of admission to all of these attractions is nothing.
How about the St. Louis Night Life?
Beyond brewery hopping we had the opportunity to sample two of St. Louis’ nightlife offerings; Laclede’s landing and the Lumiere Casino.
Laclede’s Landing is the oldest district in Missouri; it was founded in 1764 as a trading post for travelers heading into the Wild West. Located just north of the Gateway Arch on the banks of the Mississippi river, Laclede’s Landing now covers a nine square block area and is the home to many restaurants, nightclubs, and shops. It is the site of the Big Muddy Blues Festival every Labor Day weekend and features a concert series over the summer months.
The Lumiere Casino is a short walk from Laclede’s Landing, and it features two hotels, five restraints, and a 75,000 sq. ft. casino floor. The casino boasts a 13 table poker room, 55 gaming tables, and around 2000 slot machines.
I’ve got one tip and one random fact for you about the Casino. The tip….if you are planning on a bit of gambling, bring your ID. These guys ID everybody; I don’t care if you are 110 years old and look it, if you don’t have your ID you are not getting in. My random fact about the Lumiere has to do with the casino floor itself. It floats. It’s in a building….but it floats. There is a law that says casinos have to be floating. The intent of this law was to force all of the casinos onto the river on boats. Well the Lumiere pumps water from the river into the center of the building (3 million gallons worth of water) and then they float the entire casino floor on that river water. Kinda wild when you think about it…
Where to stay?
I am going to recommend staying at the Casino. Your choices there are The Four Seasons or The Lumiere. The reason for this recommendation is location. From these hotels, you are walking distance to the casino, Laclede’s Landing, the Arch, Mississippi River, the football stadium, and the baseball stadium. When you add to that central location two hotels that are pretty nice and roomy…..this really becomes an easy decision.
Go to St. Louis. It’s a cool city that offers a ridiculous amount of attractions at a reasonable price; it’s great for both a guys weekend or the family vacation.
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DISCLOSURE: Many aspects of this trip were sponsored by Visit Missouri, St. Louis Convention and Visitors Bureau, and other entities, but all opinions are our own.