St. Louis, MO
Three weeks from today, I will be a college graduate. This is starting to freak me out, so my boyfriend planned a weekend getaway to ease my mind. We booked a cheap hotel and spent Saturday exploring the city, with no talk of finals or job applications for nearly 24 hours. Sadly, that is our new record.
I'll be the first to admit it: day trips can be daunting. With such little time allotted, the pressure is on to make the most of a short trip. (This typically means no naps and I really struggle with that.) Luckily, St. Louis is an extremely navigable and fairly compact city, making our jam-packed Saturday more than manageable.
St. Louis's Forest Park is a budget-friendly traveler's dream. The park is about 1,000 acres of cultural institutions, dining, landmarks, boating, and more, all of which range from free to nearly free. We spent hours at the zoo and didn't spend a dime, except for the $1.50 Bomb Pop purchased out of sheer necessity on a hot, sunny day. The sea lion show is a must see.
"The rich and poor, the merchant and mechanic, the professional man and the day laborer, each with his family and lunch basket, can come and enjoy his own ... all without stint or hindrance ... and there will be no notice put up to 'Keep off the grass.'" - Founders of Forest Park, 1876
Spring has sprung in the Midwest, which means my boyfriend's allergies are alive and well, so we were only able to drive through the scenic neighborhoods near the botanical gardens. The houses along Magnolia Street are stunning, and one day we will be back to experience the botanical gardens.
360 Rooftop Bar & Lounge
360 is located directly across from Busch Stadium and the Gateway Arch on top of the Hilton Hotel. The dress code is nonexistent; we were wearing cocktail attire while others coming from the Cardinals game were in baseball jerseys. The bar is a restaurant until 7 PM, and since it is in the heart downtown, it was very crowded on a Saturday night. We were able to snag a seat with a view of the arch (as shown by this poor quality picture of my handsome man). The truffle oil and parmesan seasoned popcorn was amazing, especially with a glass of Pinot Noir. Very Olivia Pope.
Downtown St. Louis is perfectly manicured, with fairy lights strung from the trees illuminating the streets at night in some areas. Olive Street is a picturesque strip of entertainment to wander; we found everything from dive bars to five star dining. We stopped in Sidebar for some top notch whiskey sours and cheese fries.
Sunday morning brunch is perhaps the most important part of a road trip. We found Rooster on Yelp, and we were not disappointed. Everything is locally grown, and the menu is to die for. This place has all the staples of a good brunch spot: crepes, pancakes, scrambles, and everything in between. We recommend the asiago cheese and bacon French Toast, and any of the Bloody Mary's.
The Arch is currently undergoing a massive renovation, but it is still open to the public. Just $10 covers the fare for the "Journey to the Top" experience, which is both informative and glorious. St. Louis is rich in history, and their city planning reflects that. There are signs and information stands throughout the city, explaining the historic significance of the tourist attraction. The Gateway's "CityArchRiver" project is set to reopen after its renovation in 2017.
This weekend was just what I needed before my LAST EVER finals week. My boyfriend and I had a blast being roommate-free for the first time in the year we've been together, daydreaming of what the future might hold for us in St. Louis. This was a weekend of first's for us, and I can't wait to take on the rest of the world together.