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Meet Me In St. Louis

Article by Brianna Melanson

Photography by Brianna Melanson

Originally published in Franklin Lifestyle

Did you know St. Louis, Missouri is only a 5-hour road trip from Franklin? Known for the iconic 630-foot Arch, the starting point for the Lewis and Clark expedition, and the Old Courthouse that held the Dred Scott trials, St. Louis is rich in history. Your trip to St. Louis wouldn’t be complete without the iconic BBQ and a glass of Budweiser. There’s so much to learn, eat, and explore on a weekend getaway.

For starters, take the tram to the top of the Gateway Arch. The downtown view at the top is incredible and you can see Missouri on one side and Illinois on the other. The Arch is a National Park and has a museum underneath that explains how it was built. Make sure to buy your tram tickets in advance!

While shopping in Central West End, stop in the World Chess Hall of Fame to discover engaging exhibits, but also test your skills and learn new strategies. The collection and gift shop feature the most beautifully crafted and intricate chess sets. Don’t forget to take a picture with the largest chess piece in the world which won a Guinness Record in 2018. Whether you’re an experienced chess player, or just a fan of The Queen’s Gambit, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

The Missouri Botanical Garden is beautiful this time of year! There are all different types of gardens and displays to observe that change by the season. The Climatron shows off thousands of tropical plants and the Butterfly House hosts about 2,000 butterflies. Stroll through the 14 acres of the Japanese Garden which contains authentic Japanese landscaping, bridges and lanterns. There are endless activities for families or a perfect date.

Everyone will tell you to have BBQ and we completely agree. Salt & Smoke takes the amazing traditional flavors up a notch with their homemade sauces and upscale vibe. St. Louis BBQ is no joke, but they’re also known for fried ravioli and gooey butter cake.
In the Italian neighborhood, The Hill, visit Mama Toscano's. The building has been in the Toscano family for over 90 years. The family’s fried ravioli is a three-day process and hand rolled daily. Nana Kate’s recipe for these “little pillows” has been passed down for generations and is consistently amazing because of the family’s devotion to quality and service.

Gooey butter cake was a happy accident, which happened when a local baker put the wrong proportions of butter into his coffee cake batter. You’ll find the most flavors, a whopping 73, available at Park Avenue Coffee. Customer favorites include red velvet, triple chocolate and white chocolate raspberry.

St. Louis is where Budweiser was born in 1876, so why not enjoy one where it all started? You’ll be sure to find a refreshing drink at the biergarten which features 18 beers on draught. The Anheuser-Busch Brewery is the largest brewery site in the U.S. and is full of history and tradition. Visit the famous Clydesdales and get a free beer on the Day Fresh tour or Clydesdale VIP tour. There is so much to explore on the campus and this would make for a great rainy-day activity!

Take in 360 views of the city, 400 feet high, at Three Sixty rooftop bar at the top of the Hilton hotel. You’ll find innovative cocktails and an extensive wine list. On game day, you’ll be able to view the entire Busch baseball stadium from here.

You could honestly spend a whole weekend just exploring the gorgeous Union Station hotel. You can walk right to the aquarium, Ferris wheel, restaurants, and old fashioned soda shop. Every night starting at 5 p.m., there is a light show in the Grand Hall lobby. Sit at the bar and watch the ceiling come alive in a magical 3D experience.