Enjoy Fun Times for Two in St. Louis
Missouri's largest, liveliest city is a popular tourist destination packed with fun things for the whole family, among them a great zoo, the Six Flags theme park and numerous museums, including two top-notch children's museums. But if you're planning on leaving the kids behind, whether it's a romantic weekend getaway for two or just arranging a babysitter for an evening out, you'll see an entirely different side of St. Louis, and it's just as enticing. Here are some suggestions to consider when exploring the city.
Scale the Gateway Arch
Take your significant other to the top of St. Louis—or at least to the top of its most famous landmark—the Gateway Arch (11 N. Fourth St., St. Louis, MO). Ride to the top of the stainless steel arch in an enclosed tram, and spend time together on the Observation Deck, taking in views as far as 30 miles across downtown St. Louis and the Mississippi River and into Illinois. See if you can spot the Old Courthouse, Busch Stadium and five bridges, plus a historic train trestle across the river. The Gateway Arch, 630 feet at its apex, is the tallest man-made monument in the United States. It's open year-round, but promises better views on clear days.
Ply the Mississippi in a Paddle-Wheeler
A sightseeing cruise on the Mississippi River is a delightful way for a couple to spend a few hours without the kids. Gateway Arch Riverboats (50 S. Leonor K. Sullivan Blvd., St. Louis, MO) offers cruises from March through November, with options including narrated sightseeing cruises, dinner cruises with live music and dancing, Sunday brunch and blues cruises. You'll ride onboard a replica 19th-century paddle wheel riverboat, which quietly churns its way along the mighty river as you take in views of the Gateway Arch and other downtown landmarks. Narrated cruises offer information about the history of St. Louis and the importance of the Mississippi River to the city.
Stroll the Missouri Botanical Garden
If you and your other half love gardens and nature, don't miss the chance to visit the Missouri Botanical Garden. Founded in 1859, it's the oldest botanical garden in the nation and a National Historic Landmark. Highlights include the serene Japanese Garden with waterfalls, islands and a lake with floating lotus flowers, and the Victorian District with its labyrinthine hedgerow maze. The botanical garden is open year-round, and when the weather's unpleasant you can stroll inside three conservatories. One of them is the futuristic Climatron, a geodesic dome that houses 1,400 different tropical plant species amid a warm, humid climate.
Play All Night at Westport Plaza
If you stay at one of the two luxury hotels at Westport Plaza (I-270 & Page Ave., St. Louis, MO) or nearby, you're in a prime location for taking in some of St. Louis' top entertainment and nightlife. The 42-acre district offers a jazz and blues club where you can listen to today's interpretations of St. Louis' rich musical heritage, as well as a comedy club and dueling piano bar. Other entertainment options include theatrical performances at Playhouse @ Westport Plaza, and a calendar of special events such as movie nights by the lake. You'll find a table for two available at a wide range of restaurants at the plaza as well, including a casual pub, an Italian restaurant and a taco shop.
Do a Brewery Tour for Two
Take advantage of your time away from the children by exploring St. Louis' historic and ongoing beer brewing traditions. The city's historic Anheuser-Busch Brewery (12th and Lynch St., St. Louis, MO) offers public tours that come with samples of its world-famous brands, as well as the chance to meet the iconic Clydesdale horses. It's one of the largest and oldest breweries in the United States. If it's craft beer for you, tour some of the city's smaller local breweries, either on a guided tour, or just by stopping in for a pint at one of dozens of local brewing companies.
A writer of diverse interests, Joanne Thomas has penned pieces about road trips for Hyundai, children's craft projects for Disney and wine cocktails for Robert Mondavi. She has lived on three continents and currently resides in Los Angeles, where she is co-owner and editor of a weekly newspaper. Thomas holds a BSc in politics from the University of Bristol, England.