May 27, 2005

There’s plenty to do and see
in the Gateway City

By Brandon A. Evans and Mary Ann Wyand

ST. LOUIS—Named for King Louis IX of France, St. Louis is best known for being the Gateway City—like the front door to the vast western part of the United States.

The imposing Gateway Arch stands not only as a symbol of westward expansion, but also as a thriving tourist attraction that has pleased visitors for 40 years—and it’s but one of many things to do in the city situated along the west bank of the mighty Mississippi River.

The very top of the 630-foot tall Arch has a small viewing area with windows that is accessed by small groups of passengers riding a tram-style elevator.

In addition to ascending to the top for a great view of the city of St. Louis, the Mississippi River and the western part of the state of Illinois, visitors can watch a movie about how the Arch was made or book a helicopter tour.

Another hallmark of the St. Louis skyline is the famed Busch Stadium, where the Cardinals play baseball every summer. But even now, construction is beginning on a new stadium—making this summer your last chance to visit the famous ballpark. Single-game tickets are currently on sale, and guided tours of the stadium are available.

Visitors can also check out the Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum while in town to learn more about the history of the National League baseball team and to see memorabilia.

The St. Louis Zoo, located in Forest Park, is a favorite destination for many people. This summer, a new habitat for chimpanzees and orangutans called “The Fragile Forest” is expected to be a crowd-pleaser. The zoo has more than 6,000 exotic animals—many of them rare and endangered species.

While at Forest Park, visitors can also see the renewed Asian Galleries of the St. Louis Art Museum, which is the first publicly funded art museum in the country. The free museum has an extensive collection of 30,000 objects from all time periods, and its pre-Columbian and German Expressionist collections are considered among the best in the world.

Also in Forest Park, families can check out the new Ecology and Environmental Galleries at the St. Louis Science Center, home to the new “Energizer Machine,” which enables visitors to release hundreds of balls onto tracks to activate various machines. The Science Center also gives visitors the chance to learn about genetic engineering, take a subterranean tour, build a replica of the Gateway Arch and use radar guns to check the speed of traffic traveling on I-64.

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, near Forest Park at 4431 Lindell Blvd., was described by Pope Paul VI as an “outstanding cathedral of the Americas.” The interior of the 98-year-old Romanesque church is decorated with 83,000 square feet of mosaic art mostly done in the Byzantine tradition and installed over a period of 75 years.

Another popular feature in town is the free tour of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery with historic Brewhouse, Budweiser Clydesdale stables and packaging plant.

For thrill-seekers of all ages, Six Flags St. Louis, located west of town, is opening “The Tornado” at its water park, which is called “Hurricane Harbor.”

Beyond this, there is a lot more to see and do and eat in St. Louis, making it as much a destination as a gateway.

Archdiocesan chancellor Suzanne Yakimchick, a member of St. Barnabas Parish in Indianapolis, grew up on a farm in rural St. Charles County in Missouri and said she has always loved visiting “the big city” of St. Louis.

“It’s a very Catholic city,” she said. “It’s a great city for family entertainment. I think St. Louis is a great family city because there’s so many things to do there that don’t cost very much and they have a good transportation system now. There’s a Metro link, a light-rail system that can move you from one of the visitor attractions to another. It runs from downtown through Forest Park out to the airport, and helps move visitors around pretty easily.”

Yakimchick said a trip to Forest Park to visit the zoo and other attractions was a favorite childhood outing.

“From as far back as I can remember,” she said, “one big family adventure was a trip to the St. Louis Zoo, which has always had free admission … and is still an adventure that I like to enjoy whenever I’m in that area.”

While visiting Forest Park, Yakimchick said she also likes to tour the Art Museum, Science Center and Jewel Box, a glass house that is home to a botanical garden.

“The Jewel Box has just been totally renovated with all new glass,” she said. “I haven’t seen it in its new form, but as a child it was fascinating to me to go in there. No matter what the season, there were plants and flowers of all kinds and fountains.”

Yakimchick said she also likes to visit the riverfront and the Gateway Arch, operated by the National Park Service.

“There’s a museum there,” she said, “and the trip up the Arch is not very expensive. That’s a thrill to do that.”

A Cardinals fan, Yakimchick said she has attended baseball games at two stadiums and noted that, “They’re now [building] their third stadium in my lifetime.”

She said another favorite destination is Grant’s Farm, where a historic cabin is the centerpiece of a 281-acre animal preserve operated by Anheuser-Busch Inc. that honors Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th president of the United States.

“It’s free,” she said, “and has a small petting zoo and train ride that takes you around the property. There’s a resident population of deer and other species. It’s very nice.”

Visitors will also enjoy dining at the wonderful restaurants in St. Louis, she said. “There are lots of good Italian restaurants on The Hill, some very small and family-owned.”

Visiting St. Louis is “always an adventure,” she said, and—best of all—it’s an affordable vacation destination.

Perhaps that’s why the city’s Convention and Visitors Commission has adopted the slogan “Explore St. Louis—There’s more than meets the Arch.”

( For more information or to obtain tickets to visit the Gateway Arch, attend a Cardinals game or obtain the money-saving “St. Louis Family Attractions Card,” log on to †


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