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Old 08-28-2007, 11:50 AM
 
Location: Spokane, WA
67 posts, read 162,537 times
Reputation: 82

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Hi, I'll be coming to visit SL for a day, maybe a day and a half, in mid-September. I'm looking to get some insight into what I should see/do during that time to get a feel of the city as someone who might choose to live there in the not-too-distant future.

Considerations:
  • I do software for a living
  • I'm not a suburban type, when I'm near a city I like to live right down in it where I can walk to most things
  • Walking: I do a lot of it, safety is important but I'm not (too) paranoid either. For example there was nowhere in Seattle I wouldn't walk. Boston in the 1980s was a different story.
  • I'm an old-house nut, and would like to see what kind of historic houses/buildings/neighborhoods SL has.
  • Any new downtown gentrification to see - something like Omaha's Marketplace, Seattle's Pioneer Square, Boston's waterfront?
  • With limited time, best not to get stuck in traffic jams. Any highways to avoid and times of day to avoid them?
  • Ideals for a decent but reasonably cheap hotel/motel to stay in in the city, preferably (but not necessarily) walking distance to the nice bits of the city?

Anything else I should think about? I know I can't do the city justice in a day and a half, but that's all the time I'll have. Thanks in advance. -Eric
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Old 08-28-2007, 02:28 PM
 
1,816 posts, read 5,076,161 times
Reputation: 623
Quote:
Originally Posted by Infidel View Post
Hi, I'll be coming to visit SL for a day, maybe a day and a half, in mid-September. I'm looking to get some insight into what I should see/do during that time to get a feel of the city as someone who might choose to live there in the not-too-distant future.

Considerations:
  • I do software for a living
  • I'm not a suburban type, when I'm near a city I like to live right down in it where I can walk to most things
  • Walking: I do a lot of it, safety is important but I'm not (too) paranoid either. For example there was nowhere in Seattle I wouldn't walk. Boston in the 1980s was a different story.
  • I'm an old-house nut, and would like to see what kind of historic houses/buildings/neighborhoods SL has.
  • Any new downtown gentrification to see - something like Omaha's Marketplace, Seattle's Pioneer Square, Boston's waterfront?
  • With limited time, best not to get stuck in traffic jams. Any highways to avoid and times of day to avoid them?
  • Ideals for a decent but reasonably cheap hotel/motel to stay in in the city, preferably (but not necessarily) walking distance to the nice bits of the city?

Anything else I should think about? I know I can't do the city justice in a day and a half, but that's all the time I'll have. Thanks in advance. -Eric

You are coming to the right place considering your interests.

1) Forest Park, largest city park in the U.S....bigger than Central Park or Golden Gate Park...it includes several museums, 3 nine hole golf courses, a boathouse restaurant on a lake, two different tennis centers totaling 30 something courts(one clay one hard court center with stadium for World Team Tennis)...11,000 seat outdoor ampitheater, tons of walk, run bike paths, and several other things, a free zoo, etc... This is located just West of downtown via side streets, approx 1-2 miles, in the city. The East End is The Central West End, (CWE) which has many shops, restaurants, walkable etc...and many old historic mansions, one of your list items...the West end of the park is Washington University, a top 10ish National University. Saint Louis University is at East End near Central West End.

3) That's two things, Forest Park, and CWE, above. St. Louis is a big sports town, especially pro sports, Cardinal Nation is the type of place where you will see many people with red, Cardinal clothers, hats etc...similar to Boston where you see tons of Red Sox stuff all over. Cardinals are in a pennant race right now...scalped tix are affordable and easy to be had by the ball park. ...there will be 40k plus people at each game. There are a couple of bars etc...next to the new ball park,(try Mike Shannon's, or Paddy-O's) but the new Ball Park Village next to it...with several blocks of retail, residential and commercial areas not complete, or even started til 2009. So...outside of the game, and a few before and after game spots, move along to my next tips...

4) Washington Ave...closer to the Dome(Rams football) North of Busch Stadium a few blocks...walkable....head up and down Washington Ave...all types of restaurants for all budgets, bars, shops etc...a night life area. Central West End btw I also should mention is a nightlife area, it would be a small section remniscent of the village in NYC.

5) Laclede's Landing...okay...this is more of a touristy spot, however, go during day to the cobble stone streets by the Mississippi River...places to eat are Sundeckers, Trainwreck Saloon...for a good sandwich or burger, Sundecker's has nice outdoor patio for a view btw....STL Fish Market(it's a restaurant not an actual market) for seafood choices is right there as well. This area is connected to the Arch and its grounds, park like...Union Station is also a touristy area, Hyatt is a good hotel option, but it's mostly touristy shops, etc..a quick in and out.

6) Soulard, take Broadway South a mile and you are in the French district, near Anheuser-Busch Brewery(tour is always an option, clydesdales, dalmations and a couple of beers). This is a nightlife area, lots of bars, restaurants, etc...rowdy area at night on weekends. Try McGurk's patio for a beer at 12th and Russell. Great Irish Bar with lots of exposed red brick and huge outdoor patio with fountains and landscaping...good affordable steak next door at Tucker's, casual place, good dining deals there. This area is quieter in the day time, it is residential, but noisy at night, lots of walkable bars and restaurants. This can be gotten to by a hotel shuttle just down from donwtown. Mardi Gras in this area is 2nd largest in U.S.

7) Hotels,....try priceline for some cheap bets...hotels I personally like are the boutique Hilton, small little place, but very good, on 4th street, not the big one next to ball park, though that is fine too. Renaissance Grand is next to convention center and dome,(and right in action of Washington Ave) very nice colorful suite rooms. ....others ..any of the Drury Suites are solid, or Sheraton next to Savvis Center,....etc...stay downtown if you can...you would get better transportation to things you wouldn't walk.....also Hyatt Union Station is a good place. ...if you need cheaper than these...throw out the place and where it's at....etc...

8) You don't really need a car...you won't be doing any hwy driving. Some things are side streets distance of .5 miles to a couple of miles away. Some walkable from downtown, some definitely not. just an fyi...cab, or shuttle, or use light rail called Metro Link. If you are flying in...take metro link to downtown hotel...cab is very expensive...it's a ways out, to NW part of STL...

St. Louis is not as densely populated as Boston that you mentioned, it is more in Seattle size. The city is a city of neighborhoods, like a Chicago etc...and is built not as straight up next to each other....so walking is more long city blocks of walking, as opposed to smaller streets built straight up, densely packed. .....Sept is usually a very good weather month. Should be warm but comfortable, and often sunny.
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Old 08-28-2007, 06:07 PM
 
Location: Illinois
275 posts, read 1,008,422 times
Reputation: 204
If you enjoy gardens, be sure to visit the Missouri Botanical Garden. If you like theater, check out the Fabulous Fox and see if you can get tickets to a show. It is a beautiful theater and a treat. But, I recommend you splurge and buy the better tickets - upper balcony is difficult to see the stage without Opera glasses. If you like sports - try to catch a Cards game in the beautiful Busch Stadium. Good luck and have a nice visit.
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Old 08-29-2007, 11:31 AM
 
Location: Spokane, WA
67 posts, read 162,537 times
Reputation: 82
Great suggestions! I will print these out and take them with me. I'm going to have a hard time fitting all this in, but Forest Park & CWE sound like must-sees. Re: traffic, I was thinking more of routes/times to avoid both arriving and departing the city. I expect I'll be coming in via I70 from the west and departing the same way.
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Old 09-25-2007, 11:12 PM
 
Location: Spokane, WA
67 posts, read 162,537 times
Reputation: 82
Default Trip report

Hello all. I have completed my St. Louis day-and-a-half trip, and here are my observations.

I came into the city via I70 from Omaha via KC. Lots of trucks/traffic eastbound from KC, but relatively light westbound. Why would this be? I got in around 6PM, and yes I *made a wrong turn* (looking to get to Union Station) and ended up in E. St. Louis. The 'hood there looked pretty dicey, but I got turned around quickly and the car was not stripped and I was not car-jacked. Beginner's luck?

Oops ... arrived on the night of a Cards game AND the "taste of St. Louis". Basically that just meant a lot of traffic/detours, so I had to find my way on the side roads to the Hyatt. No big problems, just a bit of a delay. And look at me, all decked out in a Cardinals red T-shirt! Just an accident really, but I fit right in with the crowd!

I was pleasantly surprised by the Hyatt/Union Square situation. Yeah, it's a mall, but a tasteful one in a historic setting. I priceline'd the reservation and got $100/night which isn't too bad. The Hyatt nickles & dimes you by charging extra for parking and internet access ($10/night) which is annoying. At the Econolodge in Omaha both were free. Go figure.

So on my inaugural night, I walked down towards the arch, stopping to check out the Taste action. I didn't actually taste anything, just took in the crowds and the scenery. At the arch I got a lot of very good photos - the evening light was *just right*. Downtown has some *great* old buildings, lots of character.

The next day I set out on foot on a Forest Park excursion. The walk past the universities was nice. Some urban decay was evident, but the schools themselves looked great. Wow, what a great park! I was a bit surprised to find that all kinds of roads run through it, as well as the light rail line. I foolishly wore jeans and a polo shirt, and the temps were in the high 80s and humid, so I was pretty exhausted by the time I got there. I went into the park a ways then looped back, but I saw enough to know that all my walking needs could probably be satisfied in that one park. I wonder if it's safe after dark?

After the park, I did the CWE thing. Very cool houses. My personal opinion is that all the brand-new, $300K+, mock-historic-townhouse developments need to be razed and replaced with the originals, but that's just me. The CWE "restaurant row" was OK, but it didn't really have that "neighborhood feel" that you find in Seattle neighborhoods for example. It basically just felt like a locus of yuppification, not like something organic that was a cool neighborhood area back in, say, the 1930s. But maybe it was? The old CWE houses were stunning though, it was worth the walk just to gawk at those.

In the CWE I dropped in to a realtor's office and hooked up with a broker who specializes in city properties. He gave me a mini-orientation to where I'd find relatively low-priced vintage houses in decent neighborhoods. All of these were in the south part of the city as it turns out. So I used what remained of my afternoon to do a brief S. St. Louis tour. I *know* that I missed a lot of areas, but what I saw rocked.

First destination was the Lafeyette Square area. Jaw-dropping houses, but very, very expensive. Next up was the Carondelet area. Very cool .... this would probably be the sort of 'hood I'd end up in in STL. Most of this area seemed to be pretty well-taken-care-of ... nothing too shady going on, and there were many good houses and blocks to choose from. Prices seem quite reasonable.

As I continued my random walk I passed by the Tower Grove neighborhood which had some *amazing* houses along the north side. Really, really amazing. Out of my price range though. There were also many blocks of great houses along Connecticut near here, and these are somewhat less expensive I think. The realtor had mentioned the Benton Park neighborhood, but I didn't manage find this.

Dinner time. I took the advice of a previous poster and headed down to the Soulard neighborhood. First I checked out McGurks but it was big, packed, and noisy. Not my bag. A few steps down the block is Tuckers, where I had my 1st ever encounter with fried ravioli. Very tasty! I suspect it was a heart attack on a plate though. After that I had a club sandwich which was unlike any other club that I've ever had. I thought that club sandwiches were by definition 3 layers of bread? This was served on a hamburger bun. Odd, but the waiter led me to believe that this was the STL way of doing a club sandwich? When in Rome ....

And that was the end of my St. Louis trip --- the next day I hit I70 to Omaha and then on to home. I was *very* impressed by St. Louis, I wish I had several more days to spend there to explore the various neighborhoods. I had been considering a move to Omaha, but now I'm leaning towards St. Louis -- there seemed to be so much more going on there, and so many more interesting neighborhoods. And RE prices are very similar, but with lower RE taxes in St. Louis.

So thanks to the folks here for your advice. You contributed greatly to a very enjoyable trip.
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Old 09-26-2007, 05:19 AM
 
Location: No city lights here
1,280 posts, read 3,848,098 times
Reputation: 473
Quote:
Originally Posted by CellarBelle View Post
If you enjoy gardens, be sure to visit the Missouri Botanical Garden. If you like theater, check out the Fabulous Fox and see if you can get tickets to a show. It is a beautiful theater and a treat. But, I recommend you splurge and buy the better tickets - upper balcony is difficult to see the stage without Opera glasses. If you like sports - try to catch a Cards game in the beautiful Busch Stadium. Good luck and have a nice visit.
This is what I was going to say...

I have pictures of botanical Garden but I dont think I have of the Fabulous Fox - hmm I should .. the Fox is decorated in Indian / Asian feel ... its spectacular .. I have seen musicals and Meat Loaf there - both were awesome!
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Old 09-26-2007, 05:23 AM
 
Location: No city lights here
1,280 posts, read 3,848,098 times
Reputation: 473
Quote:
Originally Posted by Infidel View Post
Hello all. I have completed my St. Louis day-and-a-half trip, and here are my observations.

I came into the city via I70 from Omaha via KC. Lots of trucks/traffic eastbound from KC, but relatively light westbound. Why would this be? I got in around 6PM, and yes I *made a wrong turn* (looking to get to Union Station) and ended up in E. St. Louis. The 'hood there looked pretty dicey, but I got turned around quickly and the car was not stripped and I was not car-jacked. Beginner's luck?

Oops ... arrived on the night of a Cards game AND the "taste of St. Louis". Basically that just meant a lot of traffic/detours, so I had to find my way on the side roads to the Hyatt. No big problems, just a bit of a delay. And look at me, all decked out in a Cardinals red T-shirt! Just an accident really, but I fit right in with the crowd!

I was pleasantly surprised by the Hyatt/Union Square situation. Yeah, it's a mall, but a tasteful one in a historic setting. I priceline'd the reservation and got $100/night which isn't too bad. The Hyatt nickles & dimes you by charging extra for parking and internet access ($10/night) which is annoying. At the Econolodge in Omaha both were free. Go figure.

So on my inaugural night, I walked down towards the arch, stopping to check out the Taste action. I didn't actually taste anything, just took in the crowds and the scenery. At the arch I got a lot of very good photos - the evening light was *just right*. Downtown has some *great* old buildings, lots of character.

The next day I set out on foot on a Forest Park excursion. The walk past the universities was nice. Some urban decay was evident, but the schools themselves looked great. Wow, what a great park! I was a bit surprised to find that all kinds of roads run through it, as well as the light rail line. I foolishly wore jeans and a polo shirt, and the temps were in the high 80s and humid, so I was pretty exhausted by the time I got there. I went into the park a ways then looped back, but I saw enough to know that all my walking needs could probably be satisfied in that one park. I wonder if it's safe after dark?

After the park, I did the CWE thing. Very cool houses. My personal opinion is that all the brand-new, $300K+, mock-historic-townhouse developments need to be razed and replaced with the originals, but that's just me. The CWE "restaurant row" was OK, but it didn't really have that "neighborhood feel" that you find in Seattle neighborhoods for example. It basically just felt like a locus of yuppification, not like something organic that was a cool neighborhood area back in, say, the 1930s. But maybe it was? The old CWE houses were stunning though, it was worth the walk just to gawk at those.

In the CWE I dropped in to a realtor's office and hooked up with a broker who specializes in city properties. He gave me a mini-orientation to where I'd find relatively low-priced vintage houses in decent neighborhoods. All of these were in the south part of the city as it turns out. So I used what remained of my afternoon to do a brief S. St. Louis tour. I *know* that I missed a lot of areas, but what I saw rocked.

First destination was the Lafeyette Square area. Jaw-dropping houses, but very, very expensive. Next up was the Carondelet area. Very cool .... this would probably be the sort of 'hood I'd end up in in STL. Most of this area seemed to be pretty well-taken-care-of ... nothing too shady going on, and there were many good houses and blocks to choose from. Prices seem quite reasonable.

As I continued my random walk I passed by the Tower Grove neighborhood which had some *amazing* houses along the north side. Really, really amazing. Out of my price range though. There were also many blocks of great houses along Connecticut near here, and these are somewhat less expensive I think. The realtor had mentioned the Benton Park neighborhood, but I didn't manage find this.

Dinner time. I took the advice of a previous poster and headed down to the Soulard neighborhood. First I checked out McGurks but it was big, packed, and noisy. Not my bag. A few steps down the block is Tuckers, where I had my 1st ever encounter with fried ravioli. Very tasty! I suspect it was a heart attack on a plate though. After that I had a club sandwich which was unlike any other club that I've ever had. I thought that club sandwiches were by definition 3 layers of bread? This was served on a hamburger bun. Odd, but the waiter led me to believe that this was the STL way of doing a club sandwich? When in Rome ....

And that was the end of my St. Louis trip --- the next day I hit I70 to Omaha and then on to home. I was *very* impressed by St. Louis, I wish I had several more days to spend there to explore the various neighborhoods. I had been considering a move to Omaha, but now I'm leaning towards St. Louis -- there seemed to be so much more going on there, and so many more interesting neighborhoods. And RE prices are very similar, but with lower RE taxes in St. Louis.

So thanks to the folks here for your advice. You contributed greatly to a very enjoyable trip.
sounds like a good time!!
I never heard of a club sandwich like that and I have lived in this area all of my life!

LoL and I get made fun of for always taking the wrong turn and ending up in E.St.Louis ........... and as you may have read many of the ppl on here will say how can one make a wrong turn- very easily! I swear its the last minute signs!
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Old 09-26-2007, 08:26 AM
 
Location: Spokane, WA
67 posts, read 162,537 times
Reputation: 82
Default Wrong turn

I remember that I was specifically looking for signs that said I64/40 West, so that I could head west and get off at Jefferson. It seemed like at that intersection you get abruptly hit with an explosion of signs, and I wasn't able to pick out anything that said "west", so I took the next best choice and just followed the 64/40 signs that I *did* see, which happened to go east. None of the options looked right but it seemed smarter to at least be on the right highway in order to facilitate turning around at some point.
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Old 09-26-2007, 04:59 PM
 
1,816 posts, read 5,076,161 times
Reputation: 623
Just something to point out....McGurk's is a much different place when there is a home Cardinal baseball game and when there isn't, for future reference....you can dine peacefully, sit outside and even here the water of the fountains.

Next time try Washington Ave for some social life and huge old restored brick lofts.

To many locals, Union Station is a tourist trap. Hyatt is a nice hotel if a bit overpriced. Nice to see once though and if you are attending a game or concert next door to the 22000 seat arena, it's a good spot.

New ventures for future reference....just an fyi...next to the ball park is a big gaping hole that will be a new mix of commercial, retail and housing called Ball Park Village. It's been well discussed and will be completed within a couple of years. There is also a new casino and housing going up on Laclede's Landing on the riverfront near the Arch grounds. ..."The Landing" again is a weekend tourist area and prime ground for home Rams games....but it needs a facelift and development....and is getting some.

There needs to be a better way of connecting those Arch grounds to downtown...and has been discussed forever....with the interchange blocking it from downtown. Too many chiefs not enough indians. And perhaps adding some other things in or near that park as well.

There is still plenty of urban decay and development is slow, but some things have helped turned the corner....

BTW there is no such thing as restaurant row in CWE...it has 3 separate intersections of activity and restaurants....

Also next time, you'd be a fan of the U City loop and Wash U architecture if you missed it this past time.


Pioneer Square is nice in Seattle, a bit overrated, but nice. Some later evening shootings in that area are not all that uncommon mixed in with homelessness, including when I have been there...mostly from the mischief of bars and clubs in that area. Seattle is definitely more of a quiet metro. Very aesthetically beautiful, water everywhere, compact, ....but the metro size of Seattle and STL are very similar....STL doesn't have something with proximity of Portland or Vancouver however.

STL is definitely much bigger with much more going on than say Omaha or Kansas City.
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Old 09-26-2007, 08:43 PM
 
Location: Illinois
275 posts, read 1,008,422 times
Reputation: 204
I love Meatloaf! To listen to, that is. Heck, I don't mind it for dinner, either! Love, Love, Love the Fabulous Fox. I think it is a true gem.
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