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St. Louis Gateway Arch Overhead

Road Trip: St. Louis

April 27, 2018 Sarah Coggins

The St. Louis Arch has been on my “to see” list for some time. Both from an architectural perspective and a chance to check off another National Park, I was curious to see and experience it in person.

St. Louis: Family Friendly Adventures

Last fall as we planned a trip to Northwest Arkansas for my cousin’s wedding, we included St. Louis in our itinerary. It happened a bit by chance as we were trying to determine the simplest way to fly westward with our kids. I wasn’t a big fan of multiple flights and layovers with kids in tow. Instead, we chose a direct flight from Raleigh to St. Louis. Then drove south for the wedding weekend before returning to sight see. With our limited schedule, we had one full day to enjoy the city and made the most of it.

Gateway Arch

Our first stop of the day was, of course, the Arch. The Arch area was undergoing some renovations so we found our way to the Old Courthouse first to learn a bit about the Arch and purchase our tickets.

St. Louis Gateway Arch: Scrapbook Album Page
Credits: March 17 template and You are Here elements by Sahlin Studio; Life is an Adventure Part 2 Collaboration Kit from The Lilypad.

Each side of the Arch has small tram cars that fit a maximum of 5 people. The cars “stair step” their way up the curves to the top. Visiting on a Monday in early November meant there was almost no crowd and we quickly secured a car for the 4 of us. (Tip: put the tallest member of your party in the back center seat – the tram car height is highest at this point.)

At the very top of the Arch, there is an area to walk around with windows looking out over the city of St. Louis and across the Mississippi River into Illinois. The views were amazing and captivated all of us. Our son found a spot to work and complete the Junior Ranger program.

St. Louis Gateway Arch: Working on Junior Ranger Program

After we returned to the entry area below the Arch, he turned in his pamphlet and received his badge. The Park Ranger was kind enough to give one to little sister too because, of course, she wants to do everything big brother does! The 3 of us also added cancellation stamps to our National Parks Passport books.

St. Louis Zoo

I’d heard good things about the St. Louis Zoo and, with the sun shining in the afternoon, it was the perfect adventure with our kids. The Zoo was just the right size to spend a few hours exploring. We all managed to locate and spend time watching our favorite animals.

St. Louis Zoo: Scrapbook Album Page
Credits: Clean Lined Pocket Templates No 2 by Sahlin Studio; Project Mouse (Animal): elements by Britt-ish Designs and Sahlin Studio.

We started our visit on the west side and slowly made our way through the entire zoo. One of my favorite spots was Penguin and Puffin Coast. I’ve always found Penguins so fun to watch. All in all, it was such beautiful place and great choice for our afternoon. We all enjoyed it.

Hard Rock Cafe

I have a collection of pins from various Hard Rock Cafes as well as the ill fated Hard Rock Park in Myrtle Beach, SC (anyone else recall that theme park?). When we saw there was a Hard Rock in St. Louis, we discussed stopping by if we had time so I could purchase a pin. As our day progressed, we quickly decided it might make a good dinner stop if it wasn’t too crowded. Due to construction in the area, it took us a bit of driving around to locate it. Once we did, we were glad we made the effort.

St. Louis: Hard Rock Cafe

Whether it was the construction or, like the Arch, being a Monday in November – the Hard Rock Cafe was quite empty. There were maybe 4 other parties the entire time we were there. This ended up being perfect for us as it meant we could be seated immediately and our tired, hungry kids received their food fast.

St. Louis: Hard Rock Cafe Kids' Meal

Another plus, the kids were really into the music and fun videos airing on TVs around the restaurant. They also were able to easily wander around checking out the memorabilia.

During the meal, we caught a glimpse of flames out the window. Our server quickly explained they were part of a show that takes place behind the building at regular intervals each evening. After dinner, we headed outside to take a peek. The Fire and Light Show was a neat way to end our trip.

There are so many more things to see and do in St Louis. We’ll have to plan another future trip.

Have you ever visited St. Louis? What’s your favorite spot or attraction?


  • Hannah May 12, 2019 at 5:28 pm
    We live less than an hour outside of St. Louis, so it's not really a vacation spot for us. But as well as the things you mentioned, we love the Botanical Gardens, the Science Center, and Fitz's in the Loop!
    • Sarah Coggins May 14, 2019 at 12:41 pm
      Great suggestions! I'll definitely have to check these out the next time we visit. Hopefully we'll have more time to explore then.

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    Hi! I'm a DIY and craft obsessed mom to 2. I have my hands covered in sawdust or paint any given day. My husband and kids join me in many of our projects. When we aren't creating at home, we're creating memories in our many adventures. Join along! Read More


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