Private Train at Union Station
Favorite thing: NOTE; How sad, but I just learned today, September 4, 2008, that this tour is no longer available because the train was sold in 2006.
While Jill and I were going back and forth to our hotel, The Hyatt Regency at Union Station, we noticed a beautiful green train on the tracks.
Now, that was rather curious since the Union Station has been closed as a railroad terminal since 1978. We looked into this mystery and discovered that the green train is a private train that is used for dinner cruises and private events.
Rail Cruise America offers romantic dinner cruises most Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings. Each dinner cruise lasts two to three hours. It is advertised as an "elegant dining experience."
he executive chef, Michael Slay, says that he makes sure the meal is a memorable one.
If you decide to take a Rail Cruise through RailCruise America, you will be seated in one of the luxuriously appointed rail cars that feature "rich mahogany, black walnut, polished brass, and hunter green and gold accents." This Rail Cruise is noted for its impeccable service and exquisite cuisine.
The train departs from St. Louis Union Station, but the literature does not say what the destination will be.
Fondest memory: How exciting it would be to be able to afford to book a longer excursion for a private event such as an anniversary party, retirement party, or birthday party.
For prices, reservations, and more information, see the telephone number and website listed below:
Address: #400 Union Station, St. Louis, MO
This certainly represents a one-of-a-kind dining experience.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Food and Dining
- Luxury Travel
Tour the Missouri Botanical Garden
Favorite thing: If weather permits, tour the Missouri Botanical Garden. The day we had scheduled to visit, it rained all day.
Because we love nature so much, we were eager to see this famous Botanical Garden which is known throughout the nation as the best in the United States!
The Missouri Botanical Garden opened in 1859 and has been designated as a National Historic Landmark.
It covers 79 acres and is a center for botanical research, education, and horticultural display.
This year because of the Lewis and Clark Expedition celebration, be sure to see an exhibit of plants encountered by Lewis and Clark.
There are narrated tram Tours, a Garden Cafe, a Garden Gate Shop.
Parking is FREE
Fondest memory: Information needed:
9 a.m.-5 p.m. seven days a week
Memorial Day to Labor Day: Open Wednesday evenings until 9 p.m.
Morning walking hours: Wed.-Sat. 7-9 a.m.
Accessible to people of all abilities
Known as "an oasis in the city"
4344 Shaw Boulevard
A short drive southeast of Forest Park.
$7.00 for ages 13-64
$5 for age 65 and over
St. Louis City/County Residents:
$3 for ages 13-64
$1.50 for age 65 and older
FREE for members & children 12 & under
SPECIAL ADMISSION CHARGE FOR SOME
Things to see:
a geodesic dome greenhouse of tropical rain forest, waterfalls, and birds.
An authentic 14 acre Japanese garden (The largest in North America)
Kemper Center for Home Gardening:
Nation's most comprehensive resource center for gardening information with 23 demonstration gardens over 8 acres.
A formal Victorian-style garden with an observatory overlooking a maze of 8-foot hedges.
Shoenberg Temperate House:
A tiled Moorish garden, carnivorous plant bog, and "Plants of the Bible" area.
In addition, there are areas for Roses, English Woodlands, and Orchids to name a few.
I regret missing this outstanding Botanical Garden. Guess I will have to return to St. Louis.
(Note: This is not my photograph. I scanned it from a brochure.)
History Museum's Lewis & Clark Exhibition
Favorite thing: Note: This tip was written by Jill and Dee (Mostly Jill)
The new Lewis & Clark Exhibition at the Missouri Historical Museum costs $12.00 and is worth it. This exhibition celebrates 200 years since the Lewis & Clark expedition.
Outside the exhibit, the experience began as a staff member used a fur-covered box to demonstrate the Indians' skill at using materials in their environment, showing the use of buffalo sinew, porcupine guill, a feather, etc. After purchasing tickets, we viewed a video with background information to prepare us for the exhibit itself.
Jill's impressions on the Special Exhibition of Lewis & Clark:
Today's style of interactive material is very evident. Extremely thorough signs at the exhibit are supplemented by material given through earphones like those at the Art Museum which are computer regulated and easily used. Visitors had a choice in the order that they moved through the exhibit; thus, the crowd moved quite smoothly, not crowding at one spot. I was impressed by the quality of the background information given by the curator and other experts.
Fondest memory: The Historical Society's exhibit had several interactive choices that were fun and challenging such as matching plants with descriptions and scents; playing a game to see how Clark communicated with Indians through many interpreters.
When the visitor successfully matched the order of interpretation, he/she could listen to a message being transmitted in 4 languages (English, French, Shoshone, and Hidatsu). Another game let visitors match fur or paw prints with animals.
The exhibit featured good signs that were visible in the low light. The signs told the owner of each artifact and also indicated which were reproductions. As a worker in a little museum, I was astonished at the artifacts gathered from many sources, including private collectors; though, many came from the Smithsonian and Harvard's Peabody Museum.
I especially liked the thoroughness of attribution. For example, a beautiful tanned hide dress was thought to be Sacajawea's but not authenticated. It would have been tempting to just say that it was hers.
The exhibit was thorough, but very visitor-friendly and understandable by children. I loved it all and have never seen a better presentation, and I am a museum-goer.
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
Art of the Osage at Saint Louis Art Museum
Favorite thing: Thank goodness I saw a small article in the Chicago Tribuneabout the art of the Osage at the St. Louis Art Museum! Museum is free but this special exhibit cost $8.00 for seniors and $10.00 for others.
This text was written by Jill Martin after we visited the Saint Louis Art Museum.
The St. Louis Art Museum featured an exhibit on the Art of the Osage Indians. In this exhibit, "art" is meant as any artifact made by the Osage, for utility or decoration. Items were loaned from the Smithsonian and other museums, but much of the 20th century material came from a family of Osage artisans, one of whom was featured on an accompanying video.
The exhibit offered audio headsets, with much background information provided by the curator and by Osage Indians. The audio was programed to correspond with numbers on signs so that the exhibit could be viewed in any order.
Traditional glass cases contained several examples of an item, such as clothing, headdresses, quilts. A neutral background emphasized the brilliant colors of the objects.
In the video, the current Principal Chief of the Osage nation told the history of their removal from the area of Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas to Osage and other counties in Oklahoma.
He said the Osage kept title to the mineral rights of their land; so, when oil was discovered in the 1920's, they became rich. Unfortunately, they lost most of their money during the Depression. The original 20,000 declined to 1000, but today they have rebounded to 20,00 again.
Fondest memory: The beautiful handwork of the women was shown, including quilts commemorating Osage soldiers in World War I and II.
Other hand made items include "wedding jackets" with a history. Colonial soldiers gave Osage Indian chiefs military jackets. Too small for the men, the jackets were appropriated by women, and a tradition grew of using the jackets in place of wedding gowns. Osage women sewed and decorated new jackets; traditionalists still wear them today at their weddings.
I found the story of their attempts to join modern society while retaining their historic attitudes very moving. The Native American churches of the Osage served as an example of their retention of their own values.
- Arts and Culture
- Museum Visits
For Breathtaking Mosaics, Visit Cathedral Basilica
Favorite thing: One very rainly afternoon, Jill and I took the MetroLink to the Forest Park stop, and then we walked to The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis. Even under less than ideal circumstances, it was worth it all.
What a glorious place. The architecture of the exterior is Romanesque with granite walls, two massive towers, and rose windows. The main dome is on an elevated drum that is pierced by Romanesque windows. It's the first roof that I've seen that is covered in brilliant green tiles which can be seen for miles.
The architecture of the inside is of Byzantine tradition. It has soaring domes, soffits, pendentive, arches, and the lunettes are paved with incredible mosaics. The literature indicates that there are "83,000 square feet of mosaic art created by twenty artists and installed over a period of seventy-five years"
These are Italian style mosaic mostly and were installed by either the Gorham Comapny or the Tiffany and Company.
This Cathedral Basilica has the largest mosaic collection in the world, "created by 20 different artists and covering 83,000 square feet." Can you imagine 41.5 MILLION pieces of glass and 7,000 colors. This was started in 1912 and not completed until 1988. It is the reason the Cathedral is designated a Basilica. I thought that the Mosaics of Ravenna, Italy, were great, but this is spectacular.
There is a Cathedral Shop on the west side of the vestibule that is open Mon.-Sunday from noon until 4 :00 pm. The proceeds are used for maintenance of the building.
Fondest memory: When Jill and I arrived at theCathedral Basilica, Mass was in session, so we visited the Mosaics Museum located on the lower level. I would suggest to everyone to visit this museum FIRST.
It shows the construction of the building and the creation and installation of its mosaics. In addition, the burial crypt of John Cardinal Glennon (he initiated the construction of the Cathedral) is located in this museum.
It is open from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.
- Religious Travel
- Historical Travel
The Gateway Arch
Favorite thing: A great starting point is the famous Gateway Arch, downtown near the Mississippi River. This huge, amazing architectural marvel, completed in the 1965, has an excellent museum inside & a very good gift shop. A National Historic monument guarantees that is is impressive. The ride up to the viewing windows at the top is worth the price, but try to go on a weekday to avoid a long line.
We had an incredible, free concert/ fireworks series outside there this last summer; I went 4 times! The Fourth of July weekend has a big event with music, food & fireworks. I've enjoyed that, too, sitting right under the Arch! You can count on this event happening again in 2008.
Fondest memory: The first time I saw the Arch was in 1966. I was visiting the city for a youth conference. My host made a point of driving us by the Arch. It still impresses after all these years!
- Family Travel
- Historical Travel
Stop at Visitor Centers
Favorite thing: If you do anything while traveling do this. Stop at all the visitor centers you can. There are always coupons for hotels, restaurants, events, and they usually have some kind of information on stuff going on while your passing through. You also get free maps. If you have any questions about how to get to places they are usually good at giving great directions and they can tell you what highways to avoid because of construction. We have a lot of that going on here.
Fondest memory: I love to go to Cardinal baseball games. The way the fans are and the way the players are is fantastic. The food is great but can be a little pricey. Blues games are always fun to go to also. But if you can go to a night game at Busch Stadium it is a great experience, expecially for the little ones.
- Family Travel
- Casino and Gambling
- Budget Travel
Going around St. Louis with a map
Favorite thing: At your hotel or at the St. Louis Information Center, you can get a free map of St. Louis.
Walkabout and/or use the Metrolink/Metrobus to get around the major landmarks of St. Louis.
Do not miss the St. Louis riverfront and the famous Busch Stadium which is the homebase of St Louis Cardinals basketball team as well as the Old St. Louis Union Station for shopping and dining.
Good intentions, but...
Favorite thing: On the St. Louis tourism web portal I was pleased to see the addresses for several tourist information centres listed. I made it part of my plan to visit the one at the airport as soon as we arrived in the city, hoping to get a bit more information to flesh out our sightseeing plans. It ended up being rather comical. The information centres are staffed by volunteers, and when we were there it was a couple in (I'm guessing) their late 70's, who are EXTREMELY hard of hearing, and somewhat confused as well. It turned out to be almost painful just to get a map and a tourist pamphlet out of them. They seemed totally baffled why I was asking them these questions. Clearly any more complex queries were not possible. Anyway, my point is don't count on getting a lot of information, other than the publications put out by the tourist board, from the information centre, as the volunteers may not be well trained and/or selected.
Old St Louis Courthouse
Favorite thing: This is a majestic Old Courthouse which is one of St. Louis landmark buildings for over 150 years.
There are several permanent exhibits inside with special events.
The courthous is famous courthouse for historical trials.
1) Freeing of black slave in 1847.
2) For woman's right to vote in the 1870s.
There is a tour to learn more about American 19th century court and law. But did not have time to join.
Old St. Louis Union Station
Favorite thing: This beautiful building located at Market Street was a very busy train station but is now converted into a shopping, restaurant, entertainment and a major hotel.
Worth spending an hour or two to explore.
Location: Market Street. Betwen18th Street and 20th Steet, St. Louis Downtown.
April Is Perfect!
Favorite thing: April is one of the Best Months to visit St. Louis!! But I'm in love with the season of Spring, so I'm certainly biased!! But Spring temperatures are so lovely and so are all the blooming trees and plants you see everywhere here! The heat & humidity of summer has not arrived yet, nor the insects.
Stroll in the neighborhoods, the many parks...Soulard is lovely & romantic....
This photo is of the magnolia tree in my backyard...so beautiful. You have to enlarge it with the "postcard" feature to really see the detail. This is how you can view the incredible blosssoms on this tree! Wow, right?!!
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Budget Travel
- School Holidays
Squished Pennies Rule!
Favorite thing: When I'm travelling and I find one of those machines that makes a little souvenir out of a penny, I always get excited. I've got quite a collection going. If you are also a fan of these you will be pleased to learn that St. Louis seems to be a squished penny town. In my limited exploration of the city, I found three. There is one in the gift shop at the International Bowling Hall of Fame/Cardinals Hall of Fame and it has four different dies to choose from. I got the one with the bowling pin car on it. There are at least two at Union Station as well.
restaurant reviews website
Favorite thing: http://www.saucemagazine.com/
is the web site of a hip local magazine about food.
I love to use it to find a new place to eat in the St. Louis area.
the site has a really good events calendar now, too. Quite useful! Try it!
- Food and Dining
- Budget Travel
- Business Travel
City's Official Web Site
Favorite thing: This site might be useful and interesting for the traveler. It has many, many links to all the cultural things & places AND much more. The tourist information is there, plus what our citizens need to know.
I use it all the time, to get information fast. I really do rely on it.
You can link to Forest Park's Boat House & find out how to rent a peal boat, too.