The James S. McDonnell Planetarium
The James S. McDonnell Planetarium is one of the nation's leading space-education facilities, focusing on astronomy, space sciences, and aviation. It opened in 1963 and became part of the Saint Louis Science Center in 1983. After extensive renovations between 1983 and 1984, it reopened in 1985.
The main feature of the planetarium is the 80-foot (24-meter) dome where 9,000 stars and planets are projected in shows every half-hour. Eclipses, meteor showers, and other celestial phenomena can be projected onto the dome. Visitors can also see how the night sky looked 10,000 years ago, and how it will appear 10,000 years from now.
Also popular is the Boeing Space Station, where visitors can learn what it is like to live and work on the International Space Station. The planetarium has two levels of displays that illustrate the history and future of space exploration.
The Saint Louis Science Center
The Saint Louis Science Center features more than 500 interactive and hands-on exhibits covering such topics as the human senses, computers, flight, space, building, mining, medicine, weather, and prehistoric times. The museum is housed in four main buildings: the Main Building (pictured here), the James S. McDonnell Planetarium, the Exploradome, and the Taylor Community Science Resource Center. The Saint Louis Science Center has been named one of the top five science centers in the United States by the Association of Science and Technology Centers.
The museum was founded in 1959 as the Museum of Science and Natural History by an organization called the Academy of Science of Saint Louis. It was originally located in suburban Clayton. In 1983, the museum was expanded to include the James S. McDonnell Planetarium, and the entire operation moved to its present site in Forest Park. It opened in 1985.
The Main Building is separate from the other buildings, and is located south of Interstate 64. It includes the IMAX Dome Theater with a 15,000-watt sound system.
The James S. McDonnell Planetarium is one of the nation's leading space-education facilities. (See my tip about the planetarium for additional information).
The Exploradome contains exhibits and hosts large events. Children will be thrilled by two life-size animated dinosaurs. The Discovery Room, with exhibits designed specifically for children, offers science toys and tools to play with, a small cave and tepee to climb in, and small live animals to hold and pet. Other attractions include an hourly laser show and an underground tunnel that simulates a coal mine.
The Taylor Community Science Resource Center hosts educational programs for young people.
The Anheuser-Busch Brewery
The year 2002 marked the 150th anniversary that the Anheuser-Busch Brewery has been brewing beer. Visitors to the brewery can see 150 years of tradition in the brewing of Budweiser, starting with such raw ingredients as barley, malt, hops, rice, yeast, and water and ending with the finished product. (Budweiser is the most popular brand of beer produced by the company. Introduced in 1876, it was the first national beer brand). A tour of the brewery also includes a visit to the bottling and packaging process. Visitors who are of legal age are allowed two samples of beer in the Hospitality Room at the end of the tour.
The brewery was founded in 1852 by Eberhard Anheuser, a German immigrant. In 1869, Adolphus Busch, Anheuser's son-in-law, became a partner in the business, and Anheuser-Busch was born. The brewery was the first in the nation to use pasteurization to keep the beer fresh, artificial refrigeration, and refrigerated railroad cars to keep the beer cold during shipping.
The Saint Louis brewery is made up of 189 structures that cover 142 acres (57 hectares) of land. The Romanesque brick buildings have been listed as a National Historic Landmark District, and three of its buildings have been listed as National Historic Landmarks.
Anheuser-Busch is the largest brewer of beer in the United States, selling almost 49 percent of the beer sold in the country. The annual output amounts to 11,000,000,000 bottles of Budweiser. Production is spread among 12 breweries across the United States. Operations are also located in 20 other countries around the world. Besides Budweiser, other popular brands brewed by the company include Bud Light, Natural Light, Busch, and Michelob. In addition, they produce about 100 other types of beer, beer imports, specialty beers, and malt liquors.
Visitors will also want to see the Budweiser Clydesdale horses that are a well-known symbol of Anheuser-Busch. Clydesdale horses were used to deliver beer to local taverns and hotels in the early days of Anheuser-Busch. Nowadays, the Budweiser Clydesdales make appearances at hundreds of parades and festivals all over the United States.
The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial was established to commemorate the Louisiana Purchase (which sparked the westward expansion of the United States), the first civil government west of the Mississippi River, and the debate over slavery raised by the Dred Scott case. The 91-acre (37-hectare) site contains the Gateway Arch (pictured here), the Old Courthouse where the Dred Scott case was argued, and the 45,000-square-foot (4,181-square-meter) Museum of Westward Expansion. The Old Cathedral is surrounded by the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, but is technically not part of it.
Construction of the memorial took several decades because of delays caused by wars and other problems. Plans for the memorial began in the 1930s; the land was cleared of buildings beginning in 1942; formal dedication by Missouri native, President Harry Truman, occured in 1950; construction began in 1961; and it was finally completed in 1965.
The Old Cathedral
Officially named the Basilica of Saint Louis, the first cathedral west of the Mississippi River is more popularly known as the Old Cathedral. It sits on a site reserved by Pierre Laclède, the founder of Saint Louis, for a church and cemetery. The original building, built in 1770, was made of logs and was dedicated to Saint Louis IX, the patron saint of the city and the church. A second log church was constructed at the site in 1776.
In 1826, Saint Louis became a Diocese, and a church befitting that honor was necessary. The current church was constructed between 1831 and 1834, and was the first example of Greek Revival architecture in Missouri.
In 1961, Pope John XXIII declared the church a basilica, recognizing it as "a treasure of the universal church." When the Saint Louis riverfront was cleared of old buildings to make way for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, the Old Cathedral was the only building not demolished. It is surrounded by the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, but is not a part of it.
The Old Cathedral has recently been renovated with original furnishings. It also contains a museum featuring historical documents and items, as well as a bell dating from 1774.
Laclede's Landing has become the principal entertainment district of Saint Louis. Named after Pierre Laclède, the founder of Saint Louis, the area has the feel of the nineteenth-century riverfront with restored century-old brick buildings and cobbled streets. The nine-block district is located on the riverfront at the site where Pierre Laclède founded the first settlement that would become Saint Louis.
The district is notable for its warehouses with brick and cast-iron façades that date from the 1850s to the early 1900s. These warehouses were used to store goods, such as coffee, leather goods, whiskey, tobacco, and machinery, that were to be shipped by barge to various towns and cities up and down the Mississippi River.
Nowadays, Laclede's Landing features numerous specialty shops, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, outdoor cafes, and theaters. Visitors can take carriage rides around the district and enjoy live music at night. Laclede's Landing also hosts several larg-scale events, such as the Big Muddy Blues Festival, Rocktoberfest, Mardi Gras, the Big Bloody Booze Festival, and Saint Patrick's Day and Independence Day festivities.
The Saint Louis Floral Conservatory
The Saint Louis Floral Conservatory, also called the Jewel Box, is a floral conservator that features a permanent collection of hundreds of flowers supplemented by changing displays of seasonal flowers and plants. There is also a collection of tropical trees and plants. The interior features a large fountain and a water feature, and outside the greenhouse sits in pleasant surroundings which include rose gardens, lily ponds, statuary, and monuments.
The Art Deco conservatory was designed by William Becker, an engineer with the city's Board of Public Works, and was completed in 1936. The building is 50 feet (15 meters) high, and has 16,664 square feet (1,548 square meters) of glass plates over 4,000 panes. The interior contains 7,500 square feet (697 square meters) of floor space. Because it was believed impossible to place a heavy metal roof on top of a glass greenhouse, most greenhouse builders refused to submit bids for its construction.
The Saint Louis Floral Conservatory is commonly called the Jewel Box because after construction, someone observed that the building "looks like a jewel box."
The Saint Louis Floral Conservatory has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Gateway Arch
The Gateway Arch is an iconic symbol of Saint Louis, and is recognizeable worldwide. It is made of stainless steel which shines and glimmers in the sunlight. The arch is the tallest structure in Saint Louis, and rises to a height of 630 feet (192 meters).
Because Saint Louis is the "Gateway to the West," city planners wanted to construct a monument to the spirit of the pioneers who departed from the city on their way west. A nationwide competition for the design of the monument was held in 1948. The soaring arch designed by Finnish architect, Eero Saarinen, was chosen as an appropriate monument to westward expansion.
Construction did not begin until 1963, but the project was completed only two years later, in 1965. Designed to last 1,000 years, the arch is anchored into the bedrock 60 feet (18 meters) into the ground, and is able to withstand high winds and earthquakes.
Shimmies & Shakes !!!
This young couple are dancing in the streets in downtown St. Louis over Labor Day Weekend at the Blues Festival. There is beer-food-music, and a good time. If you are ever in St. Louis over Labor Day, check out the Festival.
Mark Twain's Childhood
Hannibal is in a great location for a day trip from St. Louis.
Famous for being home to Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), it is located right on the Mississippi River and has much to offer visitors.
Besides Mark Twain's boyhood home, there's also a museum (which has original Norman Rockwells), a lighthouse built in honor of Twain, and several businesses on Main Street that are historic buildings in their own right. This main business district is but one of several historic districts in the town and county.
There is also a statue of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn on a hill with great views of the river.
Don't pay for the boyhood home visit - you can't actually go in - but just enjoy the town's historic buildings and river views.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Family Travel
Kansas City Museums
The Museums at 18th & Vine are a pair of museums in Kansas City dedicated to the city's rich African-American history. They are fascinating. One museum is dedicated to jazz. The other half of the museum is the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. This part tells in glorious detail the history of the Negro Leagues, the teams, the players, the struggles the players went through just to play America's national pasttime.
In between the two museums are some pieces from general African-American history. It has amazing pieces such as actual slave chains. It is troubling yet interesting to see.
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art has classic European artists, contemporary artists, Asian art, & on the surrounding land, a fantastic sculpture garden including. This museum and its sculpture garden are pictured on my Missouri Overview page.Related to:
- Museum Visits
- Arts and Culture
Independence, Truman's Home
Harry S Truman was the USA's 33rd President and a very popular guy. He grew up in a small town just outside Kansas City near the Missouri-Kansas border. This town has not only the home to which he retired but also the church where he married Bess and the store where he had his first job. His presidential library is here as well.
Quaint is a word that is oftentimes over used for small, midwest towns but it is true of Independence. Besides President Truman's home, other homes are well-kept and stunning examples of several different eras of architecture.
The library shows his life as politician but the house, church, and shop show the average, small-town man behind the world stage.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
- Family Travel
The Jesse James Home
Located just a couple of blocks from the Pony Express Museum, this home was the famous outlaw's home where he lived with his wife and kids under an assumed name. His notorious past caught up to him however, and he was shot and killed in this home in 1882.
This museum is educational and perfect for children who are learning or have learned about the wild west in school. But we adults find it pretty interesting too:-)Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
- Family Travel
Pony Express National Museum
For a short while in American history brave young men raced their horses back and forth between Missouri and California. The Pony Express is one of those iconic pieces of America that lasts over the decades and centuries. Everyone has heard of it and in St. Joseph, you can learn all about it in the actual stables the real riders used.
The museum (which costs ~$4 to get in) is housed in the old Pony Express stables. You can see maps of their routes, their equipment, information about the riders, how and why the express came to an end, and finds from an archeological dig done in the 1990s.
Kids will love it especially because most riders weren't that old, making it easy for boys to imagine themselves in the riders' role.
It's located in an area of St. Joseph with lots of other historic stops all within walking distance so it makes a great stop on any road trip and, after reading what those riders went through, you'll be grateful you're riding through town in a car, not a horse.Related to:
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
- Family Travel
Downtown Kansas City
Considering that Kansas City is the largest city in Missouri, to put anything else in front of it on things to do would be a stretch.
If you are heading to this great city, then you will find plenty to entertain you. Kansas City has many different options, from the sports teams like the Kansas City Royals and Chiefs, but also some of the best meat eating in the country is available here. Most premium steakhouses brag about their "Kansas City Bone-in Strip", well, here they just call it a strip.
There is also plenty of western heritage in Kansas City, including Fort Osage and the National Frontiers Trail. Also, don't miss the Mahaffie Stage Coach Stop and Farm. I am sure you can run into some mention of Jesse James somewhere in the mix. A little further north is the home of the Pony Express in St. Joseph.
Photo #1: Downtown Kansas City from Westin Crown Center.
Food and Family fun are a go in KC, so for more information, check out the link below to the Kansas City Tourism Board.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Business Travel
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