Tuesday, June 18, 2013

St. Louis, Part 2: Downtown

On Sunday (May 25), we got up and had a leisurely morning at the hotel, taking advantage of their free hot breakfast and giving Ellie a chance to practice walking before putting her down for her nap. When she woke up, we went downtown to do some sightseeing. But before we started sightseeing in earnest, we grabbed some lunch at the Arch View Cafe on the riverboat docks for a meal with a view.

Left: Eric and Ellie at the Arch View Cafe; Right: Ellie and me enjoying lunch with a great view of the Gateway Arch

Hanging out along the Mississippi River

The weather was cool and rainy that afternoon, and just as we finished our lunch the rain really began to fall. We booked it to the Old Courthouse to check that out and seek some shelter from the rain. The Old Courthouse was the site of the first of the two landmark Dred Scott trials, as well as the trial of Virginia Minor's case for women's right to vote. We spent some time exploring the exhibits and admiring the architecture until the rain died down a bit.

Left: The Old Courthouse; Right: Statue of Dred and Harriet Scott in front of the Courthouse

Eric sitting at the judge's bench in a replica courtroom, designed to look as it would have at the time of the Dred Scott trial

The dome of the Courthouse

We had timed-tickets to go up to the top of the Gateway Arch, and when we finished at the Courthouse, we still had a little time to kill. We spent our time perusing the gift shops, taking some pictures and briefly walking through the Museum of Westward Expansion.

On the steps of the Courthouse

Fun with bonnets in the gift shop!

Thomas Jefferson at the entrance to the Museum of Westward Expansion

When it was finally our "time" to head up to the top of the Arch, we got in line where they distributed boarding passes of sorts - colored tickets to indicate the order in which we would all board the trams to the top. We still had a little while longer to wait, so we passed the time by dancing and singing, and then practicing walking a bit.

We're ready to go!

Just strutting her stuff while we wait our turn!

Finally, we were called in to board the trams. They gave us some instructions, showed a short video about the history and architecture of the Arch, and then let us get into our trams. Each tram is really this teeny, tiny little pod that only seats five people max, and it's a very close fit. If you are claustrophobic, this is not a place for you. The ride to the top takes about four minutes, and you can look out the tram door and see all the stairs and such used for building/maintenance of the Arch. Everything else around you is solid steel.

Tram doors

Left: Ellie and me on the tram - tight fit! Right: Everyone boarding their trams

You can see how tightly packed people are inside!

When we reached the top, the interior of the Arch was about what I expected: a narrow room with skinny little windows on either side. The views were fabulous!

Hello, St. Louis.

The baseball stadium - we would be there in a week and a half!

Left: Looking straight down from one of the windows; Right: Ellie and me at 630 feet

Looking down at the Old Courthouse

All of us at the top of the Arch!

By the time we exited the Arch, the sun had finally come out. Ellie was plumb tuckered out, but we couldn't help but pause for just a few more photos with a pretty blue sky backdrop.

One of our favorite pictures from the trip

The Arch - it's really quite photogenic!

She St. Louis-ed till she dropped.

Given the sleepiness of the babe we decided to pack it in for sightseeing for the day. We had plans to go to Pappy's Smokehouse for some BBQ for dinner, followed by a dessert duo: Gooey Louie butter cake and Ted Drewes frozen custard. When we arrived at Pappy's, however, there was a line out the door. It probably would have been at least an hour wait - something we could've handled as a twosome, but with a pooped kiddo, it was a no-go...no matter how great it smelled as we drove by. We ended up picking up some Fazoli's instead, which is so not the same, but was still tasty. Also, Gooey Louie was already closed for the day, so we had to pass on the butter cake (for the time being!). We did, however, have success at Ted Drewes, and left with a mint Oreo concrete and brownie/cookie dough concrete to share. If I'm being honest, it was good, but we weren't really sure what all the hype was about.

Ted Drewes frozen custard: a Route 66 Roadside Attraction!

And that was it - another day. We took our dinner back to the hotel to eat and got Ellie to bed as soon as possible, then retired ourselves a bit later. We had to rest up for one more morning in St. Louis before continuing on to our second destination!

Coming up tomorrow: The St. Louis Zoo and our trip to Milwaukee, with a stop in Bloomington!

To see more pictures from downtown St. Louis, click here.


Lauren said...

Wow the arch looks amazing, great pics girl!

Meghan said...

I am really only familiar with the arch - it's been ages since I've been to St. Louis! I love all of the Ellie pics:) She is too cute!