Guest Author - Rachel Rome
Meet Me in St. Louis, Missouri, was an invitation too good to resist especially because I have never been to this Midwest city. I enjoyed a girlfriends'
getaway here and it was fun shopping, eating, spa-ing, eating, and exploring.
St. Louis, on the Mississippi River, started as a French fur trading post, in 1764. It was part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1804, and was the start for the Lewis & Clark Expedition.
The best day spa in the area is the Wellbridge Center with the Solace Spa (in Clayton). Here, in a modern three-story building, the Solace Spa offers a full range of day spa treatments, from facials, to stone massages,to wraps, to Swedish massage; manicures and pedicures are also available in a relaxing, professional environment. You could easily spend a day here, luxuriating in one treatment after another, and then eat in any one of the Clayton restaurants.
Ready for my visit to St. Louis, I packed my bags, humming Judy Garlands Trolley Song from the movie, Meet Me in St. Louis, set during the 1904 St. Louis World Fair. The Fair is long gone, but not its legacy, which includes the stunning Forest Park, home of the art museum and other free museums. St. Louis, a lovely city on the Mississippi River, under the Arch, has intriguing history, and a St. Louis History Museum, explaining it, including being the launching site of the Meriwether Lewis and Clark 1804-1806 Voyage of Discovery Expedition up the Missouri River to the Pacific River, and back.
Our hosts in St. Louis included the delightful, well informed Mary Hendron, Director of Public Relations and Donna Andrews, Public Relations Manager, St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission. explorestlouis.com. 1-800-916-0040. Explore St. Louis. There's more than meets the Gateway Arch on the Mississippi River. Welcome to St. Louis, a place where history and imagination come together to create a Midwest destination like no other, the St. Louis convention and Visitors Commission state. And I agree. This is a friendly, sophisticated city on the Mississippi River, the heartland, where Lewis and Clark began their historic voyage, a modern, energetic city with a heart. Even New Englanders feel comfortable here.
St. Louis is a great area! I fell in love here with St. Louis itself. And I can't wait to return, go up in the Gateway Arch, stroll around The Hill, the Italian North End and meet the locals.
My group stayed at the luxurious Westin St. Louis, 811 Spruce Street 314-621-2000, near Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals. The downtown hotel, near the Arch, is on a MetroLink light rail line, which also goes to the airport. The Westin Hotel offers the Solera Spa Services in a basic setting. I enjoyed an Executive Massage as well as a facial. My girlfriends enjoyed Swedish massage, Signature Massage and Salt Glow Treatments.
This trip involved lots of great food in the superb St. Louis restaurants; you can't beat their beef, or the cooking. A P.S. We saw a few Red Hatters traipsing around, at the Fox Theater, in the neighborhood shops and discovered a Red Hat Tea Shop is about to open in the Cherokee Neighborhood. Lunch at Red Moon, one of the newest restaurants in the St. Louis Washington Avenue Loft District, was delightful.
Downtown St. Louis is bustling with thousands of new lofts, condos, restaurants and a restored 1851residence. The Campbell House was the home of fur trader and entrepreneur Robert Campbell and family from 1854 until 1938. Hundreds of Campbell original possessions including furniture, paintings, clothing and carriages show a well to do Victorian family lived in St. Louis. Robert Campbell was the wealthiest man in Missouri during his lifetime. Frequent dinner guests were Sam and Julia Grant – better known and President U.S. Grant and his First Lady.
On a driving tour of two of St. Louis’ elite boutique shopping areas, we shopped and explored Clayton and The Ladue Market Place. Plaza Frontenac shops is St. Louis most exclusive shopping mall, with Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman-Marcus, Williams-Sonoma, Banana Republic and the largest Talbots in the U.S.
We went to the Kitchen Conservatory, a cooking school and culinary equipment shop, more fun than watching the Food Network.
We had a jewelry lesson at Lady Bug Beads, filled with the latest sparkling glass beads, semi-precious stones, gold and silver baubles and the experts. Susan Rabbitt, owner, says the shop is the largest in the Mid West.
Dinner our first night was at Charlie Gitto on The Hill in south St. Louis Italian neighborhood. After a delish meal, I ate a canola, and split a tiramisu with Stacy. Yum! This Little Italy has delis, Italian bakeries, fine dining, a gelateria and bocce clubs. Even the fire hydrants are painted in the Italian tri-color.
St. Louis is unique in its generous patronage of arts and culture. We toured a few of the wonderful museums, and I hope to return to spend more time as we just scratched the surface.
The Missouri Botanical Garden, founded by a British emigrant in 1859, the nation’s oldest public garden, was our first stop the second day in St. Louis. I loved the huge enclosed Climatron, which houses a recreated tropical rain forest, and an English Woodland garden nestled next to the largest traditional Japanese Garden in North America. In December the Garden sets-up a holiday train set-up, including models of the Busch Clydesdale horses and wagon, sights from St. Louis, and floral arrangements turn the downstairs into an exciting place for all. The 79-acre Garden is among the top three public gardens in the world.
Shops near the Missouri Botanical Garden sell garden decorations and ecologically friendly insects, like ladybugs. Aisles are jam packed at Gringo Jones, a funky shop brimming with eccentric garden art. Antiques abound at The Little Shop Around the Corner. The shops were a terrific place to browse and buy.
The lovely Tower Grove Park is one of the only remaining Victorian-design strolling parks in the nation. On the National Register of Historic Places, it features a bandstand, goldfish ponds with faux ancient ruins, and gazebos built in various architectural styles.
Time out for lunch at Meriwether’s, a glass-walled restaurant at the Missouri History Museum overlooking Forest Park. We ordered the high tea menu that will be introduced during the First Ladies: Political Role and Public Image, February 12 to May 7, 2006. More than 150 objects including inaugural evening gowns, White House china and furnishings and personal memorabilia from the Smithsonian Institution collection will be on display. Permanent exhibits at the History Museum explain the pioneering, shipping and innovative spirit that made St. Louis both great and wealthy. Not to mention a main beer producing center, including Busch refineries.
The wonderful Saint Louis Art Museum is in the only permanent exhibit facility built for the 1904 World Fair. The museum has vaired galleries of French Impressionists, German Expressionists, African, Asian, and Oceanic art. The permanent collection is open to view at no cost.
A drive through historic Forest Park showcases the 1,300-plus-acre urban park’s attractions, including the world-famous St. Louis Zoo; the St. Louis Science Center and planetarium; the Art Museum and the Missouri History Museum. All are free.
Dinner at Copia Urban Winery. This new restaurant in the vibrant Washington Avenue Loft District has an extensive wine list.
That night, we attended the St. Louis Fox Theatre, a 1929 movie palace, one of the first theatres built for talkies by movie mogul William Fox, designed in a style described as Siamese-Byzantine. The interior features an elaborate lobby guarded by two sculptures of lions with twinkling yellow eyes. During my visit, I saw the Broadway hit Wicked. Fabuloso.
Breakfasted at a 1930s-style diner called Soda Fountain Square. The Fountain has a retro feel, with a restored period soda fountain. It’s in Lafayette Square, St. Louis Victorian neighborhood. This area is lovely, with restored mansions, shops, restaurants and galleries surrounding Lafayette Park, the oldest public park west of the Mississippi. The homes open for viewing during annual house tours including a Holiday Parlor Tour and a spring Home and Garden Tour.
Next we saw the Webster Groves neighborhood and shops. Then a short drive to the old railroad stop of Kirkwood where boutiques like Christopher’s and Down by the Station offer gift items.
Lunch at Liluma in the Central West End neighborhood. After, we headed to famous Bissinger French Confections, one of the last handcrafted chocolateers in the world, making fine French confections for more than 400 years.
We toured the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis and saw intricate mosaics in this spectacular Romanesque/Byzantine style cathedral.
We spent time browsing along historic Cherokee Antique Row where more than 30 shops offer affordable antiques. Then got ourlicks on Route 66 at famed roadside Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. This iconic stop along the fabled highway has been serving up scrumptious treats since 1929.
Dinner at Remy’s Kitchen and Wine Bar, an elegant tapas restaurant in the upscale Clayton neighborhood included excellent duck.
Too soon, we were at the modern airport for a quick jet to Boston to recover from our girlfriends' getaway in St. Louis.
For more information, visit explorestlouis.com web site or call 1-800-916-0040.
Or visit my other website at silvergemshop.com.