I had to change the title of this post, because I have flown through the St. Louis airport more times than I can count, but I have never actually visited the city and it turns out there is a surprising amount of things to do here. Like Portland the town is divided into multiple named neighborhoods and also had a HUGE city park that is twice the size of New York’s Central Park. It is also a very old city and the French influences of its settlers can be seen everywhere.
Once again we had difficulty finding a campsite for our entire stay so Lee decided on the RV Park at Draft Kings at Casino Queen. We have stayed in casino campgrounds with mixed results before, but this one was particularly attractive because it was right across the river from the downtown area and the arch. Even though our section was basically a parking lot we can see the arch from where we are staying and it turns out the 24/7 security and private gate made it completely safe and a great jumping off point to see things. We’re less than five minutes from the other side of the river. We absolutely prefer staying in campgrounds with more nature, but you can’t beat the convenience of the location for doing city activities.
Oh and as an extra benefit we signed up for their free casino card and both won $5 of free play. I doubled my money but Lee won $40 on nickel slots after playing only $1 of his free money!!! That was a nice extra benefit. The casino was really nice for a small one and had a great group of slot machines.
These pictures were taken from the roof of our camper one night.
Because we had easy access to the city we made multiple quick trips across the bridge and were able to really explore. One of our first stops was Union Station which is a remodeled train station turned into a hotel and eating venue. Turns out my sister stayed here for a conference in 2019 and stayed in the hotel which she said was really nice on the inside.
The area has a variety of kid friendly activities including a carousel, huge Ferris wheel, aquarium, mirror maze and ropes course. They even have a small Vegas style water show which starts in the evening. Each activity is separately priced (or you can buy combo tickets) but I really wanted to do the maze. I have been fascinated by the 1904 World’s Fair since I was a kid and the maze was an updated recreation of the one at the event. At only $8 it was a bargain and it was definitely the best mirror maze I have ever been in. There were even some cool alcoves that showed items that were made popular by that World’s Fair and the list of them was pretty astounding.
Just to prove we never stop being little kids, Lee’s favorite part was the machine that made whoopee cushion noises 🙂
That was so fun that I decided I wanted to try the ropes course which I thought was really great. Lee hung in there (he’s not a huge fan of heights) but I loved it, except for the zip lining which was a little scary. It is two stories and allows for multiple routes which was pretty neat.
Then we decided to go ahead and do the indoor ropes course, which was a lot of fun. After ziplining, we had a milkshake and watched the light show. All in all I thought it was a great use of converting unused space and seemed like a fun place to take kids.
It was a nice start to our learning the city, but there is something else I should mention to be completely fair. When we were driving around, we wandered into a neighborhood that was completely falling apart. Building after building was burned out and falling down in a huge predominantly black neighborhood and I was really shocked by what I saw. So much so that I did some research and learned that the city has “abandoned” these areas and allowed outside investors to buy them and allow them to fall down. Once I saw that I started seeing it everywhere and this is definitely a city in transition. There are areas where they are clearly trying to reclaim parts of the city, but others that are absolutely awful. I am not saying that lightly either. All cities have poorer sections but this was row after row of burned out buildings. You aren’t going to see many pictures of that in the next few posts, but keep in mind that it is the other side of the pictures.
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