First Time at Gateway Arch National Park

The number one thing I wanted to see in St. Louis was the arch. Surprisingly I had no idea that the Gateway Arch was a national park. Since it is a goal of ours to eventually visit them all you would have thought I knew, but honestly until we saw the sign I had no idea. The fact that it was a national park and that the museum underneath had been renovated a couple of years ago made the visit even more special.

The only time I had seen the arch was from the window of an airplane and I really didn’t understand the scale until we got close. The grounds themselves are very big, going right down to the Mississippi and the arch, well I took some pictures for scale so you can see for yourself.

Look for me at the bottom of that very last picture. It was just huge and quite beautiful close up. The grounds were also very nice, although I was bummed when I learned later that the only woman on the team had designed a sculpture garden as well which had never been made. I think they should go back and put it in!

The museum underneath was really beautiful as well and very well done. They included all of the different ethnic groups who lived in the area and also included some specific portraits of real people which I enjoyed.

One of my favorite parts of the museum was information about the design and building of the sculpture. There were several designs in contention and this could have looked quite different if another one had been chosen. The chosen design was by the person who designed the tulip chair as seen below. One really interesting feature is you can ride up inside the arch but it is 5 people in a VERY small pod and after looking at it I was definitely not interested. Lee thought about it but it cost extra and he ultimately decided it wasn’t worth it to him. The movie is also extra and although we didn’t pay to see that, my sister saw it and said it was excellent.

The history of the area was also interesting, including the fact that women could vote in the territory until they became part of the United States and then they lost that right. I wasn’t aware of that. The fact that the city was on a major river made it a valuable piece of territory and I didn’t realize the city was founded in 1764.

After seeing the arch we walked down to the water and there was a really beautiful wharf area. Helicopter rides were really popular and we saw several leaving and coming in during the time we were there. I also really liked the giant statue of the explorers on the wharf and definitely recommend walking down the steps to see that area as well

This was much more than I expected it to be and totally free. We have been privileged to visit 21 National Parks so far in our travels (This number includes Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains, and Acadia but that was before we started the blog). If you would like to check out the others with blog posts the links are below.


Bryce Canyon


Capitol Reef

Crater Lake



Lassen Volcanic

Mount Rainer

New River Gorge

Petrified Forest



Theodore Roosevelt


White Sands

Wrangell St. Elias


Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
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Meet Me In St. Louis

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.

Supporting our Blog

We very much appreciate your support of our blog.

  • You can purchase the ebook telling the story of how we became full-time RVers.
  • You can purchase our recipe book filled with 80 recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. You can purchase the kindle or paperback version on Amazon or buy the Apple version on Itunes.