Traveler: St. Louis Turns 250

The Gateway City is aging gracefully.

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The Gateway Arch St. Louis
The Gateway Arch

Photo courtesy St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission

You say it’s your birthday? St. Louis turns 250 in 2014, and as part of the yearlong celebration, local artists have decorated 250 fiberglass birthday cakes strategically positioned all around town for a DIY scavenger hunt full of photo ops. They shouldn’t be hard to spot, but go ahead and download the STL250 app (stl250.org) for a map anyway.

Given the occasion, take a cue and delve into the city’s history. The Gateway Arch is gearing up for its big 5-0 next year by—what else?—having a little work done. It’s still open, but check gatewayarch.com for construction updates. This month’s Moonlight Ramble (Aug. 9, moonlightramble.com), an organized nocturnal bike tour similar to Indy’s N.I.T.E. Ride, predates the landmark by two years and guarantees a view. Otherwise, skip the cone-zone headaches and venture slightly west to Forest Park (5595 Grand Dr., 314-367-7275, forestparkforever.org), the site of the 1904 World’s Fair. The physical remnants of the expo include the Saint Louis Art Museum (1 Fine Arts Dr., 314-721-0072, slam.org), formerly the Palace of Fine Arts, and a walk-through birdcage habitat at the Saint Louis Zoo (1 Government Dr., 314-781-0900, stlzoo.org). The handsome Missouri History Museum (5700 Lindell Blvd., 314-746-4599, mohistory.org) was built later as a tribute to Thomas Jefferson using proceeds from the fair, a rarity at the time considering such events usually lost money. Catch the sprightly American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition exhibit before it leaves town on August 17.

Oh, and the fact that St. Louis is second only to Washington, D.C., in the number of venues offering free admission? Well, that’s just the icing on the cake.

exterior_at_dusk
Moonrise Hotel

Photo courtesy St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission

Drive Time: 4 hours

Stay: The Moonrise Hotel (from $159/night; 6177 Delmar Blvd., 314-721-1111, moonrisehotel.com) boasts space-themed decor and a solar-paneled rooftop bar

Play: Step right up at Union Station’s Circus Harmony Flying Trapeze Center (1820 Market St., 314-504-4298, circusday.org)

Tour: Two words: free beer. (Anheuser-Busch Brewery, 200 Lynch St., 314-577-2626, budweisertours.com)

Info: explorestlouis.com

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