Last week, Tim, Olivia, and I traveled to the St. Louis area for a work conference Tim was invited to speak at. It was a treat to be able to travel with him. Tim and I have been to St. Louis before. When we go to his hometown of Champaign, IL, St. Louis is the nearest major airport. Also, his Uncle John and Aunt Kathie live in St. Louis, which always gives us an excuse to stay a day or two in St. Louis before heading to Chambana. The first time Tim and I went to St. Louis was also my first time visiting the area and we did some of the touristy stuff. We walked around downtown, visited the Gateway Arch, and grabbed a bite to eat at a restaurant in Laclede’s Landing.
This time we stayed in St. Charles, Missouri at the Ameristar Hotel and Casino where the conference was being held. St. Charles is just north of St. Louis and the hotel is right on the Missouri River. We were lucky enough to have a room with a river view. Every morning Olivia would look out the window to check for birds and barges.
The Missouri isn’t quite as grand as the Mississippi, which also runs through St. Louis, but for a girl from Phoenix, it is still an impressive river.
The day of Tim’s presentation, Olivia and I didn’t really have much to do. A casino hotel, as you can probably guess, isn’t really set up to entertain children. Any time we were walking around the lobby and casino areas, the line from Sweet Home Alabama kept running through my head. “You have a baby. In a bar.” By about 11am, I was getting a bit claustrophobic, so I decided to take O for a walk. I thought I had seen a path that ran along the river and figured that would be an ideal spot. As we walked out of the hotel, I started to look for a pathway that connected the hotel to the river path, but there didn’t seem to be any easy access that was stroller friendly. Why would a casino want its patrons to leave the casino to enjoy a city’s sights? Duh.
Instead of cutting across busy streets, pushing Olivia’s stroller against traffic in the gutter, and down an embankment to the path, we just continued along the sidewalk until we got to the nearest strip mall. As opposed to a scenic river view, we saw this.
I had never actually been in a Bass Pro Shops, so we went in and walked around. There was a lot of camouflage print everywhere and there were a lot of dead animals. Not really my kind of place. I’m an outdoorsy girl, but more along the lines of REI than Bass Pro Shops. To each his own. We walked around the rest of the strip mall and then back to the hotel. I was glad to have gotten outside a bit, but was left feeling a bit uninspired by our adventure.
Later that evening, we were to meet up with family to celebrate Tim’s birthday at a nearby brewhouse. We drove less than five minutes to get there from the hotel. Easy walking distance. When we got out of the car, we saw this.
It was about this time that Tim started pointing and laughing and I started cursing under my breath. Instead of walking through this historic district from which Lewis and Clark launched their great exploration, I went to Bass Freaking Pro Shops. Talk about an epic fail. We went into the brewhouse and had dinner and celebrated Tim’s birthday, but I basically made him promise to come back the next day before our flight left so we could explore some more.
The next morning we had breakfast and loaded Olivia into her stroller. We checked out of the hotel and drove back down to Historic Downtown St. Charles.
The street is tree lined with gas lamps and cobblestone pavers. In short, it puts the Charm in Charming.
We stopped for coffee.
Then we started to meander down the street. Maybe we moseyed. I’m not quite sure. It was lovely either way.
There are a lot of very old buildings that line this street. Like this.
This area is now dedicated to mostly shopping and restaurants. I loved that we didn’t see one franchised business. Everything appeared to be independently owned. After we had our fill of cute shops and charming buildings, we crossed the street and took the pedestrian path down to the river.
It was a lovely walk. Much nicer than Bass Pro Shops. If you are in the St. Louis area and have a morning or afternoon free, get up to St. Charles and wander this lovely area. You won’t be sorry, I promise.
To see all of our pictures from St. Charles and St. Louis, click HERE.