Planes, trains, Route 66 and St. Louis were the topics of conversation with author and historian Joe Sonderman on the August 6, 2023 episode of Coffee With Jim. The program definitely provided me with added incentive to explore St. Louis during the Jim Hinckley’s America fall tour.
With the exception of Tulsa, Oklahoma the treasures and time capsules in metropolitan areas along the Route 66 corridor are often overlooked by enthusiasts. As Joe pointed out, in St. Louis there are enough attractions to keep a person busy for weeks, and many are free.
The National Museum of Transportation
The National Museum of Transportation is one of the largest and most diverse collections of transportation vehicles in the world. You can trace the history of American railroading, and the surprising diversity of the auto industry in St. Louis during the early 20th century.
On display are one-of-a-kind and historical cars, planes, trolleys, and more on the 42-acre site. The museum also features a tribute wing to Sanford N. McDonnell, a pioneer in aerospace engineering. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children, and free for members.
Forest Park is one of the largest urban parks in the United States, covering 1,371 acres of land. Established in 1876, the park was the site of the 1904 World’s Fair. It is home to many cultural and recreational attractions, such as the St. Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Art Museum, the Missouri History Museum, the St. Louis Science Center, and the Muny, an outdoor musical theater.
You can also enjoy walking, biking, golfing, boating, fishing, and picnicking in the park. Forest Park is open daily from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and admission is free for most attractions.
If you spend a day exploring Forest Park, I suggest an overnight stay at the quirky but fun Moonrise Hotel in the Delmar Loop District. The descriptor on their website doesn’t begin to convey what a unique experience it is to dine and stay at this botique hotel. “The Moonrise Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri, blends cool modern design and quirky sophistication to create a truly unique boutique hotel experience. Located in The Loop – one of St. Louis’ most vibrant shopping, dining and entertainment districts – the hotel’s prime location offers guests a wide array of leisure activities”
Other Attractions in St. Louis
– The Gateway Arch: The iconic 630-foot tall monument that symbolizes the westward expansion of the United States. You can take an elevator or tram to the top and enjoy a panoramic view of the city and the Mississippi River. You can also visit the Gateway Arch Museum and learn about the history and culture of the region.
– The City Museum: A whimsical and interactive museum that features a variety of exhibits made from recycled materials, such as a 10-story slide, a Ferris wheel on the roof, a giant aquarium, and a circus school. The museum is open Wednesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission is $16 for adults and $14 for children.
– The Anheuser-Busch Brewery: A historic brewery that produces some of the most famous beers in the world, such as Budweiser, Bud Light, and Michelob. You can take a free tour of the brewery and see how the beer is made, visit the Clydesdale stables, and sample some products at the Biergarten.
Judging by comments made during the program, I wasn’t the only one that was inspired to a make a trip along iconic Route 66 to the “Gateway to The West.”