Hurtling up a brontosaurus staircase trying to get the colourful rolling banisters to spin faster and faster was not exactly what I had in mind for my first experience of St Louis.
The city is home to many famous jazz and blues artists, and so being encouraged to act like a child by a guide the spitting image of a mad professor came as quite a shock.
The City Museum, on 15th Street, is one of St Louis’ newest attractions and a great place to amuse children and adults alike for a few hours. Walking through the enchanted forest, getting lost in the maze and watching the fish in the giant aquarium was like a journey through Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory – thankfully I didn’t meet a sticky end.
After an hour rediscovering my childhood I was delighted to discover the theme was to continue with a trip to the zoo.
Further out of the city, on Government Drive, the main St Louis Zoo is pretty much like any other. But the dedicated Children’s’ Zoo is fantastic.
Here, visitors are offered the opportunity to get closer to the tamer animals. For $1 I bought a small beaker of nectar and headed to the lorikeet aviary. The colourful birds landed on my arm to drink from the cup.
Although the noise is quite daunting at times, the experience is more enjoyable than feeding the moth-eaten pigeons in Trafalgar Square.
The zoo’s newest attraction are the Naked Molerats. Intrigued by the name of these little creatures, I ventured indoors to their colony.
Stealing a closer look I saw that yes, they were naked – completely furless. In fact they looked like a bunch of hot-dog sausages with buck teeth fighting for space in a tin can. Although not very attractive, they proved to be very popular with the children.
After the zoo, we headed towards the St Louis Gateway Arch. No trip to this city would be complete without a ride to the top of this impressive landmark. Located by the Riverfront on the banks of the Mississippi River, the only way to reach the top of the arch is on a tram.
Each carriage carries five people and has a cell-like feel with very little room for movement. After a few minutes we arrived at a small viewing platform, 630ft above the ground.
To one side I could see the famous riverboat casinos, with the state of Illinois stretching out behind them. To the other I had the best view of St Louis itself and the surrounding state of Missouri.
Although the views were spectacular, I was quite glad to get my feet back on solid ground – the arch sways up to 9ins in high winds.
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