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Springfield St. Louis

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St. Louis makes a stunning first visual impression. It has a look that is all its own, of red brick and cobblestone streets, terra cotta friezes and stained glass.  The Mississippi River laps against a cobblestone levee.  Reflected in the mighty river are towering office buildings, elegant shopping centers, hotels, and apartment complexes, all well maintained, marking the visible signs of the city’s success. 


Founded by the French in 1764 as a fur-trading settlement on the west bank of the Mississippi River, St. Louis was destined for immediate success.  Settlers came from New Orleans, followed by French-Canadian trappers.  Next came the explorers, including the Lewis and Clark expedition.  Families traveling to the mysterious western regions of the country passed through, and some settled in St. Louis.  Railway workers arrived in the 1850’s, among them immigrants from Germany, Ireland, Italy, and other European countries. African-Americans settled there: some still slaves; others freed.   Their combined skills and crafts enriched the city and helped to mold its character. 


The construction of the 630 foot Gateway Arch  in the 1960’s was intended to bring recognition to St. Louis as having been the “Gateway to the West” in those days of pioneer settlement.    It accomplished far more than the original intent, however.  The Arch helped spark the rebirth of downtown St. Louis, which until then had been abandoned in the rush for the suburbs.   What followed was one of the country’s largest urban renewal projects and a billion dollar building boom, which resulted in the vital and energetic city that is St. Louis today.


The historic homes and businesses of St. Louis are beautiful reminders of the community's commitment to restoration. From the old world Anheuser-Busch Brewery, to Federal row houses, Greek revival mansions and country villas, the styles are stately and their interiors are lovingly preserved.


St.  Louis offers attractions of interest to the whole family at a nominal cost. Admission to many  of the museums and historic sites is free!  There is no charge, for example,  to visit the St. Louis Zoo.  The public transportation system whisks visitors around the city center easily and efficiently.  For visits to the vast outlying areas, a car is preferable. 


Visitors can ride a tram to the top of the Arch, and look out and watch the Mississippi River flow by the city below. Follow this with a visit to the museum under the Arch and the nearby Old Cathedral, the oldest church in St. Louis. Just across the street is the Old Courthouse, the site of the Dred Scott trial.


In spring and summer, there is always time to check out a Cardinals baseball game, and then visit the International Bowling Hall of Fame across from the stadium. After the game, take the family to one of the many excellent nearby restaurants for great Italian cuisine. If you prefer French food, that is readily available also.  Not far away, the shopping is spectacular at St. Louis Centre, one of the country’s largest urban malls, and also at the completely restored Union Station.


In Forest Park, visit the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Zoo, the Muny Opera and the Science Center, with life-size animated dinosaurs, hands-on exhibits, and an Omnimax Theater. Nearby is the historic Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, which houses one of the world's largest collections of mosaic art.


For a night on the town, take in Grand Center arts and entertainment.  Enjoy a concert by the world class St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.   Visit the “Fabulous Fox” Theatre and the St. Louis Black Repertory Company.  Then head for one of St. Louis’ many pubs, microbreweries, or a riverboat casino.


Allow time in your schedule for a stroll through St. Louis’ historic neighborhoods of Laclede's Landing, Soulard, The Hill, and Central West End.  All of these are places for good shopping and fine food. Visit the historic Scott Joplin House to get a sense of ragtime music's beginnings. Children will be delighted by Grant's Farm, The Magic House,  the City Museum and the Children’s Zoo.


Eureka, on I-44, is best known for Six Flags St. Louis, an immense family theme park and the accompanying Hurricane Harbor Water Park.


Father west on I-70 is the old French village of St. Charles with its Lewis & Clark Center, First Missouri State Capitol Building, restored riverfront historic district, an authentic showboat, and a casino. About 20 miles southwest of St. Charles on Highways 94 and F (near Defiance) is the Daniel Boone Home, where the Boone family settled in the late 1790s.


Highway 94 then winds west through the river hills to the German towns of Augusta, Dutzow and Berger, with their wonderful wineries.


Within a two-hour drive of downtown St. Louis, you can experience living history in restored towns and villages, visit Mark Twain's boyhood home and Abraham Lincoln's final resting place, explore enormous caves, canoe on clear rivers and sample Missouri's finest wines.  This is just a small sample of what makes St. Louis one of America's greatest vacation destinations!

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