Would you like to have a grand slam of a travel day in America’s Gateway Arch City of St. Louis, renowned for its baseball Cardinals and bowling history? St. Louis offers numerous hotspots for travelers, especially for fans of baseball (not just Cardinals fans), bowling, and man-made wonders. But, if you are short on time to explore St. Louis, visit these four sites for one memorable day of Cardinals baseball, bowling history, and more:
The Gateway Arch: St. Louis’ Identifying Icon
I never get tired of looking at the 630-foot high Gateway Arch. It’s got a simplistic beauty all its own, and the stainless steel facade changes in color depending on the sky’s mood, the weather, and the time of day or night. This arch really identifies the city of St. Louis, though technically, it’s not a part of the city of St. Louis. Why? Because the arch comes under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. Here are some other interesting facts about this edifice:
-Technically, it’s really called The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, which honors Thomas Jefferson, as well as the Louisiana Purchase, plus those who braved the unknown to settle the frontier west of the Mississippi River.
-Up to 6,400 people visit the arch daily.
-It takes roughly four minutes to get to the top and three minutes to reach the bottom via the arch tram.
-On a clear day, one can see 30 miles east/west from inside the top of the arch.
-The arch has never fallen since it’s engineered to withstand hurricane force winds.
Below the arch is the Museum of Westward Expansion, which details the expansion of the United States from 1800-1900 via talking robots (like William Clark and Chief Red Cloud), a decade by decade and US Presidential tenure breakdown exhibits for those 100 years. The Lewis and Clark expedition is also featured, as well as exhibits honoring farmers, miners, and buffalo hunters. Two theatres are at the venue, with the Tucker Theater showing the 35-minute documentary about the arch’s construction called “Monument to the Dream”, which was nominated for an Academy Award. The Odyssey is a four-story high screen with THX sound. It shows different works that are related to the themes of Westward Expansion, including “Lewis & Clark: Great Journey West.”
The Gateway Arch Complex: St. Louis Riverfront. 877-982-1410. www.gatewayarch.com Separate/Combo admission charges for getting to the top of the arch and movies. The Museum of Westward Expansion is free.
St. Louis Cardinals’ Baseball is the Essence of This Mississippi River City
St. Louis is quite the baseball city. I’ve been a fan of New York Yankees’ baseball since I was a child of ten, but I’m still in awe of the baseball atmosphere that pervades in St. Louis. No matter where I went in the city, I felt as if I was navigating through a sea of red, as many people were wearing Cardinals hats, t-shirts, and jerseys.
The Cardinals are one of the most storied baseball franchises in history. Bud Selig, the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, was quoted as saying, “Commissioners are supposed to be neutral. But no city has a greater baseball tradition than St. Louis. And in my opinion, there is no greater baseball town than St. Louis.” This comes from a man whose family has ownership ties to the Milwaukee Brewers.
The now St. Louis Cardinals began in 1881 as the Brown Stockings or Browns. They joined the American Association in 1882, a league which allowed Sunday baseball games and beer sales, unlike the National League at that time. Allowing for beer sales certainly helped to make Budweiser the King of Beers. This team stayed the Browns until they were dubbed the Perfectos in 1899 as a National League team, before ultimately being named the Cardinals in 1900. The Cardinals have won nine World Championships in their 100-plus years of existence, which is more than any other team except the New York Yankees. 15 Cardinals have won the National League Most Valuable Player Award, including 3-time winner and Hall of Famer Stan “The Man” Musial. He played in three decades spanning the 1940’s to the 1960’s. Three Cy Young Awards have gone to Cardinals, including two for legendary pitcher Bob Gibson. Cardinals’ First Baseman Mark McGwire became the first player to break Roger Maris’ home run record back in 1998.
The fact of how much baseball is a part of St. Louis became more evident as I attended the first Cardinals game after the 2006 All-Star break in the New Busch Stadium. It cost close to 400 million dollars for this new shrine. This park can hold some 47,000 fans, including standing room only crowds. It’s not surprising that this amount of money would be spent for a new baseball park, because it will serve the team and these serious baseball fans well for years to come.
I got to see the Los Angeles Dodgers on the 3rd base side at the second level. The view was really good, especially since it opens out to the Gateway Arch and some other skyscrapers. The seats are cushioned and comfortable. The New Busch Stadium really has an intimate feel to it. Its outer façade is made up of a nicely designed brick layout, just like many of the new retro baseball parks that have been built over the last fifteen or so years.
Even though I had good seats at the game, I wanted to go around and explore the other viewing areas of the park to see what the fans get, and I must say that there really isn’t a bad seat in the new home of the St. Louis Cardinals. Views from the bleachers, while far away, have been designed so it seems as if the fans are really closer to the action. Getting to your seats is even easy, as a number of elevators are available to whisk fans to the upper sections of the New Busch Stadium. I walked on the escalating ramps from one level to the next and found it rather easy and quick. During the 7th Inning Stretch, the Budweiser Beer Theme is played and their Jumbo-Tron shows footage of the Budweiser Clydesdale Draft Horses.
The baseball souvenirs and food are expensive, but I found a good deal from a vendor that sold Starbucks Coffee in a 12 oz. cup for $3, which included free refills throughout the evening of a 14-inning game in which the Cardinals won 3-2 on a homerun. Here are some other sample prices for concessions: A 16 oz. plastic bottle of beer (though it looks and feels like glass) goes for $7. The hotdogs are just under $5, but they are thick and have a good ballpark taste. A bag of peanuts was close to $4, and a large pop in a Cardinals’ souvenir cup is $5.
St. Louis Cardinals’ online ticket information available here.
A Spectacular Double-Play for Baseball and Bowling Enthusiasts
Baseball and bowling enthusiasts can see two wonderful venues honoring these pastimes in one complex for one admission price. The St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame and the International Bowling Hall of Fame and Museum are housed on three floors across the street from The New Busch Stadium
At the Cardinals Hall of Fame, here are some great highlights that I found of particular interest:
Patrons get to see a “sofa” that’s made up of Mark McGwire’s baseball bats. The cushions of this seating are made up of the bases that McGwire ran around when he hit home run #62 in 1998, surpassing Roger Maris’ feat. The balls on the sofa are from 1999, from the game that McGwire hit #62 for the second time. This Hall of Fame has displays and artifacts from the Cardinals’ previous ballparks, especially a number of items from its previous home through the 2005 season, Busch Stadium. Visitors get to see a circa 1950’s era bedroom of a kid who was a St. Louis Cardinals fan, where magazines, baseball cards, posters, and gloves decorate the room. A number of exhibits are from the Cardinals’ playoff and championship seasons, including jerseys, balls, programs, and hats that were used for those memorable Cardinals’ years.
This venue honors other professional St. Louis baseball teams of the past, including the Negro League St. Louis Giants (then Stars). A full display showcases the heroics of Negro League star James “Cool Papa” Bell. The old American League team which played in St. Louis from 1902-53, the Browns, is also showcased. I found out that the first ever night baseball game in St. Louis was hosted by the Browns on May 24, 1940.
When I was a teenager, I lived for those Saturday afternoons of League Bowling. So it was quite a treat to see the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame in St. Louis, which sandwiches the Cardinals Hall of Fame on the 2nd and basement floors.
First, go to the basement. After you bowl your four free frames of bowling, you will see next to you an older version of a bowling alley; that is, four dated lanes which are still used for special events. Take in the numerous old pictures from the early 1900’s. My favorite was of a 40-lane bowling alley used for American Bowling Congress Tournaments in Detroit. To see such a large bowling alley as the lanes get smaller and smaller in the picture was a feast for my eyes! Next to the older bowling alley, a section honors the game of billiards, with an accompanying pool table. “Billiards and Bowling” establishments were advertised during the early 20th century as being the “best kind of exercise and amusement” combination. Another wall display discusses bowling lane construction and maintenance. Below that wall are a lot of old bowling balls that have some really interesting designs.
Around the basement, bowling fans will come across some circa 1900’s bowling table and lawn games, including a carpet bowling game that was enjoyed before the dawn of the 20th century. The museum focuses on the varying styles of bowling besides the ten-pin one we have come to love. It shows some of France’s variances of bowling and remarks that the French engage in over 100 different types of bowling. Exhibits on women’s, wheelchair, senior citizen, and international bowling are on hand at this complex which prove just how the sport of bowling is really an activity that virtually anyone can take part and be honored in. Dozens of intricately crafted bowling-themed beer steins can be pondered and marveled at via another exhibit.
Next, head upstairs, where an ascending and spiraling ramp will await you. Its walls chronicle the history of bowling since around the medieval times in Europe (even though it may have been played by the ancient Egyptians) through the present day. Along the way to the second floor (which has various bowling halls of fame), visitors get to see a lot of old bowling artifacts. The one that caught my eye was a turn of the century nickelodeon-style machine that people looked through in order to see some bowling photos.
St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum: 111 Stadium Plaza. 314-231-6340.
International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame: 111 Stadium Plaza. 314-231-6340. http://www.bowlingmuseum.com
Admission charge will get you into both museums! The gift store is on the ground level and includes a mix of items for bowling and baseball fans alike. These wares include some colorful/loud bowling shirts and even a book called “For Cubs’ Fans Only”.
Cool off with some Ted Drewes Concrete Treats!!!
After hanging out at the ballpark watching a Cardinals’ win, do what many locals do: Head over to one of Route 66’s historical landmarks for some really cool and mouth-watering treats. It’s called Ted Drewes, which has been satisfying the collective “sweet-tooth” for the city of St. Louis and travelers alike since 1941 at this particular location. During the Christmas season, they are famous for something else: They sell Christmas trees on site!
The Ted Drewes “concretes” look like milkshakes or thick soft serve ice cream, but when the staff serves them to you, it’s done so with the cup being turned upside down so you can witness just how thick these concoctions are. The Concretes come in roughly 30 different flavors ranging from blueberry to Abaco Mocha. I found the large Blueberry Concrete to be quite delicious. It took awhile for it to melt in the high 80-degree weather. Ted Drewes also serves up the traditional ice cream cones, floats, and sodas, too. While this Route 66 landmark is a nice drive from the central downtown area, it’s very crowded with people. Still, several windows exist to take the standing orders, and the service is friendly and fast!
Ted Drewes: 6726 Chippewa (on Historic Route 66). 314-481-2652 or 314-481-2124. www.teddrewes.com Closed in January. Another location exists in St. Louis, but it’s not on Route 66, and it’s only open during the summer time. See website for details.