On Tuesday we took the RV to get two new front tires which took a good part of the day. On Wednesday morning we were ready to head out for some more St Louis sightseeing. Our plan for the day was to visit Forest Park where there were several places we wanted to see.
Forest Park is one of the largest municipal parks in the United States (larger than Central Park) and covers 1,300 acres. This park was the site of the 1904 World’s Fair. First we stopped at the Visitors Center to purchase a $2.00 all day trolley pass that would allow us to hop on and off at various places in Forest Park.
We hopped on the trolley and our first stop was at the St Louis History Museum. A free museum, it was built on the site of the main entrance to the 1904 World’s Fair. It was originally built as the first national monument to Thomas Jefferson and honors Jefferson’s role in the Louisiana Purchase, preceding the Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC. Exhibits feature the history of St Louis from 1764 to the present day. While we were there they were having a special exhibit on Route 66 called “Route 66: Main Street Through St Louis”. Route 66 was known as the “Mother Road” and the “Main Street of America”. We really enjoyed seeing the exhibits on the important role this famous road had in American history.
We rode the trolley to our next stop, the St Louis Science Museum, another free museum and one of only two free science centers in the United States. Advertised as one of the largest in the country, one of the top five Science Museums in the country and one of the most visited in the world with 700+ permanent galleries as well as a planetarium and OMNIMAX Theater, our expectations were really high and we were somewhat disappointed.
It was a great science center for children but did not have much for adults. Unfortunately we just missed a King Tut exhibit set to open May 27th. Our favorite thing was the pedestrian bridge over the interstate connecting the north and south sections of the Center. The bridge had glass windows in the floor where you could look down and see the vehicles pass underneath you. They also had windows with radar guns so you could clock the speed of the vehicles as they passed by.
We took the trolley back to our car and drove a short distance to Pickles Deli, a highly rated deli where Bill got his favorite Reuben sandwich. On the way out of Forest Park we stopped to take a picture of a Confederate statue. We noticed a news van and some people milling round. Ironically minutes later on the way to the deli we were listened to the local radio station and heard that this very statue was vandalized the evening before. Like many other Confederate statues across the country today, discussions are being held about removing this Confederate statue from Forest Park.
On the way back to Forest Park we drove by the beautiful Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, built between 1907 and 1914. We didn’t have time to go inside but that is definitely on our list for next time.
Our final stop of the day was the St Louis Zoo. This zoo is free and is advertised as one of the top zoos in the United States and was voted America’s top free attraction. This zoo really wowed us and we really enjoyed our time here and was quite impressed. During our time in St Louis we were really impressed with all the free museums and other places that usually charge an admission in other cities. Well done, St Louis!
The zoo has over 24,000 animals, many of them rare and endangered.
We did pay to ride the Emerson Zooline train which is the nation’s largest miniature rail line, providing a 1.5 mile long narrated tour through the 90+ acre park. The train engines are one third size replicas of the Iron Horse, the historic steam locomotive that helped build the transcontinental railway. We passed through two tunnels as we traveled around the park.
We loved seeing all the animals but our favorites were the giraffes, hippos and penguins. We were amazed at how close we got to the animals and were especially thrilled with the large number of penguins.
By the time we got back to the car our Garmin pedometers said we had walked over seven miles. What a great day!