Take in the sights when Cubs play in St. Louis
For Cubs fans, all eyes will be on St. Louis when Chicago's North Side team has a chance to clinch its division in games Monday through Wednesday. For fans making the trek to Busch Stadium, St. Louis offers plenty to see and do when they aren't sitting in those rows of red seats rooting for their team of blue.
A few suggestions:
The Cardinals' house
Busch Stadium is actually the third Busch Stadium, affectionately known as Busch III. The first Busch Stadium, originally called Sportsman's Park, was where Stan "The Man" Musial was in his glory. Busch II, where Mark McGwire set home-run records, opened in downtown St. Louis in 1966, but the ballclub's new owners wanted a more modern stadium, so they tore it down and built the Cardinals' current home right next door. Take a tour of the stadium and you'll sit in the dugout and the broadcast booth and see World Series trophies in the Champions Club. See cardinals.mlb.com/stl/ballpark/tours/.
Ballpark Village opened two years ago on the grounds where Busch II once stood. With rooftop seats overlooking the current stadium and a bevy of bars, restaurants and nightclubs, you might say it's a modern version of the Wrigley Field neighborhood, but with a $100 million price tag.
Part of the complex is a grassy park on the original footprint of the old infield. Families play in the grass around the pitcher's mound. Inside Ballpark Village, you can see baseball memorabilia at the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum at Cardinals Nation, a two-level restaurant topped with rooftop seats overlooking the outfield across the street. Budweiser Brew House also has a view of the ballpark. You also can catch the game on a giant video screen in a two-level atrium under a retractable glass roof. Visit stlballparkvillage.com/.
The atrium inside Ballpark Village is covered by a retractable glass roof. Fans can watch sporting events on a giant video screen while enjoying food and drink in climate-controlled comfort.
- Courtesy of Katherine Rodeghier
Arch grounds improving
From many of Busch stadium's seats, fans can get a glimpse of a St. Louis icon, the Gateway Arch soaring 630 feet on the banks of the Mississippi.
The shiny, stainless-steel structure designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen and opened in 1965 is the nation's tallest man-made monument. While it remains in good shape, the grounds around it are undergoing some work.
The interstate highway, which had cut off the Arch from downtown St. Louis, now travels underneath a landscaped greenway connecting Luther Ely Square to the Arch, greatly increasing pedestrian and bike access.
You can still ride a tram to the top of the arch to take in the view, but the Museum of Westward Expansion at its base remains closed for renovations.
Some artifacts are on exhibit at the Old Courthouse, where the Gateway Arch ticketing and visitor center has relocated. From there it's a 10- to 15-minute walk to the north leg of the arch. See gatewayarch.com/ or nps.gov/jeff/planyourvisit/gateway-arch.htm.
Neighborhood trendy again
Delmar Loop, the six-block stretch of Delmar Boulevard near Washington University, has been ranked among the 10 best streets in America, according to the American Planning Association. But it wasn't always this way.
Back in the 1930s, it was a high-fashion neighborhood built around a trolley line called The Loop that made its turnaround here. Then urban blight set in.
The revival began in 1972 with the opening of Blueberry Hill, a restaurant and live music club. See blueberryhill.com/.
More renovations followed: the 1929 Tivoli movie theater, Pageant theater nightclub, Pin-Up Bowl bowling alley and martini lounge and the Moonrise Hotel, a quirky boutique property filled with Space Age toys and memorabilia. Visit moonrisehotel.com/.
Stroll down Delmar now and you'll find a flourishing arts and entertainment district with 55 restaurants, 10 galleries, 10 stages for live music and nearly 200 shops.
Singing the blues
The National Blues Museum opened in April and tells the story of the rise of the blues from the South, migrating north through St. Louis and Chicago.
The 23,000-square-foot museum lies a few blocks west from the Mississippi riverbank where W.C. Handy composed his famous "St. Louis Blues March" and features interactive technology and artifact-driven exhibits, a theater, special events space and classrooms.
The museum explores and preserves the historic significance of the blues as the foundation of American music and celebrates the musicians who both create and advance the art form. Find more at nationalbluesmuseum.org/.
St. Louis Union Station was once the world's busiest railway station. After the last trains pulled out it was redeveloped into a hotel.
- Courtesy of Jim Trotter/ St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission
Reimagining Union Station
In its heyday, St. Louis Union Station was the largest and busiest railway station in the world, but when the last train departed in 1978 it fell into disrepair. The 1894 station, a National Historic Landmark, was redeveloped in 1985 and a hotel added. New owners came on board in 2012 and are continuing restoration.
The centerpiece of the station's revival remains the St. Louis Union Station Hotel, stlunionstationhotel.com, and its Grand Hall, grandhall-stl.com/. Renovated and restored in 2014, the hall's sweeping archways, fresco and gold-leaf detailing, mosaics and art-glass windows make it the crown jewel of the station.
You can sip a cocktail in 1920s style in the 70-foot-long bar off the hotel's Grand Hall and gaze at a barrel-vaulted, 65-foot ceiling that serves as the big screen for hourly panoramic 3-D mapping light shows. St. Louis natives Jon Hamm and John Goodman do some of the narration.
Tourist information: (800) 916-0092 or explorestlouis.com/