St. Louis was the center of a Native American Mississippian culture for 600 years, a French fur trading depot during the 1690s and early 1700s, under Spanish control from 1762 to 1803 then transferred back to the French who sold it to the U.S. in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase.
There’s a lot of history and culture in this city and most of it can be seen free of charge. Forest Park, a wonderful city park covering 1,371 acres has beautiful landscaping, well maintained trails, all types of sport fields plus a zoo, art museum, science museum and history museum. The zoo, museums and most of the parking is free.
The Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, Ulysses S Grant National Historic Site, Laumeier Sculpture Park, and Anheuser Busch Brewery Tours are also free. And there’s still more to do though not all is free – Attractions. Stop awhile and enjoy St. Louis!
We spent a week in St. Louis in 2012 and loved it but this time we’re driving straight through and staying close to the path of Route 66 which isn’t that easy because the route changed many times over the years. Very few old 66 hotels, restaurants or other attractions have survived through years of renewal and remodeling. The Luna Café sign is one survivor that recently received a complete restoration of all of it’s neon. Supposedly the Luna was a favorite stop in the 1930s for Chicago gangsters. If the cherry was lit, the girls were working.
The Chain of Rocks Bridge, built across the Mississippi in 1929, became Route 66 bypass in 1936 then was closed to traffic in 1968 when I-270 opened. It’s now part of the Route 66 Bikeway. The bridge is a mile long and has an unusual bend halfway across the river. A large parking lot is located on the Illinois side of the river. The lot on the Missouri side has been closed due to vandalism but the Illinois side is fairly safe. The bridge is accessible.
We spotted a couple of vintage neon signs as we drove along the city streets. Fresh Donuts -1952 Auto Seat Covers –1954 Both are still in business.
But our main mission was to find Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. The Drewes family has been selling custard at this location since 1941. I don’t know if this is the best frozen custard ever since this was the first time either of us tasted frozen custard but it is rich, creamy and sweet. We shared a small which was just about right. The parking lot is fair sized but kind of tight for RVs. Parking on a side street might be the easiest option.
Before leaving the city we took a side trip to the Ulysses S Grant National Historic Site. This is the plantation farm of Fredrick Dent, the father of Grant’s wife Julia. The Grants lived on the farm for six years in the 1850s but after Grant’s two presidential terms they settled in New York and only came back to the farm, which they had bought from Julia’s father, for visits.
The site includes the farm house, restored but not furnished, a visitor center with a gift shop and a theater and a very good museum.
The visitor center, theater, and museum are accessible. Two rooms in the house have steps and are not accessible.
The parking lot has long RV/bus spaces.