Monday, August 1, 2016
$ Gateway to the West $
Our third and final stop on the "free" St. Louis tour has always been the Gateway Arch. Now to be clear, riding to the top of the Arch to the observation platform has never been free in my lifetime but underground between the legs of the Arch is a nice museum that has always been free to peruse.
We pulled into our normal parking lot at the end of the long mall around the arch but everything was under construction. The signs pointing the way to the arch were pointing across many lanes of heavily trafficed roads that we would then have to cross back again closer to the arch. With five small children, we opted to walk down to the river, over and then back up the hill to the arch. Much longer but definitely much safer to traverse. When we got to the Arch, it was under heavy construction and their website said that we had to walk up the hill to the old historic courthouse to buy tickets to ride up to the top of the arch. I volunteered to make the walk and made it all the way up there only to learn that they had set up a ticket booth by the one leg I hadn't walked by to sell tickets. I walked down the hill towards that leg and made it to the park before my way was blocked. The only way to get to that leg was to walk back up the hill and then down it again by the other leg's closed entrance, back down towards the water and then back up again. In other words, I was within spitting distance and had to walk almost an entire mile long circle to get back.
Once there, we found out we now had to pay $3 per person just to get to the museum part which upon entering, was not even there. It had been moved temporarily up to the old courthouse. For the $3 per person, we got to visit the restrooms, gift shop and watch a movie on the making of the arch. Since my family had already been to the top, we just bought tickets for my brother-in-law and his family to make the trip up to the top while the rest of us perused the gift shop and watch the 20 minute movie twice. I suspect that when the remodeling gets down and the museum get reinstalled, the price for admission will probably increase quite drastically.
I'm not sure if the new monies are being applied towards the riverfront below the arch but they have been fixing it up and it looks beautiful again after years of neglect. It has become a place where you and your family feel safe to spend an afternoon walking and soaking in the sun.
Though I don't have any pictures, part of our St. Louis tour always involves a stop at my favorite BBQ joint in the world, Pappy's Smokehouse BBQ in the old part of town. The first time I stopped there, we had the entire place to ourselves. Every single time since, there has been a line clear around the block waiting for a table. This time we opted to phone in our order and just pick it up and take it back to our motel room. It was well worth the price of admission!