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Weekend Escape STL

Weekend Escape STL

My trip to and stay in Saint Louis was generously provided by the Marriott St. Louis Grand. The tourism board of Saint Louis, Missouri did not pay me to gush about my weekend escape STL – promise. All opinions are my own.

In typical fashion I got excited about the wild outskirts of a city and my husband was half-asleep in the passenger seat, so we missed our exit and overshot downtown by a couple of exits. (Maybe we were still over excited about seeing all of the giant things in Casey, Illinois!) By the time we’d solidly crossed the Mississippi and figured out we were heading away from the arch, we’d exited into a part of the city that wouldn’t normally be on a tourist’s radar.

If this had been my typical trip, I would have spent the rest of the weekend dragging my husband through ruin after ruin. But in fact, the weekend was fated to be a bit more cultured as I’d been invited by the recently renovated Marriott St. Louis Grand to explore all downtown had to offer.

When we finally reached the Marriott St. Louis Grand, our gracious hosts for the weekend, we realized it was the perfect starting-off point for our weekend jaunt to Saint Louis. As you can see, we made ourselves right at home in the sleek, updated rooms we’d gotten:

Marriott St. Louis Grand Bed

Even a huge bed is no match for my even huge-er husband.

The view from our room at the Marriott St Louis Grand

The view from our room!

Marriott St Louis Grand

8th Street Pantry Marriott St Louis Grand

Big props to the 8th Street Pantry (the hotel’s quick, convenient alternative to room service) for dropping off some local root beer!

The hotel, a building that’s served as a hotel for 99 years, has recently undergone some major renovations that . My favorite bits of the hotel were definitely the painstakingly restored lobby (modern and swanky) and two grand halls (old-world style at its beset). It’s not too surprising as I’m far more likely to be charmed by architecture than great shopping or a good meal.

That being said…

In the interest of full disclosure: this was a food-based trip and I was the lone travel blogger in a group of serious foodies. I was totally out of my element as I was wined and dined at the newly-updated Zenia Bar & Grill. I was more about stuffing food in my face than snapping artful pics and speaking intelligently about flavors. Still, I’m able to appreciate a good meal with the best of them so I managed to make it through.

I loved Zenia’s commitment to locally-sourced products with an international spin; and because the restaurant works with in-season products the menu is ever-changing and dependent on what the chef can get his hands on. Both dinner (and the epic classic cocktails) and breakfast were truly excellent; the only downside was slow service thanks to the hotel’s near-capacity bookings all weekend.

Nibbles from Zenia

Steak at Zenia

But before we enjoyed that, we needed to work up an appetite:

Do this & <3 STL

Appreciate the architecture along Washington Avenue. I wandered up and down Washington and nearby streets way too many times over the weekend, slack-jawed as I stared up at the remarkably restored architecture of downtown. While the outskirts of the city may have beauty in its decline, downtown is all about history polished to a shine.

The St Louis Arch

Visit the Arch. I mean, does this even need to be said? Saint Louis’ arch is so iconic it seems silly to even mention it. We didn’t go up (because yes, you can stuff yourself into a tiny chamber and go to the top) because it was really windy and there was some major reconstruction going on. 100 Washington Avenue

Eat gooey butter cake at Park Avenue Coffee. The only thing I knew about Saint Louis before I can (aside from the whole arch thing) was that it’s the home of gooey butter cake. A flat, dense, ultra-sweet cake that was allegedly created by a baker who accidentally reversed the proportions of flour and butter for a normal cake.

Urban Chestnut Brewing Co. St Louis

Sip something local at Urban Chestnut Brewing Co. Styled as a typical bierhall, Urban Chestnut offers amazing beers, seriously excellent pub fare, and plenty of board games to while away a relaxing afternoon. Although it was chilly for some patio-sitting while we were there, Urban Chestnut has an outside perfect for warm evenings.

Try STL-style pizza at Imo’s. Before coming to Saint Louis, I had no idea that Saint Louis pizza was a thing. (It is.) Basically, an STL pizza is distinctive thanks to thin crust, Provel cheese, and cut into squares. A lot of non-natives seem to be against the unique style, but I actually enjoyed it and was happy to accidentally stumble upon one of the city’s most well-known spots to grab a slice. 1828 Washington Avenue

Forest Park and the St Louis Zoo

Walk the (free!) Saint Louis Zoo. Made free thanks to a special city tax, the Saint Louis Zoo began as just one exhibit from the 1904 World’s Fair and quickly grew to the 90 acre location it is today. The zoo is in Forest Park (just west of downtown STL) which also includes the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Missouri History Museum, the Science Center, and plenty of grounds to walk or bike. 1 Government Drive

Have you ever visited Saint Louis? If not, aren’t you just so inspired by how awesome this Midwest city is?

  • My adopted hometown! I went to uni at Washington University in St. Louis and love love love the city!!! So glad you had a great time xo

    • It’s such a cool place! I’d definitely go back to see more of the further-out neighborhoods that I didn’t get to the first time!
      Polly recently posted…Weekend Escape: Saint LouisMy Profile

  • All of this looks great!! I think I would have felt out of place too though with the serious foodie bloggers!
    Bailie @ Brightly Bailie recently posted…Things We Have Eaten Lately and You Should Try Too!My Profile

    • Haha right?! They were all just taking such glorious photos of their meals and I was just there… not 😉 So fun though, as blogging (no matter what the subject) is such a great way to immediately bond with someone!
      Polly recently posted…Weekend Escape: Saint LouisMy Profile

  • I wish I had this last summer when I road tripped through here! HOW did I not know about the gooey butter cake? I’m so disappointed in my researching skills. Haha. I will have to bookmark this one for next time.
    Amanda | Chasing My Sunshine recently posted…Social Media for Travel: Instagram as a Travel GuideMy Profile

    • A. Yes! Go back (& then stop by Indy!)

      B. LOVE your most recent post. I’m a huge ‘gram researcher!
      Polly recently posted…Weekend Escape: Saint LouisMy Profile

  • When I was much much younger, my Dad brought me back a T shirt which said ‘my Dad went to St Louis and all I got was this lousy T-shirt’, which I thouhgt was screamingly funny. Up until now, that was everything I knew about St Louis. I didn’t even know about the arch. It was a very nice pink colour, though was the T shirt.

    • Haha, well at least you enjoyed the kitschy shirt! Hope you learned a bit more about the city than just a shirt 🙂

  • Ray

    My appreciation for the Midwest just grows over the time mainly for the potential for eating awesome good, drinking excellent craft beers, admiring stunning architecture, and enjoying cheap/free attractions. By any chance, did you have an opportunity to enjoy any St. Louis BBQ? I heard it has a distinctive flavour and is one of the main draws here.
    Ray recently posted…Indy Hostel – Indianapolis’ Only HostelMy Profile

    • Oh yes, I so totally agree. There’s so much great stuff in the Midwest – and at such epic prices 🙂

      Didn’t get to try any BBQ (well, I should say my husband as I’m a vegetarian which kind of limits me on such things!).
      Polly recently posted…Join the Love Local Travel Two Week Boot CampMy Profile