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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, July 31, 2014

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In Travel & Visitors Guide

The St. Louis skyline, dominated by the Gateway Arch, is impressive day and night.

In Travel & Visitors Guide

The Botanical Gardens is a popular tourist attraction.

In Travel & Visitors Guide

Busch Stadium is a popular destination with locals and tourists from April to October.

In Travel & Visitors Guide

The farmer's market in Soulard is one of the oldest in the country.

In Travel & Visitors Guide

The Arch dominates the St. Louis skyline.

In Travel & Visitors Guide

The Budweiser Brewery Tour is free, and features two "samples."

In Travel & Visitors Guide

The Moonrise Hotel is located in the Delmar Loop ...

In Travel & Visitors Guide

... which houses The Pageant, a concert venue ...

In Travel & Visitors Guide

... and some funky shops and eclectic bike racks.

In Travel & Visitors Guide

St. Louis' riverfront is home to some floating casinos.

Free Recession Buster Getaway: St. Louis


We know you love Milwaukee. We do, too. Sometimes, though, it's good to get on plane and head out of town.

And we're happy to help. This summer and fall, OnMilwaukee.com is teaming up with AirTran Airways to offer six free "Recession Buster Getaways." Every two weeks, we'll preview a great destination, report on some of the bars, restaurants, shops andevents that make them unique.

All you have to do is read our guide, then write your own Readers Blog about why you deserve a trip. If we pick your submission as the best, we'll give you a pair of roundtrip tickets, a brand new netbook and a little cash to buy in-flight Wi-Fi.

The complete rules are here, but for this first contest, you can blog between now and Sunday, Aug. 2

For our first destination, senior editor Drew Olson visited St. Louis during the 2009 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. Olson has traveled to St. Louis several times in the past, but made it a point to check out some new sites along with some old favorites for this report.

ST. LOUIS -- Whenever people from Wisconsin ask me to describe St. Louis, I like to tell them, "It's just like Milwaukee or Green Bay ... only it's a lot hotter, they drink Budweiser products instead of Miller and they wear Cardinals red and white instead of Brewers blue or Packers green and gold."

It's not that simple, of course.

The St. Louis Metro area is home to 2.8 million people, which makes it the 16th largest in the United States. Much of that population is concentrated in the suburbs, but the Downtown area offers an array of attractions and funky neighborhoods that will interest visitors from Milwaukee who happen to be in town, say, for the Brewers' two remaining regular-season series at Busch Stadium (Sept. 1-3 and Oct. 2-4).

Residents definitely love their Cardinals. I used to think that everyone in the city owned at least one jersey and that half of them featured first baseman Albert Pujols' name and number. After visiting the All-Star Game last week, I came to believe that there are two or three Cardinals jerseys for every man, woman and child in the vicinity.

Busch Stadium, located in the heart of Downtown, is the center of attention for both locals and tourists from April until early October. It's a pristine ballpark with terrific seat locations and sightlines. You can see the Cardinals' love in the jerseys and in the sports bars / restaurants. Former players-turned-broadcasters Mike Shannon and Al Hrabosky have bars within a fungo of the ballpark. Joe Buck and Albert Pujols have their names on places, too.

There is much more to St. Louis than just baseball.

St. Louisans point with pride to their history, architecture and cultural attractions -- many of which feature free admission.

The Gateway Arch, a symbol for the city, is a popular tourist attraction offering breathtaking views of the city, river and surrounding area. The Old Courthouse, located right near the Arch, features restored courtrooms and a decorated dome. Admission there is free.

The St. Louis Zoo, located in Forest Park (which locals will tell you is bigger than Central Park in New York), is free. So is the Budweiser Brewery tour, which includes the Clydesdale stables and two free "samples." The St. Louis Science Center is free and kid-friendly and the Art Museum is free on Sunday.

The Botanical Gardens are among the best in the country and Muny, the nation's oldest and largest outdoor theater, is located in Forest Park and features concerts and off-Broadway musicals, with some free seating. The Boat House, overlooking the lake in Forest Park, offers tourists a chance to rent paddle boats and kayaks to see the park from a different angle.

During my recent stay, I ventured away from the hustle and bustle of Downtown in order to sample a slice of the Delmar Loop, a shopping and entertainment district. I stayed at the Moonrise Hotel, a 135-room boutique hotel that opened earlier this year.

Walking into the Moonrise is an experience not unlike walking into The Iron Horse Hotel in Milwaukee and that's not a coincidence. Both properties are operated by Desires Hotels, which also has outlets in New York, Miami Beach and San Juan. Instead of the motorcycle / leather theme that permeates the Iron Horse, the St. Louis property really hits the Moonrise idea. There is an illuminated, rotating moon on top of the building and an iridescent lobby wall and stairs that change color.

In addition to the standard rooms, which are trendy and well-appointed, guests can choose from 10 different Walk of Fame Suites, each designed around a theme based on a different star from nearby St. Louis Walk of Fame (Josephine Baker, Buddy Ebsen, Betty Grable, Tennessee Williams, etc.)

The Eclipse restaurant, located on the ground floor, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Rooftop Terrace Bar offers great views and a light menu.

The Moonrise is located next to the Pageant, a great music venue, and close to the Tivoli, a historic movie theater, Blueberry Hill, a restaurant / music venue and Vintage Vinyl, a great record store.

The Loop, which is about 15 minutes from Downtown, is near a Metrolink line that makes it easy to get around. The area also is called the "U-City Loop," in honor of Washington University.

In addition to the Loop, visitors will want to check out the Central West End, an eclectic and diverse neighborhood that features mansions mixed in with apartments that house students from Saint Louis University and Washington University.

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Talkbacks

speakthetruth | July 21, 2009 at 4:46 p.m. (report)

Ted Drewes is awesome, you're right...but the root beer palace in the Delmar Loop is Fitz's, not Fritz's. Have a Pointersaurus while you're in town, too! http://www.pointersdelivery.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=13&Itemid=26

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brewerfan13 | July 21, 2009 at 8:03 a.m. (report)

I lived in St. Louis for a summer during college and I loved it. It is very much like Milwaukee, and the downtown area has improved ten-fold since I lived there. I can't believe you didn't mention Ted Drews though. Its St. Louis' version of Leon's. As a Wisconsin native, I wasn't all that impressed, but that place is hoppin all summer long. Also in the Loop is Fritz's - a yummy restaurant with home brewed Root Beer. Don't forget to try some Toasted Ravioli on your visit too! Yay St. Louis!

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speakthetruth | July 20, 2009 at 11:54 a.m. (report)

I went to college in St. Louis. This is a very good synopsis of what St. Louis has to offer. Every time I go back to see a game at Busch Stadium, I bemoan the fact that Miller Park sits where it does. If it was downtown, there would be more of a "scene" around it and people could walk to the game and other events at the stadium. I understand the idea of tailgating, but the benefits of having a stadium in a downtown area like Busch is easily outweigh the aroma of brats on a smoky joe grill. The St. Louis Metrolink is awesome and constantly improving. You can take the train to a game at Busch, have a few beers, and take the train back to the CWE or Delmar to meet some friends at Blueberry Hill. I just hope that Milwaukee emulates that type of dynamic sometime sooner than later. One other thing not mentioned in the article is that Purina has a great "farm" just west of St. Louis (about 20 minutes) that is a huge hit with the kids. They have dogs and even cats (yes, cats) that are extraordinarily well-trained. It is a great thing to do with a family.

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High_Life_Man | July 20, 2009 at 11:40 a.m. (report)

I think Berry still does one night a month at BH. I need to get down there before he dies. Have only driven through St. Louis. Need to visit, no excuse now as I have friends that recently moved there. How come Milwaukee doesn't have more bars and restaurants "owned" by our local sports stars? I suppose it would help if there were properties available closer to Miller Park.

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