I was asked to travel to St. Louis for work – it was very last minute, which made me twitch a little. If you know me at all, you know I love love LOVE to plan out my travels far in advance (uh, I’m already working on our Haven vacation in August – don’t look at me like that), and I had little to zero time to plan for this!
My aunt lived in the St. Louis area twice, but they were both a long time ago (mid-80′s and then again in early 90′s) so I was basically starting from scratch. I vaguely remembered her taking me to a cute little town that had a Main Street so I figured out what that was (St. Charles) and planned my one “free” day around that.
I flew Southwest Airlines (my all-time favorite!) out of the newly remodeled Love Field Airport in Dallas. It was unrecognizable – in a good way! Nothing looked familiar at all, and I used to be very familiar with that airport (my husband and I dated long-distance for 4 years, so I was at Love Field a LOT), and was amazed at the transformation. I got in to St. Louis on a Sunday morning and hit the ground running. Well, driving. Who knew that Toyota Corollas got such great gas mileage? They do! I handled that airport like a pro (after dealing with D/FW Airport for my whole life, Lambert International was a piece of cake), turned on my Google Maps with my preloaded St. Louis map, and off I went.
(I’m not scared of driving in strange cities. Maybe I should be, but I’m not. My favorite thing to do is drive around and find new, cool stuff and neat neighborhoods, and this trip was no exception!)
I drove straight to St. Charles. I was in awe of that little city as soon as I drove into the Historic District. We just don’t have buildings that old in Texas! Main Street in St. Charles was like a postcard – cobblestone roads, little restaurants and boutiques, benches all along the street, and flowers everywhere. I loved it! The weather that day was perfect (well, perfect for ME, a hot-blooded Texas girl) – it was in the 50′s and drizzling. Everyone else had coats and scarves on, and there I was in my maxi skirt and lightweight shirt. It was the best outdoor shopping weather, in my opinion.
My first stop was a store called Red Posie – I found it online and knew I would love it. They sell my beloved Maison Blanche paint (we got to talk about Annie & Nicole!) AND Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint. The owners were there and I really enjoyed talking to them about painting furniture, blogging, and Haven Conference. We exchanged business cards and (of course) I bought some Milk Paint from them. They had a beautiful armoire that they were selling for $129 (!!!!) that I have not been able to stop thinking about. I had absolutely no way to get it home, though, so I have to let it go. I hope someone else buys it and loves it I do believe it was painted with Maison Blanche Collette, Tarah’s favorite. I will definitely be going to their store again if I ever get back to St. Louis (which I definitely hope happens!). Go like them on Facebook! They have lots of giveaways
After that, I headed towards Main Street!
I had lunch at Bradden’s - grilled cheese and sweet potato fries, because I eat like a child. I can’t help it if I love grilled cheese! I didn’t want anything too heavy because I had a full day of shopping and exploring planned.
Side note: I used to hate doing anything alone, but I really enjoyed going on this trip by myself. It’s nice to not have to make conversation with someone all the time, and I liked being able to shop and wander at my own pace without feeling rushed or bored. Five years ago? That never would have happened. I don’t know that I could do a whole week alone in a new city, but a few days = perfect!
After lunch, I shopped. I went into many, many stores and took lots and lots of pictures. Laurie at Red Posie told me I should go to Menard’s. She told me it was like a combination of Home Depot/Lowe’s and a grocery store. Of course I had to go check that out – put it in my trusty Google Maps and off I went!
I did not know that it was the grand opening of the Menard’s I went to – people were directing traffic, it was a madhouse, etc. I debated on whether or not it was worth going in, but decided to just do it – not like I had anything better to do! It was definitely an experience – I didn’t spend too much time in there because 1) I had limited room in my suitcase, and 2) it was really, really crowded! My random purchases at Menard’s were: bottled water, 5 silver hooks for a project, and trash bags. Yes, trash bags. They were a great deal!
After Menard’s, I decided to go drop off my bags at the hotel. Got my room, turned the air down to a chilly 65 degrees (yes, I’m a polar bear), and left again!
I stayed in Creve Couer (which translates to “broken heart”, so that’s kind of depressing) and took backroads to downtown St. Louis. I think highways are boring and I only take them if I’m in a hurry/going to and from work. I take after my dad, what can I say? Anyway, taking backroads to downtown took quite a while, but I was in no hurry. I found some beautiful neighborhoods, saw a really pretty college campus, and then I finally made it to downtown St. Louis. (Central West End, Cherokee Antique Row, Lafayette Square)
I saw Busch stadium (well, tried to – there was a lot of construction around it!) and then headed to the Gateway Arch. I’ve been up in the arch before, so I didn’t really feel like I needed to do it again – but I wasn’t against it. I parked and walked through the pretty park leading up to the Arch, and by the time I made it to the entrance, they were closing. Whomp whomp. That’s what I get for mozying all day long. I took lots of pictures and walked back to my car to do some more exploring. I drove all around Forest Park (home of the 1904 World’s Fair!) – beautiful. I also found out that St. Louis has a ton of things to do for free – the zoo, most museums, etc. Awesome! I found the Anheuser-Busch Brewery (also closed, of course) and some other cool neighborhoods before deciding to grab dinner and head back to the hotel. I mean, I *did* have to work the next day. Ha!
I took more backroads back to Creve Couer, and decided to stop at Noodles & Co. to pick up dinner. Yes, it’s a chain, but it’s not a chain we have here in Texas! It was okay. I probably wouldn’t go back – nothing special but it was fine.
The next day, I found out about a place called Upcycle Exchange – of course, I didn’t find out about it in time to go that morning before work! I should’ve googled “cool St. Louis craft stores” the night before! I decided that I would go the next day after work, but before going back to the airport. Instead, I went to Chesterfield Mall because they had an Archiver’s scrapbooking store. The nearest Archiver’s to me in Texas is in, oh, Austin – so I just decided to make the 15 minute drive before heading to work. Of course I bought more stuff I didn’t need…
Work work work, blah blah blah…
Picked up California Pizza Kitchen before leaving the mall (YUM). The girl working there was asking me all about Texas because she was going to San Antonio in a few weeks. Ha! I also figured out that I DO have a Texas accent, and people DO notice it. Also? I say y’all a LOT. I can’t help it. I gave several St. Louis residents a chuckle when I greeted them with my drawl.
I worked the next morning and early afternoon and headed to Upcycle Exchange right after I left the store – I didn’t have much time to hunt for stuff, but the basic premise of the Upcycle Exchange is you pay what you want for the things you buy. They do have “suggested” amounts, and apparently not many people take advantage of their “pay what you want” policy, so that was nice to hear. People donate craft supplies to the Upcycle Exchange (companies as well, supposedly) and can put that credit towards other merchandise if they want. It’s basically a craft supply co-op, and I really, really wish we had something like that in D/FW! I’m sure it is a lot of work, but how awesome is that? I picked up a few things (again, short on luggage space), gave $15 (a very fair amount for what I got) and headed out to the airport.
I really loved St. Louis – it was pretty, the people were friendly, and it was super easy to get around. I’ve already volunteered to go back and work again! I’m sure there is much more to be discovered – and I’ll be back to find it