Take me to St. Louis -- with my husband and child
July 27, 2014 1:30 PM   Subscribe

I just got funding to travel to St. Louis to do an oral history project. Yay! Where should I stay and how should I travel? And what should my husband/infant do during the day?

I finally got the funding for a trip to St. Louis to do a project interviewing subjects for an oral history project. I was planning on traveling alone, but I have a five-month-old infant I can't bear to leave behind (esp. since still breastfeeding), so my husband and I are talking about all three of us going!

The question is: where should we stay, how should we travel, and how can my husband keep occupied? My interviews will be in the not-so-gentrifying parts of St. Louis (Wells/Goodfellow and Hamilton Heights, for example).

I am willing to rent a car, but would much prefer to take public transportation -- is that feasible, and safe?

And is there a neighborhood where my husband and infant could spend some time happily (cafes? maybe a library or park?) that would still be convenient for me? Anything else, safety-wise, I should know about St. Louis?
posted by EtTuHealy to Travel & Transportation around St. Louis, MO (6 answers total)

I'm usually one of the people who says you can live in St. Louis without a car, but it's probably not feasible to try to do this without a car. If you'll be trying to make appointments, and multiple ones in a day, and in underserved areas, it'll be difficult without a car.

If you're talking about St. Louis City (i.e. not using "St. Louis" to refer to the region), there are some (not cheap) hotels centrally located in the Central West End neighborhood or Downtown. Another place to look is I-44 and Hampton, which has a group of three hotels or so. Most places in St. Louis (again, City), aren't more than 20 minutes from each other, so everything's reasonably close together.

There will be plenty for your husband and child to do. St. Louis has a bunch of libraries (including the newly renovated Central Library downtown) and acres of parks. Forest Park is the big one. It has the Zoo, the Art Museum, the Science Center and the History Museum, which are all free to explore, and the park itself is huge and scenic. Tower Grove Park is another good one to check out.
posted by brentajones at 1:49 PM on July 27, 2014

Hi - I live in St Louis and would be happy to help out with advice. Could even meet you guys for a coffee or something when you're here if you're interested. I often work at coffeeshops so I can recommend all of my favorites to your husband. I'll Mefi-mail you my email address.

The locations you need to visit are in the city, north of Forest Park, so the Chase Park Plaza might be a nice place to stay. It's in the Central West End (lots of restaurants that you can walk to). There's also the Moonrise Hotel in the Loop, which is a cool street near Wash U - lots of local, independent restaurants and bars. For something less expensive I'd probably consider this Homewood Suites near the Galleria mall - it's right near a couple highways so it would be easy to get around. And you'd be near Clayton the U City (where I live) for many more restaurants.
posted by kdern at 4:11 PM on July 27, 2014

agree that you will probably want to rent a car; stl has passable public transit, but not near what you'd expect for a city of our size. how long will you be here? there's lots to do that's cheap/free (when my daughter was a baby she went to the zoo easily twice a week!), and the weather has been unusually mild this summer so far, too. your husband could check out the zoo, the botanical garden, the butterfly house (though that's maybe 20 min west of the city), citygarden, the arch/riverfront, stuff like that.

oh, both the moonrise and the chase are within walking distance of a metrolink stop if you do choose not to rent a car--and both are also located in areas with good food options (always my main concern when i travel!).
posted by oh really at 7:31 PM on July 27, 2014

The City Museum is a must!
posted by mermaidcafe at 10:23 PM on July 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I'll go ahead and disagree on the City Museum thing. "Go see the City Museum!" is something you'll hear from every tourist who's been there and half the the people who live here. And it is fantastic, and something I'd recommend to a wide variety of folks. But.

I don't have a baby at the moment, but I can't imagine it's really a great place for one. And if you have one with you while you're there (along with all the accoutrements that I hear babies require), I'd think it would severely limit your own ability to experience and enjoy the place.

If you pre-check it out online and decide to go see the place, awesome. There certainly are some really great things to see there for you and your husband that a baby plus equipment wouldn't hinder — but they make up, generously, a third of all there is. And there are certainly lots of sparkly, colorful things for baby to look at. (They do or did have a room called "Toddler Town", but I think even it's geared more toward older kids).

Having been there, if I had to take a younger-than-toddler person, I would feel: it wouldn't be a complete waste of time, I'd probably enjoy it, I couldn't do a lot of what I'd really like to (and paid to), and I'd decide to schedule another trip back in several years, when the then-fully-capable-kid could really make the most of the ticket I paid for, is what I'm saying.

I'll second oh really's suggestion of City Garden, if the weather's decent. It's a block downtown that's a sculpture garden with water features that's a pretty nice place to hang out. And I'll throw the Magic House out there as another suggestion if you're looking for something that may specifically be interesting to the baby. It also probably skews a little older, but they do have a section for kids 2 and under called "Baby and Me".
posted by brentajones at 11:33 PM on July 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yeah, the City Museum is for families with kids ages 7+. If you're not comfortable letting your child get lost in the walls of a building, out of your sight, the City Museum is too old for them. The Magic House is great for kids younger than City Museum age, but your infant is too young even for the Magic House.

I've gotten great deals on hotels through Priceline in downtown St. Louis, which will get your husband in walking distance of downtown attractions, restaurants, the riverfront, the Arch, the ballpark, etc. etc., and access to MetroLink to take him to other destinations (Forest Park, etc.) while you have the car out in the suburbs. The only issue is that you'll pay for parking overnight downtown, but that might be worth it to you.
posted by aabbbiee at 2:13 PM on July 28, 2014

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