Four Hours in St. Louis
April 20, 2021 7:00 AM   Subscribe

Mrs. Elf27 and I are flying into St. Louis tomorrow for an appointment at Washington University Medical Center. Flight gets in 10:30AM, meeting with physician is at 3PM. How to fill the time?

We head directly back to the airport after the medical appointment, so there will not be a hotel room.

The weather will be cool enough that hanging outdoors for long stretches won't be pleasant.
We will be using Uber to get around.

So we are looking for indoor space (museum?) where we can kill the time. We'd also like to have lunch someplace nice.

St. Louisians, please advise!
posted by elf27 to Travel & Transportation around St. Louis, MO (24 answers total)
The Wash U Medical Center is just on the edge of Forest Park, which houses the Saint Louis Art Museum as well as the Saint Louis Zoo. These are free or volunteer to pay attractions.

It's been too long since I've been in St. Louis to recommend a lunch spot.
posted by China Grover at 7:09 AM on April 20, 2021 [8 favorites]

its a bit further into the city but Blues City Deli should be your lunch spot. the Art museum or the Blues Museum downtown is a great bet. the zoo will be crazy overflowing because the kids have to go somewhere in the pandemic and that's where they've all ended up.
posted by zsh2v1 at 7:26 AM on April 20, 2021 [2 favorites]

I agree the zoo would be a good option, but you do have to make reservations in advance and select the time you want, either 9-12 or 12-close. There are open reservations for tomorrow.

You can also ride to the top of the Gateway Arch, reservations also open for tomorrow.
posted by soelo at 7:31 AM on April 20, 2021 [3 favorites]

If you to stay within 10 min of your appt, any museum in Forest Park and then lunch in the Central West End. If you want to venture further out, I can make recommendations. What are your interests? What kind of foods do you like?
posted by rglass at 7:31 AM on April 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Seconding the Art Museum (or the equally nearby St Louis History Museum) for killing time indoors.

The art museum's restaurants are closed, but there is another restaurant in Forest Park called the Boathouse, which is pretty good and is offering patio dining. You might want to call and see if the patio seating is heated. It's a 13 minute downhill walk from the art museum.

If indoor dining is a necessity, then there are many restaurants in the Central West End area, which is basically the part of town directly north of the medical campus. There are several within very easy walking distance of the medical campus and many more slightly further, which might require a short Uber trip depending on your mobility. Kingside Diner is one of those that's a little further, a flat 15 minute walk from the medical campus, but it's fun (chess themed), tasty, and low key. They appear to be offering indoor dining, but I would double check.
posted by jedicus at 7:39 AM on April 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

OMG please go to the City Museum!! They are open tomorrow. You'll want to buy tickets in advance.

I could go on and on (it's literally my favorite public place I've ever been to) but just take a look at the Google Images results! If you go you won't regret it and you will never forget the experience.
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 7:39 AM on April 20, 2021 [22 favorites]

The museums in Forrest Park are fantastic. Depending on how active you want to be, you might want to consider The City Museum downtown.

If you're arriving at the airport at 10:30, it'll take you about 30-45 minutes to get out of the airport, get an Uber/Lyft and get into the city proper. (Source: Used to live in St. Louis and traveled a lot out of Lambert.)
posted by jzb at 7:40 AM on April 20, 2021 [4 favorites]

The Art Museum is a great idea. Not a quick walk to or from the med campus though unless you leave a lot of time, so you'd want to Uber there.

The Delmar Loop on the opposite side of Forest Park from the med campus has some decent lunch spots that are doing indoor dining but no other indoor hangouts at the moment. I was going to recommend going there if you are trying for outdoor dining but it does look like it'll be pretty cold.

If you venture outside of the Central West End area (area near the med campus), you'll want to leave plenty of extra time to find your destination at the medical center, and maybe extra time to navigate the buildings, since they are very big and confusing.

If you are meat eaters, Salt and Smoke is a great bbq place that has a Central West End location about a 15 minute walk from the med campus. Mission Taco is another popular spot that also has a CWE location. Both of those spots' Loop locations are doing indoor dining, you'd probably want to check that the CWE locations are also. I really like Thai 202 in the CWE but it's very small and I don't know what their current indoor dining situation is like.
posted by ghostbikes at 7:52 AM on April 20, 2021 [3 favorites]

I always tell visitors to St. Louis that they ought to visit the City Museum.
posted by HiddenInput at 7:56 AM on April 20, 2021 [10 favorites]

My default suggestions are the City Museum and Cahokia. But, the first is incredibly tight on a 4 hour schedule from the airport and the second is impossible. Hang out in the park. If you're into stringed instruments, there are several cool music shops nearby. I've only been there as a tourist and don't remember which ones are the good ones.
posted by eotvos at 7:58 AM on April 20, 2021 [6 favorites]

Oh oh oh! I was just reminded that the Keith Haring exhibit at the World Chess Hall of Fame is still going on. If you are remotely interested in that you should check it out, it's awesome and the museum is very close by. That exhibit is not actually chess related - they show great art collections from time to time although they do have other areas of chess-related displays if that interests you. It's free and they're being very good about covid safety. It's not super huge - I think I was there for an hour/hour and a half.
posted by ghostbikes at 8:15 AM on April 20, 2021 [2 favorites]

Yeah, Forest Park is wonderful, and both CWE and the Loop should have plenty of places to eat. If it were me, I'd go to Fitz's in the Loop for lunch, then just walk around the park (Art Hill area) a bit, but I used to live in the Loop and that was kind of my go-to way to spend free time. Blueberry Hill is the most famous spot in the Loop. Good food and a lot of music memorabilia. I didn't spend a whole lot of time in CWE, and what I did was 10 years ago, so no recommendations there.

One thing that no one has recommended yet is the New Cathedral, which is quite near the medical campus in CWE.
posted by kevinbelt at 8:37 AM on April 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Pappy's Smokehouse is near the WU campus. Really good BBQ.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:50 AM on April 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

I know you said inside, but the botanical gardens are literally among the top five in the world, and there are plenty of inside areas there to duck in and out.
posted by cyndigo at 10:29 AM on April 20, 2021 [2 favorites]

The Jewel Box.
posted by intrepid_simpleton at 10:30 AM on April 20, 2021 [2 favorites]

Prior to a Doctor's Appointment? I would go to the Art Museum. It's quiet and contemplative. City Museum is more of a fundemonium. It's a high-energy place and it's great, but seems like a mismatch for the day IMHO.
posted by everythings_interrelated at 10:52 AM on April 20, 2021 [3 favorites]

The "New Cathedral" recommended by kevinbelt (aka the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis) is absolutely stunning and totally worth your while just to look around inside. My family live in the St. Louis area, are atheists, and almost always take tourists to the Cathedral.

(The one thing you might need to be aware of is that they prefer that looky-loos don't come during Masses, which are at 7,8, and 12:05 on weekdays. Given your schedule, you could have lunch first and go around 1 or 1:30 when Mass is over.)
posted by dlugoczaj at 11:03 AM on April 20, 2021 [2 favorites]

(And I'd second kevinbelt's recommendation of Fitz's for lunch, also.)
posted by dlugoczaj at 11:06 AM on April 20, 2021

I don't think there's anyplace in the country quite like the City Museum.
posted by Mchelly at 1:16 PM on April 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

The Contemporary Art Museum and the Pulitzer Arts Foundation are next door to each other if contemporary art is more your thing.
posted by museum nerd at 2:47 PM on April 20, 2021

I would recommend Seoul Taco for lunch on the Delmar Loop, specifically a pork gogi bowl with Seoul sauce. It's almost certainly unlike anything else you've had, even if you've had Korean barbecue or tacos elsewhere, because it's a family recipe. Source: That's one of the specific dishes I got when I was back in St. Louis for a week last week helping a family member, and it was every bit as good as I remembered. It's also on your way from the airport to the Wash. U. med campus in the Central West End. You could also get some toasted ravioli as a side from Fitz's, which is only a block away, if you've never had toasted ravioli. That would actually be a great combo, because the gogi bowl is a bit like a salad with meat and rice, and it benefits from a fried side (RIP the handmade dumplings Seoul Taco used to have, alas).
posted by limeonaire at 9:18 PM on April 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Also, if you wanted to pick up St. Louis–style barbecue for the road on the way out, en route to the airport you could pick up some from Sugarfire Smoke House, which is just off Interstate 170 on Olive Boulevard, so it's on the way no matter whether your Lyft driver heads back west on Delmar Boulevard or via Interstate 64 to Interstate 170. They're award-winning pit masters, and they also have amazing key lime pie (among many others) from Sugarfire Pie next door. Pappy's, mentioned above, unfortunately isn't actually all that close to the Wash. U. med campus.
posted by limeonaire at 9:26 PM on April 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

If you don't like spicy stuff so much, get carne asada fries from Mission Taco Joint on the Delmar Loop instead. I also got some of those again last week and they were every bit as good as I remembered. If you like record stores, you could get lost in Vintage Vinyl for a while, just down the street.
posted by limeonaire at 9:33 PM on April 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, and I noticed that Lyft was fairly sparse while I was there. You might install the County Cab app before you go in case you can't get a car service on your timeline.
posted by limeonaire at 10:08 PM on April 20, 2021

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