Our First Anniversary: A Weekend Getaway in St. Louis, MO


We spent our actual first anniversary wearing stretchy pants, eating fatty food, and watching Netflix. But that was okay, because we had big plans for the following weekend: a 3-day trip to St. Louis! Get ready for allll the deets.


We both had to work Friday, so we packed our bags the day before and hauled butt the second we got home from work. We dropped Annie off at a kennel and set out for St. Louis immediately, taking our dinner on the road with us to 1) avoid drive-thrus on the way, and 2) save money on our first ever cash-only trip!

Homemade tuna salad on toasted Ezekiel, non-GMO kettle chips, and apples. Yay!

We arrived in St. Louis that evening and checked into our hotel- a delightful, literary-themed, entirely English place called The Cheshire Inn.

This place was PERFECT for me. It made my English major/anglophile heart so very happy. The pics below will say it all:

Each room is named after a famous British author, each nightstand holds a hardback copy of one of the namesake's most popular works, and book/pen-themed artwork decks the halls throughout the building. 

To make it even more perfect, they left St. Louis-made, handcrafted, dark chocolates on our pillows.


We settled in for the night and went comatose. 


We slept in a little later than usual but got up early enough to take advantage of the continental breakfast and hit up the St. Louis farmer's market before the rest of the crowd arrived.

They have 24-hour complimentary tea and coffee available at this lovely beverage station.

We ate our hearty breakfasts and headed downtown to Soulard Farmer's Market, where it was ridiculously cold and windy for the middle of May.

The farmers' market was HUGE. And because we got there so early, it was fairly empty. Buuuut, much to my husband's chagrin and my own shame, I didn't bring our grocery list along with us. So. We didn't buy anything except for some really awesome pork rinds that were being made on-site.

Because of the grocery list debacle, we didn't stay there long, although we had allotted a couple of hours for the market into our itinerary. So, we had a change of plans. We'd planned on checking out the Gateway Arch on Sunday, but since there was nothing else to do, we drove on over to it after leaving the market.

They were doing construction around the Arch, so roads and parking were insanely confusing. We ended up parking in a lot WAY far away from the Arch and walking much farther than we should have, but thankfully, they had these helpful directional thingies on the sidewalks to guide our way.

You can actually go inside the Arch and take a little tram all the way to the top, but it's $13/person, which seemed kinda steep to us. Plus, as I said, it was very windy that day, and the idea of swaying back and forth at the top of this giant structure freaked me out a bit. So, we just admired it from the ground and took a selfie (and that was way harder than you'd think; trying to fit our faces in the same frame as this humongous arch. Matt got irritated because I had to re-do it about 15 times.)

Directly across the street from the Arch is the Old Courthouse, which is where one goes to purchase tickets for the tram ride to the top. The courthouse itself is a breathtakingly gorgeous architectural wonder, and it houses a free museum dedicated to the history of St. Louis, the Lewis and Clark expedition which famously began there, and Westward Expansion, which is what the Gateway Arch is all about (the Gateway to the West).

After admiring the rotunda and exploring the old staircases and courtrooms, we toured the free exhibits and learned more about Lewis and Clark, a tale that has always fascinated both of us to no end (The guys over at Stuff You Should Know have an AMAZING podcast on the expedition; very informative and immensely intriguing, even moving.). They also had a nice exhibit on the Oregon Trail, another one of my favorite parts of American history.

I nerded it up over the covered wagon. It was so cool to see one up close and personal, to see how much room they actually had for their belongings.

After the museum, we decided it was time for lunch. Now, being the foodies we are, we researched restaurants way in advance and chose Bogart's Smokehouse, the #1 rated restaurant on St. Louis, according to Trip Advisor, for lunch. We got there a few minutes after they opened, and the line was already out the door.

For good reasons. That pulled pork was some of the best I've ever had, the baked beans were deliciously smoky yet sweet, and the dill-loaded potato salad was amazing. 

Our plan for the rest of the day included solely the City Museum. But after our heavy lunch, we decided to take it easy for a little while and walk our lunch off first. Which was a good idea, because the City Museum isn't any ol' museum.

The museum's website describes the place as this: 
Housed in the 600,000 square-foot former International Shoe Company, the museum is an eclectic mixture of children’s playground, funhouse, surrealistic pavilion, and architectural marvel made out of unique, found objects... If you get freaked out easily, you might not want to come. We’re four floors filled with miles of tunnels, a full cave system, over 30 slides, a circus, an arts area, a large outdoor climbing space, Architectural Museum, a Cabin that serves adult beverages, a Museum of Mayhem, Mirth and Mystery, and a ton more.
That description really doesn't do it justice, and I don't think anything I say about it really can. You just have to experience this crazy, senseless, labyrinth of artistically recycled parts for yourself.

I mean, you know it's gonna be interesting when they tell you up front No Maps. 

Every corner, nook, and cranny holds something unexpected. Random slides, tiny crawlspaces, secret passageways...it's just insane. The whole thing feels incredibly surreal and dream-like. 

I'm glad I listened to my buddies at work who recommended the place and wore comfortable clothing and athletic shoes, because we were constantly climbing, crawling, sliding, hanging, and everything in between. Actually, things got so intense, I literally ripped my pants (lol, but not even joking). 

But I'm SO glad I've been doing PiYo. All that newfound strength and flexibility sure came in handy in the metal tunnels outside. I mean, look at this madness. 

We ducked and crawled and scooted all through these tunnels and, at the end (SPOILERS), found that the only way down is a shockingly steep multi-story slide. So. Fun. 

We could have stayed there all weekend and not covered every inch of the place, but after a few hours, we were pretty exhausted. So we headed back to the hotel, had Shakeology in our room for dinner, and called it a day. And I had some pretty wild City-Museum-inspired dreams, let me tell you. 

Sunday, May 15 - DAY THREE

On Sunday, we slept a little later than the day before because we were still so tired and sore from the City Museum (lol, yep). So we took it really easy that morning. We got breakfast downstairs, then had a cuppa and played chess in the super classy sitting area.

After Matt won (of course, ugh), we set out for Grant's Farms, a free historic farm and petting zoo about 20 minutes outside of the city. It was a cute little place that reminded me of the Germany area at Epcot.

The main reason we went here? We read online that, for $5, they offered animal rides. Specifically, camel rides.

...who could pass that up?

That was pretty much Grant's Farms. It was nice, but very small and very full of children. Plus, we were hungry, and we wanted to try Mission Taco Joint.

This was my favorite meal of the trip. No, of 2016. Mexican street food served family style. THE. BEST. FOOD. EVER. The street corn (conveniently off the cob!) was the bomb, but the tacos... My goodness. They make their own corn tortillas in house, and you can tell. I got a grilled fish taco and a brisket carnita, while Matt got a chorizo taco, brisket carnita, and the taco-of-the-month, which featured grilled duck. OMG. Everything was unbelievably amazing.

I could have eaten like 5 more fish tacos. That was the best fish taco of my life.

With happy tummies, we decided to stroll around the sidewalks of The Loop, the trendy, hipster-ish part of town where Mission Taco Joint is. We explored several unique little shops there, from a fair-trade-only non-profit gift store to a dog bakery (yes, a bakery for dogs...we got Annie some pup cookies and mini "beg-gals", which were tiny bagels for dogs.......). I had a particular fondness for this adorable little book shop.

I didn't buy anything, but it was fun to look. And smell.

Since we've become board game aficionados, we stopped in a geeky game store called the Wizard's Wagon to look for new board games. We found this intriguing one and made the one splurgey purchase of the trip (but with our debit card, yay!)

The minimalist cover drew us in. It just looks so different from other games, we had to check it out. In this game, you're T.I.M.E. agents who are assigned missions to rewrite history and prevent certain events from happening. That sounded right up our alley and it had good reviews, so we decided to give it a go.

After exploring The Loop a little further, we decided to head across town to check out a unique place I found online: The London Tea Room.

Yes. A tea room, run by true Londoners. Of course we had to go.

We tried their most popular blend, The Naughty Vicar, which was a blend of black teas with black currants and vanilla. So good! And of course, we had to try some English sponge cake with strawberry jam and cream.

It's probably a good thing we don't live any closer, because I think we'd be spending a lot of time there. They also offer TONS of teas in bulk, so we purchased 2 oz of The Naughty Vicar and 2 oz Jasmine Green.

Then it was time to head back to the Cheshire for the night. We had Shakeology for dinner and spent an hour or two reading books from home by the fireplace in the sitting room downstairs. Just because we could.


Monday, May 16 - TIME TO LEAVE :(

We took advantage of free breakfast at the hotel before checking out, then we said goodbye to the Cheshire and hit up a few more places before we left town. Like Trader Joe's. St. Louis is the closest location near us, so we got everything we could on our grocery list for the rest of the month while we were there. Oh, and the cashier was very friendly and chatty, and when we told him we were in St. Louis for our anniversary, he presented us with a complimentary bouquet of flowers! So nice and completely unexpected.

Before heading home, we stopped for one more meal out- lunch at The Shaved Duck, a unique restaurant featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Going to another Triple D restaurant was on my 101 Things List, so I really wanted to check that off on this trip.

It was a lovely little place on the corner with a hip yet relaxed, cool, soulful kinda vibe. They were playing an old, not-frequently-played Coldplay song when we walked in, so I instantly liked it. :) We split the appetizer we watched Guy Fieri help prepare on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives: Smothered Fries. 

I know. It was the heaviest, least nutritious thing we've consumed in a very long time, but it was so worth all the stomach cramps, throat phlegm, and constipation that followed! Talk about gerrrd

Those handmade fries. Let me tell ya.

After that appetizer, I had a pulled pork sandwich with their "famous" macaroni and cheese. Everything on my plate was great, but not AMAZING (Not like the taco joint). Also, I think I just had a cheese overload. I rarely eat cheese nowadays, and it makes me feel all funky now when I do.

And that was that!

What a wonderful weekend we had. I am sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo extremely thankful that we were given the opportunity and the funds to do it! We desperately needed to get away and have some fun together. We've been so intensely focused on working hard, pinching pennies, and getting out of debt that we haven't taken the time to enjoy being young(ish), child-free, newlyweds. So this was just what we needed!


Jessica said...

My tummy is growling. Looks like so much fun! And of course Matt won chess. Ugh. lolol.

Anna Marie Schaefer said...

Such an awesome trip! Thanks for sharing. You guys really did deserve this!!