Top of the Gateway Arch

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I confess. I’ve lived in the St. Louis area for 15 years, and it was only two days ago that I finally took a ride up to the top of the Arch.

It seems somewhat sacrilegious to live somewhere for that long and not experience the city’s number one attraction. But just like my recent visit to the Cahokia Mounds this past summer, it’s one of those visits every St. Louisan does as a kid. And since I moved to the area as an adolescent, it wasn’t a huge must-see for me. Sure, my family went to the Arch grounds, touched the massive structure and walked down by the riverfront, but the long lines of tourists you have to endure to get to the top were always a deterrent…

Until December 28, 2012, when I, Larissa Riley, was escorted by my husband, Michael Riley, to the top of the St. Louis Gateway Arch. Since we had a few days off work for Christmas and New Year’s, we’ve had a spectacular amount of free time on our hands. So when the idea of going to the top of the Arch popped into our plans, we figured, why not?

Upon our arrival at the Arch grounds, we waited in line to go through metal detectors — an important security measure that is much like the security checkpoints at the airport — but less of a hassle since you don’t have to lug your luggage or take off your shoes.

Then, there was a line to purchase your tickets to the top. The adult rate is $10, which I thought was decent. We’ve paid heftier prices to go to the top of the Seattle Space Needle and Chicago’s Hancock Building. I should also note that the associate at the ticket counter asked if we were claustrophobic or had problems with stairs. A bit of foreshadowing to the experience that was soon to come.

Then, there was the line you have to wait in to board the pod that takes you to the top. These pods look like little spaceships or some form of transportation you’d see in The Hunger Games. They seat a maximum of five people and are a tight squeeze. (This is where the claustrophobia sets in.)

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This is Mikey’s claustrophobic face.

It’s a four-minute ride to the top, and if you’re lucky (or brave) enough to get a window seat, you can stare down below as the pod grinds its way to the top. What I remember seeing most was the endless steps that stretched from the bottom to the top — an escape route in the event that you… um, have to escape . (This is where the “problems with stairs” sets in.)

Mikey and I made it to the top without any issues. We walked around to the various windows to check out the views below. We could see the Old Courthouse, Busch Stadium, the Edward Jones Dome and of course, the Mighty Mississippi.

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Barge going by on the Mississippi River

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Busch Stadium yonder and one of the circular towers of the Millennium Hotel

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Downtown St. Louis shrouded in mist

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The Old Courthouse, home of the Dred Scott trial

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The Edward Jones Dome, where the St. Louis Rams play, sits at the top right.

Our journey was time well spent to finally be able to say, “Yes, I’ve been to the top of the Arch.”

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Excuse me, where is my “I made it to the top of the Arch” badge?

After making our way back to solid ground, I wanted to spend some time in the museum, but my stomach begged to differ. Mikey and I were starving, and unfortunately, there wasn’t a restaurant on the Arch grounds. Seems silly to me. They could probably make a pretty penny by having some sort of cafe on site. So we breezed through the museum and then made our way to the nearest exit to find some grub.

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I had to take a picture of the bear because, of course, it reminded me of “The Bear”.

Teddy at Carlyle Lake 3

Do you see the distinction?

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There’s a lot to be learned at the Museum of Westward Expansion. I’ve got to make it a point to go back.

Then, that’s when the best part of our little excursion hit me — literally! The first snow of the season was falling in the STL. With the crazy drought we had this summer and warmer weather we’ve had this winter, the snow was a nice change of pace and absolutely beautiful. And so we walked in snowflakes all the way back to the car. I would say that it was soooooooo-oooooo romantic, but in an effort to keep the cheese factor to a minimum, I won’t. It was, however, a great day to be in St. Louis.

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Filed under St. Louis, Travel, Vacation

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