This past year, my husband and I decided to spend our annual weekend getaway (without the children) in St. Louis, as we don’t often get to experience the city as adults. In my research, several sites suggested the best couples’ weekend was to get out of the city and I thought we could do better than that. So here was our itinerary.
Where to stay: We are Hilton Honors members, so that is usually our track. This time was no different with us choosing to stay at the Hilton at the Ballpark. We stayed on the backside of the building with a view of the Old Courthouse and Citygarden. It was a bitterly cold November and we even saw a little bit of snow. At the top of the hotel is the 360 bar, which has views of the arch, courthouse, and, of course, the Cardinal’s ballpark. Their lobster rolls and garlic fries with aioli made the perfect dinner!
Entertainment: Normally I would suggest taking in a show at Powell Symphony Concert Hall, the Fox, the Peabody, or even the Sheldon Concert Hall. Unfortunately, there was nothing showing the night we were out, except Alladin at the Fox – not my choice of musical when escaping the children. This forced me further out of my comfort zone to the Casa Loma Ballroom. Most Friday nights this event space hosts free dance lessons at 7pm and then big band music, an open dance floor, and cheap drinks for the rest of the night. I love to dance, but I much prefer dances with specific steps, so lessons particularly appealed to me. Unfortunately, my husband and I arrived too late for the lessons, but had fun nonetheless people watching and attempting to teach ourselves (my waltz is alright!). There was a wide range of ages and abilities, from 80-somethings to 20-somethings, with partners swinging each other through the air and some shuffling along. I love big band music, so listening to the music alone was worth it, particularly when they launched into Caravan (that’s my jam!).
Breakfast: We normally stay where we can have free breakfast and the Hilton did not disappoint. The buffet was full of all the standards and lots of fresh fruit. If we had had to leave the hotel, I would have gone to Kaldi’s, a St. Louis coffee roaster, with lots of egg dishes and roasted sweet potatoes.
Activities: Part of the goal of this trip was to explore the St. Louis we don’t know as well, so we checked out Soulard Market. We marveled at the cheap produce, the variety of spices and meats, and picked me up some new gloves. Walking outside the market we found Sweet Divine. I had been to their food truck before but, inside, was amazed to find a combination coffee bar, liquor bar, and bakery. I had a frothy honey latte to warm up a bit and got cupcakes (bacon and cheese, cookie dough, and beer) to take home for us and the girls.
Part of the reason we were in Soulard was to meet our tour guide from Renegade Tours. We met Amanda just outside the market and were surprised to find we already knew her from frequent visits to the independent bookstore, The Novel Neighbor. The walking tour of the area lasts about 90 minutes and cost around $60 for two. The cost would have been significantly lower with more people, but it felt empowering being able to ask whatever we wanted whenever we wanted and really get to know Amanda. It was very apparent she has a passion for history and the area and has done extensive research, even on specific houses. Her factual storytelling brought us to the 1800s fur traders, the many immigrant groups, and individual influential families that called Soulard home. Someday soon, I look forward to taking her tour of downtown or the Central West End.
We had a late afternoon lunch at Schlafly Brewery in Maplewood. It is a fully functioning brewery with tours, but we skipped that part for this couple’s weekend. Instead, I got the beer bread with blue cheese spread and bacon jam (one of my favorite bread courses ever), beer cheese soup, and a hard cider. My husband had the pretzel crusted chicken sandwich and was not disappointed.
Entertainment: Take Two!
As mentioned earlier, we took our trip on a rare slow weekend in St. Louis. However, we did find a national comedy festival in the Grove. We got tickets to see the Shakespeare Improv Company and I was about as impressed as I’ve ever been by an improv group. The group took a suggestion for the name of the play and from there performed an entire hour-long play in the style of Shakespeare, made up on the spot. While I know the group had some sort of formula (for example a soliloquy to start, a scene with a priest and a troubled young man, etc), it was still hard to imagine the skill set needed to pull the performance off. This was our last adventure before returning home.
We got some real quality time together and got to know our city a little better. This Staycation was a definite winner!