Saturday, June 2, 2012

Traveling through time in Old St. Charles Town, St. Louis


During my whirlwind work trip to St. Louis, my boss and I set aside one day, and one day only, to explore St. Louis before we had to fly back to Canada. We wanted to explore some unique and fun sights around our hotel area in Westport, rather than paying for a $60 taxi cab ride to the downtown area where the Budweiser Beer Brewery and the St. Louis Gateway Arch stand (although, I really did want to go back downtown so I could go UP the arch). We asked our concierge where to go, and he responded with a resounding, "Old St. Charles Town, of course!"

Original state capitol sign.

So that's what we did. No questions asked. We hopped in the cab, asked for Old St. Charles Town, and drove in the appropriate direction, not really knowing what to expect. What we got was a very pleasant surprise, and a day that I'll not forget.

The quaint, cobblestoned streets of Old St. Charles Town in St. Louis.

Old St. Charles Town, we were informed by our knowledgeable cab driver, was the original state capitol of Missouri, and the main street of the village has been preserved as much as possible in its original state. (See how I used "original state" twice there, but in different contexts? If only my Junior High LA students could see me now! Ha ha!) We were instantly charmed upon arrival. The streets of Old St. Charles Town were bricked and cobblestoned, the stores nestled in hundred year old buildings that used to be blacksmith shops and inns. Ivy and vines crawled up the old stone walls, wrapping around charming balconies and chimneys. We felt like we'd stepped back in time!

The streets of Old St. Charles Town from above.

Shopping is extremely pleasant in Old St. Charles Town - there are stores of every type selling a unique variety of wares. I bought a legitimate corn cob pipe for my husband from a tobacco store, tasted some local wines, and perused glass baubles blown by local artisans. Clothing, music, kitchen items, jewelry, household decorations, hair extensions: everything is sold on the main street of Old St. Charles Town. It was also home to Daniel Boone (I met his statue!).

Oh, Daniel Boone - you are such a gentleman!

There are also many inns, restaurants, and pubs lining the main street. My boss and I enjoyed a cold one atop the balcony of the Lewis and Clark Pub, much to my delight. It was a hot, hot day that day - so hot that the elastic on my sundress got a bit melty and snapped (and I had to buy an emergency sundress or face having to walk around all day with my saggy dress tucked into my strapless bra, which was NOT very classy looking...) The Lewis and Clark Pub had a fantastic view of the cobblestoned street and the Mighty Mississippi.

The view from the Lewis and Clark Pub balcony.

After relaxing at the restaurant / pub, we decided to stroll down to the river, since the view had looked so refreshing. There we found Frontier Park, a pretty green area dedicated to showing off some old train engines, the old train station, and the beautiful banks of the Mississippi. The park was virtually empty, with one lone jogger joining us. Very peaceful!

Frontier Park's pretty entrance, just a quick stroll from the Mississippi.
The old train station at Frontier Park in Old St. Charles Town

We wrapped up the day by visiting a shop where the owner made his own musical instruments called dulcimers, which he played for us. I was very intrigued, but couldn't afford to buy one for myself. There was also a small brewery that made fruit-flavored beers and had a lovely patio which faced a trickling stream and a working water wheel, where we stopped for dinner.

A dulcimer - my next musical instrument?
All in all, we spent a wonderful, peaceful, and quaint day down in Old St. Charles Town, and for anyone visiting St. Louis, I would highly, highly recommend this as a side trip for the day. Travel back in time, and return with some great shopping!

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