Sunday was one of those perfect days that come out of season. Just like that 70 degree day in the middle of winter, you don’t find too many days that aren’t in the 90s in August and this one had a low in the 60s. After nearly a month-long heat advisory in July, St. Louis went outside for a beautiful Sunday and I was no exception.
I drove my husband and myself down to St. Louis (an hour’s drive from my house) and we went to the Missouri Botanical Garden. You might remember that it was one of my summer goals and I couldn’t recall how long it had been since I’d visited there. As I walked into the parking lot I realized I hadn’t been since the Japanese festival in 1994 and I was shocked to hear my husband had never been. I have to say we wasted those years because this place was more beautiful than I remembered.
We spent about 2 1/2 hours walking the grounds and just enjoying how clean and peaceful it was. It was a popular attraction due to some corporate events but we never felt crowded or boxed in. The grounds cover nearly 80 acres of land and I’d say anyone with kids should allot something closer to 4 hours to do all the walking and enjoy the children’s exhibits. I didn’t remember to turn on my pedometer for the day but I’d say we walked a little over a mile just in the gardens.
One of my favorite parts of the day was exploring the Climatron. The Climatron is a dome-shaped building inspired by R. Buckminster Fuller. Inside there were winding trails, waterfalls and even animals. One of the most beautiful objects inside is a remnant of an exhibit featuring artist Dale Chihuly. Chihuly’s work is still noticeable around the park and only enhances the beauty of the flowers.
Many people are drawn to the Chinese and Japanese gardens in the back corner of the park. The Japanese garden takes up 14 acres and includes winding trails and an area where you can feed koi fish. Bring some coins so you can buy some fish food and if you have kids this is a great photo opportunity. Speaking of kids, make sure to stop by the Victorian gardens and try out the maze. You can’t really get lost in it and it’s one of the few things I remember from my childhood visits.
- Bring a water bottle. I’m so used to everyone banning them that I didn’t even think to bring mine.
- Wear comfortable shoes! There’s a lot of walking involved.
- Leave behind the giant stroller. Paths are narrow and you might regret it inside the Climatron.
- Check the calendar for events going on when planning your visit
- September 3-5 (Labor Day weekend) is the Japanese Festival and a great time to visit. Admission jumps to $15 but you can see martial arts, anime, crafts, taiko drummers and more. The gardens are open later and you should plan to arrive early!
- In 2012, the Lantern Festival will be coming to the gardens. “Lantern Festival: Art by Day, Magic by Night” will feature illuminated lanterns from Zigong, China. This is a must-see exhibit, especially at night and will run May 26-August 19, 2012.
Hours: 9 AM to 5 PM daily with some exceptions for holidays
Location: 4344 Shaw Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63110
Tickets: Adults- $8, City/County Residents- $4, City/County Seniors- $3, Members and children- Free!
After all our walking, my husband and I decided to visit a new restaurant (new to us at least). We visited Pi Pizzeria in the Central West End. There’s street parking or pay lots for $4 down the block so you’ll have no trouble reaching it. The pizza here is served Chicago style, meaning a deep dish. St. Louis is home to the thin crust pizza so Pi makes sure to serve that too, though they do skip out on serving the classic provel cheese in favor of mozzarella. You might have heard of Pi when President Obama had some cooked up for him in Washington DC.
My husband and I went for the deep dish pepperoni and volpi prosciutto pizza. We just got a small (9″) pizza expecting the deep dish to be overflowing with tomatoes but we were both surprised that the pizza wasn’t as deep as we expected. The pizza was perfect for the two of us but we could have put away a little more. The prosciutto seriously made the pizza so don’t hesitate to add it to your custom pi(e) or try one of the pre-made combinations at their locations.
Pi is supposed to be legendary for their bartenders. For $6 you can trust them to figure out the right mixed drink for you and I hear they’re eerily accurate. I had a long drive back so I missed out on the miracle but next time I’m near one of their 5 locations I’ll have to put them to the test.
The service could have been better at this location but we did dine at off-peak hours and the servers were split serving indoor and outdoor guests. I also doubt they were expecting two people who had just been in the gardens for hours without a water bottle and didn’t realize our love of their mango-infused tea. Either way, the food was good, it’s conveniently located near the Botanical Gardens, Tower Grove Park and Forest Park so don’t miss out on Pi if you’re in the area.
For more pictures of my day, check out my flickr feed. Did any of you do anything fun this weekend?