When traveling cross country voyagers can’t miss the large Gateway Arch rising out of the St. Louis skyline. A distinct structure, the arch commemorates St. Louis’ role in the Westward Expansion of the United States during the nineteenth century. What you may not know is that it’s a park and a national monument; a memorial to Thomas Jefferson’s role in opening the West and to the pioneers who helped shape this country.
Most visitors walk into an underground entrance to get inside this giant sculpture and take a tram ride to the top of the Gateway Arch for a stunning panoramic view of the St. Louis area–although it is not recommended for those with claustrophobia or fear of heights. The tram is very small and confining plus the Arch truly does sway with the winds.
Not sure of wanting to ride the tram up? It is still worth a trip into the Arch to see a screening of the film “Monument to the Dream“ which details the story of the construction of the Arch and to see the museum. The Museum of Westward Expansion highlights the people, places and events of the American west during the 1800s with an extensive collection of artifacts, mounted animal specimens, authentic Plains Indian tipi, and overview of the Lewis and Clark expedition.
From the monument it is easy to tour downtown hotspots within walking distance, including the recently rebuilt Busch Stadium and the banks of the amazing, muddy Mississippi River.
Tip: Expect a variety of weather that is typical in the Midwest. Summer temperatures are hot, even hotter than the outlying areas due to a “heat island” effect. Winter winds blow and gust through “street canyons” formed between tall buildings. In spring and fall, the weather might change dramatically within a short periods of time. It’s best to dressing in layers to be prepared for the climate changes.
Hours: For most of the year, the hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. For summer tour dates, Memorial Day through Labor Day, the Arch and Museum are open from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and the trams to the top of the Arch run from 8:15 a.m. to 9:10 p.m. Be there one half hour before your scheduled tram ride.
Another hint: If you want to avoid the busy late-morning and mid-day rushes, you should take advantage of the less crowded evening hours to visit the Gateway Arch.
Fees: There are charges for the tram ride to the top, riverboat cruises, giant-screen movies, and the documentary Monument to the Dream about the construction of the arch.
A typical package deal is the Tram & Movie combination just $14.00