The St. Louis Arch Is Turning Fifty

Have you been to the Arch half a dozen times? Or never been before?

Now might be a good time to plan a visit, because this iconic St. Louis monument is turning fifty next week!

The Gateway Arch’s official birthday is being recognized on Wednesday, October 28, the day the final section of steel was put in place. If you can make it out for the 11 a.m. ceremony commemorating the event, you might land yourself a free cupcake. But even if you don’t, you can take advantage of dollar rides to the top of the Arch all day.

If you’re free this Saturday (the 24th), head to Kiener Plaza downtown for the Arch 50 Fest. I read there will be lots of food, children’s activities, and a fireworks display to cap it off at the end of the night.

Either way you slice it, these are two prime opportunities to get out and connect with your inner St. Louisan.

Know Before You Go

Before embarking on adventure to visit this historic monument, why not brush up on your history of it?

The Gateway Arch website has a neat, concise timeline with several  highlights from the Arch’s storied past. For instance, did you know the idea behind having  a monument on the St. Louis riverfront dates back to 1933?

Additionally, note that entry to both Arch 50 Fest (Saturday, Oct. 24) and the Recognition and Birthday Ceremony (Wednesday, Oct. 28) is free.


Symphony in the Park

With leaves changing and temperatures dropping, I see this post as a sort of summer send-off. A farewell-for-now recap of one beautiful, warm evening in September.

It was a Tuesday, and I was so excited because this night had been planned for nearly a week. While combing the internet for an inexpensive date ideas, I’d stumbled upon a slew of options, one of them being a free concert in Forest Park. And not just any concert..

A St. Louis Symphony Orchestra concert.

My husband and I are great appreciators of the Symphony; not only for the enriching cultural experience and the wonderful performances, but also for the reminder of our engagement. We attended the 2013 New Year’s Eve Celebration the night we became engaged.

So having the opportunity to see the Symphony again, for free, outdoors, in a world-class parkit was all rather appealing. And did I mention there were also going to be fireworks?

A Matter of Parking

As the concert was scheduled to begin at 7, we wanted to arrive early enough to find parking (a considerable challenge for Forest Park at times) and secure good seats on Art Hill. We arrived at least forty minutes early and found parking about three quarters of a mile away.

There were many more people than I had expected. But hey, it is the Symphony. Droves of cars entered the park single file, pushing as far inward as possible before finding somewhere to pull off.

Cars Parked for St. Louis Symphony Concert

Nathan grabbed the picnic basket, and we joined the steady stream of concertgoers filtering from their vehicles and onto the sidewalks. It was a gorgeous night for a walk, with clear skies, little to no wind, and temps hovering around the high 70s to low 80s.

When we finally crested a hill that revealed the full view of Art Hill, we could see a large dome had been erected for the Symphony to play in, and the lawn was beginning to get crowded. Even so, we found space in the grass to spread a blanket and settle in for the night’s events.

Concertgoers on Art Hill


Enjoying Our View from Art Hill

Picnic Possibilities

One of the perks of this being an outdoor concert was, the sky really was the limit as to your food choices and what you could bring. Nathan had stopped at Sam’s Club and brought plates and silverware from home. Below, you can see our delectable dinner. Turkey salad wraps with pineapple, anyone?

Turkey Salad Wraps and Pineapple

Also, a good picnic basket, tote, or other structured bag is a great idea if you plan on attending any outdoor event like this. Ours held food, a bottle of wine (entirely permissible in Forest Park), bottled water, plus plates and silverware.

Picnic Basket


The concert was a preview of sorts of the upcoming 2015-2016 schedule. If any theme could be picked out from the music, I’d say patriotic and upbeatwe heard tunes including “St. Louis Blues March” and “America the Beautiful.”

My absolute favorite, however, was John Williams’ “Flying Theme from E.T.” Imagine sitting under the stars at Forest Park with the uplifting, energetic, yet almost ethereal quality of that live performance. It was something I’ll never forget.

Symphony Playing at Night

By the way, if you’re sad you missed that, just wait until April. Then, you can attend a screening of the movie, and the Symphony will be playing the entire score live.

Oh, and I couldn’t forget…

The Fireworks

The show ended with a pretty spectacular fireworks display, complete with a frenzying finale.

Couple Watching Fireworks


Fireworks at Forest Park

What a way to cap off the summer.


Know Before You Go

While the concert covered in this post has already come and gone, check out the Symphony’s website for a list of upcoming, and entirely free, concerts.

The calendar extends from this month all the way through next spring, so there are plenty of opportunities to experience world class music.

Venues, orchestration, and music will vary from event to event, so plan ahead and catch the one you think you’ll enjoy the most. Or, go outside the box and catch one of the more unique concerts, like one on January 14, 2016, featuring just the Symphony’s trombonists.