Earlier today my wife and I recalled the weekend road trip we took to St. Louis last summer, which prompts me to share the following travel story I wrote for The Times. I made a couple minor changes to it, adding a reference to the Obama pizza controversy and subtracting a paragraph about a special exhibit that was at the Old Courthouse last summer when the article was published.

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The Gateway Arch. Busch Stadium, home of baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals. The Anheuser-Busch Brewery, where Budweiser beer is made.

Those are some places that immediately come to mind when thinking about things to see in St. Louis. But if a trip to the Gateway City is in the cards, there are some lesser-known places worth checking out as well.

One place I was pleased to discover was Forest Park, which really is one of the city’s crown jewels. Comprised of 1,371 acres in the heart of St. Louis, Forest Park is home to the St. Louis Zoo (which doesn’t charge admission), the St. Louis Art Museum (housed in one of the few remaining buildings constructed for the 1904 World’s Fair), a conservatory, a fountain and lake, the St. Louis Science Center (a planetarium), a memorial to Thomas Jefferson and lots of space for leisurely walks.

Of course, it is impossible to visit St. Louis and not see the Gateway Arch. Even if you don’t want to wake up early to stand in line for tickets for the tram ride to the top, the Gateway Arch is still a beauty to behold from below.

A few blocks from the Gateway Arch is the Old Courthouse, where the Dred Scott case originated. The 19th-century courthouse is no longer in use as a justice center, but is open to the public to see the decorated interior dome and numerous displays covering the history of St. Louis.

About a block away from the Old Courthouse is Kiener Plaza, which features small fountains and a manmade waterfall. A statue called The Runner is placed to appear as if someone is running over the fountains in Kiener Plaza. Here, there is a great photo opportunity. Stand by the waterfall and look back at The Runner to see the statue in front of the Old Courthouse with the Gateway Arch behind it.

There are lots of restaurants to choose from in this area. My recommendation is Caleco’s, which is close to the Old Courthouse and Kiener Plaza. Caleco’s is popular for its St. Louis-style pizza, which basically is the opposite of Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. The crust of a St. Louis-style pizza is cracker-thin and the tomato sauce is sweet, giving the pie a unique taste I haven’t had elsewhere. But if you wish to stick to deep-dish pizza, apparently it is very good at Pi, a Delmar Loop neighborhood restaurant that President Barack Obama asked to cater a White House dinner last month. Being a Chicagoan, Obama surely knows good deep-dish pizza when he tastes it.

Another place worth checking out, especially if out at night in St. Louis, is Laclede’s Landing, simply referred to as “The Landing” by locals. The nine-block area along the Mississippi River once housed various industrial companies that sent their wares across the country via barges, but now it is home to a bunch of restaurants, sidewalk cafes and outdoor beer gardens. There are plenty of gift shops there as well for those who want to visit during the day and avoid the nightlife.

Photos by Craig Wieczorkiewicz
The view from inside the St. Louis Cardinals ballpark has improved since the new Busch Stadium opened three years ago. Now downtown St. Louis, including the Gateway Arch, can be seen beyond the outfield wall.