Look at that Arch. Magnificent, isn't it? I put that giant picture of the Gateway Arch up for my own sanity, to convince me that there is one thing in St. Louis worth seeing. Based on two days in St. Louis ("The City That Hates You"), the only advice I can offer the unwary tourist is this: stay on the highway, drive directly to the Arch, take your picture, and get out of town. Because St. Louis (TCTHY) doesn't want you or your business. I don't mean there are no other tourist attractions here; I mean that basic services needed for the functioning of a civilized society are missing. Just as an example, there are no grocery stores in St. Louis. Or rather, there are no national chain stores, which means there are no 24-hour stores, which means if you arrive in St. Louis after dark let's say, hypothetically, ready to claw your eyes out because you are allergic to Missouri, and you are out of Benadryl then as far as St. Louis is concerned, you can go straight to hell.
Here's a St. Louis (TCTHY) fun fact: several places we've visited (Kansas City, Nashville, Memphis) advertise "St. Louis style ribs" or have jars of "St. Louis BBQ Sauce." These labels are erroneous: there is no barbeque in St. Louis. We even stayed an extra day in this godforsaken berg, and do you know where we ate? Jack in the Box. Because after hours and hours of looking for the mythical St. Louis barbeque and I use the word mythical in the sense of "widely known, yet not true" every other restaurant in town was closed. Instead, we ate at a Jack in the Box across the street from a Citgo gas station where everything is behind a bulletproof window: not just the cashier, cigarettes, and lottery tickets, I mean the two-liter sodas, the Gummi candy, the newspapers, the Pringles: everything. That's what looking for food in St. Louis will get you. Not that they don't make the search entertaining: "yessss," the guide books hiss, Golem-style, "we haaaave barrrrbequuuue... it'ssss at Tenthhhh and Sssssoularrrrd." So you drive down to Tenth Street and turn toward Soulard. You drive through the urban decay of St. Louis until Tenth Street diverges: one lane becomes a freeway onramp that will take you over the Mississippi River, and the other lane has a sign over it reading "Tenth Street," with the handy arrow pointing down so you know exactly which lane they mean and everything. Except that on the other side of the intersection is not Tenth Street but a goddamn gated parking lot. If you have any sense at all, at this point, you turn around, whip a U-turn onto the freeway, and drive as fast as your car will go away from St. Louis. Or, if you are more like the sexy teenagers who decide to camp out at the lake house where all the sexy teenagers were mysteriously slaughtered a year ago that very day, you do what we did, which is to keep looking. Eventually, the random tangle of one-way streets and Avenues Interruptus that make up the seedy, dirty, abandoned, closed, boarded up, St. Louis downtown yield the barbeque restaurant spoken of so glowingly in the tourist brochures: first of all, it's not a restaurant, it's a bar. Second of all, it's closed. That's right don't assume that a bar in St. Louis will be open at 10:00pm. Third of all, you have no way of knowing when you might be able to obtain the brochure-referenced food, because it is too much trouble for them to post their hours of business (if any). So yes, there is one bar in a totally inaccessible, infuriating, dirty part of St. Louis, which may or may not serve this so-called "St. Louis Barbeque," but only during hours which they prefer remain unspecified.
As for that Arch... you'd think that a city with just one tourist attraction would try to make it the kind of place tourists like: grossly overcommercialized, surrounded by cheesy theme restaurants and stands full of tacky Arch-oriented crap. But not St. Louis. With what did they choose to surround the Arch? Stairs. Stairs, and hills. Stairs, hills, and six hundred thousand percent humidity. No air conditioned souvenir stores, no restaurants at all, certainly no barbeque joints. But eventually, we did find St. Louis style barbeque. In Illinois.
I could go on about the adventure of trying to leave St. Louis, and how The City That Hates You chose to drive it home right to the bitter end, but I won't bother. All I know is that my very last memory of St. Louis will be the smell. We finally hit a freeway onramp going the right direction, and as we started across the Mississippi River, a smell like a thousand flatulent cholera victims bade us a fond St. Louis farewell.