Even though I’ve lived here more than a year, my wife and I are still catching up on some of the “touristy” activities around the St. Louis area.
With some attractions closed during much of the pandemic and others making you show up at designated times, we haven’t gotten to see all that we would like. But over Memorial Day weekend, we decided to visit the Saint Louis Art Museum and take the Anheuser-Busch brewery tour.
The art museum, located in Forest Park, is one of the great free attractions in St. Louis. St. Louis gets a lot of criticism, much of it deserved, but if you are looking for a city to visit where you can see great attractions for free, Washington, D.C., is the only place I know that is better.
The museum has a great collection, much of which we didn’t see because it was so big. But we did see paintings by Picasso and Grant Wood. It goes from old Egyptian and European art up to contemporary work from artists like Kehinde Wiley, who did the controversial (which in this case means weird) portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama.
The museum’s policy is you don’t have to wear a face mask if you are vaccinated, so we didn’t wear ours. I must say I almost felt guilty, since lots of people wore masks anyway.
Anyway, we walked around the museum for nearly 2 1/2 hours, so not having to wear a mask was refreshing. My legs were a little worn out, but my insides felt nice.
Earlier in the pandemic, we spent hours masked walking around the art museum in Kansas City and the St. Louis Zoo (both also great free attractions, by the way), and it was exhausting. At the St. Louis museum, I barely even noticed how much time had gone by.
Of course, I might have already had COVID-19 when I walked around the Kansas City Museum, so that didn’t help my fatigue.
On Memorial Day itself, I started the morning at Union’s parade. What a nice event.
After a year of either canceled or curtailed events, it was wonderful to see everyone out enjoying themselves and see a great variety of entries. I especially enjoyed the high school band march.
One thing I would like to not see in the future is cars parked on the street during the parade. I don’t remember ever seeing this during a parade. It blocked people’s views and could have potentially created a hazard with kids running out to get candy from behind the vehicles.
I get it would be a hassle to tow those cars, but maybe put up signs at the start of the weekend in the future, nicely asking people along the parade route to move their cars by Monday morning. I bet most would.
After heading home to post photos to our website, we were off to the brewery (a word I have trouble saying, so I’m glad this is written). I’d been by the brewery many times but never been in.
This was another place we saw on a YouTube video that was supposedly free, but the tours cost $15 per person for us. I Googled to see if there had been a change, but searching “Anheuser-Busch” and “free” just got me a bunch of stories on Budweiser providing free beer if the country gets vaccinated.
It was really like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory for booze. The tour starts at the Clydesdale stables, where you get to see the majestic horses.
Then it’s off to the beechwood aging tanks. The area we used to live in central Oregon had around 30 breweries of various sizes, one of which, 10 Barrel, is now owned by Anheuser-Busch. I’m not sure if all the beer those places make combined could fill one of the massive tanks at A-B.
We then went on to the brew house, where the beer is actually made, and then the packaging facility. They were all in these old buildings, which felt like a little town, except not many people were around (probably because of the holiday).
We were required to wear masks on the tour, which took a little over an hour and a walk of more than a mile around their campus. Walking wasn’t too bad because they had elevators and, in one case, seven escalators we had to take to get to a viewing point. I haven’t seen anything like that since going to giant New York department stores as a child.
The masks also helped hide the smell. I remember visiting the Anheuser-Busch brewery at Busch Gardens in Virginia in 1989 and it smelling like canned green beans. It was the same smell in St. Louis. It wasn’t a bad smell, necessarily, but one you get kind of tired of.
Finally, the tour ended with a free sample of our choice. I’m not much of a drinker — the last full serving of alcohol I had was a beer on a plane in 2019 (which also was free). I was hoping they would have O’Douls or something nonalcoholic but no such luck.
I wasn’t going to turn down something free, so I had a Cherry Bud Light Seltzer, which looked refreshing after the long walk we’d had. It tasted and looked like Zima, the much-missed clear adult beverage from the 1990s.
The beer garden was packed, so my wife asked some guys if we could sit with them (something I’d be too nervous to do). It was fun just talking with strangers, something we didn’t get to do as much during the pandemic.
I’ve become such a lightweight I got a little buzz from my one cup of seltzer.
There’s still a lot to see around the area, like the botanical garden and many more museums. Hopefully, it will be a fun summer.