Inside Our St. Louis Excursions! (Part 2 of a 2-Part Series)

By Sara Tantillo, AAFCS Professional Development Manager

Thanks for coming back to hear about more great sights to see in St. Louis!


Our next stop was the Missouri Botanical Garden, where Tourism Manager Gene Peimann took us on a tram tour of the Garden, which was being set up for their holiday illuminations show. Unfortunately we missed the exhibition by just a few days—but it looked like it was going to be gorgeous! With 79 acres of exhibits, it would take many visits to see all the beautiful attractions, especially since several are ever-changing. We particularly enjoyed the Grigg Nanjing Friendship Chinese Garden, with many donations straight from China, including a beautiful carved pavilion!

chihlyThe Garden has so much to offer that we encourage you to visit before or after Conference along with joining AAFCS for the Sustainability at the Missouri Botanical Garden excursion on Saturday morning. You’ll learn more about their sustainability efforts in beautiful surroundings. Be sure to take note of the beautiful Chihuly chandelier in the main lobby, leftover from their “Glass in the Garden” exhibit in  2006. Dale Chihuly is one of my favorite artists, so I was so excited to recognize his work! (If you live in the Seattle area, make sure to visit the Chihuly museum near the Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass. It’s worth it!)

ravioliOur last stop of the day was at the Hill, one of the most famous neighborhoods in St. Louis. Hill native and tour guide for the Tour of the Hill excursion Joe DeGregorio met us at the famous Mama Toscano’s—where their specialty is the city’s signature “toasted ravioli.” We enjoyed a quick taste (be sure to try yours with marinara sauce!), and then Joe took us on an abbreviated tour of the neighborhood—one that will of course last much longer on the excursion. chocolateSince it was almost closing time, we hurried over to local business Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Company, where we were able to walk through their factory floor, see how the chocolate is made, and enjoy a sample! For chocolate lovers like ourselves, this was very exciting! After our visit, we headed over to take a look at several of the local restaurants, since the group will be lunching at one of the authentic Italian establishments—and chose Favazza’s, for both its fantastic menu and the great atmosphere. If only we’d had the time to eat dinner there! Even though it was getting dark, Joe was able to bring us to a few more places—a great local gift shop, and a wonderful Italian grocery that brought back memories of the Italian Market in Philadelphia, near where I grew up.  I wish I’d had room in my carry-on to bring home some delicious Italian specialties!

archAfter our long day, we headed back to the hotel for some well-deserved rest! But our visits were not done—the next day, we walked right across the street to the Gateway Arch, part of our Gateway Arch and Architecture tour. While we didn’t have too much time before our flights, we were able to take a quick look at the museum—and we know that the ranger-led tour will be fantastic. Once we had a chance to take a look at all the museum had to offer, we headed over to one of the other parts of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, the Old Courthouse. While we were there, we watched a short film on the Dred Scott case—which was heard in that very courthouse! This extremely important case had wide-reaching implications and acted as an indirect catalyst for the Civil War. The Old Courthouse is another stop on the Gateway Arch and Architecture tour.

Remember, the Architecture tour does NOT include a tram tour up the arch—but you can make reservations for one at any time of the day! If you’re going on the tour, you may even be able to squeeze in the first trip of the day.

courthouseThe Old Courthouse was our last stop on our whirlwind visit to St. Louis—and it was a great one! Sad to go, we headed back to the airport, which is a convenient 20 minutes away from the hotel.

We had so much fun in St. Louis, and it was very clear how much passion residents have for their city! We’re so excited for you to explore St. Louis and to check out what the city—and the conference—has to offer. We’re working hard here at AAFCS to make sure this is one of our best conferences yet—see you in St. Louis!

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