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Gateway Arch National Park

Top choice in St Louis

As a symbol for St Louis, the Gateway Arch has soared above any expectations its backers could have had in 1965 when it opened. Now the centerpiece of its own recently christened national park, the silvery, shimmering Arch is the Great Plains' own Eiffel Tower. It stands 630ft high and symbolizes St Louis' historical role as 'Gateway to the West.' It's the design of the legendary Finnish American architect Eero Saarinen (1910–1961).

The tram ride takes you to the tight confines at the top. Book tickets in advance online or by phone. At busy times, same-day tickets may be sold out. At the base, there is the interesting Museum at the Gateway Arch. You can also buy tickets for a documentary Monument to the Dream (adult/child $7/3). Various money-saving combo tickets are available; some include rides on the Gateway Arch Riverboats.

A massive project transformed the area around the Arch in time for its 50th birthday. The large Luther Ely Smith Square now covers noxious I-44 and connects the Arch and its park directly to the Old Courthouse and the rest of Downtown. It's a huge and welcome improvement.

A pro tip: the parkland around the Arch is a great place to escape the crowds and relax with a view of the Mississippi River.