The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri is the icon for the city and centrally located in the Gateway Arch National Park. We visited in June 2017 as a first visit to St. Louis.
Parking can be difficult to find as there is none located directly at the Arch. City public parking can be found both on the street and in parking garages. Fees apply. You should allow 1-2 hrs to visit the Arch depending on the crowd. We arrived first thing in the morning and had very few people there.
The National Park was under construction during our visit. The city is doing a makeover for the entry area for the park, adding seating and walkways. The Arch is right along the river with a walkway passing the Arch and following the river.
Tickets can be purchased online prior to arrival or day of at the ticket booth. Once you have your ticket you can proceed to the entry way. You will have to proceed through metal detectors and bag check before proceeding up the Arch.
Inside, after getting your ticket scanned, there is a small museum area showcasing different aspects of St. Louis and a documentary showcasing St. Louis history as a city. When you are ready, proceed to the elevators. If you are claustrophobic at all this is not an activity for you. The pods that take you to the top of the Arch are very small. They hold 5 people, however it is a very cramped space. It takes 4 minutes for the pod to reach the top of the Arch.
At the top you will enter the Arch with a ramped walkway along the top, this area is inside the Arch. Windows along the walls allow visitors to see along the river on one side and St. Louis on the other.
When you’re ready to head back down the 630-foot tower, line up for the same elevators which you came up. If the Arch is busy they will use both sides of the Arch.
The grounds for the Arch are fully wheelchair accessible right down to the river, however the Arch itself is not accessible. The pods to the top are very small and have a step into the pods. People who are claustrophobic should also skip the visit to the top of the Arch.
If you have more time to spend in St. Louis, there are several other activities worth visiting in the city. The baseball field is just down the street from the Arch and conducts field tours for visitors on certain days. The courthouse is open to visitors. This is where Dred Scott sued for his and his wife’s freedom. The Rotunda has 3 levels and there is an elevator inside for those are unable to climb stairs. The City Museum is a few blocks away from the Arch. This activity museum is a great way for kids and adults to spend a few hours exploring and playing. The museum is accessible but not all the activities are accessible due to the nature of the activity.
St. Louis is a great place to spend a few hours. Catch a game and explore before or after to enjoy the history of this city.