Ameristar St. Charles says, “Come on HOME!”

November 21, 2008

St. Louis is synonymous with the Gateway Arch and the St. Louis riverfront on the Mississippi, but many people outside the area don’t realize that St. Louis is in a river valley at the confluence of two of the world’s great rivers, the Mississippi & the Missouri. So, we have TWO riverfronts, one that forms the eastern boundary of the St. Louis area proper, and one that forms the western boundary. That’s St. Louis City Flagwhy one of the nicknames for St. Louis is “The River City”. It’s also why it’s sub-tropically HOT and HUMID here in the summer. The confluence is part of the design of the flag of the city, as well.

So let’s take a moment to orient you to a few new landmarks on each riverfront.

The Four Seasons Hotel (and Lumiere Casino) is on the eastern border here, on the St. Louis/Mississippi Riverfront, and as a recent post says it was awarded with the area’s first AAA Five Star Award. It has brought some much needed class to the cobblestoned entertainment district called Laclede’s Landing. But let’s don’t overlook the area attractions at the western border, on the St. Charles/Missouri Riverfront. The two riverfronts are connected by I-70 and just a 30 minute distance from each other. Each has its own charms, although they seem worlds apart. 

artsandcrafts

Washington Avenue Loft District, Downtown St. Louis

 Downtown St. Louis is an older established urban business center with a newly recharged warehouse district, pictured above, and about 10,000 new residents in the last five years. It’s high-rise and dense. Lots of interesting architecture. It’s also home to three stadiums in about a 10 block area (think Cardinals baseball, Rams football, and Blues hockey).

  

Frenchtown Storefront

Frenchtown Storefront St. Charles, Mo.

St. Charles is in the fastest growing county of the state, and while its western boundaries are the quintessence of urban sprawl, St. Charles is not a newly established city. The 10-block area along its riverfront, known as Frenchtown, is a charming historic district, not a museum, mind you, but a neighborhood where normal, down-to-earth people live, and have lived since the city was established in the mid-1700s. The old low-rise brick French architecture has been preserved by many tireless individual efforts, old warehouses renovated and small businesses opened to serve a bustling tourist trade. It also has many nice restaurants, micro-breweries, and galleries that are not tourist traps, but nice neighborhood features.

Ameristar Casino St. Charles has pretty much taken over a long-neglected strip of land right by the I-70 bridge going across the Missouri River from St. Louis County into St. Charles. Ameristar has been good to the area, bringing many jobs, lots of entertainment, and generous philanthropy. I know the PR manager and the government relations manager there, and I have served on an advisory board for one of their regional grants programs for three years.

ca_rotate4Last year Ameristar Casino St. Charles added “Resort & Spa” to their complex offerings, including a $15 million night club called Home. The club boasts the latest in audio visual technology and the highest level of VIP service outside of Las Vegas. Home also has a lounge with a more relaxed atmosphere, but the same upscale experience and exemplary level of service as in the nightclub. It’s available for corporate events and private parties, too.

More info at Ameristar Casino Web site

Ameristar St. Charles Hotel, Spa & Casino

Ameristar St. Charles Hotel, Spa & Casino

Ameristar’s Hotel has 400 luxurious suites in a beautiful, all brick high-rise that overlooks the City of St. Charles (the State of Missouri’s first capitol) and the Missouri River. In addition to the luxury of the suites and the plasma high-definition TVs, the spa, the pool and the casino, visitors are also a few blocks from the historic riverfront neighborhood of Old Town St. Charles, or Frenchtown, founded in 1769 as “Les Petites Cotes” (“The Little Hills”) by French Canadian fur trader Louis Blanchette. So, there’s plenty to do in addition to gaming.

Wine Country, St. Charles County

Wine Country, the rolling hills of St. Charles County, Mo.

St. Charles is chock full of history, not to mention some of the finest wineries in the heartland. To wit:

Lewis and Clark met here in 1804, on the banks of the Missouri River, to begin their westward expedition. There is a lot of Lewis and Clark related “stuff” to see along the riverfront, e.g., statues, interpretive centers, etc.

Dan'l Boone

Dan'l Boone

Daniel Boone and his family built a homestead in nearby Defiance. His Booneslick (“Boone’s Lick”) Road later become the eastern starting-point of the Santa Fe Trail and the Oregon Trail. Lewis & Clark had reported the presence of many saltwater springs in the area, and the largest of the salt springs was Boone’s Lick, owned by one of Daniel Boone’s sons, who went into the salt making business there. 

US Postage 1987

US Postage 1987

Jean-Baptiste Pointe DuSable, the Hatian “Black Frenchman” who founded Chicago, lived the last 10 years of his life in Frenchtown and died in 1818.

St. Louis wants to do everything BIG, but St. Charles is content to stay human-scale and holds a lot of small-scale festivals, all well attended. An annual sampling includes Civil War Living History (re-enactments), “Mosaics” Festival for the Arts, Bluegrass Festival, Irish Heritage Days, Tartan Days, Oktoberfest, Fete de Glace (ice carving competition and demonstration held on Main Street in mid-January), Quilts on Mainstreet, Riverfest on 4th of July, Festival of the Little Hills (arts & crafts fair every August), and coming very soon St. Charles Christmas Traditions.

St. Charles Christmas Traditions is described on the St. Charles Web site as, “One of the nations largest Christmas Festivals takes place on the streets of St. Charles every year starting the day after Thanksgiving and going through until right before Christmas. Over 30 costumed Legends of Christmas stroll the streets and interact with guests, while Christmas Carolers fill the air with old-fashioned carols. Every Saturday and Sunday the Legends of Christmas and the world-renowned Lewis & Clark Fife and Drum Corps take part in the Santa Parade as it heads up Historic South Main Street to the site of the Missouri State Capitol First Missouri State Capitol, pictured at right. *

Missouri's First Capitol

Missouri's First Capitol

The corps is one of America’s few all-youth corps, with members ranging in age from 10-18. The young musicians play replicas of the six- and ten-hole wooden fifes and rope-tension drums used during the 18th and 19th centuries. Their uniforms are red wool coats and bearskin crested round hats, patterned after those of US Army field musicians of the period 1804-1810. *

Lewis and Clark Fife & Drum Corps

Lewis and Clark Fife & Drum Corps

Lewis & Clark Fife & Drum Corps on YouTube

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*taken verbatum from St. Charles promotional Web sites

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