The St. Louis Wheel at Union Station is the perfect place to give out-of-town guests a birds-eye view of the city. Or to take kids, friends or even grandma. There’s something for everyone: restaurants, an old-fashion Soda Fountain and Candy Emporium, a Carousel, an Aquarium, the Polar Express, even Mini Golf. (Yes, what we called miniature golf in the 50s is hot again.).
Ferris Wheel vs. The St. Louis Wheel
But the stellar attraction is The St. Louis Wheel, inspired by the Ferris Wheel at the 1904 World’s Fair in Forest Park. There are some noteworthy similarities and differences for those who are into that sort of thing—and I am. So bear with me:
Size & Location:
- Ferris: 264 ft. high; Weight: 4,200 tons. Located in Forest Park
- The Wheel: 200 ft. high; Weight: 640,000 lbs. Located at/ Union Station.
- Ferris: 36 wooden passenger cars each accommodated up to 60 people standing, or 40 seated, giving the observation wheel a total capacity of 2,160. In an 80 mile wind it swayed less than a half inch.
- The Wheel: 42 fully-enclosed, temperature-controlled (72-degrees) gondolas seat 6 adults.
- Ferris: A ride with two revolutions cost 50 cents—half the price of a man’s shirt in those days.
- The Wheel: Individual tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children. The VIP Gondola is $50 per seat and can seat up to 4 people with a glass floor.
- Ferris: Made 4 revolutions per hour over Forest Park. Destroyed after the fair with 100 pounds of dynamite. Fifty marriages were performed aboard the Ferris Wheel during the Fair.
- The Wheel: Makes 3-4 revolutions over St. Louis skyline during the 15 minute ride. Open every day of the year.
A View from the Top
The Soda Fountain at Union Station
Nostalgia and More
Everybody’s looking for a touch of nostalgia today in food, clothing, and entertainment. The Soda Fountain offers a step back in time with its menu of shakes, sundaes, scoops, floats, milkshakes and malts. But they also put a twist on the old favorites . . .
Freak Out on the Freak Shakes
For those wanting a 21st century update, there’s a variety of colorful, 22-ounce Freak Shakes loaded with such sugary delights as cotton candy, frosting, lollipops, rock candy, whipped cream, salty crushed chips, cookies, and sprinkles. Clementine’s provides the ice cream at the Soda Fountain and that’s always a winner.
Purist that I am, I stuck with the basic, no-frills chocolate malt, but I noticed the younger generation going heavy on the Freak Shakes.
Put This One on Your Bucket List
There’s also burgers, dogs, fries and rings, chicken sandwiches, and BLTs for those who want a meal with their dessert. Vegans have their place on the menu, too. If your sweet tooth is not satiated after all this, take a swing by the vintage Candy Emporium, that offers bulk candy like they did in the good ol’ days.
The Wheel is not only a “sweet location,” it’s a family-friendly venue you can enjoy year round. If you need a holiday gift for that friend or relative who has everything, how about a gift certificate for The Wheel?
The St. Louis Wheel: Location: 201 S. 18th St. (Union Station). Open every day of year. Hours: Summer 10a-11p; Winter 10a-10p. Parking: For west parking lot enter from Market St. on 20th. Parking is on the right. Credit card only. For south parking Lot, enter from 18th St. Hourly and special event rates apply; credit card only.