Or how to pig out on ice cream while hiking 2.8 billion scale miles…
The Delmar Loop in University City (just north of Forest Park) is a crazy cool neighborhood with lots of great places for families to explore. There’s tons of great restaurants, interesting shops, the infamous Loop Trolley…and the Planet Walk!
Psst: as long as you’ve got the kids on the Loop, how about checking out the Magic House’s newest digs @MADE? It’s only 1.7 miles from the Moonrise Hotel!
What is the Delmar Loop Planet Walk Anyway?
The Planet Walk is a scale model of the solar system, starting at our Sun and going all the way out to Neptune. Pluto was not included, having been downgraded from planetary status in 2006.
Instead of marking the walk with planet markers embedded in the sidewalk, the way is marked with rather large signposts. Each sign has a depiction of the planet at the top and then a list of fun facts.
The solar system model is 2,800 feet long, or about five blocks on Delmar Blvd, from just east of Skinker at the Moonrise Hotel and heading west to Kingsland Ave. That’s .53 of a mile, a pretty easy walk on a nice day.
Each inch of sidewalk represents 80,000 miles!
Who built the Planet Walk?
The Planet Walk was dreamed up by Stephen Walker, a local graphic designer. He was inspired by planet walks in other cities and wanted St. Louis to have one too. Joe Edwards, owner of the Moonrise Hotel and a huge cheerleader for U City, loved the idea and helped Walker find the funding to make it happen.
I’m sure this is why the Planet Walk starts right in front of Edward’s beloved Moonrise Hotel.
St. Louis Walk of Fame
The Planet Walk runs alongside the St. Louis Walk of Fame. Get it? STARS on the PLANET walk!
Sadly, when I took the kids to the Loop to explore the Planet Walk, they didn’t recognize any of the names on the stars. (Next project: educate the boys on Vincent Price.) Of course we didn’t walk around Blueberry Hill that day where we could have spotted Nelly’s star. Keep an eye out for the brass markers and see how many of the 150 or so famous St. Louisians you can find. Check out the full list of inductees here.
I should note that Stars can be found on both sides of the road, while Planets are just on the northern sidewalk.
Planet Walk Map
The Delmar Loop Planet Walk was installed in 2009…and it doesn’t look like the website has been updated since then. So I fixed the map for you!
The whole walk from the Sun to Neptune is just half a mile. Of course, that’s almost 5 city blocks! Here’s some pointers on how to make the most of your planetary hike and some interesting spots to stop along the way.
Where to Start the Planet Walk
You’ll get the most bang for your buck if you start at the Moonrise Hotel and the Sun at 6177 Delmar Ave. There’s free parking behind the hotel and you can take a shortcut through the hotel’s car/courtyard entrance.
(If you stop in to dine at the hotel’s Eclipse Restaurant you can take advantage of their valet parking service!)
Five markers–from the Sun to Mars are located on the block in front of the Moonrise Hotel and it’s neighbors.
If you don’t have time (or the inclination) to hike half a mile to Neptune, you can admire our closest planetary neighbors (Venus, Mercury and Mars) and call it a day.
Where to Park
There’s actually a lot of parking around the Loop, you just need to know how to find it. As mentioned, there’s free parking behind the Moonrise Hotel at the start of the hike, and also a big free lot on Kingsland Ave behind the Melting Pot and Neptune at the end of the walk.
But we’re going to assume you found a spot at the Sun, so let’s start there.
Visit the Moonrise Hotel for Memorabilia
Fun fact! The Moonrise Hotel is full of space memorabilia–and it’s free to come in and check out all the cool stuff. The owner–Joe Edwards–loves to collect space toys and doodads and he’s filled his hotel with lots of vintage goodies to check out.
The biggest item in the collection is spinning on top of the roof–the world’s largest man-made model of the moon! It’s 10 feet wide and 3000 pounds…and it spins 24 hours a day. Sadly the rooftop is a bar, so if you’re doing this walk with your kids –duh– you’ll have to admire the moon from the street.
But go ahead and look around the lobby! Just tell the welcome desk that you’re checking out the space collection and they’ll let you know where to look.
Joe’s favorite items include an Apollo 11 patch that actually went to space during the mission, and his rocket piggy bank from childhood.
Grab an Ice Cream at Baked Bear
Before you wander too far from the Sun, you might want to grab an ice cream sandwich at the Baked Bear across the street at 6140 Delmar. Or save it for a special treat as you come back if you’ve parked behind the Moonrise.
Next Stop: Pin Up Bowl
If you want more to do while exploring the Planet Walk, you can stop for a game of bowling at the Pin-Up Bowl. It’s located a couple doors down from the Moonrise Hotel and is right in front of the Mars planet marker.
A word of caution. You might have noticed that the theme of this bowling alley is Pin-Up girls… But we’re talking Pin Up art from the 1940s, so it’s not that bad. The bowling lane decor is pretty PG.
Besides they have children’s rates before 6pm and they even host kid’s birthday parties! The place goes completely over 21 after 9pm.
Walk to Jupiter
Jupiter is about half a block from Mars, in front of Thai Country Cafe. It’s also near Gyro Grill and Mission Taco Joint, so there’s lots of great lunch options here!
As of this writing (July 2019) there’s a bit of construction on the corner between Mars and Jupiter–they’re building a CVS–and the sidewalk looked a little dicey last time I was on the street. Still, just be careful. Maybe by the time you’re reading this they’ll be done! Plus, you can always cross the street…
You can Make it to Saturn
Saturn is about 400 feet from Jupiter, near United Provisions, a Subway and the Peacock Diner. I haven’t been in the Peacock Diner (yet!), but their menu looks awesome. If Mission Taco and Baked Bear didn’t get you already, you can stop here for a burger and shake.
A spiked shake. Shhh…don’t tell the kids.
If you don’t mind zig zagging across the street, Rocket Fizz is a candy and soda shop on 6372 Delmar. You know, as if the kids aren’t sugared up enough already….
900 feet to Uranus
When you see Salt + Smoke you’ve made it to Uranus! If you STILL haven’t had lunch you’ve got a big decision to make. Do you want Burnt Ends Toasted Ravs and a $5 kids menu at Salt + Smoke…or a root beer float bigger than your head at Fitz’s Rootbeer?
Then of course there’s rolled ice cream…yep, just across the street is the Snow Factory cranking out rolled ice cream straight from Thailand.
If your kids are retro enough, they might like to stop at Vintage Vinyl, at 6610 Delmar. Vintage Vinyl isn’t just a local hot spot, it’s a Top Ten record store in the country.
You Made it to Neptune!
It’s 1000 feet from Uranus to Neptune, or to 896 million (scale) miles! You’ve done it!
The old plant walk maps place Neptune in front of Cicero’s, which sadly closed it’s doors in 2017. It’s now in front of a Melting Pot, which isn’t a bad thing.
Ride back on the Loop Trolley
You can wrap up your planet walk with a ride on the Loop Trolley. If you’re at Neptune you’re between two stops: the U-City Library or Leland Ave. (You’re actually closer to the library.)
There are four Loop Trolley stops on the Delmar Loop before it heads out of the planet walk zone: the library, Leland, City Limit and the The Pageant. If you left your car at the Moonrise Hotel, you’ll want to get off at the Pageant and you’re just a couple doors from your starting point.
If you go too far, just enjoy the ride to the History Museum at Forest Park and then ride it back. It does a big 2.2 mile loop from the U City library to the History Museum.
You can buy your trolley ticket while you wait–there are machines that look like St. Louis parking meters at each trolley stop–marked with a map post. You can also buy a ticket with their app. Fares are currently $2 for 2 hours, or $5 for all day. Kids 5 to 12 are half price.
Currently the trolleys run Thursday to Sunday.
Thursday: 12:00PM to 8:00PM
Friday and Saturday: 12:00PM to 11:00PM
Sunday: 12:00PM to 8:00PM