In about two and a half weeks, I am returning to the motherland: St. Louis, Missouri. There I will be running a marathon with my misguided brother (seriously, how did I convince him to do this with me?), a friend from the city who's run approximately 123908 marathons and will SMOKE me, and some other people I don't know. I'm super excited to show my friend around town as she's never, ever been and is a huge Chicago fan. I'll have to turn her to the Lou-side. In a perfect world, we would have unlimited time (and unlimited appetites!) and get to enjoy all of the following:
D's Top 15 this-is-St. Louis-must-do's
1. See Chuck Berry perform on a Wednesday night at Blueberry Hill – and enjoy the eclectic Loop neighborhood.
2. Get a toasted ravioli appetizer from Gian-Tony’s on The Hill (and then eat dinner there. And then walk around the neighborhood and say hi to all the old Italian ladies sweeping their sidewalks)
3. Head up to North Saint Louis and order a chocolate malt from Crown Candy Kitchen. Don’t share it. What are you, on a diet or something? (and get a box of chocolates to bring home for a friend. It’s okay if the friend is actually you.)
4. Play in the outdoor playground at City Museum on Saturday night - they’re open until 1 am!
5. Go see Kim Massie perform (for only $5!) at the Beale on Broadway and dance your pants right off. Seriously. Off. I want to hear you got arrested for public indecency.
6. Get a screw-top bottle of wine, some friends and some solo cups and head to the Grand Basin at Forest Park. Bonus points if these friends are actually just one friend and it’s the sort of friend you kiss.
7. Wander around Laumeier Sculpture Park on a sunny afternoon (same details as #6, except during the day rather than at night.)
8. Order a pizza from Imo’s, any pizza, it’ll be good. Their salads are shockingly yummy also. Do not order any other entrée. Not that they’re bad, but really, why would you?
9. Spend the day (for free!) at the Zoo. If it gets too hot, go into the penguin & puffin exhibit! Under no circumstances should you pay the admission to go to the Insectarium. Trust me on this one. You should probably ride the train though.
10. Get frozen custard from Ted Drewes on historic Route 66. I recommend Cardinal Sin, but it's your life.
11. Pack a picnic dinner and head to a (free!) Wednesday summer night concert at the Botanical Gardens. All details from #6 also apply here. As long as you’re there and don’t have to pay an admission fee, go ahead and explore the gardens as well.
12. Go to the Art Museum (I like to call it SLAM but I’m pretty sure that’s not a thing, that’s just me). It’s free, and it’s probably hot outside, so you don’t really have an excuse.
13. Head to the Washington Ave art galleries on the first Friday of any month, and drink as much free wine as you can before you black out (bonus points if you: make up a drinking game for the occasion. meet the artist. hit on the artist. Actually black out: I’ve never done it but I imagine it would take some effort.) Eat free cheese and crackers until you turn into a cheese-and-cracker sandwich (perfectly acceptable to make this your dinner. Times are tough.) Oh yes, and enjoy the art.
14. Get family brunch [I use the term “family” here loosely – just bring anyone you like a lot] at Duff’s on a Sunday and enjoy the charming Central West End neighborhood.
15. If you learn one thing from this list, and one thing only, let it be this: GO TO A CARDINALS GAME. And root for the home team.
Honorable mentions: if you’re feeling healthy (weird), go to St. Louis Smoothie, have them take a Polaroid of you and put it on the wall (I recommend the “strawberry sensation” with protein powder. Also if you see a polaroid of me & my friends from Junior High, I'd appreciate it if you would just look the other way). Get a Gooey Butter Cake from Kaldi's because guess what Paula Deen did not invent that, St. Louis did. Get a Mississippi root beer float at Fitz’s Bottling Company. Go to “Margaritaville” at the Hacienda, eat your weight in home-made tortilla chips and salsa. Go to the brewery (you get a free beer. Are you noticing a trend here? No, it’s not booze, it’s “free things”). Get cheese fries at Carl’s Drive-in, or if you’re into meat, get cheese fries and a burger, but do get the cheese fries. Save up your appetite and have the lunch buffet at King Doh. Go to the Chocolate Bar and sit outside – perfect for dates, girls’ nights, heck even baby-sitting. Go to my grandmother’s house and swim in her pool – seriously, it’s like, really hot outside. And lastly, go to my house, and play with my dogs.