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Stable manager Jeff Kinman
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Photo by Black Tie Missouri
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Dee Baebler and her artwork
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Photography courtesy of Collinsville Area Recreation District
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Tower Grove Farmers’ Market Co-founder and President Patrick Horine
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Ride the MetroLink to some of the city’s more intriguing restaurants.
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Photography courtesy of Big Cedar Lodge
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Photography courtesy of Cave Vineyard
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Tony “Danger” Pellegrino
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See the Stars - Find Your Perfect Summer Concerts
PLAY IN THE PARK
Hidden Treasures & Forgotten Places
- At St. Vincent Park, you can spy on the old castle (once an asylum, now apartments), and hike the St. Vincent trail. If you leave the trail to explore in the woods, find the old footbridge across Engelholm Creek; there are bottles in the creekbed that were discarded in the 1800s.
- Originally private, Clifton Heights Park is a little Victorian jewel of a park, its lake in a hilly hollow surrounded by old brick homes.
- Taylor Park, a tiny respite in the heart of Clayton (North Central and Kingsbury), is named for a private boys’ school that opened there in the 1930s.
- St. Louis Hills residents walk around Francis Park every day, but often they don’t go into the park. Find the tiny spring, at the bottom of the rock stairs, near the park’s northeast corner. Sit on the semicircular rock bench around it and gaze at the tender watercress growing in the little spring-fed stream—or take the longer view, of the mosaic thrones facing each other across the lily pond, waiting for a king and queen.
- When’s the last time you saw the first sign of human activity in Missouri? Two spear points, found in the Kimmswick Bone Beds next to mastodon bones, are the first proof of human hunters, the Paleo Indians. The spear points are locked away at Mastodon State Historic Site, but reproductions are on display.
- The mysterious “bear pits” at Carondelet Park are…just that. Bears once lived there, and danced for the crowd.
- If you walk through Forest Park’s Deer Lake savanna, you’ll come upon a stone amphitheatre. It’s called Council Circle, and it’s a gathering place created by the Wisch family “for the child in all of us” to discover. (There’s also a mysterious climbing tree by Steinberg Ice Rink, near the illegal, informal dog park that’s become a Saturday morning ritual…but we’re not recommending any of that.)
- All those stalactites and stalagmites didn’t reappear in Meramec State Park’s Fisher Cave by magic. Jonathan Beard borrowed some glue from his employer, 3M, and reattached them, repairing damage done by vandals over several decades.http://mostateparks.com/page/54225/cave-tours
- Hike the “Illinois Ozarks”: Fults Hill Prairie and Kidd Lake Marsh, Salt Lick Point, Stemler Cave Woods, and Clifftop White Rock Nature Preserve—for stunning views, loess hills, old-growth forest, and a number of rare and endangered species, from woolly buckthorn to common scorpion.http://www.clifftopalliance.org/
- The city bought Bellerive Park, on South Broadway in Carondelet, because it’s such a perfect scenic overlook of the Mississippi.http://stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/parks/parks/view-park.cfm?parkID=16&parkName=Bellerive%20Park
- Hideaway Harbor Park, just west of Portage des Sioux, looks straight across the Mississippi at the bluffs of Alton.http://parks.sccmo.org/parks/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5&Itemid=18
- Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park looks back across the Mississippi at the Arch; it’s a photograph that belongs in every St. Louisan’s album.http://www.meprd.org/mmmp.html
- At Edward “Ted” and Pat Jones-Confluence Point State Park, you can put one foot in the Missouri and the other in the Mississippi—then visit wetlands that host winged travelers on the Mississippi River flyway.http://mostateparks.com/park/edward-ted-and-pat-jones-confluence-point-state-park
- At Fort Belle Fontaine, climb to the top of the Grand Staircase and look out.http://www.stlouisco.com/ParksandRecreation/ParkPages/FortBelleFontaine
- At Jefferson Barracks, riverwatching’s gentle; the parking lot’s a few yards from the scenic overlook.http://www.stlouisco.com/ParksandRecreation/ParkPages/JeffersonBarracks
- Pere Marquette State Park in Grafton, Ill., offers more than one river view; find your favorite.http://www.dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/PARKS/R4/PEREMARQ.HTM
When National Geographic’s editors saw Missouri wildlife photographer Danny Brown’s shot of pileated woodpecker nestlings, they snagged it for their Backyard Guide to the Birds of North America. When we saw his Forest Park images, we begged for tips on photographing landscapes, birds, and critters in a park.
Patience matters most, he said. “Just when you are about to give up, the light can become magical or a rare bird might land on a branch right in front of you, and you’ll get the image of a lifetime.”—J.C.
- Always use a tripod for sharp images. In addition, I often use the mirror lock-up feature and a 2 second timer so I’m not even touching my camera during the shot.
- Frame a landscape to include a foreground element that’s, say, 10 or 20 feet away. A flower, an interesting rock, or a water feature in the foreground can make an image more compelling.
- Use a small aperture setting, such as f/18 or even higher, to achieve maximum depth of field. This will slow your shutter speed; that’s why you need a tripod.
- I keep a circular polarizing filter on my landscape lens all the time. A polarizer brings out the details in the clouds and reduces glare from water and wet vegetation. Just frame the scene and turn the polarizer until you find what you are looking for.
- If you want moving water, such as a stream or waterfall, to look “silky,” just use a very slow shutter speed. Shoot early in the morning or late in the afternoon in low light to get the slowest shutter speed possible.
- If you don’t want the same blur on prairie grass and tree branches, avoid windy days.
- When you process your images, avoid applying too much contrast and saturation. Nature is beautiful on its own and does not require much tweaking in Photoshop.
- Use the longest lens you can afford, preferably 300mm or longer in focal length.
- Use a tripod for consistently sharp images.
- Photograph at the margins of the day when the light is soft and lovely. Bright light casts harsh shadows on the animal and often overexposes lighter tones such as the white on a bird’s wings or chest.
- Scout locations ahead of time to determine where certain birds or animals spend their mornings or afternoons. Set up there at a later date, using cover and concealment as much as possible.
- Wear drab colors. I even throw camouflage netting over my gear if I’m photographing from a fixed location.
- Concentrate your focus point on the eye of the animal. Images of an animal with a blurry eye or face are rarely compelling.
- Try to avoid cropping wildlife images too much back at the computer. Sometimes you just have to accept that your lens wasn’t long enough to make a nice image of a small bird or animal. I delete images all the time for this reason, even though I use a 500mm lens.
"We have carriage tours by reservation. There’s an old stable building, 1867, looks a little bit like the Alamo, and we have a Clydesdale, Jimmy Joe. Because of that stupid sandwich company, a lot of people want to call him Jimmy John. We have a pony, too—Little Dixie—and a flock of Cochin chickens. The stable area’s closed off to the public, but if I have a few extra minutes and I see people who look interested, I invite them in to see the animals up close.
“One wading pool has a really nice fountain with pop jets, flat nozzles on the ground that shoot up water in a random pattern. The other gets about a foot and a half of water, and we have lifeguards. We have public hard courts and three grass tennis courts, and the pros give lessons. It’s kind of known as the pickup place. They are really good about finding someone your level.” And if you want the other kind of pickup? He laughs. “Probably so. They’re a pretty sociable group up there.
“On the northwest corner is the Gaddy bird garden, a low brushy area with a wood-chip path and a fountain bubbling out of a rock. Most of the park, we keep the shrubs trimmed, so the rangers can get a long view across the park. But there we leave it brushy. People see warblers, they’re small and really colorful. Most years there’s a few dead trees we leave up because they have big hollows, and great horned owls will have baby owls in those hollows, and you’ll see people with expensive camera equipment and binoculars standing there staring at a tree trunk for hours.
“The 12 pavilions had different uses in the old days. One sheltered horses and had a fence around it; the little one by Arsenal Street was a cover for an old well; and the big red-and-white striped Turkish Shelter was a dovecote. Which is ironic, because now they put pigeon posts up in the rafters to keep the birds out, so people can use it for picnics.”
No, You Don’t Have to Leave the Park by Sundown
- Paddle by the light of a full moon at Simpson Lake (July 20) or Creve Coeur Lake (July 19 or August 16). It’s not even BYOC; a modest fee lets you rent a canoe and roast weenies at a bonfire afterward.http://www.stlouisco.com/Portals/8/docs/Document%20Library/parks/PDFs/activityguide.pdf
- June 1, go on a late-night scavenger hunt, searching through tugboats and trains at the Museum of Transportation, then reward your team with rail-splitter sundaes. Return to the hunt on July 20 at Jefferson Barracks, scouting moonlit trails and tiptoeing through the old buildings.http://www.stlouisco.com/Portals/8/docs/Document%20Library/parks/PDFs/activityguide.pdf
- Let skilled mountain bikers guide you off road, onto dark, deeply forested park trails and natural prairies in St. Charles County, on June 23, July 20, and August 23.http://parks.sccmo.org/parks/index.php?option=com_simplecalendar&view=detail&catid=1:parks-and-recreation&id=447:parks-department-moonlight-bike-ride-series-&Itemid=100156
Our Central Park
- Make Forest Park your theater: See Twelfth Night at the Shakespeare Festival, through June 16, on the east side of Art Hill. https://www.sfstl.com/in-the-park/ Every Friday evening in July, catch the film series on Art Hill. In September, watch for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra’s free concert. Same hill.http://www.slam.org/calendar.php
- Let your dog paddle in the 10th annual dog-and-master race, taking off from the Boathouse on July 21.http://www.boathouseforestpark.com/
- Follow the experts. Free walking tours in June: “Forest Park Then and Now” for history buffs; “Heart of the Park” for nature-lovers.http://www.forestparkforever.org/learn/park-tours/volunteer-walking-tours/
- Go birding with the St. Louis Audubon Society on June 1 and August 3: Meet in the lobby of the Dennis & Judith Jones Visitor and Education Center at 8:15 a.m, and wear comfy shoes.http://www.stlouisaudubon.org/index.php
- In late August and September, enjoy the wildflowers and native grasses in Steinberg Prairie, Deer Lake Savanna and Wetlands, and the Kennedy Forest Savanna.
Match Your Mood
The free yoga classes under the Arch, Saturday mornings at 9 a.m., through September. (You can park in the Arch garage for free if you mention the Cobra, or Downward Facing Dog…) And the new Centennial Greenway trail that starts at Shaw Park and runs to Olive—right past Maggie Moo’s if you’re hot and hungry. The 2-mile trail connects Clayton, Ladue, Olivette, and University City.
June 9, enjoy a long summer hayride along the river and through a prairie, while a guide hits the highlights in two centuries of history at Fort Belle Fontaine.
Or take the kids to one of Suson Park’s idyllic Farm Fridays (June 7 and 21, September 13), where a country-festival mood jazzes up the pastoral pleasures of barn tours, pony rides, and fishing.
The 50-foot Alpine tower at Greensfelder County Park poses the invigorating challenges of rock climbing and high-ropes courses. Check it out. (We mean this literally: You need reservations. Twelve-person minimum, call 314-615-8822.)
Help build a floating boardwalk at the new Arlington Wetlands in Pontoon Beach. While you’re sweating equity, look up now and then, to see if the hoped-for Illinois chorus frog has condescended to join the cacti in the sand prairie.
Then, at summer’s end, run “Wild in the Woods” at Klondike Park, seven miles up steep hills and across unpredictable terrain. The run’s on September 28, and if you finish before you’re ready to leave the former mine’s dark blue water, limestone bluffs, and Colorado-like scenery, you can rent a cabin. They’re open year-round and sleep eight.
Artful Summer Affairs
Midtown Taste & Art Fair: On June 1 and 2, midtown hosts local and national artists, a regional wine garden, a craft-beer festival, a Food Truck Challenge presented by the Food Network, food booths, live entertainment, and more. midtowntaste.com.
Art & Air: This nonprofit art fair, hosted June 7 through 9 on the leafy campus of Eden Theological Seminary in Webster Groves, features more than 100 artists, with a live lineup that’s wonderfully heavy on jazz. artandair.com.
Photo by Black Tie Missouri
Let Them Eat Art: One of St. Louis’ most distinctive art fairs, Maplewood’s annual event celebrates our French heritage with a hybrid art fair and Bastille Day celebration on July 12. In addition to art demos and studio tours, the fair has included dog-costume contests, dream interpreters, and even guests in Marie Antoinette–style wigs.cityofmaplewood.com/ltea.
Saint Louis Art Fair: Celebrating its 20th anniversary September 6 through 8, the granddaddy (or Grandma Moses?) of them all fills the heart of Clayton with booths featuring local, nat-ional, and international painters, potters, photographers, sculptors, and artisans; chef demos; and multiple music stages—and that’s the short list. culturalfestivals.com.
Art Outside: Hosted in Schlafly Bottleworks’ parking lot on the same weekend as the Saint Louis Art Fair, it’s all about local art, local food, and of course, local beer. schlafly.com.
Fairs & Festivals
- IndiHop: June 1, Cherokee Street and The Grove. indihop.com.
- Taste of Clayton: June 2, downtown Clayton. tasteofclayton.com.
- St. Louis Pagan Picnic: June 8 & 9, Tower Grove Park. paganpicnic.org.
- St. Louis LGBT Pride Fest: June 29 & 30, Soldiers Memorial. pridestl.org.
- Fair Saint Louis and Celebrate Summer Concerts: July 4, 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 & 20, Soldiers Memorial. fairsaintlouis.org.
- Festival of the Little Hills: August 16, 17 & 18, St. Charles. festivalofthelittlehills.com.
- Festival of Nations: August 24 & 25, Tower Grove Park. festivalofnationsstl.org.
- St. Nicholas Greek Festival: August 31–September 2, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church. sngoc.org.
- Greater St. Louis Hispanic Festival: September 6, 7 & 8, Kiener Plaza.hispanicfestivalstl.com.
- Dancing in the Street: September 21, Grand Center. grandcenter.org.
How to Navigate Fair Saint Louis
Tips from Bob Ciapciak, this year’s chairman
- Arrive long before the gates open at noon. Ciapciak likes to walk the perimeter as the vendors are setting up, so he can see where everything is before the crowds arrive.
- Remember it’s not just about blockbuster concerts—or fireworks. Sure, you can see Trace Adkins on the Fourth, Bret Michaels on July 5, and Counting Crows on July 6. But check out the smaller cultural stages as well.
- Make a day of it on the Fourth. Start your day with the run downtown at 7 a.m. Then find a spot for the 9:30 a.m. Veiled Prophet Parade. Finally, make your way to the Arch grounds to watch the air shows, the main-stage performance at 8 p.m., and the fireworks.
Want to be the coolest kid on the block? Throw a Party.
• Start planning at least three months before the date of the event.
• Apply for a permit, if necessary. Ask about whether you need roadblocks.
• Find volunteers to grill; coordinate appetizers, salads, and desserts; provide trash and recycling receptacles… Sweeten the deal by hosting a planning party.
• Collect a trifling sum for drinks, napkins, paper plates, and condiments. (If you’re on The Hill, you’ll need giardiniera; in South City, sauerkraut.)
• Invite the fire department to bring a truck by and wow the neighborhood kids.
• Remind everybody a week beforehand with flyers.
• Plan free fun: face painting, a big water-balloon fight, an outdoor movie screening, a late-night iPod dance party…
• Rent a bounce house or dunking booth for the kids, a magician, and a band (a garage band from the neighborhood is ideal).
• Gather email addresses via a sign-up sheet, and send a message afterward to help your neighbors stay connected.
Soulard’s Arts Addition
True to the colorful atmosphere of our city’s most boisterous French neighborhood, the first-ever Soulard Art Fair, June 14 through 16, will go beyond hosting national and local artists: There are plans for street performers (magicians and glittering disco-ball mimes), local bands (Lucky Clover and The Travelin Band), and flash mobs.
Dee Baebler of BWC Events, which is helping to organize the fair, compares the concept to New Orleans’ historic Jackson Square, a favorite among artists, musicians, and street performers. “We wanted to bring in an experience unlike any other in St. Louis,” she says.
With the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure happening on the same day, fair vendors will be dressed in pink. Wicker believes the fair naturally will be a family-friendly environment—a departure from the more raucous atmosphere of Oktoberfest or Mardi Gras.
The fair will be held a block east of the Soulard Farmers Market, along Geyer and Lafayette avenues, with a jaunt down Third Street, giving residents some peace. But the location still offers easy access to Soulard’s bars and restaurants. If the event expands the way that Baebler hopes, however, that L shape could soon change, encompassing the blocks around it as well.
From the Lifeguard Stand
As told by Lindley Rynders, Raging Rivers WaterPark
- I have the Weather Channel app on my phone and check it every night before bed to see what it’s going to be like tomorrow. I’ll base what I eat for breakfast on that.
- They don’t like us to drink soda or caffeine during the day. We drink Gatorade instead.
- “When do the waves come on?” That’s the key question guests ask at the wave pool. They’re on for 7 minutes, off for 12.
- On Baywatch, they wear makeup and their hair is fixed. That does not happen: I’m like, “I’m sweaty. I’m hot. I just want this hair off my face!”
- Most of the guards will tell you Itty Bitty Surf City is the biggest headache of the day. But I love sitting on the slide and helping the little kids go down. I guess it’s the teacher in me.
Among the 20 branches of the YCMA of Greater St. Louis (ymcastlouis.org), two of the city’s newer locations boast plenty of aquatic options. Both the O’Fallon Park Rec Complex and the Carondelet Park Rec Complex have lazy rivers, water slides, and preschool splash parks. Need another reason to join? Drive by the outdoor facilities on a hot summer day and see the people splashing around.
Raging Rivers WaterPark
100 Palisades, Grafton, Ill., 618-786-2345, ragingrivers.com
Day-Pass: $21.95 per guest over 4 feet tall; $18.95 per guest 4 feet and under
Must-Hit Attraction: Swirlpool: It’s a two-bowl aquatic attraction—touted as the only one of its kind in the nation.
Tips: Try a funnel cake from Casa del Rio. And go after 3 p.m. to save $5 per person.
Six Flags’ Hurricane Harbor
4900 Six Flags, Eureka, 636-938-5300, sixflags.com/stlouis
Day-Pass: $52.99 per guest Six Flags admission; $39.99 per child under 4 feet
Must-Hit Attraction: Bonzai Pipeline: On Hurricane Harbor’s newest attraction, the floor of an enclosed capsule drops out, sending you free-falling onto a slide
Tips: Parking at Six Flags is $20, so consider carpooling. Arrive early to get the most for your money.
Splash City Family Waterpark
10 Gateway, Collinsville, Ill., 618-346-4571, splashcity.org
Day-Pass: $16 per adult; $13 per child; $12 per senior
Must-Hit Attraction: Flow Rider: Aspiring surfers and bodyboarders can catch a wave.
Tips: Parking’s free. Go after 4 p.m. to save $5 per person.
Aquatic centers that elevate the meaning of “community pool”
1. Aquaport: Slide down the funnel-shaped Extreme Bowl. Maryland Heights, 314-738-2599.
2. Koch Park Family Aquatic Center: Kids absolutely love the water playground, complete with sprayers, climbing ropes, and slides. Florissant, 314-839-7686.
3. The Lodge’s Indoor Aquatic Center: A flume slide weaves in and out of the building. Des Peres, 314-835-6150.
4. North Pointe Family Aquatic Center: A 910-foot lazy river’s ideal for relaxing. Ballwin, 636-227-2981.
5. Recreation Station: The “Dive-In Movie,” Madagascar 3, plays June 28. Kirkwood, 314-822-5855.
6. Chesterfield Family Aquatic Center: A water playground and lazy river are among the biggest draws. Chesterfield, 636-537-2552.
7. The Heights: After you’re done swimming, visit the library next door. Richmond Heights, 314-645-1476.
8. St. Peters Rec-Plex Natatorium: The 10-meter diving tower is a major draw for divers. St. Peters, 636-939-2386.
9. Wapelhorst Aquatic Facility: The five-story speed slide is a must. St. Charles, 636-936-8118.
10. White Birch Bay Aquatic Center: The dome-shaped bubble slide was the first of its kind in the region. Hazelwood, 314-731-0980.
33 Wine Shop & Tasting Bar: Combine a backyard patio in Lafayette Square with a wine list that’s just as long and deep, and the next words you’ll hear are “Sorry folks, it’s closing time.”33wine.com.
Baileys’ Chocolate Bar: Just across the fence from 33 is Dave Bailey’s famed dessert house, complete with a candlelit wooden patio that winter guests never see. Like any good neighbor, Baileys’ can be counted on for a wee bit of sugar. baileyschocolatebar.com.
Big Sky Café: Unless you wander the hallway at Big Sky Café, you may never discover the charming wine garden out back, a tree-covered courtyard where flowers bloom and birds sing.allgreatrestaurants.com.
The Block: Situated at Terrene’s one-time location, chef-owner Marc Del Pietro’s new CWE restaurant has superior entrées priced in the teens—which only increases the appeal of his two-tiered brick patio. theblockrestaurant.com.
Charlie Gitto’s on the Hill: We feared one of our favorite patios might be adversely altered when Charlie Gitto Jr. renovated the restaurant this spring. “That patio was perfect already,” Gitto responded. “All we did was plant more herbs.” charliegittos.com.
Copia: The only local restaurant patio with a roll-back roof is also one of the largest in town. And since it’s hidden out back, walking out the rear door is quite a shock, an altogether pleasant one.copiastl.com.
Molly Darcys: The rear courtyard patio is surrounded on all sides by three stories of the Seven Gables Inn, so wind is never a factor. The patio welcomes diners in the early spring and late fall, stretching out St. Louis’ all-too-short patio season. mollydarcyspub.com.
Scape: We probably shouldn’t mention that the spectacular ivy wall disguises a parking structure, one of many creative touches that define the classiest courtyard patio in the CWE and one of our favorite hidden ’scapes. scapestl.com.
Other Alfresco Options
Bar Italia, baritaliastl.com
Brio Tuscan Grille, brioitalian.com
Cardwell’s at the Plaza, billcardwell.com
McGurk’s Irish Pub and Garden, mcgurks.com
The Piccadilly at Manhattan, thepiccadilly.com
Table Three, table-three.com
Mandarin Lounge, mandarinlounge.net
Quintessential Dining & Nightlife, q-stl.com
Rooftop Terrace Bar at The Moonrise Hotel, moonrisehotel.com
Three Sixty, 360-stl.com
Vin De Set, vindeset.com
Fresh Advice on a Farmers’ Market
A conversation with Tower Grove Farmers’ Market Co-founder and President Patrick Horine
What’s changed over the years? There are more products. Farmers are discovering ways to grow things—like fruits and berries—that didn’t grow here before. You can now find golden raspberries, but you have to act, as it’s a two-week season.
Any navigation tips? Get there at 8 a.m., and shop before you do any snacking—the sought-after items tend to sell out quickly. Then eat something and go back for meats, cheeses, and breads.
What will those who eat their way through the market find this year? Pie Oh My! has mini pies and quiches; Queen’s Cuisine has pastries, scones, and clotted cream; the Holy Crepe! food truck is back with sweet and savory crepes. Then finish up with an ice pop from Whisk.
Are there any new events this year? In August, we’ll host an urban homesteading fair, open to amateurs only, with competitions in a dozen categories, from cheese- and salsa-making to pie-baking.
How to Pack the Perfect Picnic
Jute/Wood Picnic Basket: $119.95. Williams-Sonoma, williams-sonoma.com.
Steadysticks Wine-glass Holders: $9.95. Crate & Barrel, crateandbarrel.com.
Double Grand Trunk Parasheet: $39.95. L.L. Bean, llbean.com.
- Built Neoprene Double Wine Carrier: $17.99. BUILT, builtny.com.
Restaurants on the Rails
Why risk traffic tie-ups, parking problems, or an ill-timed encounter with Johnny Law? Ride the MetroLink to some of the city’s more intriguing restaurants instead.
1. Arch–Laclede’s Landing Station
Drunken Fish: The least-known location on the Landing may be our favorite—and just for that reason. drunkenfish.com.
2. Convention Center Station
Robust: With even more swagger than Stanley and Arlene Browne’s Webster Groves flagship, Robust’s new location may be the best reason to dine downtown this year. robustwinebar.com.
3. Delmar Loop Station
Tavolo V: Go for the inexpensive Italian and vegetarian fare, then order another glass of Barolo and stay for the people-watching in the East Loop. tavolov.com.
4. Skinker Station
Bobo Noodle House: The combination of Zoe Robinson’s coolly minimalist digs and the curried chicken with chili peanut sauce and seared egg noodles is worth the trip to this corner spot. bobonoodle.com.
5. Clayton Station
Remy’s Kitchen & Wine Bar: High-quality food and well-curated wines are the reasons that Remy’s is approaching the ripe age of 20. remyskitchen.net.
6. Richmond Heights Station
Vino Nadoz: Pay it a visit, then explain to us why this overachieving 40-seater is perhaps the most under-appreciated restaurant in the metro area. vinonadozwinebar.com.
7. Brentwood Station
Mai Lee Restaurant: Moving to within a stone’s throw of a MetroLink stop has only created more devotees for the restaurant with perhaps the largest menu (300 items) in town.maileerestaurant.com.
Life on the Mississippi
Mike Clark hopes to reconnect St. Louis with its roots.
He’s floated with barges and camped with canoes. He’s watched wild pigs scamper down sandbars and bald eagles toss fish back and forth in midair. He’s endured mosquitoes, rain, and extreme heat. He’s logged 200-plus days a year on big rivers, floating the entirety of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. He’s experienced the trancelike state that comes with being on the water for hours, “like going to church.”
And he knows what you’re thinking: Mike Clark’s seen it time and time again, when he takes people on guided canoe trips. “They stand there at the bank and see a tree going by at 6 miles per hour and go, ‘Holy shit!’ But as soon as we’re in the canoe and push off, we become one with the river.”
Clark teaches part-time, so he understands this: “We’ve been paddling canoes on the Mississippi River for 5,000 or 6,000 years. It’s only in the last 100 years that it became absolutely nuts.” He also understands the power of experience, how showing students firsthand what the river might have looked like to Lewis and Clark can resonate in a way that turning to page 173 in their history books cannot.
He opened Big Muddy Adventures (2muddy.com) more than a decade ago, shortly after paddling the entire Mississippi in September 2001. He began with a two-seat red canoe. “For years, I was like, ‘Here, let me give you $25 to go for a river trip with me’…so I could demystify the river.” Today, he offers full-moon and eagle-watching trips, adventures that mirror Lewis and Clark’s expedition and those of the colonial French. And there are outings that circumnavigate St. Louis. “Believe it or not, we live on an island, brother,” he says.
A Field Guide to Field Guides
For many of us, a hike’s a green blur with generic birds flapping through. But Bruce Schuette’s the kind of guy who squints up at an American bladdernut or pans the sky with a whimbrel. When we asked for pointers, Schuette, a park naturalist at the Cuivre River State Park, suggested a two-volume set published by the Missouri Department of Conservation: Trees of Missouri and Shrubs and Woody Vines of Missouri, written by Don Kurz and meticulously illustrated by Paul Nelson. Both volumes are also available as smaller field guides, and MDC has an online field guide, too.
Schuette was also glad to see David Allen Sibley, famous for his bird illustrations, turn his hand to their havens in the elegant Sibley Guide to Trees.
But first you have to learn how to look. Notice the tree’s habitat and size. Big trees start small, but if a tree’s already big, that rules out quite a few types. What does the bark look like? Does it have corky ridges? What color are the leaves, and how are they shaped? Are they opposite or alternate? Are they simple (one leaf at a time) or compound (with leaflets that have multiple leaves coming off each twig)? Are the leaf edges smooth, slightly serrated, or jagged? Notice if the tree has flowers or fruit—big clues. Examine the leaf buds: shape, size, color, scaly covering, stickiness or shininess, even the scarring at the place where last year’s leaf broke away from the stem. Are there thorns, spines, or spurs? Does the tree have a fragrance; do its branches have a specific taste? What color’s the pith of the stem?
For the birds, “The Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America is the one that started it all off,” Schuette says, “and it’s still as good a standard as any.” Full-color plates, now, and the book divides into Eastern and Western North America (we’re Eastern).
“You won’t find a field guide specifically for Missouri,” Schuette notes. You might not want one, though; the illustrations in these books are gorgeous. “Roger Tory Peterson spoke in St. Louis years ago—he was a photographer but also an artist—and he said a photo captures a bird at one instant in time, but it isn’t necessarily the best way to show its identifying characteristics.”
One possible exception is the new Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds, which uses photographs to create realistic scenes that show multiple views and variations of each species in its habitat. Also check out apps like Birdjam and iBird, which turn your phone into an instant field guide. And keep your ears peeled for news from WeBIRD, the Wisconsin Electronic Bird Identification Resource Database. For years, they’ve been working on an app that will ID a snatch of birdsong for you. (It’s harder than they thought.)
Once you’re in the field, notice a bird’s habitat—marsh or meadow? How does the bird behave? How does it fly, in what pattern? Where does it perch? Compare its size to a known object. Envision its silhouette—what’s the shape? Note the shape, size, and color of the bill; the wing spread and tail feathers; overall color; color of throat, breast, stripes on the tail, patches on the wing. Now listen. It’ll sing, and give the game away.—J.C.
Lake Livin’—Sans Boat
Who said the outdoors has to be synonymous with roughing it?
Table Rock Lake
If you happen to think that Big Cedar Lodge (bigcedar.com)—owned by Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris—is only for anglers, think again. The ornate, log cabin–themed resort is an ideal getaway for couples, with a carriage house–inspired spa, horse-drawn carriages, and fine dining. Those looking to get out on the lake can sign up for ski school; take a sunset cruise aboard Lady Liberty, a luxury dinner yacht; or do yoga—on a paddleboard. If you’re looking for another way to escape Branson’s crowded Route 76, rent a lakefront room at Chateau on the Lake(chateauonthelake.com) and book a massage at the 14,000-square-foot Spa Chateau. Afterward, soak in the Roman-inspired outdoor whirlpool that overlooks the shore, and enjoy lake life with a view.
Lake of the Ozarks
So Party Cove’s not your style, and the yacht’s in the shop—but who says you need a boat to have fun? The golf courses surrounding the lake are the real draw anyway. At The Lodge of Four Seasons (4seasonsresort.com), you can play three acclaimed courses: The Cove, The Ridge, and The Club at Porto Cima. Another option: Rent a golf cottage at Old Kinderhook (oldkinderhook.com), and play the memorable, par-71 Tom Weiskopf Signature course, carved into the Ozark hills just west of Camdenton. (There’s even live music on Fridays and Saturdays.) Or if you’d prefer to skip the resorts altogether, you can rent a place elsewhere and book a golf package through Lake’s Hottest Rentals (573-539-9900), allowing you to play courses without lodging, such as the Arnold Palmer–designed Osage National Golf Resort(osagenational.com), Bear Creek Valley Golf Club (bearcreekvalley.com), and The Golf Club at Deer Chase (deerchasegolf.com).
The gleaming, 92-story Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago(trumphotelcollection.com/chicago) stands at the edge of the Chicago River, near the Magnificent Mile and 20 minutes west of Navy Pier. Among the hotel’s biggest draws: a 23,000-square-foot spa and the Michelin-rated Sixteen restaurant. Farther north, The Peninsula Chicago(peninsula.com) also houses an award-winning spa, as well as the acclaimed Shanghai Terrace. And right on the waterfront sits the W Chicago–Lakeshore (starwoodhotels.com), with the popular rooftop Whiskey Sky bar/lounge and a view that overlooks Navy Pier.
If you want to paddle a kayak or a canoe without incident, here’s a primer from Russ Tamm, who teaches kayaking for the Alpine Shop.
Before you go up a creek, you’ll need a paddle. The starter is a cheap and sturdy metal shaft with plastic paddles at the end. When you’re ready for commitment, there’s carbon fiber or fiberglass—the lighter the paddle, the less fatiguing.
Paddle on the left side, then the right, in a smooth, graceful rhythm that doesn’t make a splash. For a kayak, there are two styles: high-angle and low-angle. In high-angle, your hands are crossing in front of your body at about eye level; in low-angle, they’re crossing at about chest level. The high angle is more powerful but more fatiguing. Save it for whitewater, when you need a faster response.
Canoe paddling doesn’t divide into separate techniques, only straight-shaft versus bent-shaft paddles. “It’s a preference, but the bent shaft will give you a little more efficient, powerful stroke,” Tamm says, “because of the angle of the paddle blade as it enters the water.” With a straight shaft, as soon as the paddle blade passes your hip, it’s starting to swing upward, lifting the water. And that’s less efficient.
Watch out for flutter. If you feel the paddle start to wriggle a little, either you’ve got the wrong paddle, or your motion’s wrong. You want to see whitewater up ahead, not in your paddle’s wake.
Use your core, not just your arms and shoulders. “You want to be twisting at the waist as you do your forward stroke. We see people trying to power through their stroke with their arms and shoulders, and that can lead to injury and exhaustion.”—J.C.
- The Clydesdales: You can see them grazing at Grant’s Farm, about a half-mile north of Gravois Road on Grant’s Trail. Just don’t try to feed them—they might bite.
- The Confluence: See the Missouri and Mississippi rivers merge at the end of Columbia Bottom Trail, which is ideal for birdwatchers.
- Bridge Construction: Observe workers putting some of the finishing touches on the new Mississippi River Bridge from the Mullanphy Pump House, north of downtown on the Riverfront Trail.
- Native Cactus: Running along the Meramec River, the 5-mile crushed-limestone Al Foster Trail passes a summer savanna, complete with cacti.
- Mini Railroad: Take the Rock Hollow and Al Foster trails to Glencoe, where on Sundays, you can ride the 12-inch gauge Wabash, Frisco & Pacific Railroad.
Caves for Non-Cavers
Crystal City Underground: A former sand mine in Jefferson County now boasts two 18-hole disc-golf courses, five sand volleyball courts, laser tag, and outings on the 150-acre underground lake.crystalcityunderground.com.
Cave Vineyard: With a cave below the tasting room, there’s no need for a wine cellar at this Ste. Genevieve winery. Wine enthusiasts can stroll 200 yards from the tasting room to the entrance of Saltpeter Cave. cavevineyard.com.
The Cave Restaurant and Resort: This remote cave near Richland, Mo., houses a 225-seat restaurant, with fountains and a view of the Gasconade River.thecaverestaurantandresort.com.
TRY A NEW SPORT
Putt-Putt That’s Up to Par
Our intrepid reporter played six rounds of miniature golf at five courses in a single weekend, using 305 strokes to complete all 108 holes (and besting his wife in every game but one). Here’s his list of the region’s five best putt-putt holes.
No. 6 at Tower Tee: One of the area’s oldest and most revered courses, Tower Tee has holes celebrating local icons (Route 66) and businesses (Ted Drewes Frozen Custard). But its best hole is a classic, the metal loop-de-loop. Smack your ball in one side, and it comes shooting out the other, preferably landing in the hole. 6727 Heege, 314-481-5818, towertee.com.
No. 9 at Swing-A-Round Fun Town: Hit your ball up a ramp and into a Disney-esque castle, complete with blue-roofed turrets and medieval banners. Then it passes through a series of underground tubes; the middle one pops out right next to the cup. 3541 Veterans Memorial, St. Charles, 636-947-4487, swing-a-round.com.
No. 8 at Putting Edge: This indoor course at St. Louis Outlet Mall has a glow-in-the-dark theme, making it easy to spot your neon-colored ball and hard to read the contours of the green (which is actually black). On this hole, you can take a risk by hitting your ball onto a wrecked ship, in the hope that it will pass through a tube that leads to the cup (though it’s more likely to roll right back to your feet). 5555 St. Louis Mills, 314-291-7600, puttingedge.com.
Yellow No. 11 at Gateway Fun Park: The two 18-hole courses here have a Wild West theme, with miniature old-fashioned saloons and shops, plus lots of boulders to dodge. On this hole, you can see two cups from the tee, but neither is the real one. They lead to pipes that spit your ball out onto a hidden green in back. 8 Gateway, Collinsville, Ill., 618-345-7116, gatewayfun.com.
No. 7 at Tee Time Family Fun Center: This course ups the difficulty level with sand traps and water hazards. There’s even a triple-decker hole that’s a rare par-4. On No. 7, you hit your ball into a cave, toward a bull’s-eye painted on the wall. The cup is out the other end of the cavern, making it a blind shot. 4631 Lemay Ferry, 314-487-7777, teetimefun.com.
The Other Other Golf
The game of golf can be an expensive habit, requiring costly clubs and green fees. Disc golf, on the other hand, allows you to play for free and get started with just three inexpensive discs: a driver, a mid-range, and a putter. There are 18 courses in the area—notably, White Birch Park and Jefferson Barracks for greenhorns, as well as Sioux Passage Park for more experienced players—and leagues every night of the week. The River City Flyers, a.k.a. St. Louis Disc Golf Club (stlouisdiscgolfclub.com), boasts more than 600 members. Club president Dave West suggests that beginners find an experienced player to show them the basics. “I think you’ll find disc golf a lifelong sport,” West says. “It’s easy to play and healthy for you, because you’ll walk the parks.”
Scouts in the Outfield
What do you get when you mix America’s pastime with Civil War reenactment? Vintage base ball, of course. Players don old-timey uniforms and follow rules from the 1860s, playing the game as it was originally intended. Everything about vintage base ball (always two words) is charming, right down to its unique language: Umpires are arbiters; fans are cranks; pitchers are hurlers; and outfielders are scouts. We asked Tony “Danger” Pellegrino, an original member of St. Louis’ first vintage base ball team, the Perfectos (perfectos.vintagenine.com), to straighten us out on some of the other particulars.
Are your uniforms wool? They’re a blend. We don’t do the wool because of allergies and heat, especially in the St. Louis summers. We’re more for the appearance of authenticity than actual authenticity, I guess would be one way to say it.
I know you don’t wear gloves in the field. Any other major rule changes? Any ball caught on the first bounce is an out, similar to a fly-out in today’s game. The only difference is the runners don’t have to go back and tag-up on a bound-out, so they’re free to advance.
Do you play nine innings? We normally play two seven-inning games. If a team is coming from a couple of hours away, we’ll make sure we get two games in. Most of us are either fat or old or both. Seven innings seems to be about good.
Does the arbiter call balls and strikes? At the time, you were up there to put the ball in play. Unless somebody is taking perfect pitches right down the middle every time, there are no called balls and strikes. I’ve never seen somebody called out on strikes.
Do you pitch overhand? We call it swift underhand. It’s basically a bowling motion.
And you’ve all got nicknames, right? You’ll play with a guy for three years before you know his real name, but you’ll know his nickname the first time you play together… There’s Molasses, one of the fastest players on our team. Cyclone is known to hurt anything or everything in his way, including himself, to try to get to a ball.
You guys play most Saturdays in the summer, with home games at Lafayette Park, and there are now quite a few teams in the area. Are there standings and playoffs? It’s not that competitive. You don’t play to lose, but you don’t play to win, either. You’re out there to have a good time and spread the game. We keep our records, but it’s not a league or anything.
Still, any stories of thrilling victories? Every year since 2004, we’ve held the Missouri Cup, which is kind of like the state championship, if there is such a thing. We try to get all the teams from Missouri to come together and play over one weekend. We’ve won three of those, and we won the last two. Those have been really fun.
A big part of vintage base ball is sportsmanship. That’s definitely something we want to promote, making it family-friendly and encouraging the good aspects of baseball and competition. Most close plays on the bases, the players are on their honor to make the call. It’s something that we really find draws the cranks to the game, because it’s unlike anything they’re used to in professional sports.
Any examples? An older gentlemen was trying to run out a base hit, and our first tender was trying to make a play on the ball. They ran into each other and collided. Instead of picking up the ball and tagging the runner out, our first baseman went over and helped him up and made sure he was safe on the base before he went and fielded the ball.
In a win-at-all-costs era, that’s refreshing. We feel the best thing we can give back to the game is to make it a game again. It’s not the end of the world. It’s a base ball game. It’s supposed to be fun.
How to Play Pickup (and Make a Difference in Doing So)
Rally Saint Louis turns vacant lots into basketball courts
When Tim Cooney was growing up in St. Louis, he longed for a better place to play pickup basketball, a game with an uncanny ability to unite perfect strangers. Now, he’s a member of the Washington University basketball team. When a professor told him about Rally Saint Louis (rallystl.org), a website dedicated to crowdsourcing and crowdfunding ideas for improving the city, he submitted Project Blacktop, his plan to build an outdoor court and organize clinics for kids and pickup games for adults.
It won in the first round of voting, and at press time, Cooney was well on his way to reaching a $10,000 fundraising goal while scouting possible locations. “If it’s in a place like the Central West End, where people drive by,” he says, “say it’s like 7 p.m. and people are playing basketball, I think it’s just a cool scene to have your city be active.”
Games for Brits—and St. Louisans
The Busch, Orthwein, and von Gontard families have dominated the local polo scene for generations. But you don’t have to be a beer baron to pick up the sport. Scott Lancaster, manager of the St. Louis Polo Club(stlpolo.com), runs a school for beginners, charging $75 per lesson. Neophytes start with a “ground orientation,” learning the basics. Then they mount up and run through game scenarios. Lancaster compares it to driving: If you’re headed west on Interstate 70, you don’t want to encounter anybody going north or south. “It’s the same on a polo field, with 1,000-pound thoroughbred horses going 30 miles an hour,” he says. Fortunately, the ponies already know the game, so you can focus on the ball. “There’s no better way to learn how to ride than the polo ball,” Lancaster says, “because you want to hit it so bad, you can’t stand it.”
For years, the STL Cricket League (stlcricketleague.com) has hosted tournaments in Love Park (2239 Mason). Players use a softer (though still hard) ball, so they don’t need as much protective gear, and they modify the rules, so matches last a couple of hours, rather than all day. To attract kids to the sport, last year the league founded the Missouri Youth Cricket Association(mocricket.org). Players with baseball experience can learn to field and bat quickly, but bowling is more difficult, since it’s so different from pitching. To Priya Singh, the association’s president, cricket is the finer of the two bat-and-ball games, because it’s more challenging. In baseball, if you strike out in the first inning, you get to come up again later. In cricket, each batter has only one chance. “You can perform, or you’re gone,” says Singh.
On August 17, cyclists will begin the 50th annual Moonlight Ramble at 12:01 a.m.
- 1 Number of people who turned out for the first Moonlight Ramble in 1964. (Founder Dick Leary made the inaugural ride solo.)
- “Hot Dog” What disgruntled cyclists call the showboats who weave between other cyclists.
- “Are you ready to ramble?” What Leary asked riders at the start of each ramble until his death in 1996.
SEE THE STARS
Test your movie knowledge, and get the inside scoop on this summer’s free outdoor screenings at neighborhood parks.
1. What happens when the son of a nimble dancer turns out to have two left feet?
A. The Lorax (July 14). 8 p.m. Movies Under the Stars, Chesterfield Amphitheater,chesterfieldamphitheater.com.
2. This film is based on the 2006 memoir of entrepreneur Chris Gardner.
B. Happy Feet Two (June 14). Dusk. Boulevard Park Amphitheater, Lake Saint Louis,lakesaintlouis.com.
3. The titular character of this film is brownish and mossy…with a voice that is sharpish and bossy.
C. The Pursuit of Happyness (Aug. 24). Dusk. University City Movies in the Parks, Fogerty Park,ucitymoviesintheparks.org.
4. “Snakes. Why’d it have to be snakes?” (Hint: It’s not Snakes on a Plane.)
D. Raiders of the Lost Ark (June 14). Webster Groves Gazebo Series, Old Orchard Business District, oldorchardwg.com.
For the music lover, summers in St. Louis mean tons of outdoor music festivals and summer concerts, many of which don’t cost a dime. Unsure where to head? Start with this guide.
Catch a Shooting Star
You don’t need expensive equipment to be an amateur astronomer. You don’t need any equipment at all. “There’s a lot you can see with the naked eye, if you know where and when to look,” says Michael Malolepszy, who’s on staff at the St. Louis Science Center’s McDonnell Planetarium. “You can walk outside and see a meteor shower. Or what used to be called shooting stars—although they have nothing to do with stars. They are tiny bits of comet debris. You’ll see little streaks of light that last a second or two. I saw more than 200 per hour for three hours in the Geminides shower, but I was 50 miles west of St. Louis.”
Getting away from city lights makes the biggest difference, he says. “The farther the better.” Then you can see the sunlight bouncing off a satellite as it passes, or find one of the five planets bright enough to see with the naked eye, or watch a lunar eclipse. “It makes your hair stand on end: ‘I’m watching the Earth’s shadow on the moon.’ And you can tell that the shadow is round.”
To identify constellations, you need a star chart—and a bit of imagination. “A lot are very dim stars that were very easily visible 4,000 years ago,” when that constellation was named. “The entry of a large meteor, on the other hand, can be pretty spectacular, really bright. The Chelyabinsk meteor last February was brighter than the sun for a couple of seconds, and produced an airburst about as strong as a nuclear weapon going off.”
Sky and Telescope Magazine is the leading magazine for amateur astronomers. www.Skyandtelescope.com
And has a good guide to the basics of meteor observing.
Satellite tracking with the unaided eye can usually be done at Heavens Above.
“Evening Skymap” is a monthly, beginner-oriented sky map that also includes a calendar of the month’s astronomical phenomena
Here’s information, daily updates and alerts about near-earth phenomenon (auroral activity, eclipses, meteors, comets).
St. Louis Astronomical Society. (They do real star parties.)
River Bend Astronomy Club (Alton area)
The Astronomical Society of Eastern Missouri (St. Charles area)
Most of the clubs can be followed on Facebook.
The first Friday of every month, McDonnell Planetarium has a free public telescope viewing and a “Sky Tonight” presentation that shows you what constellations and planets that are in the sky that month. (Parking is free on the planetarium side of the Science Center in Forest Park.)
The Astronomical Society of Eastern Missouri (in St. Charles) has free telescope viewings every clear Friday night at Broemmelsiek Park, which has a dedicated public astronomy area that’s gotten the attention of the national amateur astronomy community.
The next lunar eclipse visible in St. Louis will be April 15, 2014.
The Perseids (August 12) and Geminids (December 14) meteor showers are usually the best ones.
Shrek Gets a Makeover
Costume designer Andrea Lauer on dressing an ogre.
Costume designer Andrea Lauer began working for The Muny last year, when she designed the costumes for Chicago. Now, the New York–based designer is tackling the Muny premiere of Shrek The Musical.
- Since Shrek is so much about archetypesand fairy-tale characters, I started trying to figure out things like, “What is swamp fashion?” I’ve been looking at everything from the TV show Swamp People to historical representations of ogres.
- Shrek has to be green. That’s part of my motivation to design a garment that can cover the body, so makeup isn’t constantly dripping off.
- I’m trying to strip away the mascot…and get at the essence of who the people and characters are. I want the actors to be able to use their tools, their body and face.