Distractions from a family wedding in St Louis?
April 7, 2010 7:26 PM   Subscribe

A few things to do in St Louis this weekend when I need a break from my family and maybe recommendations on a route to run near the hotel...

One of my cousins is getting married this weekend and I'm staying with my parents in a hotel on Forsyth Blvd near Forest Park Parkway for 3 whole days, so I'm guessing I'm gonna need a break from the fam at some point. I may have a car, but it would be nice if I didn't *need* it--I like exploring neighborhoods on foot anyway. I see that there are things nearby (Washington University, St Louis Art Museum), but have no idea what the neighborhood is like. Say I wanted to go for a run to that chunk of greenness surrounding the art museum--are there not so busy streets I can go along? Are there any uppity espresso places nearby? What about this St Louis style pizza I've heard so much about on mefi?
posted by mandymanwasregistered to Travel & Transportation around St. Louis, MO (26 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Say I wanted to go for a run to that chunk of greenness surrounding the art museum--are there not so busy streets I can go along?

The chunk of greenness surrounding the art museum is Forest Park. There are miles and miles of running and biking paths in and around it. In particular there's a loop around the outside that is right about 10K.

What about this St Louis style pizza I've heard so much about on mefi?

It's terrible. Go to Pi on the Loop (for deep dish) or Dewey's (for New York style).
posted by jedicus at 7:40 PM on April 7, 2010

Are there any uppity espresso places nearby?

I don't know about uppity but there are several local coffee places. Meshuggah Cafe on the Loop, Coffee Cartel in the Central West End, Kayak's Cafe at the intersection of Forest Park Parkway and Skinker Boulevard, Kaldi's in the Demun neighborhood (and elsewhere). Cafe Ventana is a bit out of the way (it's next to St. Louis University), but it has good coffee (including a great chicory blend) and wonderful beignets.
posted by jedicus at 7:45 PM on April 7, 2010

I just realized you wanted non-busy streets for getting to Forest Park. Probably the easiest thing to do is to duck into the Ames Place neighborhood just north of Washington University and run through there. Almost all of the streets in that area are private and closed to through traffic, so it's very quiet. Alternatively you can run through the Wash U campus itself. And even more alternatively you can take the Metro from the west end of the Wash U campus to either the east end of campus or to the Forest Park stop, which is just north of the Missouri History Museum.
posted by jedicus at 7:49 PM on April 7, 2010

If you simply must try St. Louis style pizza, the primary purveyor is Imo's Pizza. There's a location nearby on Forsyth and others all over the metro area. I recommend having it delivered to your hotel room so no one will judge you if you spit it out or fail to eat more than a few bites of the wretched stuff.
posted by jedicus at 7:53 PM on April 7, 2010

Oh, word of advice about St. Louis: it closes early. No, really. It can be a Saturday night and you get out of the Pageant and Meshuggah's already closed. Everything is already closed. They roll up the sidewalks around ten in much of the city. I think the Coffee Cartel might be open as late as 2 a.m., but many other things are not.

Forest Park can be very, very quiet at night, even some during the summer. The streets themselves are often empty of traffic to the point where I find that area a good place to teach someone how to drive.

I have no mechanism for why this may be, only the idea that St. Louis is basically like a smallish town that someone blew up in Photoshop until you can see the pixelation. It would explain a lot.
posted by adipocere at 8:05 PM on April 7, 2010 [4 favorites]

I think the Coffee Cartel might be open as late as 2 a.m.

Coffee Cartel never closes ("Open 24 Hours Always").
posted by jedicus at 8:07 PM on April 7, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for these suggestions!

By uppity espresso, I mean a place that is all hardcore about coffee such that it would be worth seeking out. Otherwise I figure I'll just find whatever is nearby.

Is the pizza so bad it's good? Like the way flaming hot cheetos sometimes hit the spot? It has me so intrigued!
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 8:07 PM on April 7, 2010

Shows what I know — they did actually close once upon a time, but it's been years since I was there. I recall one night they made a big deal out of staying open until 3 a.m. because of the time change.

As to Imo's, I stand by this.
posted by adipocere at 8:11 PM on April 7, 2010

Other fun STL pizza places (that are better than Imo's) :


posted by Exchequer at 8:21 PM on April 7, 2010

You should find a way to get to the Missouri Botanical Garden. It is one of the best in the world, and it's painfully beautiful right now.
posted by Ostara at 8:32 PM on April 7, 2010

I definitely suggest checking out the art museum and zoo if you find yourself in forest park. Both have world class collection and are mostly free (the special exhibits have a small fee). So if you just want to pop in to check out the Picasos or Orangutans you can do just that.

This is also a perfect time to visit the Missouri Botanical Garden. Not exactly within walking distance, but worth seeing if you have access to a car.
posted by Mr Mister at 8:32 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Depending on your tastes, the City Museum is worth borrowing a car to see. If you ask me, it's worth stealing a car to see. Show up after 9 or 10 PM on Saturday evening, when all the young kids are gone. Best experienced with someone else to go with you, I think.

In the daytime, you should absolutely go see the botanical gardens.
posted by tss at 8:56 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

By uppity espresso, I mean a place that is all hardcore about coffee such that it would be worth seeking out.

The closest St. Louis has to that is probably Kaldi's, which does its own roasting and usually stocks and brews quite a few varieties of beans. There are several locations in St. Louis, including a couple within walking distance of where you'll be.
posted by jedicus at 9:11 PM on April 7, 2010

I'm curious as to what hotel you are talking about. Can't think of any hotel on Forsyth...

As for St. Louis style pizza, skip it. It's really just not good. It's not interesting at all--just not good. I second Pi. It's great pizza, all 3 locations have great atmospheres and it's a really progressive business (ecologically minded etc).

Any interest in shopping or particular cuisines or particular types of activities?

Lots of people who come to St. Louis go to the Arch or the AB Brewery...

Also, this weekend is the St. Louis marathon (and 1/2 half marathon and a host of related activities) so keep that in mind in terms of your running (or driving routes).
posted by rglass at 9:49 PM on April 7, 2010

Is the pizza so bad it's good? Like the way flaming hot cheetos sometimes hit the spot? It has me so intrigued!

You've pretty much hit the nail on the head. It's a salty, savory junk food and/or food to accompany drunkenness par excellence, but in my humble St. Louisan opinion, there is no situation in which St. Louis-style pizza would be good or appropriate in which a New York or Neapolitan-style pizza wouldn't be better. If you must have St. Louis-style, Guido's (mentioned above) does do the style better than Imo's, plus you'd have sangria and some reasonably good tapas that you can add to the proceedings.

As mentioned above, if you're that close to Forest Park and intend to explore, you could easily spend the day just wandering around finding things to do in the park itself. "At 1,293 acres, it is approximately 500 acres larger than Central Park in New York." For what it's worth, Kayak's is probably the closest coffeehouse outside of Forest Park within walking distance, but I do recall there being a coffeehouse somewhere within the park (which I've heard next to nothing about), and Coffee Cartel isn't too far away from the eastern edge of the park (plus it's in the Central West End, and if you like exploring neighborhoods, a trip along Euclid might be worthwhile). There's been a lot of buzz around town recently about the quality of Goshen Coffee and its bakery next door, which is based out of (relatively) nearby Edwardsville, Illinois. If you don't have the time/inclination for extended out-of-Missouri adventures, though, pretty much any of the places carrying it within St. Louis proper (including the aforementioned Pi) have their heads in the right place.

The City Museum and Botanical Gardens are also great, as are Laumeier Scuplture Park and Citygarden, but you'd pretty much have to take a car or Metrolink (if applicable) to those.
posted by stleric at 10:08 PM on April 7, 2010

I havebeen all over the world and the City Museum is still my favorite place on earth. Nothing else like it. Gogogogogogo.
posted by GilloD at 4:16 AM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you're wandering around Wash U's campus, the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum (Pretty close to Forsyth and Forest Park, actually) is nice and free, just like the SLAM.
You're also going to be pretty close to the Delmar Loop, which is a fun walking around in couple of blocks with a sweet music store (Vintage Vinyl), a nice bookstore (Subterranean Books), a nice comic book store (Star Clipper), and the aforementioned Meshuggah's, a coffee shop with the best pesto and mozarella bagels and hot chocolate in St. Louis. And there's other stuff there too - it's definitely afternoon-away-from-family worthy.

If you feel like wandering further, the Central West End has nice restaurants and I'm sure other fun things to wander through. If there are a lot of family members who are intrigued by this concept of St. Louis pizza, I'd say get a Pointersaurus from Imos and lay the St. Louis pizza mystery to rest. Otherwise, screw it - just go to Pi and enjoy Barack Obama's favorite pizza!
posted by ChuraChura at 5:47 AM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am somehow amazed that this thread hasn't turned out to be the City Museum lovefest that these usually turn out to be. I like to imagine that all MeFites would love the City Museum. It's not like any other museums I know of, so even if you're skeptical, go to their site and check it out. It is simply my favorite place on Earth, and I've only been to St. Louis twice...
posted by advicepig at 6:54 AM on April 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Please please please try to make it to City Museum. This is important.

Also, I love St. Louis style pizza, enough to have to have it whenever I visit STL and enough to have Provel cheese shipped out here to California. I grew up eating it, so maybe I'm just so used to it I love it. I think the big flavor that people don't expect is the liquid smoke that's in the cheese. People just don't know how to process it. As for places to get it, Imo's is decent, but a smaller restaurant that is less of a chain would do a better job of it. I'm not sure what's good around the area, so Imo's will do.
posted by zsazsa at 8:08 AM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm from St. Louis and I have to admit that I love St. Louis-style pizza. I once worked at Guido's and can vouch for its quality. Imo's works too.

Nthing City Museum and the Botanical Garden. If you're into beer at all, check out the Tap Room, home of local microbrewery Schlafly. Good food as well.
posted by evisceratordeath at 8:40 AM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I personally find Meshuggahs to have the best coffee around in that area. Seconding Forest Park, City Museum, and the Botanical Gardens. Also, I may or may not be at Meshuggahs depending on the day but I would be willing to show up if enticed.

Also, only bars stay open until 3 and only in the city proper, not the county. Coffee Cartel is a 24 hour operation in the Central West End.

I am on my phone but I will return to this thread after work.
posted by lizarrd at 10:56 AM on April 8, 2010

Forsyth runs straight to Forest Park, and is a fairy nice residential street between Forest Park Parkway. it should be a pleasant walk. The University City Loop (Delmar from Kingsland to Des Peres) is interesting shopping and dining district, with a movie theater (Tivoli), bowling alley (Pin-Up Bowl), a huge independent record store (Vintage Vinyl) and lots else to see and do.

You're also in luck with a Metrolink station right by you at Forsyth and Forest Park Parkway. This will give you a quick easy way to get to Forest Park, The Central West End and downtown (short walking distance to the City Museum, which i also highly recommend.) If you do trek down to the City Museum wear your rough and tumble clothes (jeans and sneakers) as it's a very hands on kind of place.

Putting my two cents in on the pizza debate, you should at least give it a try, either Imos or Cecil Whittakers. You'll either love it or meh it, but it's worth trying.
posted by topher74 at 4:14 PM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

ok yeah, to repeat everyone.

at least try imos (cecils will do in a pinch, there is one right next to coffee cartel if you end up in the cwe), i love it
def go to the loop (vintage vinyl is amazing and Meshuggah's is the best coffee in the city)
if you can do one thing in the city, go to the city museum
forest park is awesome and good for killing small or longer amounts of time
botanical gardens is one of a kind in america
schlafly is amazing beer and the tap room is a fun place with live music

most of this stuff is pretty close in the city (rent a bike and you'd be golden) but if you get a car, Laumeier Scuplture Park, Castlewod and Lone Elk (drive through park with lots of animals) are pretty fantastic a lil bit out west.
posted by saul wright at 5:31 PM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Say I wanted to go for a run to that chunk of greenness surrounding the art museum--are there not so busy streets I can go along?

Forsyth between Forest Park and the Parkway is a fairly busy two lane road, but with nice sidewalks that are quite runnable. Past the Parkway, it widens into a more major four-lane thoroughfare through downtown Clayton; running is possible but less pleasant.

Forest Park is totally awesome and you should make a point to run in it if you are a runner. I really miss living three blocks away. If you turn right or left as you cross into the park on Forsyth, you will be on the six mile park loop trail-taking that will hit most of the scenic high points save the art museum, which is worth a detour to run by in my book.

*is jealous*
posted by Kwine at 5:38 PM on April 9, 2010

Response by poster: Dearest metafilter, I am sitting in an Imo's awaiting to experience the wonder that is St. Louis style pizza. I must admit, the smell of feet hit me as I walked into the restaurant, but the call of free wifi plus a new culinary experience was too much for me to pass up. Also, what is it with fancy hotels charging for wi-fi while the cheaper ones don't?

I wandered through the neighborhoods full of big ass brick homes near Washington University and made it to Forest Park. Thanks again for your suggestions.

omg pizza is here gotta go
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 6:06 PM on April 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: OK, I'm pretty sure that was provel on my chicken quesadilla that I had in the lounge of the Ritz Carlton last night. This pizza is waaaay better than that quesadilla. I can see how it is an acquired taste, though. The mushrooms are clearly from a can, as they should be.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 6:11 PM on April 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

« Older Who Narrated "The Buddha" on PBS?   |   Why does it sound like it's blowing in the wind? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.