Originally Published May 29, 2012
Updated May 13, 2105
One thing I see on LinkdIn frequently is advice on where to live in St. Louis from someone coming here for work. I met a pretty neat young lady by answering her questions about St. Louis. I also read the 100 plus responses her post generated. This article is the expanded version of what I sent her. How did her question turn out? She ended up with several interviews, a wide range of housing choices to look at and a new career. She even learned to shout GO BLUES.
I am a life long St. Louisan. There are a lot of us. Chances are, about a third of your new workplace will be “grew up in St. Louis” St. Lousians. A fair portion of the rest came here for college and never left. A few moved here for work. I hate to bring it up, but chances are if a new job brought you here, even money your children will grow up here.
Things to do as a New St. Louisian Here is my list of things to do as a new St. Louisian.
www.teddrewes.com It is a St. Louis tradition. Ted Drewes is a frozen custard stand. Frozen custard is what frozen yogurt would be if it had eggs in it and only came in vanilla. To not go would be like moving to Chicago and not eating a hot dog. There are two Drewes locations. The South Grand store is only open Memorial Day to Labor Day. The Chippewa location sells frozen custard from March through December. In November and December they sell Christmas trees. February Ted plays tennis in Florida just like he has since 1929.
Custard comes in just one flavor, vanilla. It is what gets mixed in that is the deal. There is a whole board of flavors and a few bad puns. The specialty of the house is a concrete. A Concrete is a milkshake thick enough to hold upside down. Yes, they will tip it over when serving. The lines can look long, but moves fast, and the service is fun and fascinating to watch. A great way to kill a few minutes on a warm afternoon or summer evening. There is better ice cream in St. Louis, but wedding parties don’t stop at DQ for pictues.
We are proud of our beer, even if AB is now owned by a Belgian company. A mark of a true St. Louisian is being able to keep the different August Busches apart (August IV has no children so he may be the end of the line. Chances are slim anyone named Busch will ever head the Brewery again anyway.) The Brewery tour is free with two complimentary beverages if you are over 21. The brewery tour is informative and fun. It is easily one of the cleanest, best looking factories you will ever see. Grant’s Farm is a combination petting zoo, wild animal preserve, animal show and beer commercial. Even without children it is fun. Parking is about $10.00 and the food is pricey, but it is neat and distinctly St. Louis. And after seeing the elephant show, there are two free beers.
http://www.nps.gov/jeff/planyourvisit/gateway-arch.htm The pity is more St. Louisians don’t go to the Arch. The Lewis and Clark Museum underneath it very well laid out, and the view from the top is a marvel. Take the time to see the movie on the making of the Arch. It is well worth the time. It is possible to go to the Arch in the morning and then drive to the brewery in the afternoon and make a day of it. If you are a history buff, the Old Court House, about a block from the Arch grounds is the site of the Dred Scott decision. Its museum is worth looking at. Detailed Notes for going to the Arch
A few gotcha’s for the Arch and the Old Courthouse. You may want to avoid the Arch during the week in May and early June. It is school trip season. The Dred Scott decision was in 1847. The air conditioning is “period authentic” that is to say, none. It can get hot in the summer. Also, there is a Fourth of July Festival called Fair St. Louis. I do not care for it, although I love air shows and fireworks. It is crowded, expensive and a crap shoot on safety. All things I can do without.
There are several things to do in Forest Park. These include the St. Louis Zoo, Science Center, Muny Theater, Art Museum and Missouri History Museum. The Zoo is a rare treat. Admission is free and you can bring your own lunch. Parking is not free, but it is still about half the price of the Kansas City Zoo and has a lot more to offer. The Muny theater shows locally produced musicals in the summer. There are 1,500 free seats and good seats can be had for less than $15.00 a seat. I have been a season ticket holder for 15 years now and my parents were season ticket holders when I was growing up. Aside from being outside (can be really hot) a great way to see classic musicals performed live.
You may also want to look at Forest Park Forever (www.forestparkforever.org) as an organization to get involved with. It is a public/private partnership that shows real results. In 1993, Forest Park Forever had a master plan to refurbish Forest Park. To clean up its water system. To restore features from the 1904 World’s Fair. To make the roads easier to use. They accomplished it. Take a look at the results. http://www.forestparkforever.org/learn/history/ The Forest Park Forever web site has a complete list of events and attractions in the park. Going to the Zoo.
www.stlzoo.org - The Zoo
Ok, I grew up there. My first beer was at Blueberry Hill. The Loop is the home to funky, eclectic shops, neat restaurants, great music venues, and a mix of people that make for a fun street scene. Blueberry Hill maybe why the Hard Rock Café did not do well in St. Louis. For many St. Louisians, a Kiss costume is only ok, when the guitar that was used to record Maybelline, is down the block and Chuck Berry is playing there next Thursday. There are more chain restaurants than there used to be, but it is a great place.
In the Loop you will find the Tivoli Theater. http://www.landmarktheatres.com/market/st.louis/tivolitheatre.htm The Tivoli is one of the many rehab projects in the Loop. The lobby is decorated with old posters, real butter is poured on popcorn and there are midnight shows in the summer. Only three screens and about 1,000 seats total.
There are some other cool neighborhoods to check out:
The Central West End (http://thecwe.org/)
South Grand (http://www.southgrand.org/)
and Webster Groves (http://www.shopoldwebster.com/).
(http://www.citygardenstl.org/) opened in 2010. It is a park in the middle of St. Louis’ downtown. If you are downtown or going downtown for something else, it is worth a look. My office used to look down on Citygarden, I was laid off before it was completed. The Terrace View restaurant has great food, if it is a little pricey.
(http://www.citymuseum.org) is fun. It is part art, part junk yard, eclectic, and interesting. School groups go there frequently, but some of the activities are a little dangerous for children. Adults can make their own decisions on climbing in an indoor cave.
The Missouri Botanical Garden (http://www.mobot.org/) a world of plants including an indoor rainforest under a geodesic dome. There are several special exhibits throughout the year. I will be taking my children to the tree house exhibit this summer. We attend the Best of Missouri Market and the Japanese Festival each year. Best of Missouri Market is a showcase of locally produced foods and art. There are a lot of food samples including samples from Missouri’s wine industry. The same weekend as Best of Missouri Market is the Shaw Art Walk. The Shaw Art Walk is next store and one admission will allow you into both. The Botanical Garden has reduced rates for St. Louis area residents, so you may want to wait until you have a Missouri Drivers’ License before going.
One last link, Explore St. Louis’ 25 things to do in St. Louis, http://www.explorestlouis.com/visitors/25thingsOne.asp?pt=1
St. Louis likes to think of itself as a big city, like New York and Chicago. It’s not. It is a small city like Indianapolis. We have wonderful funky, edgy neighborhoods, but we also have a lot of people who would freak out if they found themselves in any of them.
Where you want to live is up to you. Any realtor will show you the suburbs. The Parkway school district provides an excellent education. St. Charles County can save you a ton of money depending on your commute. South County could be in any “Red State” in the country. Here are some places some realtors will not bother to tell you about. They are easy to find online. Ask your realtor about them. If they start with “You would not like that…” maybe you need someone else.
“The City” is not in St. Louis County. It is a long story for another time. The city is broken up into dozens neighborhoods. Some are trendy, some are drug infested. It’s a metropolitan area. There are some beautiful areas to live. There are great neighborhoods. There are up and coming rehab areas. Some areas to check out are the Central West End, St. Louis Hills, The Ville, and the Hill. There are 79 neighborhoods in the City. The City has an excellent resource on them all. http://stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/public-safety/neighborhood-stabilization-office/neighborhoods/index.cfm There is a down side. The City schools are some of the worst in the State. They are getting better but 30 years of poor management and neglect are hard to turn around. If you have children, maybe you want to live there maybe not.
U. City is a great place to live. Much of U. City is becoming gentrified and housing prices are showing that. If you are an Observant Jew, U. City should be on your short list. It is the home of four Orthodox congregations. In the late 1950’s-early ‘60’s U. City was one of the area’s first integrated communities. Realtors tried using Block Busting http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockbusting in U. City. U. City banned for sale signs and enforced zoning laws to prevent it. I still remember the first for sale signs in yards in the 1990’s. They had not existed for my lifetime, at least not on the block I grew up on. U. City also established its own real estate office to show houses in U. City when realtors wouldn’t It is more than a little sad that there still are realtors who will not show a white family homes in U. City because you might have black neighbors.
“Where did you go to high school?” Yes it is strange. Yes it is stereotyping. But we ask it, and we understand the answers. This chart may help. http://media.riverfronttimes.com/7642101.0.pdf The scary thing is, it is pretty accurate.
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