Monday, October 3, 2016

Exploring St. Louis with Explore St. Louis

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I'm a firm believer in the power of exploration. Years ago, when I was an admissions counselor for a small fine arts college, my assigned territory would land me in cities and towns scattered around the US, cities and towns that just weren't on my radar until I was driving past a "Welcome To..." sign. Along with hundreds of small towns, I had the opportunity to visit and subsequently fall in love with: Detroit, Memphis, Nashville, Austin, Seattle, Milwaukee, Dallas... and all the others I'm surely drawing a blank on. Not to mention the places I discovered while getting lost along the way! (So, so lost) The experience made its mark on me and all these years later, I jump at pretty much any opportunity to explore someplace new. So when the chance arose to explore St. Louis with Explore St. Louis and the Alive Influencer Network, of course I jumped...
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Truth be told, I've seen this city before, but not nearly enough of it. It's been three years since I last visited St. Louis... which is about three years too long if you ask me. I was last in town for St. Louis Fashion Week, and while the experience was fantastic, it left me wishing I had had more time to see the city. There was so much more to St. Louis than I was able to see in those busy few days, so this time around I knew I wanted to experience as much as possible. Luckily I had the perfect traveling companion - Jen! She's always up for adventure, so we were able to see a lot of the city in our free time.

I flew in on Thursday night after work and met everyone at Start Bar for drinks and arcade games before retreating to The Cheshire Inn for the night. I stayed at The Cheshire the last time I was in town and was completely won over by the sorta-kitsch-extremely-rad-definitely-luxe English literature-inspired vibe. I mean, there's a huge stuffed bear in the lobby and a dizzying variety of art on the walls. It's perfect and everything is insanely comfortable. So much better than any kind of chain! We had a busy weekend ahead of us, with Murmuration Festival and Strangefolk Festival and everything in between, and The Cheshire was the perfect cozy home base while we explored.

The wonderful thing about St. Louis as a destination is that it's so easy to get to, and once you're there, everything is easily within reach. Cultural attractions are free or cheap, people are incredibly friendly (confusingly so for this staunch New Englander), and the food is delicious. If you're planning to visit or thinking about it, read on for my picks for what to do with a few free days in St. Louis.

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Where to Stay in St. Louis:
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The Cheshire: A cozy inn that's centrally located and within walking distance of Forest Park. Three restaurants and a Starbucks onsite means you'll have plenty of options if you get back late and forgot to eat dinner - or just need a caffeine boost. If and when i go back to St. Louis - I'll absolutely be staying here again.

Where to Eat in St. Louis:
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Winslow's Home: Honestly I could have eaten breakfast here every single day, and I think Jen would agree. A pretty cafe that also carries local goods and a host of curated gifts, Winslow's Home offers breakfast, lunch and dinner with a variety of offerings. Seriously, the food is so good, we ate here twice.

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Pi Pizzeria: I'm not a huge pizza person but when in Rome... and what's good enough for the President is good enough for me. Apparently Pi Pizzeria is President Obama's favorite pizza, and it was easy to see why - it's so good! We stopped here for cocktails and a few slices on our second day in town before walking up the street to Living Collective, the food was great, the people were friendly. That's all you need, isn't it?

Taste Bar: Grab drinks and dessert at this craft cocktail bar - you won't be disappointed. We headed here a little later, after Pi Pizza, for dessert and drinks, and let me tell you - dessert! I think I tasted some of the best treats I've ever had on this trip.

The Preston: This freshly remodeled eatery in Chase Park Plaza is the perfect venue for a special night out. We enjoyed a family-style meal and some of the best cocktails and wine I've ever had here.

Where to Shop in St. Louis:
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Erin, Jen and I

Living Collective & The Vino Gallery: It was so fun to walk into this curated boutique and see Salem, MA-based Hauswitch and Philly-based Nightwatch - and then be greeted by my friend's sister! This little store is packed with gorgeous finds and wine too, thanks to The Vino Gallery, which is right next door.

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Fauxgerty: St. Louis-based designer Chrissy Fogerty creates gorgeous, modern pieces from sustainable, vegan materials. If you've been on the market for a "leather" jacket, Fauxgerty is it. We stopped by the storefront after the first day of Murmuration to view the latest collection and to listen to a live performance by the artist Bloom.

What to Do in St. Louis:
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City Museum: By far the most fun I've had in a long, long time, City Museum was the most surprising (confusing?) part of our trip. Open late on the weekends, Jen and I went on a Saturday night with about two hours to spare - and I wish we had more time! So many people recommended City Museum to us (all of our Uber drivers!), I'm so glad we went. One part art installation, one part warehouse-sized jungle gym... you sort of just have to see it.

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St. Louis Art Museum & Forest Park: Don't let the free admission fool you, SLAM has an incredible collection of art that can keep you occupied on a too-hot or rainy day (in our case, way too hot). Afterwards, take a stroll through Forest Park and maybe pop into one of the many other cultural institutions that also boast free admission (donations accepted, though).

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The St. Louis Zoo: I'm not a huge zoo-goer for a variety of reasons, but the St. Louis Zoo was a great experience. Recognized as a leader in animal management, research, conservation and education (there's an on-site pre-school, how cool is that?), SLZ is comparable to the San Diego Zoo in its high quality (and also free).

Projects+Gallery: Close to Pi Pizza and Living Collective, this sizable gallery hosts a rotating roster of exhibitions. We visited to see the work of Charlie le Mindu, a former hairdresser who's worked with the likes of Lady Gaga who now uses human hair as a medium.

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Murmuration Festival: It's not everyday you get the chance to attend the inaugural year of a brand new music festival. Being this close to Deerhoof and Tycho? Incredible. A blend of music and tech, Murmuration will surely be a must on the festival circuit next year.

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Jen, Nikisha, Lilas Mia, Kassala, and I
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Strangefolk Festival: St. Louis' #1 craft festival, Strangefolk features over 200 vendors - including the always babely Creature Type! And The Daily Disco! - Strangefolk is a one-stop-shop for unique and handmade wares, delicious food, and great music. We stopped by the booths of Philomena + Ruth and The Golden Gems, and wandered a little before sucumbing to the incredible heat.

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Chandra, Jen and I
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A huge THANK YOU to Explore St. Louis and Alive Influencer Network for hosting us and to Elizabeth Wiseman and Megan Magray for being our photographers for the weekend. Some of the photos above were taken by these two talented ladies. And thank you to Lindsay, Laura, Abigail and Daniel for everything you planned for us. XO<3 p="">


Michelle | Creature Type said...

Thank you for the shout out, Julie! It was so nice to see you again and I'm so happy you had such a great experience in STL!

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