St. Louis: Gateway to the World

Come see the whole planet without ever leaving the Lou.

But it's not time for a nightcap just yet. You still haven't ventured to Africa, or to the St. Louis African Arts Festival (314-935-9676 or www.stlafricanartsfest.org), happening Saturday through Monday (May 26 through 28) at the World's Fair Pavilion in Forest Park. A marketplace provides all manner of souvenirs you can purchase to take home from your journey, and dance, drum and other musical performances throughout each day will transport you across the Atlantic.

Then, all you have to do to get back there after the weekend-long fest is break bread at Meskerem (3210 South Grand Boulevard; 314-772-4442). This Ethiopian spot offers up cuisine from the eastern African nation every single day. Easy enough!

And if simplicity is what you crave, the end of summer is the time for an intense, two-day dose of all things international at the place where your "world" travels began, Tower Grove Park. On Saturday and Sunday (August 25 and 26), the grounds serve as the host of the International Institute's Best- of-St.-Louis-award-winning Festival of Nations (www.iistl.org/events/festival.asp). During this multicultural to-do, dance, dine, do a little shopping (the jewelry is divine), and celebrate diversity — that's what traveling is all about, right?

Well, that, and coming back home and realizing how much you love where you live, how much you missed your bed, how great your city really is. Despite whatever faults our little river town might have, she's a beauty, a place to be treasured, a metropolis to celebrate. Good thing you're sticking around this summer.

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