Summertime St. Louis: Can't Miss, Won't Miss. Your guide to a successful, fun-filled summer.

All winter we bundle up and bitch about the temperature. Oh, how we long to free our feet from their wool-and-leather cocoons! Oh, how we wish for the warmth of a summer sunbeam on our fair skin! And when the sizzling season finally comes around, we huddle in the air conditioning, feeling lazy, bored and wasteful of some perfectly good summer days.

But it's not exactly laziness that prevents us from getting out there, is it? No, it's more a lack of imagination and a bit of a been-there-done-that attitude. So consider what follows a checklist that must be completed before the hot sun sets on your summer. Whenever you're feeling uninspired and unplugged, brave the temperatures and tackle one of these can't-miss items on your summer to-do list.

You Need a Hero!

No one can guarantee a super summer — well, no one except Superman. "Super" is in his name for crying out loud! To honor the powerful cape-wearer, head to his hometown of Metropolis, Illinois, for the 31st annual Superman Celebration. From Thursday to Sunday (June 11 to 14), hero-worshipers gather to revel in the Super One's power of flight and his verve for helping society, while they keep a safe distance from the town's huge hunk of Kryptonite. Justin Hartley and Phil Morris, actors from the TV series Smallville, are scheduled to be there, as are Beverly Washburn (she appeared in 1951's Superman and the Mole-Men, among many other TV shows and films) and Noel Neill (a.k.a. Lois Lane). Autograph sessions with these super folks require tickets for admission; visit www.supermancelebration.net to learn more and to get directions to this southern Illinois town (it's about two-and-a-half hours away).

Circus Circus

When Circus Flora's candy-red big top is erected in Grand Center (at North Grand Boulevard and Samuel Shepard Drive), kids and adults alike are in for a sweet treat. For the affordable price of admission (tickets cost just $9 to $36), this excellent circus will have your hands sweating — despite the air conditioning — during the feats of daring balance and swinging trapeze, your toes tapping along with the live music and your tummy in stitches from chuckling at the clowns. Find out more about the show and the talented performers of all ages at www.circusflora.org; tickets can be purchased through MetroTix (314-534-1111 or www.metrotix.com). Performances begin on Thursday, June 4, and happen at 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, at 2 and 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday (no 2 p.m. show on June 5), and at 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday (June 4 through 21).

All-Stars All Over

St. Louisans and all manner of visitors will not only have stars in their eyes at Busch Stadium (Broadway and Poplar Street) on Tuesday, July 14 — that's the date of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game — but they also will be seeing stars at the Dwight Davis Tennis Center (5620 Grand Drive), albeit ones who swing rackets, not bats. This summer, the St. Louis Aces, our very own World TeamTennis team, brings Anna Kournikova (Saturday, July 11), the Bryan brothers (Sunday, July 19) and Kim Clijsters (Tuesday, July 21) to the team's home court in Forest Park. The Aces' short season begins on Thursday, July 2, and concludes with Clijsters' appearance. Check out the full schedule and find information about the theme nights at www.stlouisaces.com; all matches begin at 7:15 p.m., and single-match tickets cost $15 to $40.

And for details about the former set of all-stars and how you can have a chance to get tickets, visit www.allstargame.com. Plus, there's the Major League Baseball All-Star FanFest Friday through Tuesday (July 10 through 14) at America's Center (701 Convention Plaza); tickets for this interactive baseball extravaganza cost $15 to $30.

You Gotta Eat

What's summer without barbecue, farmers' markets and horseradish? That's what we always say, anyway. To get your fill of summery eats, start by making time for regular visits to your nearby farmers' market. The Ellisville Farmers' Market debuts on Thursday, May 28, in the parking lot of the recently opened Straub's grocery store (Clarkson and Clayton roads). This smorgasbord of heirloom fruits and vegetables, fresh lamb, artisan cheeses, kids' activities and more is open every Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. through September 24. Call 314-725-2121 or visit www.ellisvillefarmersmarket.com to learn more.

Of course, as the temperatures go up in St. Louis — and as the tasty veggies get more plentiful — the grills around town only get hotter. But you don't have to do all of the 'cuing! Keep your eye on the St. Louis Barbecue Society's website (www.stlouisbbqsociety.com) to stay informed about all of the hot grillin' action all summer long.

Then, for those who'd like to feel the heat in an entirely different way, there's the 2009 International Horseradish Festival on Saturday, June 6, and Sunday, June 7. This spicy good time is held in Woodland Park (Pine Lake and Olivers roads, Collinsville, Illinois), and it celebrates all things horsey, from root-tossing to a horseradish-cooking contest, and from the bloody-mary competition to the annual Horseradish Root Derby. All of the details can be learned by calling 618-344-2884 or visiting www.horseradishfestival.com.

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