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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

50 Things You Haven't Done in St. Louis -- But Should

Posted By on Wed, May 25, 2016 at 6:15 AM

click to enlarge Woofie's — No. 2 on our incredibly comprehensive list. - RFT FILE PHOTO
  • RFT File Photo
  • Woofie's — No. 2 on our incredibly comprehensive list.

Summer is the time to try new things — and as this list makes clear, you don't need to leave the city to do it. Visit a hole-in-the-wall museum, a shrine or a cemetery. Try a new sport or pick up a new skill. Make a trip to a St. Louis institution, or take a chance on a brand new hotspot. Maybe even get outdoors a little.

Here are our picks for 50 things you really ought to do right here, right now, this summer.

1. Jump, jive and wail at the Lindy Hop
Forget those swing dance lessons you took in 1998 after seeing a Gap commercial. Today, Lindy Hop St. Louis can teach you the steps, the history and the music of one of America's great dance styles. No partner? No problem! You'll be paired up in group lessons, and you'll have the chance to show off your moves during regular events and special shindigs with live music. Classes are mostly held at Grand Center's Grandel Theatre.

2. Eat a hot dog at Woofie's
Opened in 1977 by pawn shop veteran Charles Eisen, Woofie's has been a standard go-to for hot dog aficionados for decades. Far from your average roller-dog gas station fare, Woofie's wiener is billed as "The Dog with Dignity" — one taste and you'll instantly see why. 1919 Woodson Rd., Overland; 314-426-6291

3. Pay homage to a genius at Rootwad Park
Constructed in 2008 on the near north riverfront, Rootwad Park stands as the late City Museum founder Bob Cassilly's last commissioned work. The park is filled with Cassilly's unmistakable artistic charm, with huge concrete snakes and a giant turtle among its many pieces. 001 O'Fallon Street

4. See a movie under the stars at Skyview Drive-In
Sure, you could stay in and watch Netflix, but why not make your next movie night nostalgic? Belleville's Skyview drive-in movie theater gives movie-goers the old-fashioned drive-in experience while playing the latest films on its big screen. Pull in, grab some popcorn and travel back in time. 5700 North Belt West, Belleville, Illinois; 618-233-4300;

5. Make an early morning pilgrimage to John's Donuts
Take that late-night, spur-of-the-moment snack run to the next level at John's Donuts. From 11 p.m. to 1 p.m., the beloved shop on the edge of Soulard offers a dizzying array of sumptuous pastries. Trust us, there's nothing like taking in a sunrise while biting into a fresh apple fritter. 1618 South Broadway, 314-241-3360

6. Become a pinball wizard at the Silver Ballroom
A punk rock dive bar and haven for pinball fans, the Silver Ballroom doesn't sound like it should even exist. But it does, and the combination of retro pastime and PBR tallboys actually works like a charm. So get a stack of quarters ready, get buzzed and start working on beating some schlub's high score. And don't tilt! 4701 Morgan Ford Road, 314-832-9223;

7. Tailgate the hell out of a Gateway Grizzles baseball game
There's no such thing as too much baseball, and doubly so for tailgating. The Gateway Grizzles aren't associated with Major League Baseball, but that doesn't mean you can't pull of a World Series-class tailgate — and with ticket prices as low as $6, you have no excuse not to. 2301 Grizzlie Bear Boulevard, Sauget, Illinois; 618-337-3000;

8. Ask for a miracle at the shrine of St. Joseph
You might not actually get your own special miracle, but you'll at least be in the presence of one. The beautiful landmark church at 11th and Biddle in downtown St. Louis is where factory worker Ignatius Strecker was purportedly cured of a potentially fatal injury after touching a blessed relic belonging to future saint Peter Claver. The 1864 incident later became the first Vatican-certified miracle west of the Mississippi River. 1220 N. 11th Street, 314-231-9407;

9. Eat fried chicken at Castelli's
With the number of fried chicken restaurants that have popped up around town in the last few years, is Castelli's really worth the drive? If you're asking that question, you haven't been to this iconic Alton restaurant and tasted its legendary, trademarked fried bird. 3400 Fosterburg Road, Alton, Illinois; 618-462-4620;

10. Go to a sailboat race at Creve Coeur Lake
It's not the British Virgin Islands, and your captain is more likely to hand you a Bud Light than a mai tai, but the sailboat races at Creve Coeur Lake can temporarily sate your need for water-kissed air and wind in your face. Arrive early and see if you can crew the boat — maybe you'll score a lesson while you're at it. 13725 Marine Drive, Maryland Heights;

11. Feed the animals (for free!) at Suson Park
Sure, the Saint Louis Zoo is also free, but this 98-acre park deep in the heart of south St. Louis County is the perfect one-hour stop for crabby tots or blissful young romantics. You can pet cows, ponies, pigs, sheep and goats in the free petting zoo, ogle the chickens and ducks or even catch a fish at the well-stocked lake. It's just a little bit country — making an ideal pitstop for moonlighting visitors who are nothing of the sort. 6073 Wells Road, 314-615-5000

12. See the newly exposed ceiling at the U-Haul store (no, really)
It sounds like a joke — but it isn't. The lobby of the U-Haul outlet at Kingshighway just north of Shaw really does have a ceiling with architectural significance. Designed by Isamu Noguchi for a previous tenant, it was covered up by a drop-ceiling for years, only to be discovered and feted by no less than the Saint Louis Art Museum and the New York Times. As of this spring, it's not only exposed, but open to the public. Walk-ins welcome! 1641 South Kingshighway Boulevard, 314-773-1400

13. Have drinks at a fancy hotel
Could anything be a more welcome reprieve from the summer heat than an afternoon in an upscale hotel bar, drinking a ridiculously tasty concoction and flirting with strangers? That doesn't mean you have to catch a flight to Chicago. Play tourist in your own town with a few hours at the Preston (in the Chase Park Plaza) or Boundary (at the Cheshire) and just wait for the fun to unfold in front of you. 212 North Kingshighway Boulevard, 314-633-7800; and 7036 Clayton Avenue, Richmond Heights; 314-932-7818;

14. Pay a visit to Tennessee Williams' grave at Calvary Cemetery
The Archdiocese of St. Louis maintains the beautiful old Calvary Cemetery, making it somewhat ironic that it's also the final resting place of one of the century's most infamous queer artists. Pay Tennessee Williams a visit to let him know that St. Pollution loves him, even if he hated us. He's in 15A. 5239 W. Florissant Avenue, 314-792-7738

15. Get creeped out by the Piasa bird in Alton
No, you're not hallucinating. That enormous painting of a lion-bird-horse on the Great River Road bluffs just outside of Alton is most definitely real — and completely creepy. Known as the Piasa bird, this ancient Native American mythological creature has a long history of freaking out inhabitants of this part of Alton. Visit the site to find out why. IL-100, one mile north of the Alton Visitor Center, Alton, Illinois;

urn the page for more amazing things to do in St. Louis this summer.

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