During the summer months, life seems to happen more outside than in, and thankfully, St. Louis has a wealth of urban parks. Yeah, they're great for exercising, but Gut Check especially loves to enjoy them camped out on a large picnic blanket with a bottle of wine and a basket full of treats.
There's just one tiny problem with picnicking -- you have to plan ahead and pack a meal. That is, unless you cheat...
Gut Check rounded up a list of our eight favorite local picnic spots and the best places nearby to grab a delicious meal that somebody else made.
See also: The 10 Best Brunches in St. Louis
The Gateway Arch (100 Washington Avenue) What better place to start than with St. Louis' most internationally recognized monument, the Gateway Arch? Pick a spot on the main staircase and watch the mighty Mississippi River churn toward the Gulf of Mexico. Be transported back in time watching the Becky Thatcher and the Tom Sawyer riverboats navigate the waters. And check out one of the Gateway Geyser's three daily eruptions. Be a tourist in your own city.
Pick Up: Blues City Deli (2438 McNair Avenue; 314-773-8225) On your way downtown, stop at Blues City Deli for a traditional Italian deli menu, which include perhaps the best po-boys and muffulettas in the city. Arrive early on Mondays for the hugely popular "Tony Supremo" (hot roast beef, root-beer-glazed ham, provolone, lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion and Creole mayo on a warm baguette), and on Wednesdays for the "Aporkalypse Pretzelwich" (garlic roasted pork, bacon, provolone, pickles and "boom boom sauce" on a warm pretzel roll). Come back after a day in the sun for live blues on Thursday and Saturday nights.
Citygarden (801 Market Street) Since opening in 2009, the 2.9-acre Citygarden has provided an artistic, sensory experience in the middle of the hustle and bustle of downtown St. Louis. There's sculpture from internationally renowned artists, three water features, nighttime lighting displays, an audio tour and lush native landscaping all set among stunning granite, limestone and bluestone hard-scaping.
Pick-Up: Sauce on the Side (903 Pine Street; 314-241-5667) Who doesn't love a homemade calzone? Sauce on the Side owners Daniel Porzel, Brendan Maciariello and Ryan Mangialardo certainly do, and they've created an entire restaurant out of their passion. Dig into traditional recipes, such as the "Costanza" (pepperoni, eggplant, roasted garlic, basil, mozzarella and ricotta) or for the more adventurous, try a "Gonzo" (salami, dates, spinach, boursin, mozzarella, mascarpone and ricotta). Another innovative standout is the "Figgy Piggy" (bacon, figs, balsamic onions, boursin, mozzarella and ricotta). There are fifteen calzones to choose from, plus salads, desserts and a lengthy beer and wine list, all just a three-minute walk from Citygarden.