Summer Sensations: So much to do, so little time. Here's what we recommend you dare not miss.

May 21, 2008 at 4:00 am

If you stay in the house, does that mean you're truly at home? We think not. After all, we're St. Louisans. We have a home that measures in square miles, not square feet. With an estate that size, it's easy to forget how breathtaking it is. The beauty of living here is that you have access to an entire city full of summertime fun. In that spirit, we've prepared a primer of can't-miss events. Why not be a tourist at home?

Even though it's considered a summer sport, the national pastime takes place during parts of three seasons. So we'll drop the baseball tour from the month-by-month lineup. Still, you owe it to yourself (and your savings account) to check out the River City Rascals and the Gateway Grizzlies, our two Frontier League teams.

The Rascals (who play in TR Hughes Ballpark, TR Hughes Boulevard and Tom Ginnever Avenue, O'Fallon) spent the off-season replenishing their pitching, while the Grizzlies (Mousette Lane and Goose Lake Road, Sauget, Illinois) added a soft pretzel soaked in Buffalo-wing sauce and topped with mozzarella to their insanely irresponsible food menu. Both teams still have tickets that start at just $5. Now, if you want to watch Albert's moonshots or Yadi mow down would-be base-stealers with surgical precision at Busch Stadium (Broadway and Poplar Street), it'll cost you $16 to $250. Find more information about the River City Rascals by visiting or calling 636-240-2287; the Gateway Grizzlies at or 618-337-3000; or the Cardinals at or 314-345-9000.

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis runs through June 15 in Forest Park with performances of The Tragedy of King Richard III at 8 p.m. every night except Tuesday — and it's free, too. You'll want to get there a couple hours early to find a good seat and enjoy the Green Show (jugglers, clowns, dancers and a host of other acts) which begins at 6:30 p.m. This marks the festival's eighth season, and its continued success is owed ultimately to massive public interest in some of the greatest English plays ever written. There's a reason you're supposed to read The Tragedy of King Richard III in school. And hey, if you didn't get it then, you can rest assured that when you see it performed live, it will all come together.

While you're in Forest Park, save an afternoon for the Boathouse (6101 Government Drive; 314-367-2224 or, where you can rent a boat ($15 an hour) and row out to the Grand Basin near the Saint Louis Art Museum, then head back for lunch. Here's a trick: Put your name on the list for a table before you row; wait times can be lengthy.

Your June south-side tour should include two key stops: Tower Grove Park (4256 Magnolia Avenue) and the Missouri Botanical Garden (4344 Shaw Boulevard; 314-577-9400 or Visit the garden on Wednesday nights for the Whitaker Music Festival, the venerable free concert series that begins its fourteenth season on June 4 with Erin Bode and continues every Wednesday through August 13. Shows begin at 7:30 p.m. While there are dozens of great dining options in the area, it is a terrific idea to get there early, grab a good spot on the lawn and enjoy a picnic (though food and drink are available for purchase).

June is also a wonderful month to visit Tower Grove Park on a Saturday to find locally grown food and locally made goods at the Tower Grove Farmers' Market & Bazaar. Or you can grab Sunday brunch at Café Madeleine, located in the stunningly restored Piper Palm House. The market ( is free, and you'll want to make reservations for Café Madeleine (314-575-5658).

The Fourth of July falls on a Friday this year, which makes Fair Saint Louis and Live on the Levee a massive weekend of food, drink, live music and fireworks. The fair starts at 10 a.m. on Independence Day and concludes at 9:15 p.m. with a supersonic fireworks display launched from the Mississippi River.

The next night features the Anthony Hamilton concert at 8 p.m. The Live on the Levee free music series began in 2005 and has featured acts as varied as Ani DiFranco and Bruce Hornsby. Concerts are every Friday and Saturday night from July 4 through August 2. You can find more information for both events at or 314-434-3434.

Now that you're touring downtown, take a tour of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery to celebrate 2008 as the 75th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition (South 12th and Lynch streets, On Bastille Day weekend (Sunday, July 13; Bastille Day is Monday, July 14), celebrate your city's French heritage, and watch the Tour de Soulard bicycle race. St. Louis is home to top-flight cycling races all summer (check for details), and the Tour de Soulard is a great way to gear up (no pun intended) for the Tour of Missouri in September.

Make your return trip to Tower Grove Park in August for the annual Festival of Nations, a two-day free outdoor festival organized by the International Institute of St. Louis. This is the only place where you'll find food of every origin — Bosnian, Thai, Ethiopian, Brazilian and 30-some more — in one place at one time. It's best to pace yourself. Luckily, the flamenco-dancing lessons and the Scottish caber toss will help you burn off the extra calories from the baklava and burritos. The Festival of Nations runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, August 23, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, August 24.

August 23 marks the start of National Bowling Week. That's right: It's time for a weeklong bowling tour. Start by paying your respects at the International Bowling Museum & Hall of Fame (111 Stadium Plaza; 314-231-6340 or Then and hit up Saratoga Lanes in Maplewood (2725 Sutton Boulevard; 314-645-5308); it's reportedly the oldest bowling alley west of the Mississippi.

What would summer be without cinema? If you're looking for something to do in August — or any month this summer, for that matter — you can catch 200 free movies presented by Frontyard Features ( The FYF project began in May and seeks to merge great films with great neighborhoods. August features include A Streetcar Named Desire in Tower Grove Park, Caddyshack at Soulard Market Park and Be Kind Rewind in Gravois Park. Films begin after sunset; check the Web site for dozens of dates and films not listed here.

The Greater St. Louis Hispanic Festival runs from Friday, September 5, through Sunday, September 7, at World War Memorial Park (Market and 14th Street). This three-day celebration is a great cap to a long summer, where you can feel free to sit, relax, dance like crazy, listen to mariachi bands and sip cold cervezas in the sun. It's free, except for the food and cervezas. See for more information.

We finish our tour just in time to see the end of the Tour of Missouri, a world-class cycling event now in its second year. The final stage of the race is in St. Louis on Sunday, September 14; last year Alberto Contador competed, fresh from his yellow-jersey win at the Tour de France. American George Hincapie — a former lieutenant to some guy named Lance Armstrong — won last year's inaugural run. Will he repeat? Will another armadillo sabotage the event? Stay tuned to for details.