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Summer in St. Louis: Have an Adventure 

It's summer in St. Louis! The sunny skies, the days that seem to go on forever, the humidity that makes your hair do that dumb thing despite your best efforts — it's finally happening.

But how to celebrate? The city is full of options. You just gotta know where to look, what to do — and just as importantly, what not to do. For instance, don't freak out when you hear gunshots. That's the soundtrack of the city, baby.

Your mission, should you, ahem, choose to accept it, is to have the perfect summer day. There are wrong turns and bad ideas around every corner (and, around one, even an ill-behaved beer baron — it's St. Louis, after all). But if you keep your head and choose wisely, you'll learn to dance to the rhythm of those gunshots. And that's what this city is all about — well, that and the high school question.

Start by choosing one of the options below, then follow the instructions underneath (don't even try skimming ahead with the "full text" version, you sneaky peekies). Simple!

Now, let's start your adventure!

You wake up with a start — there's a construction crew hammering away, right outside your window. Ah, summer in the city!

You roll out of bed. You're off work today, and as you look out the window, you see there's not a cloud in the sky. The whole day stretches before you.

But first, what are you going to have for breakfast?

How about browsing the stalls for some fresh food? If you choose to head to the Soulard Farmers' Market for breakfast, turn to page 2.

A tasty omelet at a Central West End cafe sounds delicious right about now! If you choose to eat breakfast at Cafe Osage, turn to page 3.

Breakfast? You mean booze, right? If you choose to down some eye-opener shots in your kitchen before heading off to Southwest Diner for a whole mess of bloody marys and day drinking, turn to page 4.

There is some old Imo's in the fridge; that'll surely suffice for sustenance. If you choose to slam some cold pizza down your gullet before heading to Forest Park to bomb the streets around Art Hill on your skateboard, turn to page 5.

You choose to head to the Soulard Farmers' Market for some fresh, locally sourced food.

The Soulard Farmers Market (730 Carroll Street) has been drawing St. Louisans to the city's historic French neighborhood for nearly 250 years. That's not a typo — the market was founded in 1779, during St. Louis' brief period under Spanish rule. It's become a year-round destination, offering several quick-service eateries in addition to everything from fresh produce to a deli to a spice shop.

The abundance of nutrients found here has left you feeling energized and vigorous. Where to next?

A feast for the mind would hit the spot after that feast for the body. If you choose to thumb through some pages at Subterranean Books, turn to page 6.

Perhaps a stroll through a garden of far less edible but no less gorgeous plant life is in order? If you choose to head to the Missouri Botanical Garden, turn to page 7.

You choose to eat breakfast at Cafe Osage.

One of the loveliest daytime spots in the city, Cafe Osage (4605 Olive Street, 314-454-6868) offers fresh fare directly from its owners' farm in Clarksville, Missouri. You enjoy a shrimp omelet with boursin cheese and avocado in a light-filled space adjacent to a garden shop. After you pay up (your bill is delivered in a charmingly low-tech hardcover book), you mosey on across the street to Holliday (4600 Olive Street, 314-454-5858) to check out what's for sale at the home and gift store, located in what used to be a 1920s market.

No good St. Louis summer day would be complete without a trip to Forest Park, and it's right around the corner! But what to do?

If you choose to go for a jog through the park's scenic running trails, turn to page 8.

If you choose to head to the zoo to gawk at some animals, turn to page 9.

You choose to celebrate this summer day in true St. Louis fashion: day drinking! After slamming a couple of shots at home you head out for bloody marys at Southwest Diner.

With a vibe straight out of Arizona and terrifically spicy selections, Southwest Diner (6803 Southwest Avenue, 314-260-7244) is almost always packed during brunch hours. The good news: There's a waiting room for that, and it's an adorable refurbished school bus. Chilling out in one of its banquettes, you could enjoy a coffee. But why not instead suck down a bloody mary (or several)? Served with a salted rim, they bring the heat ... and the booze buzz. Ahh, summer bliss!

All that vodka has enlivened your senses and bamboozled your brains — a feeling that reminds you of one of St. Louis' most beloved institutions. If you choose to have some drunken daytime fun at the City Museum, turn to page 10.

Those salted rims left you mighty thirsty — or maybe you're just really feeling the day-drinking thing today? If you choose to head to Hammerstone's to keep the good times rolling with a few pints, turn to page 11.

You choose to stuff your face with leftover Imo's (tasty!) and head to Forest Park to bomb the streets around Art Hill on your skateboard.

Bad move. The park is packed, and Art Hill has more traffic than you might see all summer. Stressed-out county moms in their minivans are all desperately angling for that last free curbside spot. As you skate, you're hit by a Ford Expedition trying to back in while three kids in the back fight over an iPad.

You tumble over the vehicle and into the street, where you're hit by a Chrysler Pacifica, with yet more kids squawking in the back seat. And just as you stagger to your feet, a literal nightmare screeches before you: A Chevy Traverse with Illinois plates and a Joy FM sticker. There's no way you can survive this encounter. You stumble to your knees and beg God to forgive you your sins, because your life is over.

Better luck next time. Try again by restarting on page 1.

You choose to head to the Loop to pick up some new literature at Subterranean Books, you sophisticated brainiac.

One of the city's great independent bookstores, Subterranean Books (6275 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-862-6100) offers a perfectly curated selection of buzzy bestsellers and literary favorites behind glass windows facing the Loop's street parade. You duck inside for a good children's book or that collection of music criticism — they specialize in both. You also pet Teddy, the shop dog and rising social media star.

But oh no! Upon leaving you accidentally make eye contact with a busker wheezing away on a brass instrument, cap overturned for your consideration. You have a conscience, but Judas himself would leap onto a cross if it meant getting away from this needy trumpeter's toots. How are you going to get out of this one?

If you grudgingly throw some change at King Tootenkamen while fleeing in search of a peaceful meal, turn to page 13.

If you choose to beat a hasty retreat by hopping on the nearest trolley, turn to page 14.

You choose to go for a stroll in the gorgeous Missouri Botanical Garden.

A true gem located in the heart of the city's Shaw neighborhood, the Missouri Botanical Garden (4344 Shaw Boulevard, 314-577-5100) offers 79 acres of horticulture, with gardens influenced by Japan, China and more. It's way too hot for the Climatron, but its tropical rainforest (and spectacular waterfall) still beckons. You're good and sweaty by the time you finish your walk and head back to your car.

As you approach, you can't help but notice that your tags expired more than a month ago — and there's a St. Louis cop pulling up in his cruiser. Oh no! Could you be about to get ticketed? What to do?

Dude, this is St. Louis. The cops don't care about expired tags. If you smile at the cop and head off to Pappy's for some barbecue, turn to page 18.

Dude, seriously. The cops have better things to do, but that doesn't mean you're going to make nice. If you ignore the officer and make your way to the Royale, turn to page 15.

You choose to go for a jog through Forest Park.

As a good St. Louisan, you love to brag that Forest Park is bigger than Central Park — but, hey, it's true! With 1,300 acres, it's got everything from golf to paddleboats, and hosts the Saint Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Science Center and the Saint Louis Art Museum. A paved trail looping through the park is a great choice for a 5.6-mile run; you begin and end at the Missouri History Museum.

All that exercise helped you work up a serious appetite. Where to now?

Oh yeah, the Missouri History Museum is one of the Loop Trolley stops! If you choose to hop on the trolley and head to the Loop for some grub, turn to page 14.

Why leave the park? The Boathouse is run by those Sugarfire folks now — if you choose to get some food there, turn to page 22.

You choose to head to the zoo to stare at some animals.

The Saint Louis Zoo (Government Drive, 314-781-0900) doesn't charge admission, which leaves more money for a snow cone once you're there. You're enthralled by the sea lions' glassed-in underground tunnel, the riverwalk with the hippo display and the new grizzly bear exhibit. And while you may think they're joking when they tell you not to touch the penguins at the Penguin and Puffin Coast, they really are that close. You end up getting soaked by their splashing — but they're so cute, you don't even care.

"Can you believe this amazing zoo is free?" you enthuse to no one in particular.

But you've failed to spot the TV reporter lurking just behind the penguin exit, seeking interviews for his latest segment. "People say the zoo is free, but property taxes mean you're actually contributing $22 million a year to its upkeep," the man solemnly intones, then shoves a microphone in your face. "You paid for it. What do you say to that?"

"Fuck off, Elliott Davis," you snap. Drenched with penguin water and sticky from your snow cone, you definitely weren't ready for that closeup! "Let the whole city go to shit. Without a free zoo, would this really be St. Louis?"

Time to shove off, but where to next?

A heart-stopping BLT and a ton of chocolate will surely fill the void. If you choose to head to Crown Candy Kitchen for lunch, turn to page 17.

A burger sounds tasty! If you choose to get some food at Mac's Local Eats, turn to page 21.

You choose to head to the City Museum — always a great choice.

The brainchild of the late genius Bob Cassilly, the City Museum (750 North 16th Street, 314-231-2489) has been the pride of St. Louis — and a first-call pick for dazzling out-of-towners — since its opening in 1997. More eclectic-playground-meets-art-installation than a proper museum, it's five floors of slides, caves, interactive sculptures and decommissioned airplanes that awaken your child within. With the opening of its new Artquarium, the ever-evolving space brings another reason to make a repeat visit.

All that time spent falling off slides and dodging projectiles in the oversized ball pit has left you feeling peckish. Where to now?

A little BBQ sounds delicious. If you choose to head to Pappy's for lunch, turn to page 18.

Maybe you like salt-crusted, bread-based snacks? If you choose to eat at Gus' Pretzels, turn to page 19.

You choose to hoist some pints at Hammerstone's.

Ah, day drinking in Soulard! The doors at Hammerstone's (2028 South Ninth Street, 314-773-5565) open at 6:30 a.m. on weekdays (8 a.m. on Saturday) and the booze starts flowing immediately thereafter. The patio has its own bar, perfect for gorgeous summer days when you want the drinks to come in a hurry. And you want. "Waiter," you beckon, "bring me a bucket."

Hours sail by. Bucket kicked, you briefly lay your head on the table ... only to see something fly by in the sky. Was it a cardinal? Was it a hot air balloon? Or was it a queenly woman in a ballgown surfing by on a flying carpet? Either you've just spied local legend Becky Queen of Carpet or you've drunk way too much. Maybe both are true.

At this point you have a stomach full of suds and a brain full of booze. What to do next?

Something to soak up some of this alcohol is definitely in order. If you choose to head to Gus' Pretzels, turn to page 19.

Let's keep it going! McGurk's has a great patio and is only a short stumble away. If you choose to head there for more drinks, turn to page 20.

Certain the mean streets of Dogtown have claimed another victim, you choose to duck. But the joke's on you; no one ever gets shot in this part of the city. As you catch your breath, you realize you were too hasty. Fireworks crackle from a nearby backyard as you dust asphalt off your pants.

Unfortunately, though, your rapid duck-and-cover caught the eye of two beefy St. Louis cops. They come at you, badges glinting in the midday heat.

"That's the little shitbird we were looking for," one says, while the other whips out his nightstick.

Within minutes you're surrounded by a whole squadron of cops demanding you leave while not allowing you to do so. Helpless in the face of their impromptu kettle, you're beaten mercilessly and carted off to the Workhouse.

After the Post-Dispatch covers your arrest, your mean MAGA aunt posts some variation of "play stupid games, win stupid prizes" on Facebook without reading the article, much less realizing it's about you. You spend the next fourteen months in jail, breathing black mold and waiting desperately for someone to post bond. Meanwhile, every police officer involved gets a raise.

Better luck next time. Try again by restarting on page 1.

You choose to give money to the busker. You find his songs "hypnotizing," and soon you've parted with far more cash than you expected. Lunch is going to have to be on the cheap side.

Luckily, Burger King rolled out the meatless "Impossible" Whopper at its St. Louis locations — and only its St. Louis locations — earlier this year. (The national rollout happens later this year.) You're as red-blooded as the next St. Louisan, but the plant-based substitute looks, and tastes, almost exactly like the real thing; it even bleeds. Burger King's Delmar location isn't fancy, but it's hard to beat $5.49 for a burger that could save the world.

With lunch this cheap, you've still got some scratch left even after paying for that street entertainment. Charity need not keep you from consumerism. Shopping is in order! Where do you want to go?

Target is the best! To go shopping at the Brentwood Promenade, turn to page 24.

Shopping local would be even better. To head to Cherokee Street's antique row, turn to page 36.

You choose to catch a ride on the Loop Trolley.

Aaaaannnd, you wait. And wait some more. The seasons change, then change again, and again and again. The skin on your bones loosens as the years drag on and your life passes you by, and still you wait.

Did an accident prevent the hapless choo choo's arrival? Did it break down again? Maybe a cyclist hit the tracks and went ass-over-tea-kettle into the old-timey windshield? Is it possible that the Hand of the Almighty reached down from the clouds and crushed the trolley into dust? The reason doesn't matter; the result is the same: You wait for the rest of your natural life, hopelessly untrolleyed, until death grants you sweet relief.

Better luck next time. Try again by restarting on page 1.

ILLUSTRATION BY SEAN DOVE
  • ILLUSTRATION BY SEAN DOVE

You choose to get some grub at the Royale.

A neighborhood bar in every sense, the Royale (3132 South Kingshighway, 314-772-3600) is a chill spot for eating, drinking and whiling away the hours. The large back patio is a great spot when it's not too hot, but the booths inside are also perfect for sharing a drink and a secret. One thing's for sure: At this south-city hub, you almost always run into someone you know.

Go figure: After you finish eating, you spot an old friend from high school across the bar. Do you go talk to them?

Sure, it's been so long! If you choose to go chat with your old high school friend, turn to page 26.

Dear God, no, who would want to talk to any of those people? If you choose to run from the building and hop blindly on the nearest bus headed anywhere but here, turn to page 25.

You choose to eat some barbecue at Salt + Smoke.

Salt + Smoke (6525 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-727-0200) offers top-notch brisket and a terrific collection of whiskey, but it's the white-cheddar cracker mac that haunts your dreams. Topped with crushed Ritz crackers and laden with cheese, you can't stop eating it. At least you're getting fresh air while you stuff your face — you claim a seat right there along the sidewalk.

After you eat your weight in deliciousness, rather than give in to your food coma, why not see what the rest of the Loop has to offer?

A movie sounds fun! To catch a flick at the Tivoli, turn to page 29.

There's been talk of this whole Loop Trolley thing for so many years, maybe it's time to give it a spin. To wait at a nearby stop for it to arrive, turn to page 14.

You choose to eat lunch at Crown Candy.

Crown Candy Kitchen (1401 St. Louis Avenue, 314-621-9650) has been a destination in Old North for pretty much its entire century of life. Lines snake around the block on weekends for a taste of the Karandzieff family's soups and sandwiches — including the famously "heart-stopping" BLT. If your ticker can survive the experience, you might as well load up some candy while you're there. That shuddering you feel in your chest? That's no heart attack. It's just nostalgia and near-lethal levels of sugar.

The sun is shining and your belly is full. Where to now?

Take me out to the ball game! If you choose to head to Busch Stadium to watch the Cardinals slay their opponents, turn to page 27.

There are some great flicks at the Tivoli this week. To catch a movie, turn to page 29.

You choose to eat lunch at Pappy's.

The barbecue joint that kicked off St. Louis' new wave of smoked meat excellence, Pappy's (3106 Olive Street, 314-535-4340) always has a long line of customers queuing up for its 'cue, which includes terrific pulled pork and what the Travel Channel calls the best ribs in America.

Alas, you've made the rookie mistake of failing to call in for a carry-out order, which would have let you skip the line — this could take a while. But wait: Is that your old high school friend standing near the front?

If you choose to speak to your old high school friend in an attempt to skip to the front of the line, turn to page 26.

If you choose to jump ship and get your 'cue at Salt + Smoke instead, turn to page 16.

You choose to eat some salted dough at Gus' Pretzels.

For 99 years, Gus' Pretzels (1820 Arsenal Street, 314-664-4010) has been serving up its salted sticks in the shadow of the Anheuser-Busch brewery. Locals swear by the pretzel sandwiches, stuffed with bratwurst, hot dogs or salsiccia. Where Gus' is concerned, your body is an endlessly welcoming wonderland.

With a stomach full of tasty eats, maybe a little exercise is in order. Why not play a game?

Sports that encourage drinking are the finest sports of them all. To head to Milo's Tavern for a little bocce ball, turn to page 23.

It's all the more fun when those sports involve sharp objects. To go to the Landing for a little bit of axe throwing, turn to page 38.

You choose to head to McGurk's for more drinks.

There's scarcely a better patio in the world than the one at John D. McGurk's (1200 Russell Boulevard, 314-776-8309). It's 15,000 square feet and has no less than three outdoor bars. And did we mention the waterfall? It has that too.

But you've been drinking since the moment you woke up and you haven't eaten a damn thing, you rank amateur. You pass out in the middle of Russell Boulevard on the way to the bar.

Drooling onto your T-shirt, babbling about Bread Co.'s bread-sliced bagels, you barely know what hits you. News flash: It's a parade of golf carts driven by party-loving Soulard bros. You are dead.

Better luck next time. Try again by restarting on page 1.

ILLUSTRATION BY SEAN DOVE
  • ILLUSTRATION BY SEAN DOVE

You choose to go to Mac's Local Eats for lunch.

Bars are an unusual place to find nose-to-tail cooking, but hidden within Dogtown's Tamm Avenue Grill (1227 Tamm Avenue, 314-479-8155) is one of the best burgers in town. Walk to the humble order counter in the back of the barroom, and Mac's Local Eats is serving up smash burgers that aren't just tasty but made with meat that's been sustainably, and humanely, raised. Push past the dudes at the bar and grab a table in the adjoining room to enjoy them, along with an order of "rip fries," dusted with heat from Red Hot Riplets.

Damn, that was a good burger. But as you leave the bar, a series of sharp cracks fills the air. You have only seconds to react. What do you do?

Gunfire!!! You can't wait to express your thoughts on NextDoor on how the city's going to hell. If you're frightened by more proof of St. Louis' general lawlessness and quickly duck behind a car, turn to page 12.

Ha! It's Dogtown. Those are clearly fireworks. If you shrug and head to Milo's Tavern for a little day-drinking and bocce, turn to page 23.

You choose to get some food at the Boathouse.

Now under the more-than-capable management of the Sugarfire Smoke House team, the Boathouse at Forest Park (6101 Government Drive, 314-366-1555) isn't just a pretty place to eat lunch — it's a downright delicious one. You could order anything from soups and sandwiches and fish tacos to a mezze platter and an entree of bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin. It's also got two new bars, a fire pit and grab-and-go offerings if you want to venture further into the park or onto Post-Dispatch Lake.

While you're getting your grub on, you watch people riding those standup paddleboards all around the lake. Might be fun?

If you choose to go for a ride on a paddleboard, turn to page 28.

Looks too difficult. If you choose to go to Milo's for bocce ball instead, turn to page 23.

You choose to head to Milo's Tavern for some bocce ball.

If you're into sports you can play with a beer in your hand, denizens of the city's Hill neighborhood would recommend bocce — and they'd tell you the best place to play it is Milo's Tavern (5201 Wilson Avenue, 314-776-0468). There are three generations of Italians rolling balls into the end zone. You excitedly join in.

Luck is on your side; you expertly defeat your fellow bargoers. Where will you go to celebrate your victory?

A concert sounds like fun. To go to the Fabulous Fox Theatre, turn to page 35.

Let's keep this winning streak going! Your friend invited you to a trivia event for charity at a local church. To show off your mental prowess after that display of physical skill, turn to page 34.

You choose to go shopping at Brentwood Plaza.

You wanted to pick up some sensible slacks at Target, a bunch of gag gifts at Five Below and some mochi rice nuggets at Trader Joe's. But when you try to leave the parking lot you end up trapped in its infamously poor design and nightmarish traffic, taunted by the irony of the Eager Road sign. You drive aimlessly, hallucinating that the next left turn must be an on-ramp to I-64 — but it's just Eager Road, again and again. You look out your window, and a six-inch-tall Chuck Berry is pissing on your side-mirror. Time stops, and yet your ice cream continues to melt. There's no way to get out of this jam alive.

Better luck next time. Try again by restarting on page 1.

You choose to hop on the nearest bus.

You're lucky there was a stop close to the bar — that was a close one! But no sooner have you taken your seat than you espy a TV news truck just outside your window. The driver is gunning to keep up with the bus, and a well-dressed reporter is hanging out the window, waving his arms and shouting questions at you and your fellow riders. "The Metro transit system cost bi-state residents $323 million this year alone," he shouts. "You paid for it. Your response?"

"Fuck off, Davis. The federal government subsidizes cars in a million different ways," you snap.

"Come again?" shouts the newsman, coat flapping out the van window as he hangs on for dear life.

What's the point of arguing with someone who can't hear you? On the other hand, shouldn't you set the record straight?

To keep lecturing the journalist on the gas and roadway subsidies that underwrite our vehicular infrastructure, turn to page 45.

It's not your job to educate anyone, and Tower Grove Park is right outside. To shed your TV tail and bail at the next stop, turn to page 31.

You choose to chat up your old high school friend.

Uh-oh, it seems the two of you had a lot of catching up to do, gossiping about former classmates and that one teacher everybody hated (you know the one). You attempt to make your exit several times, but instead get sucked into looking at pictures of their dumb wiener kids, hearing about the people in your class who died and answering invasive questions about your parents' divorce that are none of their goddamn business. Your day is shot to hell, and it's time to go home.

Moral of the story: When you see someone from high school, hide.

Better luck next time. Try again by restarting on page 1.

You choose to go to a Cardinals game.

Busch Stadium (700 Clark Avenue) is the best place in America to watch Major League Baseball (not that you're biased or anything). It's also a great place to mingle. The newish Budweiser Terrace is a 20,000-square-foot lounge area with two bars and good views of the game.

And if you're into mingling, Ballpark Village continues to get bigger and better. You're practically guaranteed to see your shittiest ex whooping it up near the PBR mechanical bull. Better head instead to BPV's brand-new Shark Bar (601 Clark Avenue Unit J, 314-581-2322). This Kansas City export offers a "retro surf theme," complete with "Beach Pail Punch."

By the seventh inning, our boys are taking a beating. You could stick it out, but you'd assuredly be dooming yourself to a traffic nightmare. What do you think?

This game is as good as over. To head to the parking lot early, turn to page 32.

Forget that, you're in this one 'til the bloody, bitter end, traffic be damned. To stay for the whole game, turn to page 39.

You choose to ride on a standup paddleboard.

As you push your way along the serene lake, a helicopter suddenly descends from the skies above. It's that wackiest member of the Busch family, taking his eight barking dogs and four loaded guns for a Xanax-fueled ride over the park (hey, beer barons like to have summer fun too!).

But the Busch heir's decision to allow Fido to take the wheel while he attempts to pick off some bullhead catfish out the window with his .357 Magnum ends up being a poor one. Whacked by his blades, you are thrown off the paddleboard and into the lake.

"Damn you, Busches!" you shout to the chopper's fleeing form. "Wasn't it enough to sell the company to the Belgians and beat up eighth graders at basketball practice? Haven't you hurt this town enough?"

There's no reply from above, and the cops lounging nearby look at you blankly. You haul yourself back onto your paddle, soaked to the bone. Time to drag your wet carcass home.

Better luck next time. Try again by restarting on page 1.

You choose to catch a movie at the Tivoli.

The Loop's movie house, the Landmark Tivoli Theatre (6350 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-727-7271), offers both arthouse fare and fun old stuff, including midnight screenings and annual Halloween showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It's nothing fancy, but the lobby offers candy, popcorn and booze — and the movie selection couldn't be better.

The movie is great, but the day's not over just yet — there's plenty of fun still to be had in this town. What to do now?

A friend invited you to a trivia event at a church, with proceeds going to charity. If you choose to flex your knowledge St. Louis style, turn to page 34.

Some live music is definitely in order tonight. To head to a concert at the Fox, turn to page 35.

You choose to ride an e-scooter to the Peter Mathews Memorial Skate Garden.

St. Louis' only public outdoor skate park, the Peter Mathews Memorial Skate Garden (4415 Morganford Road), is the work of Kingshighway Vigilante Transitions, better known as KHVT, which takes its name from the now demolished guerrilla skate park beneath the Kingshighway Bridge. Opened in 2015 and expanded in 2017, the spot counts Tony Hawk himself among its fans.

....but the skaters here do not, repeat, do not, take kindly to scooters of any variety on their ramps. Your scooter was a big mistake.

You are beaten mercilessly for your insolence. Bruised and bloody, you prepare to spend your entire bank balance on an ambulance, because that silly Lime scooter took a battering too and EMS is your only hope of getting home.

Better luck next time. Try again by restarting on page 1.

You choose to bail out of the bus and wander around Tower Grove Park for a while.

South city's crown jewel, Tower Grove Park (4256 Magnolia Avenue, 314-771-2679) offers no less than ten pavilions, three playgrounds, a splash pad, a birding habitat and plenty of athletic fields for both soccer and kickball. There are also eight pickleball courts and some really fake-looking ancient ruins, as well as speed bumps girthier than Jon Hamm's Hammaconda.

While walking through the park you spot a Lime scooter that someone foolishly left unlocked. A free ride! But if you head back to the Royale this soon, you run the risk of that old friend spotting you. Where to instead?

It might be really fun to take this thing on some ramps. If you choose to ride the scooter to the nearby Peter Mathews Memorial Skate Garden, turn to page 30.

It's a bit of a longer trek, but this thing probably has enough juice left in it to make it to Cherokee Street. If you choose to ride the scooter to Cherokee Street, turn to page 36.

You choose to leave the game early to beat traffic.

You and everyone else from St. Charles County really enjoy the uncrowded streets and lack of congestion on the way home. Sure, you could be missing the Cards coming from behind in one of those games people talk about for decades, but who cares; you're making great time! You head to your McMansion and get yourself tucked into bed before nine, you wild party animal you.

This is hardly the perfect St. Louis summer day.

Better luck next time. Try again by restarting on page 1.

You choose to attend a concert at the Pageant.

The Pageant (6161 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-726-6161) is one of the area's best mid-sized concert venues — big enough to land artists your friends have heard of, small enough that it feels remarkably intimate. And you're never more than a row or two from the bar, even if you go up to the balcony.

After the show, you're still riding high from a great game and an even better concert — this day just keeps getting better! Let's keep the good times rolling — where to next?

The Moonrise's rooftop bar is always a good time, and better still it's a short walk down the street! If you choose to get some drinks there, turn to page 44.

There's only one place to really keep the party going around here, and that's the east side. If you choose to head across the bridge to get wild in Illinois, turn to page 37.

You choose to go to a trivia event for charity.

You're flexing your trivia muscles in a gym adjacent to a church with a table of friends. You've picked the perfect St. Louis team name (Stan Musial's Ravioli Toasters, natch). But as the hours tick by, there seems to be no end in sight.

Yeah, it's a good cause, but this night is endless. You spend an interminable amount of time snacking on pretzel sticks and calling out the names of '80s TV shows and correctly matching Harry Potter characters to their respective house. But when it comes time for that pivotal question based on St. Louis history — what is Susan Blow famous for? — you, er, blow it. Your teammates get you back by bidding heavily on the auction's most expensive prize, a dinner cruise with Jeff Roorda, and they use your credit card to do it.

Guess what? You actually "win." And on the night they force you to claim your prize, you find yourself dancing cheek to cheek with the bombastic police spokesman while the big wheel keeps on turnin' for mile after mile. You plunge over the side of the riverboat, choosing hell over your hellish existence.

Better luck next time. Try again by restarting on page 1.

You choose to catch a concert at the Fox Theatre.

What could be more thrilling than the Fox Theatre (527 North Grand Boulevard, 314-534-1111)? Outfitted in over-the-top Siamese Bzyantine style, with elephants and towering columns of red and gold, the "Fabulous Fox" is a former movie palace that now hosts touring productions of Broadway shows and artists. This summer's events include Lenny Kravitz, Chicago and the Avett Brothers.

Tonight, you see the O'Jays, and you're singing "money money money" as you exit the lobby, erasing all memory of Donald Trump's run on The Apprentice that tarnished the R&B classic for you.

You're still amped up from a great night of live music and not ready to head home just yet. Where do you go?

Some frozen custard would sure hit the spot right about now. If you choose to cool down at Ted Drewes, turn to page 42.

Cool down nothing, let's keep things hot! If you choose to head to the east side and keep partying, turn to page 37.

You choose to head on over to Cherokee Street.

There's always something new — as well as lots of old things — on Cherokee. The western half of the street is filled with top-notch Mexican restaurants, bakeries and art spaces, while the eastern half is home to Antique Row, with shops perfect for long lazy afternoons of browsing. You dodge the gangs of roving ATV riders tearing ass through the streets and grab a pastry at Whisk: A Sustainable Bakeshop (2201 Cherokee Street, 314-932-5166) before heading east to browse the curios.

You run into a friend who invites you to a trivia night at a nearby church — a St. Louis tradition if ever there was one. Do you go with them?

Sure, trivia is always a good time, right? And you've been boning up on your local history. If you choose to go to trivia night, turn to page 34.

Nah, sounds fun, but there's a concert you were hoping to attend tonight. If you choose to talk your friend into heading to the Fox Theatre instead, turn to page 35.

You choose to keep the party going on the east side.

With its abundance of strip clubs and bars and a lack of anything resembling "bar time" or "last call," the east side is a frequent late-night destination for those unwilling to admit that the night is over.

But frankly, it's rarely a good idea. You soon find yourself devoid of money and far too drunk to make it home. Penniless and trapped on the unfortunate side of the Missouri/Illinois border, you curl up awkwardly in your car in the parking lot of Pop's. It's going to be long night.

Better luck next time. Try again by restarting on page 1.

You choose to hurl some axes.

One of several recreational axe-throwing spots in the St. Louis area (its sister is in St. Charles), Top Notch Axe Throwing (440 N. Fourth Street #170, 314-885-1242) lets you toss sharp objects through the air in the shadow of the Arch. Yeah, there's a safety briefing, but suffice it to say, the concept relies on its customers being reasonably sober — though they do let you bring your own beer.

You already had a fair amount of alcohol today. Maybe you should ease up around the potentially deadly weapons. But then too, where's the fun in that?

If you choose to BYOB, turn to page 43.

If you choose not to BYOB, turn to page 41.

You choose to stay for the whole game, traffic be damned.

The Cardinals win! It's a nail biter, but our boys shock the world and pull it out in the end (thanks to some clutch moves by Yadi, naturally). The crowd goes crazy, folks!

You're flying high, and there's no way in hell you're heading home just yet. Why not celebrate with a concert?

If you choose to catch some live music at the Pageant, turn to page 33.

If you choose to see a show at the Fox Theatre, turn to page 35.

You choose to dive into some fried fare at the Courtesy Diner.

Very small and fairly greasy, Courtesy Diner (3153 South Kingshighway, 314-776-9059) is the quintessential old-school diner, with prices to match. You could order a "Hoosier" or a "Hangover" slinger, both smothered in white sausage gravy, but you always opt for the original: two eggs, hash browns and hamburger with chili on top and toast on the side.

You spent the day drinking a bit too much and eating a bit too little, but you've made it safely to the welcoming bosom of one of the city's finest destinations for people who've made those exact decisions.

You pass out face-down in your slinger after only a few bites — but it's OK, the staff is used to that kinda thing.

Congrats on a day filled with wise decision-making! To land on one of two other ideal endings, start over from the beginning — and keep your wits sharp.

You choose not to bring your own beer to the axe-throwing spot.

After an hour or so of fun, you overhear another axe thrower mention she just saw Elliott Davis outside the Arch grounds, haranguing people about what they paid for its renovations.

"Fuck off, Davis," you grumble to yourself.

Minutes later, an errant throw results in a funny bounce, sending the bladed weapon flying back directly at your head! Luckily you chose not to dull your senses with yet more booze today, and you duck out of the way just in time. That was close!

ILLUSTRATION BY SEAN DOVE
  • ILLUSTRATION BY SEAN DOVE

Your heart is pounding and your adrenaline is pumping after that close call. What do you do now?

That's more than enough excitement for one day — and certainly more than enough to drink. If you choose to head to the Courtesy Diner to calm your nerves with a slinger, turn to page 40.

What a rush — you've never felt more alive! If you choose to tempt fate further with a trip to the east side, turn to page 37.

You choose to grab a tasty treat from Ted Drewes.

Everyone's favorite frozen custard stand, Ted Drewes (6726 Chippewa Street, 314-481-8652) is the biggest parking lot party in town, with more than a half-dozen order windows offering incredibly quick service and tasty treats galore. On this warm summer night, the place is positively packed. Standing in your little corner of asphalt scarfing down your "Cardinal Sin" concrete before the hot fudge melts it is an ideal way to end your perfect St. Louis day.

Just when you think the night can't get any better, a figure appears on the lot. Clad in ruby red, a resplendent crown perched atop his head, it can only be one specific St. Louis legend.

"Whaddaya say, whaddaya say?" Mister Gary calls across the parking lot, mic in hand and camera in tow. Soon you're speaking with the King of Hospitality himself about summer nights and frozen foodstuffs for the one and only Them Yo People, the city's premier man-on-the-street show. Your wit and charm on full display, you are officially a local legend yourself in no time. Your high school ex sees all from their couch and is sooooo jealous.

What could be more St. Louis than that?

Congrats on a day filled with wise decision-making! To land on one of two other ideal endings, start over from the beginning — and keep your wits sharp.

You choose to bring your own beer to the axe-throwing spot.

After an hour or so of fun, you overhear another axe-thrower mention she just saw Elliott Davis outside the Arch grounds, haranguing people about what they paid for its renovations.

"Fuck off, Elliott Davis," you think as you take a long swig of beer.

But you're so distracted by your dislike of "gotcha journalism," you don't even notice the errant throw that's resulted in a funny bounce, sending the bladed weapon flying back directly at your head!

Sadly you've had far too much to drink. You're in no state to duck, and the projectile ends up lodged in your forehead. As they pack you into an ambulance, you can hear the TV news crew outside, setting up its live shot.

"A young St. Louis resident took an axe to the head today," a familiar voice intones. "Their blood alcohol content? A near-impossible 2.8. That's several times the legal limit.

"Looks like they paid for it."

Better luck next time. Try again by restarting on page 1.

ILLUSTRATION BY SEAN DOVE
  • ILLUSTRATION BY SEAN DOVE

You choose to end your night at the Moonrise's rooftop bar.

With the world's largest manmade moon rotating overhead, an award-winning cocktail program and striking views of the city, the eighth-floor rooftop bar at the Moonrise Hotel (6177 Delmar Boulevard, 314-721-1111) is a great way to cap off a great day. Open until 2:45 a.m., it's under the same ownership as the Loop's concert venues — including the Pageant — and it's not uncommon to run into the rock stars who performed that night putting back some post-show drinks under the stars.

You make new friends with some famous folks, and you also meet Joe Edwards, who owns the hotel. You sneak into the photo that Joe poses for with the band.

And a few days later, as you amble into Blueberry Hill for some darts, you realize you've scored the ultimate proof you've made it in St. Louis: Your photo is on the wall with the rest of the rock stars and the city's last rail baron.

You've won the St. Louis summer. And with that, you've won life.

Congrats on a day filled with wise decision-making! To land on one of two other ideal endings, start over from the beginning — and keep your wits sharp.

ILLUSTRATION BY SEAN DOVE
  • ILLUSTRATION BY SEAN DOVE

You choose to stay on the bus and keep up the argument.

"Fuck off, Elliott Davis, and let the people have their buses!" you cry.

But the TV journalist is suddenly in no place to fight back. As his driver mashes the gas pedal to the floor, desperate to keep up with your bus and get the footage he needs for that night's broadcast, he hits a giant pothole. It sends the truck, and the reporter, careening into the air and on a collision course with your bus.

The impact sends you airborne. And as your body flies over Kingshighway, a tunnel of white light beckons you home. There's your Nana, your old dog Shep and Chuck Berry, may he rest in peace, waiting for you with open arms.

And framed in the very center of the tunnel is an unmistakable silhouette.

"Welcome home," he tells you. "You paid for it."

Better luck next time. Try again by restarting on page 1.

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August 12, 2020

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