Tag Archives: city life

The St. Louis Arch Is Turning Fifty

Have you been to the Arch half a dozen times? Or never been before?

Now might be a good time to plan a visit, because this iconic St. Louis monument is turning fifty next week!

The Gateway Arch’s official birthday is being recognized on Wednesday, October 28, the day the final section of steel was put in place. If you can make it out for the 11 a.m. ceremony commemorating the event, you might land yourself a free cupcake. But even if you don’t, you can take advantage of dollar rides to the top of the Arch all day.

If you’re free this Saturday (the 24th), head to Kiener Plaza downtown for the Arch 50 Fest. I read there will be lots of food, children’s activities, and a fireworks display to cap it off at the end of the night.

Either way you slice it, these are two prime opportunities to get out and connect with your inner St. Louisan.

Know Before You Go

Before embarking on adventure to visit this historic monument, why not brush up on your history of it?

The Gateway Arch website has a neat, concise timeline with several  highlights from the Arch’s storied past. For instance, did you know the idea behind having  a monument on the St. Louis riverfront dates back to 1933?

Additionally, note that entry to both Arch 50 Fest (Saturday, Oct. 24) and the Recognition and Birthday Ceremony (Wednesday, Oct. 28) is free.

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Symphony in the Park

With leaves changing and temperatures dropping, I see this post as a sort of summer send-off. A farewell-for-now recap of one beautiful, warm evening in September.

It was a Tuesday, and I was so excited because this night had been planned for nearly a week. While combing the internet for an inexpensive date ideas, I’d stumbled upon a slew of options, one of them being a free concert in Forest Park. And not just any concert..

A St. Louis Symphony Orchestra concert.

My husband and I are great appreciators of the Symphony; not only for the enriching cultural experience and the wonderful performances, but also for the reminder of our engagement. We attended the 2013 New Year’s Eve Celebration the night we became engaged.

So having the opportunity to see the Symphony again, for free, outdoors, in a world-class parkit was all rather appealing. And did I mention there were also going to be fireworks?

A Matter of Parking

As the concert was scheduled to begin at 7, we wanted to arrive early enough to find parking (a considerable challenge for Forest Park at times) and secure good seats on Art Hill. We arrived at least forty minutes early and found parking about three quarters of a mile away.

There were many more people than I had expected. But hey, it is the Symphony. Droves of cars entered the park single file, pushing as far inward as possible before finding somewhere to pull off.

Cars Parked for St. Louis Symphony Concert

Nathan grabbed the picnic basket, and we joined the steady stream of concertgoers filtering from their vehicles and onto the sidewalks. It was a gorgeous night for a walk, with clear skies, little to no wind, and temps hovering around the high 70s to low 80s.

When we finally crested a hill that revealed the full view of Art Hill, we could see a large dome had been erected for the Symphony to play in, and the lawn was beginning to get crowded. Even so, we found space in the grass to spread a blanket and settle in for the night’s events.

Concertgoers on Art Hill

 

Enjoying Our View from Art Hill

Picnic Possibilities

One of the perks of this being an outdoor concert was, the sky really was the limit as to your food choices and what you could bring. Nathan had stopped at Sam’s Club and brought plates and silverware from home. Below, you can see our delectable dinner. Turkey salad wraps with pineapple, anyone?

Turkey Salad Wraps and Pineapple

Also, a good picnic basket, tote, or other structured bag is a great idea if you plan on attending any outdoor event like this. Ours held food, a bottle of wine (entirely permissible in Forest Park), bottled water, plus plates and silverware.

Picnic Basket

Music

The concert was a preview of sorts of the upcoming 2015-2016 schedule. If any theme could be picked out from the music, I’d say patriotic and upbeatwe heard tunes including “St. Louis Blues March” and “America the Beautiful.”

My absolute favorite, however, was John Williams’ “Flying Theme from E.T.” Imagine sitting under the stars at Forest Park with the uplifting, energetic, yet almost ethereal quality of that live performance. It was something I’ll never forget.

Symphony Playing at Night

By the way, if you’re sad you missed that, just wait until April. Then, you can attend a screening of the movie, and the Symphony will be playing the entire score live.

Oh, and I couldn’t forget…

The Fireworks

The show ended with a pretty spectacular fireworks display, complete with a frenzying finale.

Couple Watching Fireworks

 

Fireworks at Forest Park

What a way to cap off the summer.

 

Know Before You Go

While the concert covered in this post has already come and gone, check out the Symphony’s website for a list of upcoming, and entirely free, concerts.

The calendar extends from this month all the way through next spring, so there are plenty of opportunities to experience world class music.

Venues, orchestration, and music will vary from event to event, so plan ahead and catch the one you think you’ll enjoy the most. Or, go outside the box and catch one of the more unique concerts, like one on January 14, 2016, featuring just the Symphony’s trombonists.

Minding My Own Latte: Comet Coffee & Microbakery

In today’s post, I’m going to highlight a recent find in my exploration of St. Louis: Comet Coffee & Microbakery

In all honesty, I’m still acquiring a taste for coffee. I remember managing to make myself drink a strong cup o’ joe after an early morning cross country meet, but to make it palatable, I had to slather the inside of my cup with sugar and creamer first.

And I have to admit, I still haven’t progressed much past that point.

However, spending a recent Friday afternoon at Comet Coffee & Microbakery may have helped tipped the scales in favor of a less is more approach.

Coffee Art

With the Help of Yelp

I had been planning for awhile to spend an afternoon hidden somewhere in the recesses of a coffee shop doing some reading, writing, and future planning.

The problem was deciding where to go: Should I go somewhere I’m familiar with? Some place where I already know what to expect? Or somewhere new that would expand my horizons of St. Louis?

In the end, my curiosity for exploring won out.

Since I didn’t have any coffee shops sitting on my list of need-to-visit places, I turned to Yelp to explore my choices. If you’re not familiar with Yelp, this website functions as a sort of “Facebook for recommendations.” Users can post pictures, reviews, and other information about a variety of businessesrestaurants, hotels, nail salons, attractions. You name it, you’ll likely find a review of it on Yelp.

One little shop, Comet Coffee, intrigued me because it appeared again and again as I refined and tweaked my Yelp searches. I ended up reading some reviews and perusing their website, which further convinced me that a visit would be necessary.

One Friday Afternoon

After running errands all morning long, not too long ago, I needed a place where I could go clear my head and think. And get a coffee. I remembered back to my prior searching, and to double check my options, I even asked Siri on my iPhone, “Where can I find good coffee in St. Louis?” As you can see, Siri confirmed what I’d found from my research.

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With this destination in mind, I set the GPS and headed out.

When I came in, I was immediately greeted by the barista behind the counter. Which highlights one thing I would repeatedly note about this placethe level of customer service. These people strongly impressed upon me that they know what they’re doing, they’re passionate about it, and they’re eager to share that passion with others. I was open about my lack of coffee knowledge, but after asking a few questions, the barista guided me toward two latte choices I might enjoy.

A homemade caramel latte. Twelve ounces of pure, steaming joy. It may not be the official description of this drink, but it’s an accurate summation of what I was served. And it came complete with coffee art.

To satiate the hunger pangs I was beginning to feel at this point, I also bought a slice of spinach and cheese quiche made by the resident pastry chef (who, I also learned, went through the pastry program offered at St. Louis Community College. Double score for this place using local talent). It was promptly warmed up and delivered to me at the street-facing counter where I’d taken up residence.

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It turns out that Comet Coffee is located across the highway from Forest Park. Unfortunately I couldn’t see much of the park, but it was nice to sit and take in some sunshine and some of the outside happenings. I sat at that counter for quite some time, slowly enjoying my latte, quiche, and a local magazine I’d also picked up. I also got to enjoy other curiosities, like a robin poking its way through the flowerbeds in search of a meal.

A robin outside of Comet Coffee in St. Louis.

A Bonus

About halfway through my visit, as I was absorbed in my reading (and my playlist), the barista approached me with a surprise. She’d prepared the other latte she had recommended! I enjoyed a second (this time vanilla) latte compliments of Comet Coffee.

I certainly can’t promise you’ll get free coffee for visiting, but it really was a nice gesture. And next time, I think I will go with the vanilla.

 

Know Before You Go

The following information was up-to-date as of the publication date of this blog post.

Comet Coffee & Microbakery

Phone: 314-932-7770

Address: 5708 Oakland Ave, St. Louis, MO 63110

Website: http://cometcoffeestl.com/

Finding Myself in St. Louis

Well, well, well.

It’s been a few months. A lot has changed. I’m no longer in northcentral Illinois; I’ve made the move to the outskirts of the one and only STL. It’s been a crazy transition, but now that I’m getting settled, I’m getting that itch to explore. Not that I haven’t been exploring–I’ve run around Creve Couer Lake, feasted at Bandana’s Barbeque, watched fireworks framed by the Arch, stood too close to the speakers at two concerts (Josh Turner and Needtobreathe), tasted a few area wines. It’s been a rich experience so far in the time I’ve spent here. Life near a culture hub is much, much different from small town life. Comparing the two would be like comparing a grape to a watermelon.

The title of the post isn’t so much about finding myself in St. Louis. It’s more like I’ve been dreaming the past few months and suddenly snap awake, and voila, I’m in St. Louis. Life’s twists and turns have brought me here, and as I have this blessing of venturing out on my own for the first time, this seems like a pretty good place to start.

I’ll post again soon.