So I don’t know about you, but given the option between going somewhere and staying home, I usually opt to stay home. It’s not that I don’t like going places and doing things, but it often overwhelming and unpredictable. Also, home has Netflix, snacks, and my heating pad. Don’t judge! There are places that I genuinely enjoy going, and I think it’s mostly due to the fact that I live in a largish city with a ton of options. Statically I have to like some of them, right? Now clearly, if you don’t live in St. Louis, me only giving St. Louis centric examples isn’t going to be all that interesting for you, so I figure, I’ll start off in broad terms, and then I’ll share a little bit about my city! Maybe even entice you to visit, eh?
1: Taking a walk: I like this one because it’s pretty accessible. I don’t have to drive anywhere if I don’t want to, and even if I’m having a bad health day, I can usually still manage to get around my block. It might take me half an hour and require 4 breaks, but I can do it! Being outside makes me happy, as long as the weather’s decent, and if I go alone, I can listen to music! Walking with other people is nice too, it’s just different. If I’m okay with the time commitment, there’s a park about 20 minutes away that I love. It’s a sculpture park, so you’re taking a lovely walk, and you’re surrounded by art, sounds damn near perfect, am I right? One of my favorite pieces is made of recycled oil drums, and is almost 3 stories high! I’m also a collector, so I always come home with pockets full of pine cones, cool leaves, and rocks that look like platypuses. It doesn’t have to be platypuses, any semi-aquatic mammal will do.
2: Museums: I’m a life long learner, so any place where I get to absorb new information into my cranium is an instant win for me. Museums also take care of my earlier complaints about outings being unpredictable and overwhelming- museums, even ones with rotating exhibits, are very similar visit to visit, and they are also much quieter and less bright than other indoor activities. Granted, this is not always true. St. Louis’s most famous museum is the City Museum, which is like a giant adult sized playground, complete with 3 story slide! It will suck out all the energy that you have, and probably some you didn’t even know was there, but it is totally worth it, even if takes a week to recover from. A less extreme example and my personal favorite is the Science Museum. Most of their permanent exhibits are super hands-on, and they have great touring exhibits-right now it’s King Tut! They also have a planetarium and an IMAX theatre, this year I’ve seen The Terra Cotta Army, and Extreme Weather! They also have a terrific Black Friday membership sale! And saying I’m a Museum member sounds so adult.
3: Bookstores: While a trip to the store usually leaves me tired and a little overstimulated, there’s one type that doesn’t: bookstores. I’m a voracious reader that comes from a family of readers. Our bathrooms have always had stacks of books in progress, and you’ll usually find us reading the backs of cereal boxes and breakfast. My grandparents lived halfway across the country from us, but when we visited, my grandmother would take us to the bookstore and buy us as many books as we wanted! I wish someone would do that for me now. I find wandering through shelf after shelf of books relaxing, and there’s something thrilling about pulling a book off a shelf, knowing it might become your new favorite. These days, being a broke twentysomething, I love the chain bookstore Half Priced Books. Most of their stock is under $10, and while you probably won’t find anything written in the last year, you can always find a treasure. I especially like it when I find a book that someone has written, it feels extra special. St. Louis also has a bookstore called Left Bank Books, which is an amazing store in itself, but the real draw for me is their resident cat, Spike, who usually follows me around as I’m browsing. Cats and books, it doesn’t get much better than that!
4: The Zoo: Zoos are like outdoor museums, so of course they’re better sensory-wise. I love animal watching and learning about animals, and that puts the Zoo pretty high up on my list. Now granted, there are good zoos and bad zoos. I like to think that the public is starting to learn the difference, and is pressuring the bad ones to either change or give up their animals to places that can better care for them. Luckily, the St. Louis Zoo is one of the best in the country. Its work towards the conservation endangered species is top notch, and they employ a lot of really smart and caring experts to make sure that everything they do is in the best interests of the animals. Education is also important to them, especially for the next generation, which means our petting zoo and hands-on exhibits are awesome! We’ve got an adorable baby rhino this year, and Zoo Lights is coming up, where they deck out the Zoo in Christmas Lights and teach everyone about arctic animals like penguins and polar bears. It’s definitely an experience.
5: Live Performances: There’s are pros and cons to living in a city, but I’ve gotta say, one of the things that I love most is all the opportunities to see live performances. I’m a band geek and a theatre nerd at heart, and I get to indulge that so often, SO OFTEN, that I don’t know what to do with myself sometimes. I find that there’s something special about watching people perform live, whether it’s a play, a poetry reading, an orchestra, or a rock band. I get out of my head, I get goosebumps, I get the feels. The highlights of St. Louis’s performance scene are The Fabulous Fox, that gets the major tours of Broadway Musicals, Powell Hall, where the Youth Orchestra plays for free multiple times year, The MUNY, an outdoor amphitheater, which hosts more local theatre companies, and venues like The Pageant, The Ready Room, and The Sheldon, where I’ve seen bands like Tegan and Sara, Against Me! and a live recording of Welcome to Nightvale. For me, the stress of the crowds and the risk of things being too loud it worth it to be a part of something that moves me.
So, these are a few of my favorite outings and places! I hope me talking up my city wasn’t too boring, and maybe it’ll give you an incentive to visit one day! I’d love to hear places that you like to go or awesome things about your hometown!