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Travel: Tourists are not the only ones exploring St. Louis

Thursday, May 10, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:44 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Chinese Pavilion at the Missouri Botanical Garden

I didn’t know how much I loved St. Louis until I moved away. I lived in St. Louis my whole life but never really appreciated all the city had to offer until I came to Columbia for college.

I didn’t visit the Arch until I was 16. I began to realize I didn’t know my city when my dad said, “Let’s go somewhere we have never been for lunch.” We went to the Soda Fountain Square in Lafayette Square. I was frustrated that I had only just discovered such a neat area. So with my dad’s help, I began to explore.

Each time I go home, we visit a different restaurant in a unique neighborhood — on the Hill, in the Central West End, in Soulard.

I can say now that I could not enjoy my city more.

— Talbot Merlotti, St. Louis native and city lover

Top 5 Sports

1. St. Louis Cardinals

They’re the 2006 World Series Champions and play in the newly built Busch Stadium. Tickets start at $13.

250 Stadium Plaza, St. Louis, 63102, 314-345-9000,

2. St. Louis Rams

They won the Super Bowl in 2000. Not only are the football games lively, but there is good tailgating outside the Edward Jones Dome. Tickets start at $35.

901 N. Broadway, St. Louis, 63101, 314-342-5201,

3. St. Louis Blues

Despite the NHL lockout of the 2004-05 season, the Blues are winning back fans at the Scottrade Center. The Blues made playoff appearances from 1980-2004, which is the second longest active streak in North American professional sports. Tickets start at $7.

1401 Clark Ave., St Louis, 63103, 314-421-4400,

4. St. Louis University Billikens

Although St. Louis does not have a professional basketball team, the SLU Billikens are just as exciting. They play home games at the Scottrade Center during the regular season, which is usually November through early March.

Tickets start at $9.

1401 Clark Ave., St. Louis, 63103, 314-977-4758,

5. St. Louis Aces

Every July the St. Louis Aces tennis team takes over the Dwight Davis Memorial Tennis Center in Forest Park for World Team Tennis. It’s no typical tennis match. A laid-back atmosphere, cheering and music between points make the experience unique. Tickets start at $15 for children and $25 for adults.

5620 Grand Drive, St. Louis, 63112, 314-647-2237

Top 5 Culture

1. Grand Center

It’s four blocks, including the famous Fox Theater, Powell Symphony Hall, the Grandel, the Sheldon, Jazz at the Bistro and the Creepy Crawl.

634 N. Grand Blvd., 314-533-1884,

2. St. Louis Art Fair and Fair St. Louis

The St. Louis Art Fair is held every September in Clayton and is one of the top five outdoor festivals in the country. Every July, Fair St. Louis takes over the area under the Arch with live music, entertainment and fireworks. Entertainment continues on the riverfront during the summer with Live on the Levee.;

3. St. Louis Art Museum

At the top of Art Hill in Forest Park, this museum carries more than 30,000 works of art from the time of the ancient Egyptians to the present. A Napoleon exhibit will be open from June 17 to Sep. 16 and includes gowns and furniture from his reign.

1 Fine Arts Drive, 314-721-0072,

4. Missouri Botanical Garden

Open since 1859, the Garden is a historical landmark and includes the Seiwa-en Japanese garden and the Climatron that houses a tropical rain forest. The Garden will host an outdoor exhibition of stone Chapungu animals from Zimbabwe beginning in May.

4344 Shaw Blvd, 314 577-9400,

5. Home of the Blues

It’s one of St. Louis’ nicknames, and, for a taste of it, try BB’s Jazz, and Blues & Soups or Broadway Oyster Bar, both on Broadway downtown.,

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