A reliable source (St. Louis radio, ha) told me that St. Louis was recently named the saddest city in America and the third most dangerous city in the world. Wow, what a blow! Okay, I'm not so sure that those things are true. Plus, how do you prove something like that? Surely whoever did the study did not travel the entire world, because I know about some pretty dangerous places!
Whether or not it's true, this made me think about this little city I've called home for almost three years. Sure, the drivers are crazy and people wear their pajamas everywhere at all times of the day. It drives me nuts! Yet, there are so many things I love about this place. Here are my top 10:
10. 4 Seasons!! St. Louis actually has all four seasons. Sure, summers are hot and winters are cold, but that's what we all learned in school, right? Each season is exactly 3 months long and they are beautiful (occasionally a summer will dip into fall). If any season feels like a bit too much, you can always be certain that change is just around the corner. This is unlike other places I've lived where the heat never ended (ahem...Africa) and the sun would never shine (Seattle)!
9. Housing is cheap! We live in a 1,300 sq. foot historic 2+ bedroom apartment with 10 foot ceilings, hardwood floors and lots of character. We are just a walk away from restaurants and coffee houses and a beautiful park with 2 playgrounds! For the amount we pay here, Dan and I could only afford an 800 sq. foot basement apartment with four windows when we lived in Seattle.
8. Community Events. There's always something happening in the city of St. Louis and it's all free! During the summer, there are outdoor music and movie events at multiple parks throughout the city. Shakespeare in the Park is always a blast and there are constant kickball games in our neighborhood park (I'm talking 20-30 different teams!). We've created so many happy family memories at the various free outdoor activities.
7. Food. I've never been a foodie. I didn't even learn how to cook (with you know, raw ingredients!) until we moved to Malawi. Luckily, I married a man who knows a lot about food and it's been fun learning with him. Dan works in the restaurant industry here in St. Louis. After three years, he's made quite a few connections. We don't do it often, but when we are able to eat out, the choices are endless. Many of the best international restaurants are within walking distance, too!
6. Family Friendly with Free Museums, Zoo and Science Center. You cannot get bored here. There are so many fun free things to do and many of them are family friendly. The Art Museum has family night on Sundays but is always free during the week, too. The Science Center has a few things that cost money, but the main exhibits are free and really fun for kids. It's our favorite spot to go when we get cooped up during winter months.
And the zoo, ohhhh the zoo. There are days when we literally stop by and say hi to the penguins on our way to the grocery store. Just because we can. With all the animal houses, the zoo is also a place you can visit all year round.
Another family friendly thing about St. Louis is their coffee shops. Unlike other places I've lived, coffee shops are not a place for snobs to critique their foam designs. It can be a place for gatherings and play dates. When we get tired of spaceships and knocking down giant blocks at the Science Center, we head over to play at FOAM or Hartford Coffee.
5. Architecture/ History. St. Louis is an old city. It's got character under it's bridges. The architecture makes living here simply enjoyable. Our libraries and coffee shops are not just buildings. They are works of art! And the churches, those big beautiful churches. They are old with lots of aged copper and they are everywhere!
4. Killer Thrift Stores. I've visited many different thrift stores around the country, and St. Louis has the best ones. I've never seen so many nice brands in a thrift store before moving here! You don't believe me? Check out my "What I Wore" posts with examples of how you can stylishly clothe yourself for less than $30.
3. Parks Everywhere. I just can't brag about our neighborhood enough. Tower Grove park is simply beautiful. We have our own farmer's market that runs 7 months out of the year, 2 playgrounds, tennis courts, baseball fields and fountains with a wading pool for those hot summer days.
Parks like these are everywhere. Each little neighborhood has at least 1 playground and many of them also include fountains, ponds and old gazebos. There's even a park downtown!
2. The Botanical Gardens. If you are a city resident, admission is free on Wednesdays and Saturdays. With 79 acres of gardens to walk through and indoor and outdoor play areas for kids, this place never gets old. They often have different exhibits throughout the year and do fun themes for kids in the Climatron.
1. The People. St. Louis is an international city. There are more immigrants and refugees here than there are homeless people. With big universities and numerous seminaries, St. Louis is somewhat of a revolving door. Still, I've met people who grew up here and love it. Their families are here and they take pride in their city. I've enjoyed getting to know our neighbors and playing with all the families that live in our area. I often bump into the same moms and kids at the parks and library story time. We always have a good time together.
See? St. Louis isn't so horrible after all. I think it's a hidden gem. Some people can't see it, but those who do, love it!