St. Louis Balloon Race glow - photo credit dfclarkjr (flickr)

St. Louis Magazine recently put together a great list of 101 things that every St. Louisan should do. With gas prices so high this year, maybe it’s time to take a vacation in your own backyard.

I’ve whittled down their big list to a much shorter one to help get you started.

Top 10 Things I’ve Actually Done:

(In order based on the St. Louis Mag article, not order of preference)

1. Steinberg Skating Rink – Nothing compares to bundling up on a clear winter day and heading to this outdoor staking rink located in Forest Park. Don’t forget to order a cup of hot cocoa when you are ready for a warm up break.

2. Mount Pleasant Winery – Missouri may not be known for our wine, but you can’t top an afternoon at Mount Pleasant in nearby Augusta. Only a short drive from St. Charles, enjoy an afternoon with friends on their large patio with great scenery and fun live music.

3. Great Forest Park Balloon Race – Just about every St. Louisan has looked up at the sky and commented on the line of hot air balloons staggered over our horizon every September. I’ve never done what St. Louis Magazine suggests (getting to ride in one of them), but I highly recommend joining the crowds for the Balloon Glow the evening before the race.

4. Queeny Park – St. Louis has tons of great parks, but Queeny Park has a playground that is one of a kind. If you have young kids, this one needs to be on your list.

5. The Magic House – Another must for families with young kids. Unlike some of our other family centered venues, The Magic House has an area specially designed for the little kids, plus tons of hands on exhibits for kids of all ages.

6. The Fabulous Fox – Enjoy an evening out at this grand theater in Midtown (near St. Louis University) with musical productions that rival Broadway.

7. Visit the Central West End – Stroll down the streets lined with impressive historic homes and pick from the many restaurants with patio dining. My favorites are Kopperman’s for breakfast and Bar Italia for dinner.

8. City Museum – This one really should be #1 in my opinion. There just isn’t anything like the City Museum anywhere outside of St. Louis. This massive indoor-outdoor playground made from recycled industrial parts is an adventure. Try something different and check it out in the evenings. They are open until 1 am on Fridays and Saturdays with adult refreshments available at the Log Cabin Bar overlooking the outdoor playground. A word of caution, this one really isn’t for the little ones. Preschoolers may find it a bit much to handle.

9. Lemp Mansion Restaurant & Inn – I’ve never spent the night here, but can attest to attending a great Halloween bash in this haunted mansion. Make sure to take a guided tour where you can hear all about the history of the mansion (it was originally a brewery), the family that lived there and the resident ghosts.

10. Current River Canoeing – Floating down one of our nearby rivers on a canoe, raft or tube is one of the best ways to spend a hot summer day. The Current River is the best in my opinion, but with a 3 hour drive from St. Louis, I’ve also been known to spend time on the Jack’s Fork, Black River, Huzzah Creek and Meramec River. All are a bit closer and work well for either a day trip or an overnight camp out. Keep in mind that in Missouri we call them float trips for a reason. These aren’t about paddling wildly all day or maneuvering Colorado style rapids. Our river trips are more about filling the boat with a cooler of beverages, then relaxing with friends as you say hello to everyone else that you’ll meet down the river. Looking for a peaceful quiet float, weekdays might be your best option.

Top 5 Things for My ‘To Do’ List:

These have been on my To Do list for awhile, and am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I still haven’t done them!

1. Downtown Gallery Walk (update…wish I had done this before the program shut down)
2. Casa Loma Ballroom
3. Pere Marquette Lodge (update…Done!)
4. Opera Theater of St. Louis
5. Crown Candy Kitchen (update…Done!)

What would make your list?

Photo Credit: dfclarkjr (flickr)