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Skaters at the Steinberg rink at Forest Park in St. Louis can head inside afterward to play arcade games.

ERIN WILLIAMS, Washington Post

Midwest Traveler: Finding St. Louis' simple pleasures

  • Article by: ERIN WILLIAMS
  • Washington Post
  • February 15, 2013 - 1:56 PM

St. Louis is more than just a gateway to the West. The city is filled with great museums, vintage stores and fabulous music venues, including University City’s Blueberry Hill, where rock ‘n’ roll legend Chuck Berry performs a sold-out show every month, and quirky bars, like the appropriately named HandleBar, where you can park your two wheels indoors for a change. And in winter, when the temps turn cold, there’s plenty of similar simple pleasures to keep visitors entertained.

WHAT TO DO

Hit the ice: Head to Forest Park to check out the Steinberg Skating Rink. Weekend afternoons draw lots of families and small visitors, and you’ll likely find yourself dodging several mini-skaters. But there’s still room to soar in the large oval like Michelle Kwan. (Well, OK. Not exactly like Michelle Kwan.)When your leg muscles start aching, head into the center, a retro space dating to the 1950s, done up in aquamarine decor and filled with arcade games. (400 Jefferson Dr.; steinbergskatingrink.com. Open through Feb. 28. $6. Skate rental $4.)

Hit the shops: Make your way to Cherokee Street, a South St. Louis neighborhood that hosts seasonal festivals and block-party-like events and is home to the local treasure known as the St. Louis Curio Shoppe. The merchandise cleverly walks the line between “vintage” and “grandma’s attic.” There’s a little bit of every type of history there — old high school yearbooks and city guides written by locals are housed next to racks of postcards, framed maps and antique jewelry. But there’s new merchandise, too, including handmade jewelry, scented candles, books from local authors, tote bags, men’s grooming products — and even green cleaning products from the St. Louis-based company Better Life. A staffer said all its merchandise comes from suppliers who operate within 50 miles of the city. (2301 Cherokee St.; 1-314-771-6353)

Check out a flick: Sometimes you just want to snuggle on a couch, open a bottle of red and enjoy a movie. For that, there’s the Moolah Theatre and Lounge, next door to the campus of St. Louis University (3821 Lindell Blvd.; 1-314-446-6868; stlouiscinemas.com/moolah). The restored historic theater shows only one movie at a time and you can stake out a seat on one of the several easy chairs, couches and love seats that fill much of the theater floor. But beware: They go fast to couples and groups of friends. After the movie, ushers hold out silver platters filled with Tootsie Rolls and butterscotch candies.

Outside the theater, there are extra couches in the theater lounge across from the bar. The lounge hosts regular screenings of sports games and television shows such as “The Walking Dead” and “Mad Men” (i.e. shows you don’t want to leave the couch for) when they’re on during the season. The atmosphere is relaxed and casual, so if — when! — you feel roots beginning to grow in your chair, head downstairs for a round of bowling (seriously!).

Warm up: St. Louis’ beer culture usually gets all the ink, but the real movable feast — and winter comfort — can be found in the coffee shops across the city. On a brisk Sunday morning, sink into one of four oversize leather chairs at Cafe Ventana, also near the university, and choose between fresh beignets and a bagel bar while listening to live jazz (3919 W. Pine Blvd.; 1-314-531-7500; cafeventana.com). And at any hour, you can find company in the heart of the Central West End at Coffee Cartel, which never closes (2 Maryland Plaza; 1-314-454-0000; www.thecoffee cartel.com).

 

WHERE TO STAY

Chase Park Plaza is across from Forest Park. Rooms start at $179. (212 N. Kingshighway Blvd.; 1-877-587-2427; www.chaseparkplaza.com)

The Moonrise Hotel is in the Delmar Loop near University City. Rooms from $149. (6177 Delmar Blvd.; 1-314-721-1111; www.moonrisehotel.com)

 

IF YOU GO

Find information at explorestlouis.com or 1-800-325-7962.

 

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