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 NCAA Visitors Guide to St Louis
By: Darin "Sid" Cameron, CRS
Fri, Apr 1st, 2005 11:33 pm

With the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in town this weekend, I thought I would give my take on things to do and see in St. Louis for all the visitors out there sitting in their hotel room reading local blogs looking for ideas on things to do and see. (Hey, everyone is doing it…)

First off, let me say, stop playing around on your computer reading local blogs you big geek and go start spending money! It’s been over 25 years since this tournament was in St Louis last, and a whole lot of local tax money has gone into sprucing up the town so you think we’re a swell place to hang out. Like it or not, that means you are now morally obligated to spend wads of cash.

So spend. Buy lots of souvenirs. Eat. Drink. Then take out those credit cards and buy more souvenirs. You can never have enough miniature replicates of the Gateway Arch, you know. If you have a problem with this, bitch at your basketball team. They’re the overachievers who have landed you here…

Now, at some point during this weekend you’re going to be standing outside the dome (a.k.a. “The Ed”) trying to figure out what you can do (like eat, drink, or party) that’s within walking distance. Here’s your options:

THE GOOD…
You have two choices, go East (toward the river/arch) and you will end up in an area called Laclede’s Landing. The Landing has been a good solid place for tourists to enjoy St Louis nightlife for a long time. Thanks to it’s proximity to the arch you can easily stumble over and take your mandatory Arch photos then stumble back. One thing to note, however, is after a lot of beer those trees on the arch ground may look like a nice option over the long lines at the port-o-potties. DON’T DO IT. Being a national monument, public urination on the Arch ground is a FEDERAL crime. I don’t know the specifics but I think its several hundred dollars and/or jail time in a federal prison. (Bet you didn’t get that tip from the Post!)

Your second option is to head straight West down the street in front of the dome (Washington Street). You probably won’t hear a lot of locals tell you about Washington Street, because most locals don’t realize it exists yet. Up until the past year or so, Washington Street was a bunch of empty warehouses mostly suitable for crack-heads to live, mixed with empty storefronts, a few low-rent businesses, a never ending road construction project, and a handful of St. Louis’ edgier nightclubs (think fetish night).

After 25 years of promises, Washington Street is finally taking off as a Loft District. It’s still a little bit of a work in progress, but there are a lot of great places to eat and drink. In fact, when I was down there two weeks ago I spotted a half-dozen places that weren’t open when I was down there last January. My pick for dining is Kitchen K, but there’s a Sushi place a block down the street that really wasn’t half bad either (if you’re into sushi that is). As far as drinking goes, pick a spot… If you go to Washington Street and have a good time, make sure to spread the word and tell a local about it. We need to know it exists.

THE BAD…
Just South of the dome you will find a shopping mall (called the St. Louis Centre). Forget about it. It was built 20 years too early (before people started moving back to downtown again). Maybe someday it will sprout life again, but for right now even the McDonald’s has closed up shop. The best it will offer is a chance to duck in on a way to a game and grab some fast food from an off-brand chain that will be cheaper than Dome food.

THE UGLY…
North of the dome. Don’t go there.  Not because it's ugly per se, but because there's just not a lot there for a tourist.  (It's kind of industrial, so come to think of it, yes, it can be ugly).

The biggest exception to that would be Crown Candy, a 1950's candy store and diner that time hasn't changed a bit.  However, it's a short taxi cab ride away- probably too far to walk unfortunately.  Buy a compass if you are directionally challenged.

I’ll continue this blog on Saturday!

[ Next Article: NCAA Visitors Guide to St Louis Part 2 ]
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Darin "Sid" Cameron spent 15 years working in the technology industry which in 1998 relocated him to St. Louis. In 2004 he took over web development tasks for Kimberly's real estate team and later became the full-time Marketing and Operations Director in 2005. In 2011 Sid launched two brokerages, The Realty Store, Inc. and Realty Referral Partners, Inc, while continuing to perform marketing and operations for Kimberly's team. Sid holds a real estate broker's license in Missouri, CRS certification and was the first CyberStar in the St. Louis area.
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