Top ten geeky things to do in St. Louis

A video post by Chris Pirillo got me thinking about the places that I like to spend time around town that might appeal to other geeks. Having lived in St. Louis for three years, I find myself liking the place more and more, and the city is definitely on the upswing with improvements in various attractions and infrastructure. So this is a very idiosyncratic look at my top favorite things.

  • Certainly, the arch is very impressive and I enjoy seeing it from many different locations around town. If I look out of one of my living room windows, I can see a small piece of  it too. The newest place to see it is across the river in East St. Louis, at the Malcolm W. Martin Memorial park, and try to stop by at one of the times when the geyser is operating.

But if you are going to be at the arch grounds, make sure you get a ticket and see the movie that shows how it was built. It is much more interesting – and certainly less claustrophobic — than the actual voyage to the top.

  • From the arch is a 10-mile bike path that goes along the west side of the Mississippi River and ends at the old Chain of Rocks bridge. It is one of my favorite rides because the river is always changing, and the decaying industrial waterfront has its own charms. The bridge has plenty of Route 66 history and was the setting for the movie “Escape from New York.”
  • Speaking of rivers, St. Louis is near the confluence of the Missouri, Mississippi and Illinois rivers and there are numerous outdoor activities to take advantage of them, including various Lewis and Clark encounters. A neat overview can be found by downloading a series of podcasts from the Confluence Greenway’s web site and taking them with you as you travel around the region.
  • Our newest downtown park is called Citygarden and is chock full of sculptures and water fountains that are fun for both adults and kids to play in. The descriptions of the sculptures are available by calling an IVR at 314-802-9571 where you can listen to many famous St. Louisans describe them. I have been back to the park many times, and is worth visiting at dusk when many of the sculptures and fountains are lit up.
  • My favorite local bookstore is Left Bank Books and they now have a branch downtown that is worth stopping by after your visit to Citygarden. Here is a story about how they came to be.
  • Near downtown is Bailey’s Chocolate Bar in Lafayette Square. It is one of my favorite places to take tourists and natives alike, with many innovative deserts.
  • A very unique spot that can be seen on Google Maps is the 70-foot high nuclear waste disposal cell concrete tomb that encases tons of low-level radioactive waste located near Weldon Springs on the other side of the Missouri River. The area once was home to nuclear weapons labs and is perfectly safe for a hike up to the top.
  • One of the first green-powered data centers has just opened on Emerson’s campus. The roof of the building holds Missouri’s largest solar photovoltaic array. While the campus isn’t open to the public, you can get a taste from my Web post here.
  • The Kemper art museum located on the Washington University main campus is quirky and has numerous free concerts and opening events and lectures that is worth checking out.
  • If you were around for the Apollo moon landing, then you will appreciate the collection of space memorabilia in the lobby of the Moonrise hotel in the University City loop. Collected by Joe Edwards, the owner of the hotel and Blueberry Hill and other places nearby, the restaurant and roof bar are also worth checking out.
  • Okay, I couldn’t decide on just 10 items, so here is one more: it isn’t often that a shopping mall owner will think out of the box, but the Westfield people behind Crestwood Court have turned their aging and nearly vacant mall into a haven for local arts organizations called ArtSpace, including theater, dance, visual arts and more. While it feels odd to head to mall to look at art, the mall is filing up with studios. The last Friday of the month you can find food and entertainment, too.

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