Friday, May 18, 2012

No Money, No Problem - My Top 5 Picks for Free Things To Do in The Lou

I might be the self-proclaimed CityDiva, but with four weddings this year, gas prices on the rise, and fears that the US will enter into a double-dip recession, even I’m on a budget these days.

When the gals and I are looking for something new to try or I have friends in from out of town, I’m always on the lookout for budget friendly inexpensive free things to do. Go ahead and call me cheap,, a leader in business forecasts and personal financial advice, recently ranked St. Louis as the #1 City for Cheapskates. After being ranked the saddest, worst dressed, and most dangerous city in America, we’ll take it!        

With seventy-nine unique neighborhoods in St. Louis, there’s always somewhere and something new to explore. Here are my Top 5 Picks for Free Things To Do in The Lou:

1.) The Saint Louis Art MuseumOriginally built for the 1904 World’s Fair, the Saint Louis Art Museum is home to priceless works of art by Van Gogh, Picasso, and Monet, among many others and houses fourteen unique collections ranging from Islamic Art to Decorative Arts and Design. The museum is one of the only free art museums in the country, keeping true to its exterior inscription, "Dedicated to Art and Free to All."

Lori and I visit the Saint Louis Art Museum in 2011 

2.) Brewery Tours: St. Louis is known as the home of the “King of Beers”, but the city once built on Budweiser, is now home to over fifteen different microbreweries. I’ve sampled my fair share (all in the name of research) and I recommend taking the free tours given by Anheuser-Busch and Schlafly Bottleworks. A brewery tour with free samples of beer at the end? I’ll drink to that!

Jamie and I all set to tour the historic Anheuser-Busch Brewery

3.) Shakespeare In The Park: Where art thou free performances of the works of William Shakespeare? Why, in Shakespeare Glen in Forest Park of course! This annual summer event is a must see for St. Louisans and tourists alike. Spread your blanket, prepare a picnic and relax under the St. Louis sky as award-winning performers present this year’s performance of Othello.

Enjoying the 2010 season of Shakespeare In The Park

4.) The St. Louis Holocaust Museum & Learning Center (HMLC): Having visited the Dachau and Mauthausen Concentration Camps when I lived in Europe in 2004, I know first-hand that a visit to one of these sacred spaces can leave a lasting impact. Often overlooked, the HMLC is a quiet, contemplative place filled with pictures, memorabilia and personal accounts from survivors of Hitler’s brutal regime. The HMLC is unique in that it focuses on Holocaust survivors who settled in St. Louis after World War II and whose families still live and thrive here.

5.) Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site: Located just fifteen minutes east of St. Louis in Cahokia, Illinois sits the largest prehistoric earthen construction north of Mexico. Designated a National Historic Landmark, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Cahokia was once home to one of the largest cities in the world. The Mississippians who lived here between A.D. 700 and 1400 were part of the Illiniwek subtribe and created a vast community of mounds, homes, and plazas. The fate of these prehistoric Cahokians is unknown, but their legacy (including Woodhenge) lives on.  

Telling Time: The Illiniwek way

Honorable Mentions: These St. Louis hotspots didn’t make my top five, but shouldn’t be overlooked on your free trip around The Lou: Twilight Tuesdays at the Missouri History Museum, Laumeier Sculpture Park, Forest Park, St. Louis Walk of Fame, and City Garden.

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