St. Louis, Missouri: Go Ahead and Try a T-Rav

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St. Louis, Missouri: Go Ahead and Try a T-Rav

When I was younger, I couldn’t wait to leave St. Louis. However, now that I’m older and living far from home, visits back are exciting. I am not sure if St. Louis has more to offer now than it did when I was a teenager, or if I simply wasn’t looking in the right places, but it is now one of my favorite American cities. I think people should really consider landing in the city instead of flying over it to get from coast to coast. Like many places, it is at its best in the summer.

Summer in St. Louis begins and ends with baseball. I think it would be very difficult to live in the city without being a Cardinals fan, or at least loosely supportive of them. Cardinals memorabilia decorate cars, people and pets all summer long. Of course, for many people (including me) the Cardinals is less about baseball than it is about memories of going to Bush Stadium as a child, reaching to catch foul balls and ordering hot dogs wrapped in foil. That is not to say that our team isn’t any good – we have the second most World Series wins behind the Yankees, and we like to remind everyone of this fact.

Whenever I return to St. Louis, I try to squeeze as much as I can in between the jetlag recovery and obligatory family visits. There is something about being back in St. Louis that truly warms my soul.


Besides baseball, St. Louis prides itself on food. When I go home, I can’t help indulging on toasted ravioli, Imo’s pizza or frozen custard. It’s our comfort food, the stuff of childhood. Toasted ravioli is not so much toasted as it is fried. Growing up, I thought that toasted ravioli – or ‘T ravs’ as they are sometimes affectionately called – were a normal American food. I remember having to describe them to a friend in university, shocked that her childhood did not involve those golden squares.

st. louis

Cardinals Stadium in St. Louis

Imo’s pizza will prove to be a disappointment for any tourist in St. Louis who is expecting pizza. It is a thin crust pizza cut into squares and topped with St. Louis’ own ‘provel’ cheese, a combination of cheddar, Swiss and provolone cheeses. And while frozen custard is not specific to St. Louis, we have our own special brand: Ted Drew’s. After a Cardinals game the Ted Drew’s parking lot is a sea of red t-shirts as everyone flocks here after the ninth inning.

While we clearly like to eat, we like to have fun too. A true testament to that is the City Museum. No matter how I describe it, you won’t be prepared for it. It is straight out of the imagination of an artist, and built for big kids (and little kids, too). It is a huge building filled with scrap metal all welded together and intended for you to climb. There is an outside part with the shells of two old airplanes. There is an inside part with dark caves and a pond. There is a fortuneteller and a row of pinball machines and an art corner where you can paint. There is a 10-story slide. There is a rooftop Ferris wheel.

The whole concept might seen rather strange, but it really is a special place and I think that, even as adults, we should all play every now and then. But for those who consider themselves more cultured, there are plenty of attractions to keep you busy. The best part is that many of them are free. I do not think I fully appreciated this as a child. I simply expected for things like the art museum and zoo to be free. It was not until I moved away that I realized what a great advantage we have in St. Louis. Not only are these places free, but they are also really good! The zoo is full of animals from all over the world, and it is always swarming with activity. Although I really wanted to free the golden tamarins, which seemed so unhappy to be confined, I still think that the St. Louis zoo is a great place for a day out in the summer.

st. louis

Graffiti Art in St. Louis

The art museum is always free, except for the rotating special exhibition, and it has just recently added a contemporary art wing. The St. Louis art museum is where I fell in love with van Gogh when I was ten years old. I will never forget how I bought a poster of the painting Stairway at Auvers from the gift shop and kept it on my wall throughout my teenage years. The museum sits at the top of Art Hill where they project outdoor movies in the summer and organize sledding in the winter. At the bottom of Art Hill is the Grand Basin, where you can rent a paddleboat and pedal your way between fountains for an hour or two.

The art museum and the zoo are set within Forest Park. Both the park and these sites are remnants of the 1904 World’s Fair. It was here that the waffle cone was invented when the ice cream vendor ran out of bowls and the waffle vendor had too many in stock. It was the 1904 fair that inspired the song and movie by the same title, “Meet Me in St. Louis.” It is this song that leads everyone to mistakenly believe that St. Louis is pronounced ‘St. Louie,’ a turn of phrase that native St. Louisians abhor.

Besides these core attractions, St. Louis has a variety of different neighborhoods, each with their own character – like the Delmar Loop, Cherokee Street and The Hill. These neighborhoods each have their own local cafes, stores and restaurants that are famous in their own right, like Meshuggah or Subterranean Books on Delmar, the Mud House on Cherokee Street or Zia’s on The Hill.

I haven’t even scratched the surface of St. Louis. There is so much more to see, like the Schlafly Tap Room, the Budweiser Clydesdales, Fitz’s Root Beer, Blueberry Hill and the Fox Theater. And there is so much more to know about the city’s rich history and cultural makeup that make it what it is, from the Orthodox Jewish population to the Bosnian community.

Whenever I return to St. Louis, I try to squeeze as much as I can in between the jetlag recovery and obligatory family visits. There is something about being back in St. Louis that truly warms my soul. I don’t know if it’s nostalgia, a ‘grass is greener’ mentality, or something else, but even writing this article from overseas makes my heart pang for all that I’ve left behind in my hometown. I hope that I have a chance to go back home soon, to soak in the atmosphere and reconnect with my roots.

Savannah Dodd

Savannah Dodd

Savannah Dodd is an anthropologist and photographer. Originally from St. Louis, USA, she has made several transcontinental moves, but currently calls Belfast home. You can see her photography at

1 Comment

  • Erika

    The classic Great American City!

    June 11, 2017 at 12:10 pm