Many of us traverse the world as international educators, and are given the opportunity to experience the places where we travel. No matter how in-depth one's knowledge of a place, however, it's the distinctive, unique experiences that often last longest in our memories. There is a long list of such experiences in St. Louis. To save you time, here are my top five picks.
Bellefontaine Cemetery This resting ground for the elite just north of downtown St. Louis was established in 1849, and is home to many prominent local and national businessmen, politicians, and Civil War heroes. Don't forget to get a cemetery map when you enter, which identifies the most prominent tombstones and mausoleums. The cemetery's most notable and interesting sites include the mausoleums of shoe manufacturers the Brown Brothers ; the mausoleum for Adolphus Busch, co-founder of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery; the resting place of William Clark, of Lewis & Clark, explorer of the Louisiana Purchase territory; and the Wainwright Tomb, a mausoleum for the wife of millionaire brewer Ellis Wainwright, designed by Louis Sullivan.
City Museum The unconventional City Museum consists of repurposed architectural and industrial objects housed in the former International Shoe Company building. The multiple-floor building is billed as an “eclectic mixture of children's playground, funhouse, surrealistic pavilion, and architectural marvel.” Recently, it was named one of the "great public spaces" by the Project for Public Spaces . This year's Cultural Event will be held at City Museum; don't miss your chance to use your senses, explore, and let loose.
Forest Park Waterways (and Grand Basin)
Paddle boat your way through the majesty of Forest Park, St. Louis' premier outdoor recreation area. Start from the Boathouse , which doubles as a quaint lunch spot, and paddle through the landscaped waterways which lead to the fountain-lined Grand Basin at the foot of the St. Louis Art Museum . Since 1876, boating in Forest Park has been a popular pastime in St. Louis.
Mansions, Murder Mysteries, and Haunted Houses Take a drive by the elite enclaves of Portland and Westmoreland Place in the Central West End to experience the turn-of-the-century residences of St. Louis' elite. For a more in-depth museum experience, head to Benton Park and tour the Chatillon-DeMenil Mansion , a wonderful example of the French heritage in St. Louis. For a more unique mansion experience, call ahead and book a murder mystery dinner at the Bissell Mansion or the Lemp Mansion , the latter considered the premier haunted house in St. Louis.
Soulard Neighborhood Walking Tour
One of St. Louis' oldest and most well-preserved neighborhoods, Soulard is a great area to explore and is convenient to downtown. The best way to experience Soulard is on foot, which allows you to fully take in the unique red brick architecture, a hallmark of St. Louis design. While in Soulard, grab lunch at one of the neighborhood eateries—many of which have beautiful outdoor garden terraces—or check out the Soulard Farmers Market , the oldest of its kind west of the Mississippi river.
Ryan Saale is the Local Arrangements Committee (LAT) communications chair for NAFSA’s 2013 Annual Conference & Expo. Ryan is a St. Louis native who spent time living, studying, and working abroad in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and Spain, and recently completely his master’s degree at Washington University in St. Louis. He began his career in international education in 2009 after working in corporate communications for five years, both in St. Louis and Santiago, Chile. Ryan is assistant director of international affairs at Fontbonne University where he is responsible for all international student recruitment and global outreach initiatives.