The St. Louis List… Finally!

After a long hiatus, I’m back and excited to share with you a list several years in the making. In spring 2016, I sat down with two wonderful humans to create our top picks in the great city of St. Louis. Like many, St. Louis wasn’t a place any of us dreamed of visiting or settling in, and yet here we are making the world’s longest favorites list. Like Lincoln, Nebraska, I found St. Louis to be incredibly underrated, hence my delay in publishing this list! Being underrated is a glorious thing these days, but StL cannot and should not be kept secret. This city has many great things going for it, not the least of which is its delicious food, iconic parks and neighborhood hot spots.

Whether you are a new resident or just passing through for a weekend, we have sorted our recommendations by category and sprinkled it with our unfiltered opinions for your convenience. You have the tools, now go forth and explore! Dual credit to this glorious piece of art goes to John Land and Aaron Rutledge. ❤

Fav Brunch (because it should have its own category in STL):

  • Southwest Diner – New Mexican-style breakfast is to DIE for.
  • Rooster in Tower Grove – their egg scrambles are all amazing!!
  • City Coffeehouse and Creperie in Clayton – everything, nom nom.
  • Egg in Benton Park
  • Benton Park Café – the hash browns are SO good…
  • Atomic Cowboy in The Grove – BEST bloody mary in STL and fantastic brunch (similar to SW Diner though)
  • Scottish Arms in the CWE – go there for bloody mary/mimosa bar and rich Scottish food
  • Tavern in the CWE
  • Gamlin Whiskey House in CWE – YESSSS for their brunch.
  • The Mud House on Cherokee

Favorite Lunch & Late Night Eats:

  • Everest Café (Nepalese, Indian and Korean) – Try their lunch buffet! It’s worth writing home about…
  • Lona’s Lil Eats (Vietnamese Rice Paper Wraps!!) – Everything. Is. Awesome.
  • Seoul Taco (Korean BBQ) – a local favorite of the WUdents!
  • Mission Taco (Baja)
  • Salt + Smoke, Sugarfire, Pappy’s & Bogart’s (BBQ) – StL is known for its incredible BBQ so if you can only choose one, we suggest choosing from these. Pappy’s ribs are like heaven, Salt + Smoke’s smoked pork and white cheddar cracker mac literally make Steph die and go to heaven… and Bogart’s has something extra special in their applesauce…we suspect drugs.
  • Fork & Stix (Thai) – pad thai and sticky rice… nom nom.
  • Sen-Thai (Thai)
  • Sameem (Afghan)
  • Café Mochi (Sushi) – only for happy hour, ½ priced rolls and beers, yes please.
  • Meskerem (Ethiopian)
  • LuLu’s Seafood and Dim Sum (Chinese/Dim Sum)
  • Bailey’s Range Downtown – burgers and milkshakes all day…
  • Basso at the Cheshire – American-Italian fusion, open late!
  • Nora’s in Dogtown – sandwich deliciousness, great lunch special ❤
  • The Block in CWE

Best Patios:

  • The Royale in Tower Grove
  • McGurk’s in Soulard
  • Billy G’s in Kirkwood
  • Vin de Set in Lafayette Square
  • Three Sixty – BOMB ASS view of The Arch/Downtown/everything!!
  • The Boathouse in Forest Park
  • Venice Café in Soulard – the CUTEST, most eclectic spot – CASH ONLY


  • Donut Drive-In – Try their BOWTIES ❤
  • Cyrano’s (New Orleans-ish vibe)– BEST DESSERT, try their bread pudding even if you’ve never liked it before. Chaaaaaaanged my life!
  • John Donut – expect for everyone there to be rude and somehow constantly pissed off about making donuts…but the donuts i.e. the apple fritters are truly game-changing and it’s “an experience”.
  • Clementine’s Creamery in Lafayette Square
  • Jeni’s Ice Cream in CWE
  • Ted Drewes or Mr. Wizard’s Frozen Custard – there are two camps, and everyone seems to have an opinion. Try a concrete at both and decide for yourself…
  • The Fountain on Locust in Midtown – great boozy milkshakes and spiked sodas of every flavor…
  • Bailey’s Chocolate Bar – whole list of chocolate martini’s, desserts are hit-or-miss (some great, some meh and overpriced… see for yourself!)
  • Park Avenue Café in Lafayette Square – BEST selection of gooey butter cake in StL, and in case you didn’t already know, gooey butter cake is a STAPLE of the Lou 🙂

Bars & Nightlife:

  • McGurk’s on Tuesday Nights – live Irish music, real cute 🙂
  • ITAP in Soulard – great pizza place attached, insane beer selection!
  • Three Sixty – for reasons stated above, if you’re only in town for a night, the view is a must-see!
  • The Moonrise at Eclipse Hotel on The Loop
  • Handlebar – if you want to be ankle-deep in hipsters on the dance floor listening to 90s music, this is your spot.
  • Failoni’s or Talayna’s – if you’re looking for a ratchet night out on town, preferably with a larger group of friends, where you significantly lower the average age (especially at Failoni’s), go to one of these spots!
  • The Grove (“The Gayborhood”)
    • Rehab for the Drag Show or day drinking on the weekend
    • Just John’s for a drink and “to be seen”
    • JJ’s after midnight (or 12:30…) for dancing
  • Carson’s in Soulard – go there for karaoke, it is super foolish; do NOT go there any other time!
  • Cherokee Street – Earthbound Brewery (local microbrew), The Whiskey Ring (great cocktails), and Fortune Teller Bar (also has fortune teller on staff)
  • 4 Hands Brewery

Places To Avoid WUdents (aka avoiding college students and The Loop):

  • Kaldi’s Coffee on DeMun
  • Rosalita’s on Wash Ave – get a marg and try their fajitas!
  • Urban Chestnut – the Midtown location when it’s warm, Grove location if you’re wanting to sit inside! Great beer, good eats.
  • HAPPY HOUR at Five Star Burger in Clayton (best happy hour deals award)
  • Retreat in CWE – incredible cocktails that are somehow both smoky and sweet (magic)
  • Fast Eddy’s in Illinois – if you’re willing to make the 45-minute drive, it’s SO worth it for $1 chicken-on-a-stick 🙂
  • Historic St. Charles – unreal that this is so close to STL, super cute, lots of wine, lots of cute local shops, great day trip.
  • Colleen’s Cookies on Forsyth – super close, but weirdly not overrun by WUdents; great breakfast!
  • Rise – great coffeeshop in The Grove

Favorite Things to Do:

  • FOREST PARK: Because it deserves its own category.
    • Seeing Broadway shows at The Muny (1,000 free seats EVERY show)
    • Walking/jogging/picnicking
    • Ice Skating at Steinberg Rink
    • Balloon Glow in the fall ❤
    • Paddle boating ❤
    • Movies on Art Hill
    • Shakespeare in the Park
    • Fair St. Louis – biggest 4th of July party EVER. Three days of free concerts!
    • The Zoo!… And the Zoo Lights in the winter.
    • Missouri History Museum – usually has some really great temporary exhibits coming through!
  •  City Museum (and Steph trying not to injure herself)
  • Movies at the…
    • Moolah Theatre in Midtown
    • Hi-Pointe Theatre on Skinker – the new back lot is awesome, place is cute overall – like stepping back in time!
    • Tivoli Theatre on The Loop—indie movies and Oscar-Nominated Shorts!
    • Frontenac Theatre = THEIR POPCORN OMGG
  • Karaoke in private rooms at Joojoo!
  • Anheuser-Busch Brewery – the Biergarten is cute, the food is surprisingly cheap and good (for public food) AND the tour = free beer. What more could you want?! GREAT spot in the winter for “Brewery Lights” or any other time for any other reason.
  • Take a trip for an adventure at The Offsets
  • Go hiking at Castlewood or Queeny Park
  • Food Truck Fridays at Tower Grove Park
  • Exploring Soulard – Mardi Gras parade, Octoberfest, and shopping/bloody mary’s at Soulard Farmer’s Market… so good!
  • St. Patrick’s Day Festival in Dogtown
  • Grovefest in The Grove
  • $5 improv shows on Monday nights at The Improv Shop
  • Garden Glow and Whitaker Jazz Festival at the Missouri Botanical Gardens
  • $5 lunch specials at Mi Ranchito
  • LazerTag and Demoball at Adrenaline Zone
  • Broadway shows at the Fabulous Fox Theatre ❤
  • Jazz at The Bistro
  • Chocolate tasting at Kakao (or Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate)
  • Cheering on the Cardinals at Busch Stadium – SPORTS!

101 Things to Do in Lincoln, Nebraska

“What is there to do in Lincoln, Nebraska?!” was a question I got asked a lot when I announced that I would be moving there for graduate school. As a 20-something coming to Lincoln from a larger city, I felt a bit at a loss. So, naturally, I Googled it. Lots of reviews of fancy restaurants came up, but nothing to really guide my exploration. No friendly, neighborhood young professional had taken the time to make a list, as they had in places like Milwaukee and Chicago. I panicked. Was I really going to be wandering the cornfields for the next two years?

Little did I know at the time, Lincoln would turn out to be an incredible place filled with lots of local treasures, great restaurants, and fun nightlife. Now, with all the new places popping up in town, making an all-inclusive list would be impossible. However, I have done my best to compile a list of area attractions that should keep you fairly busy year-round. In the nature of leaving things better than you found them, I present to you “101 Things to Do in Lincoln, Nebraska”:

  1. Experience a Husker football game at Memorial Stadium, when the stadium becomes the third largest city in Nebraska. GO BIG RED! (
  2. Tailgate at a Husker football game.  (Yes, this is listed separate from #1 on purpose.)
  3. Soak in the incredible view from the 14th floor observation level of the Capital Building (and take the free tour, it’s totally worth it). (
  4. Yia Yia’s, home of Lincoln’s famous Around the World pizza and largest beer selection, is a MUST! (
  5. Bike, run, or walk the dog on 77 miles of awesome trails throughout the city. (
  6. Taste the Rainbow (Chicken) and an Empyrean brew at Lazlo’s, a Lincoln staple and Nebraska’s first brew-pub. (
  7. Check out a baseball game at Haymarket Park. ( (
  8. Support local arts by attending a show at the Lincoln Community Playhouse , TADA, or Haymarket Theatre. ( ( ) (
  9. Take a flight with the “brave new brew” at the Zipline Taproom. (
  10. Wander the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus. While you’re there, try to find all of these campus landmarks! (
  11. Buy sandwiches at Bison Witches! They’re all DE-LISH! (
  12. Sip a tasty Irish Mocha at The Coffee House (“CoHo”). (
  13. Explore the many ethnic restaurants along 27th Street. For a taste of Vietnam, have a bowl of Pho at Pho Factory, then head next door to Bahnwich Café for a green waffle. ( (
  14. Stop by C. Berry’s for some of the cheapest and best BBQ around. (
  15. Take a sweet stop at Ivanna Cone for some incredible handmade ice cream. (
  16. Satisfy your late night food cravings with a D’Leons burrito and potatoes locos.
  17. Grab a spot on the lawn for some great live music during Jazz in June. (
  18. Taste the best burgers in Lincoln at Honest Abe’s Burgers & Freedom. (
  19. Frisbee golf at Pioneer Park.
  20. Stop and smell the flowers at the Sunken Gardens. (
  21. Sip a ½ price margarita (or two) at La Mexicana every Wednesday. (“La Mex”)
  22. Experience a pep rally at Grandmother’s every Friday night before a home football game. (
  23. Shag carpeting and karaoke? Take a time warp on Tuesday nights at Tam O’Shanter.
  24. Ask for the “shaky shaky” with your gyro and steak fries at Ali Baba. (
  25. Stop by Empyrean Brewery on the first Monday of every month for a free tour (and get there early)! (
  26. Enjoy live music, local food, and craft beers at Capital City Beerfest.
  27. Buy local at the Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings from May-October. (
  28. Check out a concert at Pinnacle Bank Arena or Pinewood Bowl. ( (
  29. Live band karaoke and a fishbowl make a great combo at Duffy’s Tavern. (
  30. Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month each September with traditional food, song, and dance at Fiesta on the Green.
  31. Catch local bands and live blues at the legendary Zoo Bar. (
  32. Play skeeball during happy hour at The NZone (
  33. Journey to Ashland for some rocky mountain oysters at the Annual Testicle Festival (aptly named).
  34. Stop by the Watering Hole for wings n’ pints (and $2 long islands after 9pm…) (
  35. Catch a major soccer game with a rowdy crowd at Captain’s Jacks (and get there early!)
  36. Get a scoop at the UNL Dairy Store, a dairy tradition since 1917. (
  37. Witness a rodeo and the true spirit of small town Nebraska.
  38. Stop by the UNL Homecoming Concert on East Campus, a Husker Homecoming tradition!
  39. Attend a cultural night at the Nebraska Union (i.e. China Night and Malaysia Night are both in early to mid-February).
  40. See a Broadway show at The Lied. (
  41. See an indie flick at The Ross. (
  42. Marvel at all that is hypnotist Dr. Jim Wand.  (Back-to-back shows on the Friday after MLK, 7pm show is family appropriate) (
  43. Witness the Bathtub Dogs in all their A Cappella glory. (
  44. Dance the two-step at Single Barrel (
  45. Grab a seat at The Oven for some delectable mulligatawny soup and chicken tikka korma. (
  46. Revel in a $5 wine tasting at James Arthur Vineyard. (
  47. Experience justice served cold on tap at Blue Blood Brewery. (
  48. Peruse SouthPointe Pavilions for some great outdoor shopping. (
  49. Combine running, friends, and crazy costumes for an unforgettable day at the Market to Market Relay Race. (
  50. Test your strength at the Outdoor Adventure Center Climbing Wall. (
  51. Join the Nacho Ride, a Tuesday night bike ride like none other (May-October). (
  52. Fish or take a stroll at Holmes Lake. (
  53. Skate a few laps at the Railyard Ice Rink. (
  54. Get your pottery painting on at Paint Yourself Silly! (
  55. Try the Original Runza® Sandwich for the cost of the wintertime temp on Temperature Tuesdays! (
  56. Go back to simpler, swingin’ times with 50s and 60s Trivia Night at Starlite Lounge. (
  57. Catch the midnight Amtrak to any destination (or 12:30 or 1 or when it actually shows up…) (
  58. Pay homage to Nebraska Legends Tom Osborne and Bob Devaney. (
  59. Experience the beauty of the all-you-can-eat buffet at Valentino’s Pizza. (
  60. Taste the legendary Elk Creek Water at Sandy’s. (
  61. Get your shootin’ on at Lincoln Trap and Skeet. (
  62. Try one of the many stogies and local brews at Jake’s Cigar Bar. (
  63. Stroll through the art collection and Sculpture Garden at the Sheldon Museum of Art. (
  64. Grab your kiddo (or borrow someone else’s) and spend an afternoon at the Lincoln Children’s Museum or Lincoln Children’s Zoo! ( (
  65. Hike, bike or horseback ride in Wilderness Park. (
  66. Visit the state museum at Morrill Hall and star gaze at Mueller Planetarium. (
  67. See the world’s largest publicly held collection of quilts at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum. (
  68. Cheer on the all-girl roller derby, the No Coast Derby Girls. (
  69. Support hockey’s future stars at a Stars game. (
  70. Get a delicious homemade cinnamon roll with your breakfast at Tina’s Café (bring cash!) (
  71. Brunch it up at The Green Gateau. (
  72. Sing along and request a song at Blazin’ Pianos. (
  73. Try the Drunken Noodles at Blue Orchid. (
  74. Experience a Tuesday night at Randy’s Grill & Chill. (
  75. Enjoy hookah and a kamikaze at Cliff’s Lounge.
  76. Try the hot stripper at Hi-Way Diner. (
  77. Catch a Nebraska Women’s Volleyball game at the Devaney. (
  78. Head to the Cornhusker Marriot Bar after 10pm for $3 Das Boots.
  79. Have a Martini or a Mule at Barrymoore’s.
  80. Head to Cultiva for coffee and crepes on the weekend. (
  81. Watch a game outside at The Railyard.
  82. Enjoy casual dining and great eats at 9 South CharGrill. (
  83. See great art for free at First Friday Artwalks happening on the first Friday of every month downtown! (
  84. Chill out with a Sticky Wicket smoothie from Juice Stop (substitute blueberries for raspberries if you dare) (
  85. Relish in authentic and ON POINT Chinese cuisine at Mr. Hui’s! (
  86. Attend the Guys and Dolls Drag Show in celebration of LGBTQA History Month in October. Tipping is encouraged and goes to a great cause!  (
  87. C is for The Cookie Company! Take a break to devour a monster cookie (served Gluten free on Tuesdays!) (
  88. Enjoy a home cooked breakfast at Engine House Café, home of Havelock’s original Fire Station! (
  89. Try some delicious fried chicken and sing along to the organ at Lee’s Chicken, a Lincoln tradition for more than 50 years! (
  90. Check out NPR’s Friday Live broadcast Friday mornings at The Mill in the Haymarket. (
  91. Experience the Lincoln Hustle, an off-the-wall themed bike ride, on the last Thursday of every month. (
  92. Get your snaps and fedoras ready for Poetry Night at Crescent Moon, Mondays at 7pm! (
  93. Drink a cool one around a fire pit at Tavern on the Square.
  94. Bask in the awesome music and incredible cocktails at The Bourbon Theatre. (
  95. Play a round of golf at Wilderness Ridge. (
  96. Order up a “Full Leaded Jacket” at LeadBelly and experience a Nebraskan tradition: chili with a cinnamon roll! (
  97. Pack a picnic and enjoy some vino on the grounds of Deer Springs Winery. (
  98. Take a hayrack ride into the oldest and largest pumpkin patch in Lancaster County at Roca Berry Farm! (
  99. Spot an elk or a bison at Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari! (
  100. Stop into Marz Bar for a cocktail or a curried chicken quesadilla! (
  101. Cozy up with a coffee and a book at Indigo Bridge Bookstore. (



How to Plan a Successful Road Trip

Greetings, Travelers!

Whether you are a regular road warrior or planning your first trip, I have created this blog to help you make the most of your time in a new city. However, before I bombard you with sample itineraries, challenges, and tips, I felt it was important to build a strong foundation. My best friend and road trip co-captain, Josie Berridge, will be chiming in on this entry, and together we will share our time-tested tactics and resources. Below are 10 suggestions to ensure you have a successful road trip:


1)    Request gas money in cash from all your travelers.

We list this first because it is our biggest and most important suggestion. Money can get very sticky while traveling, and the last thing anyone wants is to be chasing their friends down weeks later for cash. Instead, pre-calculate your gas expenses by dividing your estimated travel mileage by your vehicle’s average highway MPG, then multiplying that number by the current average cost of fuel. If you are worried about your math or unsure about your vehicle’s fuel economy, this website is a very helpful resource. Divide the estimated total by the number of travelers and have everyone bring that amount of cash with them on the trip. Pool your cash together, place it in an envelope, and keep it in a safe place. Use that cash for all of your fill-ups, and record your stops and expenses on the envelope (not that you don’t trust your friends, but it is a smart idea to make sure none of the money is unaccounted for). As a courtesy to the vehicle owner, we recommend topping off the car when you arrive back home and splitting any remaining cash amongst everyone. Do it. You won’t regret it!

2)    Choose your road trip buddies wisely.

We say this tongue-in-cheek with an ounce of truth: not all road trip buddies are created equal. Do you like to blast your 100-song Disney playlist or do you prefer the tranquil silence of the road? Do you like taking regular pitstops or driving as far as you possibly can without peeing your pants? These are important questions to ask when considering any road trip. If you find partners with your similar preferences, your time on the road can be almost as much fun as exploring at your final destination. If not, you may regret taking the trip in the first place.

3)    The front seat passenger cannot sleep. Period.

This detail is often overlooked, but it is crucial to a successful journey.  Frankly, asking any driver to captain the ship while all of the passengers take naps is both unfair and unsafe. Keeping the current driver awake and alert is the co-captain’s job, which leads us to our next suggestion…

4)     Think about entertainment in advance.

It is easy to forget about entertainment, but doing so can help keep your trip safe and fun. Radio stations cannot be counted on to provide entertainment, especially if you are traveling through mountains or remote areas. We suggest creating your own playlists and stopping by the local library for a few books on tape. If any of your co-captains can read out loud to the driver, even better! (Personal Experience: The two of us have spent a lot of time on the road laughing at each other’s voices as we read YA novels out loud to each other. It sounds weird, but it’s not. It’s awesome.)

5)    Minimize lodging expenses as much as you can.

Money is precious, and we believe that money spent on hotel rooms (especially when you are a 20-something traveling without family) is a huge waste. Question: Would you rather spend $200+/night on a room that you will barely spend time in or save those funds for additional attractions, dining, etc.? No brainer. When planning any road trip, we suggest thinking about destinations where you may already have connections, even if they are a long-lost relative or an old acquaintance from high school. We are willing to bet that they wouldn’t mind a few couch surfers if it means you will buy them dinner or give them an excuse to be a tourist in their own city. The savings is well worth it! If you must invest in lodging, we suggest resources such as Airbnb or, which help connect you with those who are putting their apartments, spare bedrooms, or couches up for nightly rent. This is a great way to stay in the heart of a city (while potentially making new friends) without the big hotel expense!

6)    Minimize food on the road.

Now, we love Taco Bell as much as the next people, but repeated stops for fast food on a road trip are a serious money suck. Our suggestion is to borrow or invest in a small cooler, in order to pre-pack healthy items you may already have at home like sandwiches, bread, PB & J, string cheese, and even a six-pack of coffee drinks that you would pay 3x as much for at a gas station. That way, you can all stay awake and energized without the extra cost or pitstops.

7)    When you do not have a reliable vehicle, renting a car is a worthwhile investment.

By now, you realize that we are money-conscious people, so we do not make this suggestion lightly. If you have a reliable vehicle that is not going to need an oil change before you come back from your trip, by all means go for it. That has not always been the case for us, but we have each had at least one successful road trip with a rental car and are here to provide tips to make the most out of your investment.

Cons: At least a $25/day additional expense, and potentially limits the amount of drivers you have, depending upon insurance stipulations (which we will discuss in a moment).

Pros: You have a reliable vehicle that gets great gas mileage and most likely roadside assistance is included.

Our Advice:
1) Skip the luxury. Select an economy car that gets great gas mileage, which will hopefully help you make up for some of the added expense!

2) Check your insurance before you purchase it from the rental company! If any of you have a MasterCard, a very well-kept benefit is that they often come with Car Rental Collision Damage Waiver Insurance if you charge a rental on the card, which typically covers personal liability, collision, and theft. Check this website and call the number on the back of your card to make sure. Also, if you already have your own auto insurance, contact your insurance company to see if your policy extends to rental vehicles. Having either can end up saving you a lot of money! Do your best to have as many insured, SAFE drivers as you can.

8)    Create at least a basic itinerary.

Most road trippers we know want to be wild, spontaneous, fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants kind of people, but this can cause huge headaches for the loved ones you are leaving behind. Do yourselves a favor and create a Google doc that you all can share with your friends and family. On this document, list all of the major destinations you plan to hit and your approximate ETA at each, as well as emergency phone numbers. Now, this doesn’t mean that you can’t make a random, unplanned pitstop at the World’s Largest Frying Pan. On the contrary, we highly encourage these kinds of ridiculous adventures. However, if you decide to go to Boston instead of New York City, update your Google doc if you can so that you won’t leave anyone at home in a panic. You’ll be thankful you did.

9)    Print out directions in advance.

I have personally had to learn this lesson the hard way and I will never leave home without printed directions again. I know what you’re thinking, “I have a GPS, I can skip this one.” My friend, your GPS is not fool-proof. All it takes is lost signal at a key moment or the GPS deciding to take you downtown vs. your actual destination because it simply doesn’t know where your destination is. We’ve all been there. Don’t be those lost, helpless people that need to stop at McDonald’s to use the free WiFi. Go to Google maps, enter your destinations as specifically as you can (we recommend at least having your lodging addresses handy), and print. Best case scenario, you won’t need them. Worst case scenario, see above.

10) Fill your trip with as many adventures as you can. You can sleep when you get home.

Here is where I come in! I am here to help you make the most of your time in any city I have previously traveled to by providing sample itineraries and lots of recommendations for dining and attractions. If I have not yet blogged about the city you are visiting, Yelp is an excellent resource to find local favorites that are worth your time and money. TripAdvisor can also be a great resource, but WARNING: the items at the top of any city’s list tend to be the more expensive, 5-star options that aren’t truly the best choice, especially if you are on a tight budget. I recommend double checking between the two if you are torn between a few options. Either way, don’t waste your time in bed. Wake up early and seize the day!

That’s all for now! Safe travels, friends!

Adventure is Out There