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shopping in st. louis

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Shopping in St. LouisOur No. 1 tip for a rewarding St. Louis shopping experience: zero in on the neighborhoods. This is a spread-out city of many separate communities, each with its own distinct character. Here’s a quick rundown that can help you plan your shopping strategy.

The Central West End, just north and east of Forest Park, was created in the flush of expansion and prosperity that followed the 1904 World’s Fair. Today it’s one of the city’s most pleasant shopping destinations, a neighborhood of stately turn-of-the-20th-century homes, ornate lampposts, streets lined with giant oaks and lots of sidewalk cafés for people-watching when the weather’s nice.

Euclid Avenue is thick with specialty shops, pubs and restaurants. Peruse the selection at cozy Left Bank Books (399 N. Euclid Ave.), then wander through the once-abandoned auto repair warehouse now occupied by Bowood Farms (4605 Olive St.), a combination garden center, greenhouse and café that’s a lush respite from the concrete jungle.

Another trendy district is the Delmar Loop. The six or so blocks of Delmar Boulevard between Kingsland and Des Peres avenues form the heart of The Loop. It’s a shopping, dining and nightlife destination with a lively street life courtesy of neighboring Washington University. The district’s name comes from the streetcar turnaround, or loop, that runs through the area. The vintage electric trolley’s 2.2-mile fixed-track links the Delmar Loop to Forest Park with 10 stops along the way. From University City Hall, the trolley travels along Delmar Boulevard turning at DeBaliviere Avenue to the Missouri History Museum. Trolley cars run daily every 20 minutes. A 2-hour pass is $2; $1 (ages 65+ and the physically impaired); free (ages 0-5 with adult supervision). An all-day pass is $5; $2.50 (ages 65+ and the physically impaired); free (ages 0-5 with adult supervision).

Eclectic is the keyword here. Vintage Vinyl (6610 Delmar Blvd.) has a discriminating collection of CDs, DVDs, LPs, T-shirts and posters. Next door is Sunshine Daydream , an all-purpose head shop (incense, candles, more T-shirts). Browse art galleries like the Compônere Gallery (6509 Delmar Blvd.) and the Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design

The Hill, south of Manchester Avenue between Hampton Avenue and S. Kingshighway Boulevard, is an old, established residential neighborhood with a gaggle of great Italian restaurants and specialty food markets. The shelves at J. Viviano & Sons (5139 Shaw Ave.) are loaded with jars of black olive paste, cans of anchovy-stuffed olives, bags of lupine beans, almond confetti candy and blocks of Parmigiano-Reggiano (“the crown jewel of cheeses”).

South Grand is one of the city’s more ethnically diverse neighborhoods, and that’s reflected in the shops and restaurants that line the eight-block stretch of S. Grand Boulevard between Crittenden Street and McDonald Avenue. Shop for Indian spices, Japanese eggplants and green tea ice cream at Jay International Food Co. (3172 S. Grand Blvd.) or contemplate a tattoo or piercing from one of the friendly folks at TRX (3207 S. Grand Blvd.).

South of downtown is Cherokee Antique Row, centered along Cherokee Street between Nebraska Avenue and DeMenil Place. In addition to antique stores and art galleries this city neighborhood has some interesting specialty shops. One of the best is Retro 101/Cherry Bomb Vintage (2303 Cherokee St.), a treasure trove of vintage stuff (think “mod” ’60s furniture, funky costume jewelry, vintage clothing and kitschy bar accessories). There’s more nostalgic browsing at Bella (1934 Cherokee St.), two buildings loaded with an eclectic range of antiques, collectibles, arts, crafts and housewares.

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You can’t miss Union Station, the hulking, red-roofed, turreted former train terminal that stands downtown on Market Street (between 18th and 20th streets). Check out the gift shop and soda fountain in the St. Louis Union Station Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton .

The city has a couple of worthy destination malls. Upscale Plaza Frontenac, just south of I-64/40 at the intersection of Clayton Road and Lindbergh Boulevard, caters to well-to-do St. Louisans with the only Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus stores in town, along with trendy retailers like Tiffany & Co. and Louis Vuitton. The atmosphere here is elegant throughout; even the seating areas and restrooms are smartly stylish.

West County Center, at I-270 and Manchester Road in Des Peres, is a major mall anchored by JCPenney, Macy’s and Nordstrom. Among the more than 150 other retailers are familiar names like Ann Taylor, Brooks Brothers and The North Face. Anchors at the Saint Louis Galleria, I-64 and S. Brentwood Boulevard, are Dillard’s, Macy’s and Nordstrom, plus some 165 additional stores and boutiques.

Westport Plaza, in a mixed-use office complex just off I-270 and Page Avenue in the western burbs, is more a place to relax after shopping since it has pick-me-ups like Starbucks and the St. Louis Bread Co., a variety of casual and higher-end restaurants, happy hour hangouts and pubs with live music.

Bargain hunters head for St. Louis Outlet Mall, SR 370 (exit 11) and St. Louis Mills Boulevard. With more than 100 outlets—everything from Old Navy and The Children’s Place to Burlington and Bed, Bath and Beyond—there’s something for everyone. Refuel with a Wetzel’s pretzel.

Missouri farmers supply St. Louis farmers markets, and one of the best reasons to visit is for the cornucopia of locally grown fruits and veggies. The markets are also good places to pick up locally produced cheese, eggs, honey and baked goods. Shoppers in the know arrive early to snap up seasonal goodies like berries and heirloom tomatoes. And of course it’s fun to just wander around soaking up the sights and smells.

The granddaddy of them all is the Soulard Farmers Market (south of downtown at the corner of 7th and Carroll streets), which has been in business in one form or another since 1779. If you’re a first timer go on Saturday morning, when this big, bustling market is at its busiest and best. Shaped like a giant “H,” it has stall after stall of produce—fat melons, baskets of grapes, just-picked zucchini—as well as butchers, bakers and vendors selling everything from balsamic black bean dip to aromatic soaps. It’s open Wed.-Thurs. 8-5, Fri. 7-5, Sat. 7-5:30, year-round. Hint: Street parking is not plentiful and also metered, and regulations are strictly enforced; park in the free lot across 7th Street from the market.

Much smaller but equally appealing is the Kirkwood Farmers Market in downtown Kirkwood (150 E. Argonne Dr. at Taylor Avenue). Fresh, locally grown produce varies by season; in summer look for ripe peaches grown in Missouri’s “boot heel,” and ask about the recipe for turning them into a scrumptious peach pie. The Tropical Moose (“Tro Mo” to its loyal customers) snow cone stand sells the icy treats in more than 50 different flavors. The market is open from mid-April to late September (Mon.-Fri. 9-8, Sat. 8-5, Sun. varies by vendor), but Saturday mornings offer the best selection. In October it morphs into a pumpkin patch, stays open longer hours (daily 9-8) and has lots of activities for kids. From mid-November to December 24, the Christmas Market is open daily 9-9.

Smaller-scale shopping with a healthy dollop of historic charm prevails in nearby St. Charles. If you’re into antiques, crafts, gifts and collectibles, put St. Charles’ Main Street at the top of your day-trip list.

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St. Louis, MO

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Travel Information

City Population

319,294

Elevation

585 ft.

Sales Tax

The sales tax rate in the city of St. Louis is 8.49 percent. The city's lodging tax is 14.9 percent and there is a rental car tax of 7.82 percent.

Emergency

911

Police (non-emergency)

(314) 231-1212

Time and Temperature

(314) 321-2222 or (636) 441-8467

Hospitals

Barnes-Jewish Hospital, (314) 747-3000; Missouri Baptist Medical Center (Town and Country, Mo.), (314) 996-5000; St. Alexius Hospital, (314) 865-7000; St. Anthony's Medical Center, (314) 525-1000; Saint Louis University Hospital, (314) 577-8000.

Visitor Information

I-270 and Riverview Dr. St. Louis, MO 63138. Phone:(314)869-7100

Air Travel

Lambert-St. Louis International Airport

Rental Cars

Hertz offers discounts to AAA members; phone (314) 426-7555 or (800) 654-3080.

Rail Service

The Amtrak terminal, (800) 872-7245, is at 430 S. 15th St.

Buses

The Greyhound Lines Inc. terminal, (800) 231-2222, is at 430 S. 15th St.

Taxis

Cab companies include St. Louis County Cab & Yellow Cab, (314) 991-5300 or (314) 993-8294; and Laclede, (314) 652-3456 or (314) 403-7000 (to request a taxi via text message). All cabs in St. Louis are on the meter system. Base fare is approximately $2 to $3.50 for the first mile, with a rate of $2 to $2.50 per mile. The base fare goes up $1 for each additional passenger. A fuel surcharge of at least $1 also is added to the fare, and there is a $4 surcharge for airport pick-ups.

Public Transportation

Metro, the public transportation system—which includes MetroBus, the MetroLink light-rail train and the Metro Call-A-Ride para-transit van service—transports passengers throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area. The base bus fare is $2; $1 (ages 5-12, ages 65+ and customers with disabilities). Exact cash fare is required. A MetroLink one-ride ticket is $2.50; $1.25 (ages 5-12, ages 65+ and customers with disabilities). A 2-hour system pass (with transfers) is $3; $1.50 (ages 5-12, ages 65+ and customers with disabilities), or $4 from Lambert Airport. Weekly and monthly passes also are available. For route information, current fares and hours of system operation contact MetroTransit Information Mon.-Fri. 7-7; phone (314) 231-2345, or (618) 271-2345 in Illinois.

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