Optometry's Meeting 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri

Meet me in St. Louis: A member-approved guide to the Optometry's Meeting® 2019 host city

Excerpted from page 28 of the June 2019 edition of AOA Focus.

Optometry's Meeting® o­ffers plenty of opportunities to keep attendees busy, but if you find yourself with time to spare, venture beyond the America's Center Convention Complex and find out why Missouri is the Show-Me State-and St. Louis has plenty to show.

Whether you're looking for a tasty craft brew to wet your whistle, the perfect family day trip or a night on the town for some live music, AOA Focus has you covered. This is the definitive locals' guide to St. Louis' sweet spots.

1. Forest Park

St. Louis' green jewel, Forest Park-at 1,293 acres-is bigger by 450 acres than New York City's Central Park. It holds the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Missouri History Museum, the Saint Louis Science Center, the Saint Louis Zoo and The Muny, billed as the country's biggest outdoor theater.

2. The Saint Louis Zoo


Dubbed "best zoo in the country" by USA Today several times, the zoo attracts about 3 million visitors annually. Admission is free, though there are charges for some attractions.

"There are newly renovated bear pits, including a polar bear, the Penguin and Puffin Coast (bring a jacket, it's freezing inside!), a children's zoo for kids where you can feed the goats, sea lion feedings and shows, and train rides." -Mary Migneco, O.D.

3. Laumeier Sculpture Park

Take in 60 large-scale works-free and open daily! AOA members won't want to miss a selfie opportunity with the giant eyeball sculpture.

4. The Magic House St. Louis Children's Museum


Hundreds of interactive exhibits, a three-story slide and a replica Oval Office where little ones can sign the Declaration of Independence.

5. The Loop


Home to 140 specialty shops, 60 multinational restaurants, 10 galleries, 12 entertainment venues and even a 3,000-pound moon (you'll have to see it for yourself), the Loop was voted "Best Cool Street" by Thrillist in 2017.

6. Blueberry Hill

"Head over to Blueberry Hill for a bite to eat, and check out the Duck Room where 'the Father of Rock 'n' Roll' performed over 200 shows as well as one of the largest collections of Chuck Berry artifacts and memorabilia in the world!" -Peter Jacques, UMSL student

7. World Chess Hall of Fame


See world-class exhibitions inside or play life-size chess on the patio outside.

8. South Grand


With its abundance of ethnic restaurants, South Grand has 14 countries represented-more than Epcot! Tower Grove Park, a 19th-century Victorian walking park, features whimsical pavilions, statuary, fountains and mock classical "ruins." The Missouri Botanical Garden also can be found nearby.

9. The Hill


"The Hill is the Italian section of St. Louis where my parents grew up. To this day, it has maintained its Italian heritage and is home to some of the best Italian eateries in St. Louis: Charlie Gitto's on the Hill, Lorenzo's, Anthonino's Taverna, Cunetto House of Pasta, Zia's and Favazza's, just to name a few. Strolling around The Hill on a nice afternoon, you will encounter some great bakeries, Italian grocers and fun watering holes." -Carmen Castellano, O.D.

10. Ted Drewes


If you miss it in the Exhibit Hall (see page 26), consider making a trip to the city's beloved frozen custard stand that has been dishing out frozen treats for over 80 years. A brand-new sundae called The Saint Louis Classic-featuring gooey butter cake, another local delicacy-debuts this year in honor of Ted Drewes' 90th season.

11. City Museum

"The City Museum is basically a playground for adults and kids alike. Not really a museum, it incorporates recycled and repurposed materials to create environments that can be explored. An entire cave system created with concrete, giant indoor slides, an adult-size outdoor ball pit and an old bus and airplane on the roof are just a few of the features of this unique St. Louis landmark." -Peter Jacques, UMSL student

12. Grand Center Arts District


Hear the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra at Powell Hall, catch a show at The Fabulous Fox Theatre or view exhibitions at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. Architectural walking tours also are offered every Saturday morning, and the district plays host to more than 1,500 arts and festival events each year.

13. Citygarden


Free to the public, the downtown park is located a few blocks from the arch and holds 24 sculpture works, six rain gardens, a children's spray plaza and a pool with a six-foot waterfall.

14. The Gateway Arch National Park


Take a tram ride 630 feet up to the top of the tallest manmade monument in the U.S. A recently revamped museum and green space at the Gateway Arch National Park connects the monument to the city.

15. National Blues Museum

The only museum dedicated exclusively to preserving and honoring the national and international story of the blues and its impact on American culture presents exhibits and special events.

16. BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups


Live music daily, a full-service kitchen specializing in Cajun and Creole food and, yes, scrumptious soups.

17. St. Louis BBQ


Although neighboring Kansas City gets all the glory, St. Louisans boast about their BBQ. Popular joints include the Pappy's family.

"I've never left hungry after eating at Pappy's. Slow-smoked meats of all types are served in huge portions with delectable side dishes. I've never ordered something there I haven't loved!" -Peter Jacques, UMSL student

18. Broadway Oyster Bar

Located in one of the oldest buildings still in daily use within the city of St. Louis, this New Orleans-inspired restaurant offers live music every day of the week.

19. Anheuser-Busch St. Louis Brewery


St. Louis is the North American headquarters for Anheuser-Busch, where it was founded in 1852.

"Anheuser-Busch brewery is a must-see attraction, including the world-famous Clydesdales, and it ends with two free samples of your favorite beverage." -Joshua Wilson, O.D.

20. Craft breweries

The city is bursting at the seams with craft breweries-many of which offer free tours.

21. Grant's Farm


Grant's Farm, a tribute to America's 18th president, is a refuge for 900 animals.

"In addition to having free admission and an all-around enjoyable experience, every Friday night during the summer they have a live band in the Bauernhof area. It is very festive and a great place to bring a family. We enjoy going with our children and grandchildren." -Carmen Castellano, O.D.

22. Pieces Board Game Bar and Cafe

Minutes from downtown, this family-friendly café features a library of more than 500 board games, a full bar and a food menu. Go online to view the game selection in advance.

23. Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site


Looking to get out of the city and go back in time? Fifteen minutes east of downtown lie the archaeological remnants of the most sophisticated prehistoric native civilization north of Mexico. Climb the 100-foot Monks Mound and experience the reconstructed ancient sun calendar, Woodhenge, at this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

24. Topgolf


"Topgolf is a blast for everyone. It doesn't matter if you're athletic, a golf enthusiast or just developed your own golf ball like a boss. I would compare it to bowling, but with better food, drinks and overall atmosphere." -Baily Peterson, UMSL student.

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St. Louis Attractions

June 10, 2019

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