Hiking and Biking
It may surprise you that here in the flat Midwest there are actually some pretty great hiking and biking trails! I may be biased as a St. Louis native, but Missouri has quite a few absolutely breathtaking nature walks. Castlewood State Park is an amazing view, especially in fall when all the colors are changing. Others that I highly recommend include: Queeny Park, Babler State Park and Cliff Cave Park. There are also great places for biking. The famed Katy Trail spans 225 miles and is the longest trail in Missouri. It’s perfect for shorter day trips, or longer outings. One of the easiest and best places to do both, however, is the equally beautiful Forest Park, which is right across from the hospitals. It offers numerous trails and sights to see, and is interspersed with tons of free attractions! For those of you coming from chillier climates, St. Louis takes a bit longer to get cold, which means you can take advantage of all these sites for quite a bit of time in the fall. Come enjoy the gorgeous Missouri outdoors!
– Tanvi S., M1
Lakes and Rivers
Situated at the intersection of the “Mighty” Mississippi and “Muddy” Missouri rivers and within easy driving distance of pristine lakes and winding rivers, St. Louis is an ideal city for those interested in canoeing, fishing, kayaking and float trips! As a local of St. Louis, I was raised to appreciate the natural beauty of Missouri and value the adventure afforded by the proximity of the Lake of the Ozarks and the Meramec and Gasconade rivers. In fact, whatever type of watery adventure floats your boat, St. Louis is well situated to provide it! Bennett Spring, Big Lake, Roaring River and Washington State Parks offer additional access to various lakes and rivers. Also, if you don’t know what a float trip is, you get to learn all about it via the first-year float trip which will occur along the twists and turns of the Meramec River! Local Missourians will quickly attest to the beauty of this great state and it doesn’t take long for newcomers to learn why.
– Will J., M1
Travel During First Year
To make travel work while in medical school, all one has to do is travel! St. Louis is in America’s heartland. Chicago, Indianapolis, Nashville, Memphis, Louisville and Kansas City are five hours (or less) away by car, and thereby make easy, quick adventures. Spice up your three-day weekends with longer road trips to cities like New Orleans, Atlanta, Madison, Detroit or Minneapolis. Grab a pile of friends, cram yourselves into a car, and get cozy in the cheapest room you can find through whatever bargain hotel-booking website or house-share app suits your fancy. If all this city talk is distasteful to you, also note that you can find great rock-climbing, river-splashing and hiking across Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee and beyond! Where there’s a will, there’s a way. When in Rome. *Fill in other clichéd phrases about taking advantage of life’s opportunities.* You DO have the time and cheap methods to make travel a part of your life while in med school, you just have to go for it and make it happen!
– Christine A., M1
Traveling to/from St. Louis
St. Louis is a great place, and like any great place, sometimes you have to get out of it to appreciate what you left. Maybe the weather’s nice and your bike tires are freshly pumped? Hit the Katy Trail for a beautiful ride along the Missouri River through the heart of Missouri wine country. Got some freshly soled hiking boots? Drive southwest into the heart of the Ozarks Mountains for hiking and solitude on the Ozark Trail. Dreaming of new cityscapes? Hop on a train from historic Union Station and head southwest to Texas for the weirdness that is Austin, west to Kansas City for St. Louis’s cool little sibling, or north to Chicago for the big city vibes. Want to get more Midwest charm while the wind tousles your hair? In a four-hour drive, you could be in Louisville, Nashville, Indianapolis, Kansas City or Memphis. Tack on a few more hours and the list gets even longer. Looking to spite human anatomy and fly? Lambert-St. Louis International Airport will take you across the county in a few hours and is conveniently accessible by MetroLink from the heart of the medical campus. Oh, the places you’ll go!
– Derek B., M1
St. Louis is an amazing city, but if you want an escape from school and a weekend adventure, Chicago is a short and easy trip away! As a native of the Chicagoland suburbs, I have traveled between St. Louis and Chicago more times than I can count. Usually, I jump in my car and arrive in Chicago in less than five hours (variable depending on which part of Chicago and who is driving). The ride is easy, cheap and quite enjoyable, especially when traveling with a friend. Don’t have a car? No worries! You can get a cheap train or bus ticket that will take you to Chicago and let you catch up on all of those coursepacks that you have recently ignored. So grab your bags and your friends, and head to Chicago for a great weekend in the big city!
– Maria S., M1
Did you know Kansas City has the most fountains of any city in the world after Rome? Kansas City is about a three-and-a-half hour drive from St. Louis, which makes for a perfect weekend trip. KC is famous for its barbecue, and there are plenty of great barbecue restaurants, including my favorite, Joe’s KC. You can enjoy shopping at the Country Club Plaza, explore the Westport area, or watch a Royals baseball game. Other activities include the World War I museum, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, or a tour of Boulevard Brewing Company (including a free tasting). If you ever get tired of St. Louis, Kansas City is a great option for a quick weekend trip!
– Jackie Yu, M1
New Orleans is a must, and not just for Mardi Gras. There are so many ways to occupy your time while visiting this uniquely cultured city. First of all, the food is phenomenal. Make sure to hit up Napoleon House for the best muffuletta, or check out Acme for the best po’ boy and oysters. (Just get there early or the line is out the door.) Don’t forget the fantastic bananas fosters at Brenan’s! And no matter what the time of day, beignets are always fresh at Café du Monde. To dive into the history of the city, see the Cabildo museums on the city history and Mardi Gras. Take a tour of the cemeteries, which are very characteristic of New Orleans. Shop Market Street and the other local tourist, clothing or antique stores that populate the French Quarter. New Orleans also boasts a top-rated zoo and aquarium, and there is always some celebration with parades in the evenings, any time of year. In your down time, explore the architecture in the French Quarter, or the green spaces and bead-covered trees outside of houses in the Garden District. New Orleans is a city that can’t be missed!
– Natalie G., M1
Most WUSM students list Washington D.C. as the city they would live in if they couldn’t live in St. Louis. Lucky for us, D.C. is an easy plane ride away and boasts some of the best parts of America! Washington D.C. is home to the U.S. government, the National Institutes of Health, and, traditionally, the coolest members of each WUSM class. An underrated city, D.C. boasts fewer Wall Street execs than New York City, more rainfall than Seattle, better ocean proximity than Chicago, and more influence than Miami or Atlanta. Next time you are in the area, check out one of the many fine museums, toss a disc on the National Mall, and then go for a sail on the Potomac River.
– Jeff H., M1
Memphis is definitely a great place to visit, and it is only five hours away by car, making it a great weekend trip! While you may be tempted to simply hit up Graceland and the Elvis memorabilia, I (a local) would love to give you some tips to make your trip even more fantastic. Memphis is all about that BBQ! Check out the Rendezvous, or take a seat at a local favorite, The Commissary. Make sure to stop by Jerry’s Sno Cones, a favorite of everyone I know. The Peabody Hotel is a great place to rest after a long day and watch the duck parade. The Pyramid, Civil Rights Museum, Pink Palace and the Memphis Zoo are also great stops. For night-time activity, Beale Street is the tourist destination, but I would recommend anything in the Cooper-Young district. For sports fans, a Grizzlies Basketball game is a must. And to finish your day, get a doughnut at Gibson’s, open 24/7!
– Natalie G., M1