What it do, St. Lou?

Hey beautiful people ! I may have mentioned this already but my very first memory of St.Louis was from 2000 after the release of Nelly's "Country Grammar." #sorrynotsorry

I was invited by my lovely blogger friend, Kassala Holdsclaw, to discover St. Louis' culture, food, art and local shops, hosted by the amazing team at Alive Influencer Network. I’ve traveled to the West Coast (California & San Francisco) and all along the East coast (Canada all through Florida), but have never been to the Midwest, so I accepted the exciting invite. Since the wake of the tragic events of summer 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri, namely the shooting of young African American teenager, Michael Brown, by a white Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson, I was curious to see the city’s lifestyle and current state.

Day 1: Southwest Airlines, The Cheshire, Katie’s Pizza & Pasta, Start Bar

After a brief flight on Southwest Airlines (my first time!), we checked in at The Cheshire, a medieval-themed hotel, each room representing a different literature character (your room’s book can otherwise be found in the room); Kassala and I shared a room, inspired by 1860's author, Mary Elizabeth Braddon's Lady Audley's Secret. This theatrical concept sounded difficult to achieve as you try to incorporate two time periods into one, however, the Cheshire made sure the hotel lobby and public décor were antiquated while the rooms were mostly rustic, modern and still true to the theme; across the street was Forest Park where you can visit St.Louis Zoo as well as the Art Museum.

After checking in, we drove to Katie’s Pizza & Pasta for menu tasting; it was such a great welcome dinner as we mingled with the other influencers over a variety of drinks (watermelon juice+prosecco, anyone?) delicious bread and pizza and pasta dishes being served. My favorites were the prawn crostini appetizer, black spaghetti and seafood (a must!) and the ricotta donuts. SO GOOD. Did I mention everything was made in-house from scratch?! I highly recommend Katie's, but make sure you arrive with an empty stomach and prepare to feast !

Afterwards, we made our way to a new hot spot in downtown St. Louis, Start Bar. Similar to Barcade in New York City, it offers nostalgic arcade games, pizza, light bites and drinks for the perfect night out with friends; a DJ spins great throwbacks throughout the night for those in a dancing mood.

Day 2: Pi Pizzeria, Living Collective, Taste Bar, Murmuration Festival, Fauxgerty, Brennan’s

After having breakfast at the Cheshire and planning out our days, we were picked up in a limo party bus and drove to Central West End at Pi Pizzeria, Obama's favorite pizza spot! It was perfectly made without being super heavy even after a few slices because of the thin crusts. 

Once we finished our pizzas, we stopped by Vino Gallery x Living Collective shop; I loved LC's playful yet minimal aesthetics. We also got to meet the faces behind Caleres brand, Revolution, where we learned about their trendy heels with comfier insoles for women on the go! At Taste Bar, we relaxed in a lounge setting where we sampled yummy desserts from ice bars to gelato and more crafty cocktails. 

The first day at Murmuration Festival, a 1-year-old festival focused on the convergence of art, science, and technology, were indoor fashion presentations and performance art. Over the weekend, we got to vibe to artists such as Flying Lotus, Tycho, Yacht and Suuns to name a few; Flying Lotus was my favorite because of all his crazy visuals that holds the audience captive for the entire show.

Fauxgerty's new collection presentation and special performance by Bloom was so fun! They had an edgier feel to their designs, racks stocked with bold colored outerwear as faux leather hung on the walls with hand painted messages such as, "Plant Killer." We ended our night at a nearby bar, Brennan’s, for some food, drinks and a couple games of ping pong with the group; I actually played better than I knew I did !

Day 3: Thrifting in Delmar, Strange Folk Festival, Vicia, Murmuration Festival

As was suggested to us, we Uber-ed to Avalon Exchange, very similar to Buffalo Exchange in New York City. We stopped to grab some froyo before heading back to the hotel as the temperature quickly increased.  

Strange Folk Festival featured curated shops, live local bands, whimsical installations and local food trucks to exhibit St.Louis' culture. While walking around, we spotted a few brands that gifted us some beautiful gems; thank you Creature Type, Philomena + Ruth and Golden Gems ! 

As the weather hit 90°, we made our way back to the hotel to cool down and recharge before ending the evening at Murmuration for Vicia's Dinner Pop­ Up, a new restaurant set to open Fall 2016 on campus, "vegetable-forward, farmer driven and fueled by wood fire." 

Day 4: The Gateway Arch, Charlie Would...,The Preston, Murmuration Festival, Start Bar

After our routine breakfast and laptop sessions, Kassala and I decided to check out the Arch and take some pictures before meeting the group in the afternoon. While in town, we tried Porano, which was pretty filling, think Chipotle but with Italian pasta bowls. We met the group at Project+Gallery for Charlie Would... presentation, which I really enjoyed. Look out for a more detailed post on his art and inspirations ! 

We then walked to the Chase Park Plaza Hotel at The Preston for dinner, a luxurious hotel with 3 different restaurants. At a dimly lit table, we were served delicious contemporary American cuisine. Peep the menu below, I fancied most the charred shishitos (peppers), pork belly+brussel sprouts, Hawaii BBQ chicken and the infamous "Fire" Baked Alaska (strawberry gelato, lemon sorbet, sugar cookie lathered in Grand Marinier). If you're in town and looking for a lavish hotel and dining experience, I definitely recommend Chase Park Plaza. 

We spent the evening in VIP area at Murmuration and watched Tycho perform, a new Indie favorite of mine, especially for chill vibes and traveling playlists; to top off the night over more music and some late night snacks, we went to Start Bar with the crew. 

Make sure to check out my St.Louis outfits here as well as Kassala's. Thank you so much for your hospitality during our stay Laura, Lindsay and Abigail, you made our trip what it was and we loved every moment !