🔥 = WashU Hot Picks (WUSM M1 favorites, as reported by our classmates in the Annual Dis-O Guide Mega Survey)

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A Classmate on Getting Outdoors

“If you like to get outdoors and explore, there are plenty of opportunities to do so in St. Louis; terrain and views vary widely, so you can really get a mix. Many of the hiking spots are also great locations for mountain biking and trail running, if that’s your thing. Short on time? Forest Park is a 1,326-acre urban park, immediately west of the medical school campus and immediately east of the Danforth campus. What FP lacks in elevation, it makes up for in good people watching and proximity to campus. An easy stroll if you want to catch some fresh air or walk your dog between study sessions.”

Kristin P., M1

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Karim S., M1

“Pick-up games are never in short supply! Groups play regularly, often multiple times a week, on the court in the Olin Hall basement (right next to the FLTC). Additionally, games go on all weekdays on the Danforth Campus after 5 p.m. There are also intramural leagues to play 3 vs. 3 in the winter and 5 vs. 5 in the spring.” 

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Maggy B., M1

“I had never boxed before moving to St. Louis, but wanted to find a fun workout space that I’d actually stick with when schoolwork got more intense. I found a place called Ilovekickboxing, which had a really cheap promo, gave me gloves and everything. I really like having scheduled classes that I feel like I have to be at every week, and the workout is amazing! The community is super supportive and fun — it’s mainly 20-35-year-old women kickboxing out to My Chemical Romance and the Jonas Brothers, so it’s a lighthearted, refreshing break from the med school grind!” 

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Castlewood State Park 🔥

Nikita S., Elizabeth C., Gopika H., and Amy L. Z. hike at Castlewood State Park.

This state park’s trails wind along the banks of the Meramec, with gorgeous views from the bluffs overlooking the river. Expect woods, slick, rocky trails (trail shoes recommended), and lots of wooden steps. This is the closest legit hike you can get near St. Louis, and is a great place to see the fall colors turn.

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Aaron G., M1

Kristin P. climbs the rock wall at Upper Limits.

“Though the Midwest may be flat, rock climbing culture is alive and well here at WashU. WUSM students can join the ClimbRx student group to get a huge student discount on memberships at the local indoor rock climbing gym, Climb So Ill. Located in what used to be the power plant of St. Louis City Hospital #1, Climb So Ill is just a 10-minute drive from school and features a 50-plus foot wall for top-rope and sport climbing, smaller walls for auto-belays, an extensive bouldering area, and a training area with hangboards, weights, and training wall. The student membership includes free gear rentals, guest passes, and shop discounts. Memberships are not required to climb at the gym, and students who climb at WashU range across all levels of expertise. They always welcome newcomers!”

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Creve Coeur Lake

Creve Coeur Lake trails are mostly flat and paved, but you can hike up the trail behind Dripping Spring for some mild elevation (and if you do this, you’ll see the zipliners swinging through the trees at Go Ape). The main trail (5.7 miles) encircles the lake, and here you’ll have views of dinghy sailboats, paddleboarders, and kayakers.

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Jennifer L., M1

M1s dancing to Lizzo in the choreographed “boy band dance” at the annual AMWA Red Dress Event.

“There are quite a few dance studios in the area, but Central Studio is just a hop, skip, and jeté away — that is, about 10 minutes from the FLTC. They offer adult classes in a variety of genres (ballet, contemporary/jazz, tap, and more), and you can either attend on a drop-in basis ($16/class) or buy a class pack! Pro tip: Wait for their Black Friday sale, when you can snag a bundle for ~$11/class. Most classes are offered in two levels, with Level 1 being geared towards beginner dancers and Level 2 towards intermediate/advanced dancers. Ballet class is even more fun post-Anatomy — you’ll find yourself intimately familiar with each and every muscle activated by that plié.” 

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Edgar M. Queeny Park

Queeny Park is a large expanse of land in suburban West County. Expect bucolic rolling hills and rocky, wooded trails (plus some paved portions). Queeny is incredibly dog friendly, and if you don’t have a dog but need some puppy therapy, one lap around Queeny will give you your fix. You’ll probably see some deer, too. The main loop is 4.4 miles, but there are quite a few shortcut trails.

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Elephant Rocks State Park

Spend some time hiking the trails, but the main attraction here is the monstrous elephant-shaped boulders, formed from 1.5 billion-year-old granite. Leave the pups at home so you can enjoy a safe climb on the boulders and explore the various messages carved into their faces.

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Extreme Sports in St. Louis

Austin I., M1

Caroline S. took a break from snowboarding to snap this picture of her partner, Naomi, at Hidden Valley.

If you’re an adrenaline junkie, there are still ways to get your fix here in St. Louis. Below are some of my top picks.

  • Off-Roading ($5/day): Located one hour from St. Louis, St. Joe State Park is an amazing location to enjoy off-road vehicles including dirt bikes, ATVs, UTVs, dune buggies, and more. Complete with forests, ponds, creeks, and even sand dunes, St. Joe State Park is a top location for off-roading.
  • Paragliding in Saint Louis ($120/yr membership): The St. Louis area boasts an active paragliding club with locations to cliff launch or to be towed into the sky. To enjoy this sport, you’ll first need to purchase a paraglider and take lessons. The best seasons are spring, summer, and fall, although it’s possible to fly year-round.
  • Hidden Valley Ski Resort (~$40/day): Hidden Valley, just 30 minutes from Saint Louis, is a great place to keep your skills up or to learn skiing or snowboarding for the first time.
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Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park

A “shut-in” is a term for a place where the river is narrowed by hard rock, and in this instance, the result is the creation of a natural water park. In the summer months, stop and take a dip in the shut-ins along your 10-mile (or longer) hike. Together with the adjoining Taum Sauk Mountain State Park, this area covers more than 16,000 acres.

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Mark Twain National Forest/Hughes Mountain

Over 750 miles of trails. The Devil’s Honeycomb Trail (1.6 miles) is a must-see — named for its clusters of polygonal columns of rhyolite, located at the highest point on Hughes Mountain.

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Julie S., M1

Orangetheory, located in the CWE, is a great workout option close to the medical school campus. The workouts consist of a combination of running, rowing, and weight-lifting. Participants wear heart rate monitors during the class and are awarded points when their heart rate is in the ‘orange zone.’ The goal is to get 12 or more points throughout the hour-long workout. The classes are great for anyone looking to be pushed to perform at their peak level!” 

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Pere Marquette Park

Head over to Illinois to hike high along the banks of the Illinois River. Stunning views, particularly during early fall. Notable for being a nesting place for bald eagles in January and February, so if you’re a bird lover, patriot or bona fide ornithologist, keep this on your radar.

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Ping Pong and Table Tennis

Sam M., Colin M., and Borna N., M1s

“First off, let’s get one thing clear: there is a world of difference between ‘ping pong’ and table tennis. Fortunately, we are primarily participants in the former, not the latter (though we do have a Division II tennis star from Croatia in our crew). While we did purchase our own equipment and frequently wrestle with the occasionally wet floors and sometimes moved plants in 818 (the Core Apartment Residences), the end goal of our pursuits is both skill and fun, not just one or the other. If you are interested in higher level play, there is a club at the Danforth Campus that plays on the South Campus on regulation tables every week. On the other hand, if you’re interested in joining our eight-year pursuit of perfection, feel free to reach out or hang out around 818, as you’re bound to see us pinging some pong eventually.” 

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Beau S., M1

“The obvious choice for running outdoors for most students living in the Central West End, the Grove, and other neighborhoods surrounding Forest Park will be in and around Forest Park’s 1,300 acres. The perimeter of Forest Park measures over six miles, and there are many beautiful roads and paths within that offer rewarding diversions from your daily route. Tower Grove Park is similarly large, well-maintained, and safe for students living nearby. Within a half-hour drive of the city, gorgeous trail running opportunities abound at Creve Coeur Lake, Castlewood State Park, Cliff Cave County Park, Weldon Spring Conservation Area, and countless other locations (all especially picturesque in the fall!). For those looking to compete, there are many races in St. Louis throughout the year, including the marathon in March/April.”

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Kristin P., M1

“If you’re looking for some intense HIIT, or you’re a runner looking for a good treadmill class to get you through the winter, Shred is a great solution. Dark rooms and good music will keep you in the zone throughout this grueling workout, alternating between treadmill runs on their top of the line Woodway treadmills and weighted/bodyweight exercises on your workout bench. You will leave drenched and shredded. Located right off the metro in Brentwood, so it’s easy to get to from campus. Class packs are pricey but they offer student discounts.” 

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St. Louis Blues Hockey 🔥

Joe B., M1

“The St. Louis Blues are the city’s professional hockey team and play their games at the newly renovated Enterprise Center downtown. For the first time in franchise history, the Blues won the Stanley Cup in 2019 and the city could not have enjoyed the ride more. Whether you’re a fan of the sport or just looking for a fun evening activity, Blues’ games are always a blast. Enterprise Center is easy to reach via Metro and as a student, you can often get Student Rush tickets to games for as low as $25!” 

Bruin P., M1

“If you like watching grown men strap blades to their feet, arm themselves with bent sticks, and punch each other out on ice, then hockey is the sport for you! Seriously though, as a longtime hockey fan, I was fired up to move to St. Louis right as the Blues won their first ever Stanley Cup. Sports has a magical way of uniting people and has personally helped me to feel much more integrated into this community. Not to mention, the playoff atmosphere in Enterprise Center (only 15 minutes away via MetroLink) is absolutely UNREAL. I still love my hometown NHL team but … Let’s Go Blues! Play Gloria!” 

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St. Louis Cardinals Baseball 🔥

Sherwin N., M1

Summer in St. Louis is all about Cardinals baseball.

“Rejoice, sports fans! Not only is St. Louis home to the 2019 Stanley Cup Champions, it is also host to your 11-time World Series champions St. Louis Cardinals! Come join Cardinal Nation at beautiful Busch Stadium, a short 15-minute MetroLink ride from campus, and watch the Redbirds soar through the postseason as they embark on their journey towards another World Series!”