Photo courtesy of St. Louis County Parks

By Trish Muyco-Tobin

Looking for city sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style? Believe it or not, you just may find that special something for that special someone in the mostly residential enclave of Ladue, which remakes itself into a shopper’s delight come the holidays.

You can bet shoppers will be lining the sidewalks at some of Ladue’s shopping destinations such as the MarketPlace in Ladue on Clayton Road, Colonial Marketplace, Clayprice Center and Ladue Crossing, where you’ll find many locally owned and operated boutiques, specialty stores and eateries.

But once you get your fill of all the hustle and bustle, it’s time to shift your focus from the presents, to just being present—and one of the best ways to experience the joys of the season in St. Louis can be found in Ladue.

Tilles Park has long been a favorite for family picnics, casual strolling or for relaxing lakeside to just watch the world go by. Just like much of the acreage in Ladue, the property was formerly farmland, owned by “Captain” Andrew Tilles. Born in St. Louis in 1865, Tilles was in the cigar and tobacco business, and also worked in real estate. He donated the land to the City of St. Louis in 1932 for use as a public park in memory of his mother, Rosalie Tilles. St. Louis County purchased the park from the city in 1957.

This time of year, Tilles Park is one of the most popular destinations in town. That’s because from now until Dec. 30, more than a million twinkling lights transform the park into Winter Wonderland. The drive-thru display, which is now in its third decade, features a toy factory, a bubbling stream, a tunnel of lights, and—of course—Santa and his reindeer.

In recent years, Winter Wonderland has also become an idyllic spot to pop the question. Couples looking for a romantic, holiday setting opt for the sweetheart carriages for two; there are also carriages for families and bigger groups.

WINTER WONDERLAND

AT TILLES PARK

Photo courtesy of St. Louis County Parks

Nov. 22 to Dec. 30 (Closed Christmas Eve)

5:30 p.m.  –  9 p.m.      Sundays through Fridays (open for vehicles and carriage rides)

5:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.        Saturdays (open for carriage rides only)

Admission (cash only)

$10 Family vehicle

$20 Limousine

$40 Commercial transport van

$90 Tour bus

Advanced reservations are required for all carriage rides through metrotix.com or by calling (314) 534-1111. For more information, visit stlouisco.com/ParksandRecreation.

IN AND AROUND LADUE

Colonial Marketplace in Ladue    photo by Justin Barr

The Woman’s Exchange

More than just a children’s boutique, The Woman’s Exchange of St. Louis was founded in 1883 with a mission to help “hardworking women with little opportunity.” Initially designed as a place for women to sell their handicraft and earn a living, the location would soon add a tearoom that would give a boost to the nonprofit’s fundraising efforts. Just like the legendary cherry dress that the shop became best known for, the tearoom has also established its own following, with its freshly made sandwiches, from-scratch desserts and of course, the “The Famous Woman’s Exchange Salad.” woexstl.org

Lester’s

St. Louisans love their sports heroes, and Lester’s Sports Bar & Grill gives them proper tribute, with extra love for The Man. You can’t miss the life-size bronze statue of Hall-of Famer Stan Musial—who was a close friend of owner Lester Miller—at the door; and once inside, there are walls of memorabilia, including a baseball display autographed by a roster of Cardinals over the years. And the food doesn’t disappoint, either. While it’s best described as an upscale sports bar, the menu holds its own, with hearty soups and salads, in-house, slow-smoked barbeque, and deli sandwiches so overstuffed, you may need help navigating your plate. We particularly enjoy the Chopped Chef Salad and Reuben the Great. lestersrestaurant.com

Northwest Coffee

Ideally located on the boundary of Clayton and Ladue, this coffee shop is not only buzzing with activity on workday mornings, it also attracts the weekend early birds and brunch crowd. In addition to the full array of caffeinated (and non-) offerings, Northwest also has a substantial breakfast and lunch menu of Barista Eggs, Liége Waffles and a selection of sandwiches. Our favorite feature of this locally owned coffeehouse? The revolving artwork from local artists that adorns the walls. northwestcoffee.com