From University City to Maplewood to Ladue and Wildwood, vibrant and historic neighborhoods abound in St. Louis. In our annual We Love Our Neighborhoods guide, we ask 19 local families to share what they love most about their neighborhoods, from local shops, restaurants and services to the lush parks, thriving arts and culture, and beloved annual events that make their communities such special places to live.

Upadhyay

From left, Akash, Shruti, Meera, and Ashish Upadhyay

Ladue

The Upadhyays

By Denise Kruse

New York natives Shruti and Ashish Upadhyay moved to St. Louis more than a decade ago, hoping to find a better quality of life. Shruti, an English teacher at Ladue Horton Watkins High School, and Ashish, a senior manager at World Wide Technology, chose to settle in Ladue five years ago after falling in love with its small-town feel and close community, a perfect fit for the couple and their two children, Meera, 11, and Akash, 13, both students at Ladue Middle School.

What first drew you to Ladue, the house or the location?

We absolutely love the central location and easy access to the many attractions in surrounding areas. We love that each street in Ladue has its own charm and history. Luckily, we came across our home and knew it was a perfect fit. It’s a great neighborhood to go for a walk and visit with friendly neighbors.

Where are some of your favorite places to dine in Ladue?

Our family go-to spot is Original Pancake House. Giovanni’s Kitchen is a great place to get service with a smile and eat a delicious meal.

What’s a good date night in Ladue?

A great date night would consist of happy hour at either BrickTop’s or Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar and a movie at the quaint Plaza Frontenac theater.

Why would you encourage others to move to your neighborhood?

Ladue is a nice place to live, as it is accessible to a variety of restaurants and shops, central to all other locations in St. Louis and a safe place to live. We love that practically anywhere we drive to go is about a 15 to 20 minute drive. Also, we can’t say enough about the schools. Ladue School District is one of the reasons to live here – it’s dedicated to student learning and embraces diversity.

townsend.jpg

Laura, Tom, Nate and Jeanne Townsend

Clayton

The Townsends

By Denise Kruse

Historic Tudor brick homes on stately, tree-lined streets and a commercial shopping and dining district gave Clayton exactly the homey feeling Tom and Jeanne Townsend were looking for. The couple moved to the area in 1996 after stints living in both University City and Soulard. The Townsends appreciate the big role the Clayton area plays in historic St. Louis – in fact, the family’s property was once a part of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, more commonly known as the St. Louis World’s Fair, hosted in 1904. The Townsends, along with their adult children – Laura, 22, and Nate, 25 – also are the founders of Pianos for People, a charity they began in memory of their son and brother, Alex, who passed away in 2010. Pianos for People provides free pianos and lessons to underprivileged families across the St. Louis area. The couple are also the founders of the Alex Townsend Memorial Foundation and the A-Town Art and Music Festival in Savannah, Georgia.

Why would you encourage others to move to your neighborhood?

The community spirit, the short walking distance to so many charming bars and restaurants, the proximity to Forest Park and the easy access to other parts of town.

What are your favorite local go-to spots?

We like Sasha’s Wine Bar, DeMun Oyster Bar and Northwest Coffee Roasting Co., among many other places. Our son Nate loves Pastaria and Laura likes Kaldi’s Coffee Roasting Co.

What’s your ideal date night in or near Clayton?

We’d like dinner at Boundary and a movie at the nearby Hi-Pointe Theatre, or a leisurely dinner with friends at I Fratellini.

What’s the best way to spend a weekend in Clayton?

Friday night [would be] dinner in downtown Clayton. Saturday brunch at Pastaria, then Northwest Coffee Roasting Co., followed by Forest Park in the afternoon. Saturday night we might meet friends at DeMun Oyster Bar and close the weekend with a glass of wine [on] Sunday afternoon at Sasha’s Wine Bar.

Sorkin

Jude, Annelle, Oscar, Harlee and Harley Sorkin

Town and Country

The Sorkins

By Denise Kruse

Harlee and Annelle Sorkins met in college at the University of Illinois and lived in Champaign, Illinois, for 10 years after college. Eventually, though, what they playfully refer to as “the elasticity of St. Louis umbilical cords” tugged them back to Harlee’s childhood home in Town and Country. Harlee’s grandparents built the home they currently live in back when the property was located in unincorporated west St. Louis County – Harlee’s mother grew up in the home, as did Harlee and his siblings. After a gut renovation, the couple put their distinctive mark on the home, adding an additional story, garage, deck and landscaping, as well as a bocce court and – after watching Napoleon Dynamite – a tetherball poll. The couple’s boys (Oscar, 10, Jude, 14, and Harley, 17) are the fourth generation to grow up in the home.

Where are your go-to neighborhood spots?

Queeny Park is a favorite for running the trails, but we can’t forget the Town and Country parks. Longview Farms Park in particular is perfect for walking the dogs and yoga classes. Drace Park is a lesser-known option that’s ideal for families with younger kids. There are log cabins and woods for the kids to explore, and there are walking paths around the park.

Why would you encourage others to move to Town and Country?

We’ve watched our neighborhood turn over to a new generation, and it’s now filled with young professional families. We’re surrounded by families that have kids ranging from infants to college-aged. Fun fact: Our neighbor Dr. Gerry Berndsen, who is 96 and still lives independently, piloted a C-47 dropping some of the first allied paratroopers over Utah Beach early in the morning of D-Day. He came home from the war, went to medical school at Wash U. and had a long career in medicine. He was still making rounds at St. Luke’s hospital until just recently. Our kids love to visit with him and hear his stories.

What’s the best way to spend a weekend in Town and Country?

Our extensive walking paths – equally great for bicycles – can get us up and down the Clayton/Cox Trail, connect us to Drace and Longview parks, take us to Mason Woods Village or Town and Country Crossing and even up to Queeny Park. The city has made efforts in recent years to celebrate the community. We now have our own parade, and our favorite has been the annual Fire & Ice celebration. Ice cream and fireworks are mandatory, but there’s also live music, games and crafts.

Eke-Okoro

From left, Barbara, Kelenna, Ihenna, Chinaza, Udonne, and Udonna Eke-Okoro

Frontenac

The Eke-Okoros

By Denise Kruse

Barbara and Udonna Eke-Okoro, transplants from New Jersey via Virginia, came to the St. Louis area for a job relocation. They chose Frontenac for the Ladue School District, ideal for children Kelenna, 11, and Udonne, 13, students at Ladue Middle School, and twin boys Chinaza and Ihenna, 8, who attend Conway Elementary. Udonna, business initiatives manager at Wells Fargo Investment Institute, and Barbara, an aspiring interior home stylist and volunteer at with Ladue School District, love their Frontenac neighborhood. They enjoy subdivision parties, friendships with kind and thoughtful neighbors, and convenient proximity to St. Louis attractions and nearby shopping and dining at Plaza Frontenac.

What are your go-to local spots? Any hidden gems?

Our family likes the pizza at Grassi’s. It’s a great spot to have a casual dinner with friends, especially after a night of the kids’ sporting events. Brio is one of our favorite places for date night; the outdoor dining during the warmer months adds a special touch to the evening. Massages are highly recommended over at the Stonewater Spa [at Plaza Frontenac], and you should try the quaint theater also in Plaza Frontenac that serves wine and screens movies that are not always available [at megaplexes]. A little gem I love is the Nail Lounge. Yani, one of the nail techs, is always personable and my go-to for mani-pedis.

What’s a good date night in Frontenac?

Brio is one of our favorite places for date night. The outdoor dining during the warmer months adds a special touch to the evening.

What’s the best way to spend a weekend in Frontenac?

Enjoy the restaurants in the Plaza and the designer stores. Massages are highly recommended over at the Stone Water Spa, and you should try the quaint theater, also in Plaza Frontenac, that serves wine and plays movies that are not always available on the big screens. If you are in the mood for more activity, you can finish off your evening at the Frontenac Racquet Club.

Why would you encourage others to move to your neighborhood?

Frontenac is a small town with residents from diverse backgrounds. You have a good mix of residents that have spent their lives here and share the history of the town, as well as more recent transplants who have made the town their home and share their unique stories and experiences.

What are some of your children’s favorite spots?

Our kids like The Shack restaurant (and the nearby FroYo is an added treat).

Bendaña

From left, Nick, Fred, Alex, Jessica, and Natalia Bendaña

Kirkwood

The Bendañas

By Denise Kruse

Fred and Jessica Bendaña moved to Kirkwood in 2005, relocating from California. During a short weekend trip dedicated to house hunting, they found a home they loved in Kirkwood. “We planned to stay in it a few years and search for a more permanent home in other areas,” Jessica says. “We came to love the community and can’t see ever leaving – we’re drawn by the strong sense of community and small-town feel of this amazing little city.” Kirkwood’s proximity to vibrant neighborhoods throughout the St. Louis area, plus its walkability and general geniality, has made it an ideal place to raise daughter Natalia, 7, and sons Alex and Nick, both 10. “There’s no better place,” Jessica says.

What’s your family’s go-to spot?

Known for their delicious margaritas and authentic Mexican cuisine, our family’s go-to spot is Amigo’s Cantina. On Sunday nights, you can also end the weekend listening to their quality Mariachi band.

What’s a good date night in Kirkwood?

We like to sneak away for a quick date night at 119 North, a tapas-and-wine bar on Kirkwood Road.

What’s the best way to spend a weekend in Kirkwood?

The best way to spend the weekend is by walking around and exploring what’s happening throughout the neighborhood. We’re blessed with a great farmers market around the corner from our home. We like walking up there, and on Saturday mornings, we also enjoy strolling up to McArthur’s Bakery Cafe for breakfast and swinging by The Bug Store and Sammysoap to browse.

What are some of your children’s favorite spots in Kirkwood?

The Magic House, of course! And Pottery Hollow, Kirkwood Park, Kirkwood Ice Rink, Tropical Moose and The Custard Station

Bland

Coco, Georgia, Karen, Rory, Jeffrey and Sawyer Bland

Richmond Heights

The Blands

By Denise Kruse

Karen Bland, communications and outreach manager for the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis, and husband Jeffrey, general counsel for Abengoa Bioenergy, nearly found themselves in a bidding war for their Richmond Heights home nine years ago. “Clients won!” Karen says. “We loved the perfect location – right by Clayton, Ladue and Highway 40, easy to get everywhere, but a cute, quiet little street,” Karen says of her family’s home. The street’s cul-de-sac also has been great for their kids: Coco, 7, Georgia, 10, Sawyer, 11, and Rory, 12.

What is your favorite aspect of living in Richmond Heights?

We love the location (central to everything) and the fact that we’re part of the Ladue School District. It’s central to everything – location, location, location, right?

It’s a 6-minute drive to my gym, Iron Tribe Fitness, in Brentwood; 12 minutes to Wash U., where I work, and 15 minutes to my husband’s office in Chesterfield. Not to mention, having four kids puts us at the orthodontist monthly – and our orthodontist is nearby at The Boulevard!

Where are your favorite local spots?

We love Sportsman’s Park in Ladue, Pastaria in Clayton and Starbucks and Panera in The Galleria mall. For date night, we head to Boundary for dinner or a drink at Weber Grill.

What are some of your children’s favorite spots in or around Richmond Heights?

P.F. Chang’s, Five Guys, Nordstrom and Tropicana Bowling.

What’s the best way to spend a weekend in Richmond Heights?

Shop at The Galleria, go for a run through the neighborhoods off of McKnight (between Clayton and Highway 40) and grab a smoothie from Nadoz.

Gray

Vickie Gray, Elizabeth Gray, and Shadow

Brentwood

The Grays

By Denise Kruse

After nearly two decades in the Central West End, Chesterfield native Vickie Gray, account manager for STL Programs, moved to Brentwood three years ago. The move was so that her daughter, Elizabeth, 11, a student at Mark Twin Elementary School, could take advantage of the Brentwood School District. “The sense of community here is amazing,” Vickie says. “People connecting with and helping each other – it’s wonderful!”

What are your local favorites? Any hidden gems?

I think Brentwood’s hidden gems are its amenities. We have more than three miles of paved and scenic walking and biking trails that go through the woods and over bridges – with four parks and playgrounds along the way. Everyone walks their dogs, and the kids ride their bikes along the trails. There are racquetball, tennis and sand volleyball courts, and an inline skating rink. We also have our own ice skating rink, and the Brentwood library is right around the corner from my house. Plus many community events, like Maddenfest Parade and the library’s kids’ summer book club barbecue at the Brentwood firehouse.

What’s a good date night in Brentwood?

Going to a movie and dinner at Frank Papa’s, Katie’s Pizza & Pasta Osteria, Bonefish Grill or Carl’s Drive-In.

Why would you encourage others to move to your neighborhood?

Brentwood is a friendly, very walkable community with outstanding schools, great parks and recreational facilities, and a convenient location near major interstates, plus the many cultural activities and shopping. I can walk to Trader Joe’s or be in Forest Park in less than 10 minutes. My friends all say I live in Mayberry.

What’s the best way to spend a weekend in Brentwood?

In the summer, my daughter and I like to walk the trails with our dog – and we spend a lot of days at the Brentwood Swim Club. We like to hang out with our friends there and bring food to grill and share for dinner (along with a glass of wine for me).

What are some of your daughter’s favorite spots in Brentwood?

The Brentwood Swim Club, the walking trails and playgrounds, Tilles Park, Brentwood Ice Rink, Brentwood Library, Mid-County Family YMCA and Brentwood Eagles football games.

Packnett

Gwendolyn Packnett, PhD and John Moten Jr.

Chesterfield

Packnett and Moten

By Denise Kruse

Newlyweds Gwendolyn Packnett and John Moten Jr. are St. Louis natives who have called many neighborhoods in St. Louis and St. Louis County home. They finally settled into a condominium in Chesterfield after their marriage in June 2016. John, retired senior vice president of operations and marketing at Laclede Gas, had lived in Wildwood prior to his marriage to Gwendolyn, retired assistant vice chancellor of academic affairs at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, chose Chesterfield for its proximity to restaurants, theaters, highways, shopping and more. “Location, location, location equals convenience, convenience, convenience!” Gwendolyn says.

What drew you to your neighborhood first, your home or the location?

John loved the area and has lots of friends and established business relationships in Chesterfield. Admittedly, I’ve had the best of both worlds – having lived in both the city and county. Living close to Highway 40 provides easy access to so much, including the organizations we are involved in, an easy drive to social outings, our church and drives to visit family and friends. We were equally drawn to an area with owners’ pride, a great clubhouse and community activities.

Where are your favorite local go-to spots?

We enjoy walks in Faust Park, visits to the Butterfly House, events at the Chesterfield Amphitheater, in-house readings at the local libraries, events at STAGES St. Louis, and for date night, a great dinner at Annie Gunn’s and a worthwhile movie at Chesterfield Mall. Enjoying a meal at the nearby Cooper’s Hawk is always a favorite.

Why would you encourage others to move to your neighborhood?

It has everything you might want – whether single, married, young family or seniors. Beautiful residential areas and equally impressive condominium living, and also senior assisted living. We recently met a young couple with three children, relocating to St. Louis from Atlanta. They decided to move to Chesterfield because of the great schools, areas in the community with lots of green space and a convenient location to the husband’s place of employment. The diversity in our subdivision includes working and retired families, couples with or without children, and single professionals. It’s a neighborly environment where dogs and trees are also much-loved!

What’s the best way to spend a weekend in Chesterfield?

Enjoying walks at Faust Park, shopping at premium outlet malls, breakfast at First Watch, listening to jazz and a good read in the comfort of our dwelling.

Howard

Erica, Christian, Louis, Nathan, and Eve Howard

Ballwin

The Howards

By Kaitlynn Martin

Nathan, a chief compliance officer, and Erica Howard, a real estate attorney, together have called Ballwin home for around nine years. Their family includes Erica’s son, Christian, 12, and both Erica and Nathan’s son and daughter, Louis, 6, and Eve, 20 months. The couple praises Ballwin’s outstanding school district, along with many opportunities for their family to explore a diverse selection of restaurants.

What do you love most about living in Ballwin?

You still see kids playing outside and riding bikes, and families going on walks. It’s refreshing and surprising that you still have that going on in an ever-more-digital society. Also, Christian has autism, so being in this school district and seeing how willing they’ve been to work with him and us has been one of the best things about living here.

What restaurants do you enjoy dining at in Ballwin?

With the multicultural aspect of the area, there are so many different types of restaurants, from Indian to Thai and then Korean. We have Japanese and some Pakistani joints. There’s all kinds of really fun places to eat.

Why would you encourage others to move to your neighborhood?

I would tell them that the standard of living is good, even within the St. Louis area; cost of living is not terribly high. We live in a house, that I think if you were to go to Clayton, for example, you would pay twice as much for. Apart from that, the convenience of location, along with the school district. I think it’s hard to find a reason not to want to live in Ballwin.

What is your neighborhood’s best-kept secret?

I think our house has one of the best views of Ballwin. We have a very scenic outlook over a neighborhood pond, which is just beautiful. Also, two houses down is the Bacon Log Cabin, which is open on weekends. There is always some sort of bake sale or open house going on there.

Jones

Taryn, Corey, Sheila and Fallon Jones

Central West End

The Joneses

By Kaitlynn Martin

For Sheila and Corey Jones, 2017 marks 10 years of calling the Central West End home. Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, Sheila moved to New York City in 1994, where she met Corey, a St. Louis native. After Corey accepted a position in St. Louis, the two relocated to the Central West End, where their two daughters – Fallon, 8, and Taryn, 10 – have grown up. Accessibility to a variety of restaurants and shops, the friendliness of their community and the local school that their daughters love are just a few of the reasons the family finds their neighborhood a special place to live.

Why did you choose to live in the Central West End?

Coming from New York, we wanted to be able to walk places. I didn’t want to have to get in my car to get a coffee. And our oldest was just a year old when we moved, so I wanted to be able to get out and push the stroller around and see people. I am not one of those people who wants solitude and privacy; I want to know my neighbors and see them.

What has surprised you most about living in the Central West End?

I am surprised with how quickly I found my place here. We moved here for Corey’s job, so I didn’t really want to leave the East Coast and the type of life we had there. When we moved here, I was pleasantly surprised, and I’m still surprised at how much I like it and the community we have and all the friends we are surrounded with.

What is a local shop or boutique in your neighborhood that you enjoy?

There are tons of local places, from small jewelers to a place that sells high-end cashmere. One place, called Fellenz Antiques, looks like a junkyard, but it’s an antique salvage place. You have to wear your dirty clothes, put on gloves and bring a flashlight to make the most of it. But if you really look for something, it’s probably there. You can easily lose three or four hours there.

What is the Central West End’s best-kept secret?

The school our kids go to is phenomenal. It’s called New City School, and has a whole different way of teaching called multiple intelligences. We have a fifth-grader and a second-grader, and not a single day has it been a problem to get them up for school. In fact, they can’t wait for summer and winter breaks to be over so they can go to school, because they love the place so much. That speaks volumes.

HOROWITZIMG

Josh, Matthew, Jeff, Haley and Susie Horowitz

Creve Coeur

The Horowitzs

By Kaitlynn Martin

Susie and Jeff Horowitz have called Creve Coeur home for a bit more than 10 years. They both were born and raised in Creve Coeur and are happy to share their love for the community with their three children, Matthew, 12, Josh, 16, and Haley, 17. Neighborhood get-togethers and the close relationships they have with neighbors – plus the opportunity to play tennis as a family in local parks – are a few of their favorite reasons to live in Creve Coeur.

Why did you choose to live in Creve Coeur?

The area is comfortable and familiar, and we enjoy the small, tightknit community. We like to walk to places around Creve Coeur, and it is very central and close to different parts of the city. Also, being so close to family is a plus. Our kids really like that they can see their grandparents on a whim.

Why would you encourage others to move to Creve Coeur?

The people are very warm and welcoming. It’s a small community – [kids] walk to school and want to get to know you. It’s also such a pretty place. You can go up and down so many different roads that provide great views.

What restaurants do you enjoy dining at in your neighborhood?

Some of our favorite places are Oishi Sushi and Five Star Burger. Sometimes we like to walk to FroYo for a fun dessert. I really think Creve Coeur’s restaurants reflect the wonderful culture of our neighborhood. Along with the neighborhood, our schools are very diverse, which I think is also a big draw to our area. People move to Creve Coeur and really like it. They come and end up staying, because it’s such an inviting community.

What is Creve Coeur’s best-kept secret?

I think our neighborhoods and our schools are very diverse, and it hasn’t always been that way. It definitely wasn’t like that here when I was growing up. Diversity is such a benefit for our children to meet so many different people from all over the world.

Deck

From left, Stella, Julie, Liliana, Miles, and David Deck

Des Peres

The Decks

By Kaitlynn Martin

Julie and David Deck moved to Des Peres seven years ago. As their three children (Stella, 7, Miles, 10, and Liliana, 11) neared school age, Julie and David put finding a great public school at the top of their list. Des Peres proved to be the best fit for them, from the diversity of the Kirkwood School District to the parks and countless places to visit within walking distance of their home.

Why did you choose to live in Des Peres?

When our oldest child reached school age, we knew that we wanted our kids to go to Kirkwood schools for both their strong academic reputation and for the district’s diversity. We wanted to be part of an active, engaged, positive community where people know their neighbors and give back to others around them. Living here has definitely provided that for us, and we are grateful to be able to raise our kids here.

Why would you encourage others to move to your neighborhood?

I love how centrally located it is. When we have people that come into town for a visit, it’s so easy for them to commute and hop on 40 and go to the zoo or other places downtown. The fact that we can walk our dogs, ride our bikes or jog up to the park to play sports or meet up with friends has been such a healthy, family-focused bonus.

What restaurants and amenities do you enjoy in Des Peres?

My oldest daughter is in middle school, and she can walk to The Daily Bread Bakery & Café and meet up with friends, and I feel comfortable with her doing that because it’s a nice community place where she is always running into familiar faces. We have The Village Bar where we go to meet up with friends for a drink, and it’s within walking distance to us. The Lodge is a big place in the summer to go swimming. The parks and recreation services in Des Peres are wonderful; I’ve been able to sign my kids up for things from sports to art.

What is your neighborhood’s best-kept secret?

Our favorite hidden gem in Des Peres is the summer concert series held at Des Peres Park. We walk with our lawn chairs, coolers and blankets in hand to meet other friends in the community to enjoy nights listening to music and having a picnic in a beautiful setting.

Morgans

From left, Mike, Kylie, and Andrea Morgan

Manchester

The Morgans

By Kaitlynn Martin

In September 2008, Andrea and Mike Morgan bought Mike’s childhood home in Manchester from his parents. Nine years later, the Morgans still call the neighborhood home and have found it to be a great area to raise their daughter, Kylie, 13. They’ve also hosted two exchange students in their home, one from Thailand and the other from Spain, as part of Parkway South High School’s exchange program. Manchester has proved to be not only a place for them to grow together as a family but also a place where they continue to meet and learn about people from around the world.

Why did you choose to live in Manchester?

Mike’s parents decided to move to Arizona just as we were trying to figure out where we wanted to be when Kylie started kindergarten. We immediately knew we wanted to buy this house and already knew we loved the neighborhood, schools and community.

What do you love most about Manchester?

Overall, it’s a community with many family events and activities within the neighborhood itself. We like that there are a lot of places we can go within walking distance. It has that feeling that you have everything you need in the community, but you can easily go out into the larger St. Louis area as well. The schools are outstanding with the teachers’ dedication. Within our community, I know I can count on our friends and neighbors if we ever need help. It’s a great place to raise kids.

What restaurants and shopping areas do you enjoy the most in your neighborhood?

The Fruit Stand has local and organic fruits and veggies plus plants and seasonal items. Chalily Ponds & Gardens has outdoor water features like ponds, waterfalls, fountains, water plants, koi and other water creatures. The store is like a small park; it’s fun to go and walk around. Also, Rice Thai Bistro is our go-to neighborhood restaurant for dine-in or carry-out.

What is your neighborhood's best-kept secret?

Definitely the exchange program at Parkway South High School. Last year, eight students from all over the world went to Parkway South, from countries like Spain, France, Italy, Brazil, Japan and Norway. Each school year, Parkway South has approximately eight exchange students enrolled at the school, when most high schools have only one. We have neighbors and teachers who also volunteer to make this happen and who have also been exchange students. It’s an enriching experience for the students and families.

Bluchers

Lucas, Jordan, Jodi, Mark, Macy and Noah Blucher

Olivette

The Bluchers

By Kaitlynn Martin

Originally from New Jersey and New York, Jodi and Mark Blucher moved to the St. Louis area for Mark’s job as a surgeon. The couple has now lived in Olivette for going on 10 years and have two sons (Lucas, 15, and Noah, 18) and two daughters (Macy, 11, and Jordan, 13). The Bluchers moved to the St. Louis area after Mark accepted a position as a surgeon at Mercy hospital. Although the family is far from their relatives, the Bluchers have found Olivette full of neighbors who have to come to feel like family.

Why did you choose to live in Olivette?

We wanted to build a house, and we also chose Olivette because of the school district, due to the diversity. Olivette is also closer to the things we like to do, such as going into the city. It was a combination between Mark wanting a backyard and me wanting to be closer to the city.

What do you love most about your neighborhood?

I would have to say the people – the people and parks. It’s nice that we have a park that is within walking distance of our house. We aren’t from here, so our neighbors have sort of become our family. We celebrate holidays together. I would say our neighborhood is very close-knit.

Why would you encourage people unfamiliar with Olivette to move to your neighborhood?

The area is turning over from older to younger. I think the school district we are in is excellent, because it’s part of the Ladue School District. Although there aren’t many restaurants in and around Olivette, Sugarfire Smoke House is an awesome place to get barbecue in our neighborhood.

What is your neighborhood’s best-kept secret?

Olivette on the Go! is the carnival that happens every year. It’s a weeklong event. There’s a talent show and usually a run and other things planned around it. It takes place at the end of September, and our family goes every year. The kids like wristband night because they get to go on all the carnival rides.

Foote

Ethan, Emerson, Julie, Steve, Gavin and Austin Foote

University City

The Footes

By Kaitlynn Martin

Julie and Steve Foote, along with their four sons (Emerson, 11, Gavin, 13, Ethan, 16, and Austin, 18), have lived in University City for 15 years. Julie grew up in Greenfield, Indiana, and Steve grew up primarily in Kansas City, Missouri, but now, University City is very much their home. The character-filled historic homes in the neighborhood initially drew the couple in, as did the proximity to Washington University. But there are countless other reasons why the Foote family is proud to call University City their own.

What has surprised you most about your neighborhood?

The wonderful mix of native St. Louisans and transplants from across the U.S. and around the globe. There are very few places in the country where you can find a neighborhood like University City that is so livable and unique.

What restaurants do you enjoy dining at in University City?

This question is difficult, because there are so many amazing restaurants in University City, but we have our favorites. Público, because Mike Randolph delivers a transcendent dining-and-cocktail experience. Winslow’s Home is a quick stroll down Delmar to experience delicious food and alfresco dining. Salt + Smoke – we fell in love with Tom Schmidt at Franco. The barbecue is amazing, and Steve loves the bourbon selection. Mission Taco is absolutely the best tacos and margaritas in St. Louis. And finally, La Pizza is hands down the best New York-style pizza in the area.

What is a local shop or destination in your neighborhood that you love?

The Saturday morning Midtown Farmers Market in the Loop. It has great fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers, local farm-raised pork and baked goods.

What is your neighborhood's best-kept secret?

Christ the King Catholic School would have to be University City’s best-kept secret. We’ve sent all four of our boys there, and we’ve loved the small classroom learning environment and how well prepared they’ve been for high school. We’ve met so many amazing families through that school. The Christ the King community is a large reason why we love University City so much.

Thurman

Sydney, Justin, Shereé and James Thurman

Wildwood

The Thurmans

By Kaitlynn Martin

Shereé and James Thurman did not anticipate staying in Wildwood for long after moving there from Rochester, New York – but that was 10 years ago. Along with their children, Justin, 10, and Sydney, 14, the Thurmans enjoy the not-too-small yet not-too-big size of their community, which features a town square bustling with food and entertainment. Above all, the school district and strong sense of community continue to make the Thurmans happy to have spent the past decade in Wildwood.

Why did you choose to live in Wildwood?

The driving force was the school district. We moved here and our daughter had already started kindergarten, so we were looking for a great school district – somewhere with high scores and academic awards. When we moved here, West County was really bustling and expanding. It was like a city, which really appealed to us.

What do you love most about Wildwood?

There’s a great sense of community here, and people really support each other. From a school perspective, everyone from administrators, peers and neighbors are involved. From a personal perspective in our own neighborhood, we’ve had some unfortunate tragedies and illnesses, along with births and other, more positive things. But no matter what, there is a great sense of everyone coming together to better the situation.

What has surprised you most about your neighborhood?

All the nearby state parks and trails. Also, we never lived in area where people had so many pets, especially dogs. People here love the outdoors and their dogs. We even eventually adopted a dog ourselves!

What restaurants and shopping areas do love in your neighborhood?

Lately, our family’s favorite is Benedetto’s On Main in the town square. It’s upscale, casual and serves fabulous Italian food. The place has something on the menu for everyone, from calamari, scampi risotto to pizza. The annual barbecue bash in the fall is great; we love the food and can try favorites and new items while we’re there, and there’s also fireworks. Heels Boutique is a nice neighborhood shop where you can pop in and find unique women’s [clothing and accessories].

goldberg

From left, Heath, Daphne (dog), Angel, Howard, Gabe, and Josh Goldberg

Maplewood

The Goldbergs

By Kaitlynn Martin

Howard and Angel Goldberg met in St. Louis, and shortly after, Howard bought an older home in Maplewood. Howard initially hoped to fix up the house, flip it and move on to another project – but that was 17 years ago. The couple have raised their three sons (Gabe, 9, Josh, 15, and Heath, 20) in the home. Angel, a school nurse, and Howard, a real estate lender, enjoy riding their bikes around their neighborhood with their sons and are extremely happy with the high-tech Maplewood Richmond Heights School District.

What has surprised you most about Maplewood?

We are pleasantly surprised by how much the school district has turned around. At the time we got here, the schools were kind of rough, and then a few years later, they brought in a new superintendent who has really turned things around. We would not move because we love the school district so much.

What is a local shopping destination in your neighborhood that you love?

There’s some really cute little gift shops like Maven. A friend of mine bought a certain kind of lotion there, and she liked it so much that she wanted to buy it for everybody else in the office. She found out that it was the last one in the store, and they said they would make more for her right there. It’s all handmade and great.

Why would you encourage others to move to your neighborhood?

If people have children, [Maplewood Richmond Heights School District is] a great school district. I love that we have a diverse population. I think that it’s really good for kids to learn about other kids and other types of families. It’s just a really close-knit community. Also, it’s a really great location in St. Louis; we’re close to everything. Heading downtown is about 15 to 20 minutes, and same goes for the airport. Forest Park is five minutes; we can ride our bikes there.

What is your neighborhood’s best-kept secret?

The thing that comes to the top of my mind is the school district. It’s high-tech; all the kids are issued laptops that they get to keep when they finish school. The schools are also very big on seed-to-table. The early childhood center has chickens [in coops] and special seed-to-table classrooms where they teach kids about growing and harvesting food. The middle school also set up a seed library where you can pick up seeds for your garden.

Genovese

Mollie, Laura, Tony Jr., Tony and Annie Genovese

Webster Groves

The Genoveses

By Denise Kruse

St. Louis natives and high school sweethearts Tony Genovese, chief executive officer and owner of Enhanced Medical Services, and wife Laura, owner of Outside the Line, an art studio and gallery in Webster Groves, chose Webster Groves as their home seven years ago. “Tony and I fell in love with the community first, and then we found our home,” Laura says. “We were always drawn to the charm and character of the homes in Webster Groves.” With the nearby conveniences of local shops and restaurants, the community provides ample opportunity for the Genoveses to spend weekends together as a family, as well as a safe, walkable community for their kids, Tony, 10, Mollie, 12, and Annie, 16.

What do you love about Webster Groves?

We are surrounded by beautiful and eclectic homes filled with wonderful people in a family-centered community. Our favorite aspect of living in Webster Groves is that it’s a safe, family-friendly community filled with history and charm. We are surrounded by beautiful and eclectic homes filled with wonderful people in a family-centered community.

What are your favorite local go-to spots and date-night destinations?

Our local go-to spots include daily trips to Straub’s, Dewey’s Pizza for dinner and an occasional stroll to Saint Louis Bread Co. on the weekends. Our favorite date night is enjoying an amazing dinner at Olive + Oak, with maybe a nightcap afterwards at Robust Wine Bar. During the summer, we love to sit outside at the new bar and enjoy dinner at Algonquin Country Club – we try really hard to do this every week!

What are some of your kids’ favorite spots in Webster Groves?

My kids love walking to downtown Webster and hanging with their friends. This seems to be the popular thing to do, especially when it’s warm. On colder days, they love to grab a warm drink and be creative at Yucandu Art Studio!

What’s the best way to spend a weekend in Webster Groves?

We love to spend our weekends together with our kids and going out with friends. We love enjoying meals together – Webster has some fabulous, fun restaurants – sushi, steak and Mexican are our favorites!

Carpenters

Anne, Dan, and Abby Carpenter (not pictured, Tom)

Glendale

The Carpenters

By Denise Kruse

Convenience to urban attractions and amenities with a small-town feel are what drew the Carpenter family to Glendale two decades ago. “It has been an amazing place to raise our family,” says Anne Carpenter, who has lived with husband Dan, partner at Carpenter Moser law firm, for 20 years. Tucked between Kirkwood and Webster Groves, the family’s Glendale home is an easy walk to both the Kirkwood farmers market and Straub’s in Webster Groves. Walkability to local shops and restaurants has been great for the entire family, including the Carpenter kids, Abby, 18, and Tom, 20. Glendale has its own treasures, to be sure – a favorite for the family is Hanneke’s Westwood Market and Catering Service. “It still has house accounts – our kids loved this when they were young!” Anne says of the market.

What drew you in first, the home or the location?

The tight-knit community and central location between Kirkwood and Webster. Living in Glendale is like living in a small town in the middle of the larger St. Louis community. We love that when we walk or run around the area, we can always stop to talk to people we know along the way – everyone is friendly and welcoming, and neighbors look out for each other.

What is your favorite aspect of living in Glendale?

We love our neighborhood and neighbors. Our kids were able to walk to grade school and ride their bikes to the pool in the summer. Living in Glendale is like living in a small town in the middle of the larger St. Louis community. We love that when we walk or run around the area, we can always stop to talk to people we know along the way – everyone is friendly and welcoming. Neighbors look out for each other. It has been an amazing place to raise our family.

What is the best way to spend a weekend in Glendale?

Glendale hosts a couple of special Glendale Nights that have always been weekend family favorites. All of Glendale comes out for these events, and it’s a fun way to spend time with everyone in the area. We love the jazz night that is held at city hall each summer, as well as the Glendale Firehouse Run in October.

What are some of your kids’ favorite spots in Glendale?

When our kids were younger, they loved going to Hanneke’s for lunch or snacks after school. It was a special routine to walk from North Glendale Grade School to Hanneke’s on Friday afternoons. On any given Friday, Hanneke’s is packed with kids getting their end-of-week treats.

Kaitlynn Martin is the editorial intern at Feast Magazine and Ladue News. Chicago-style hot dogs will forever have her heart.