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Missouri Explorers Program Challenges You To Explore City And State

Fireworks and Fair St. Louis returned to the Gateway Arch Wednesday, July 4, 2018, for Independence Day celebrations in St. Louis on July 4, 2018.
File photo / Ryan Delaney
St. Louis Public Radio
Celebrate the Show-Me State — and earn badges — with the Missouri Explorers program.

You may think you know Missouri. But notching highlights like seeing the world from the top of the Gateway Arch or inhaling burnt ends at Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque isn’t enough. To know Missouri, you’ve got to go exploring. To walk the Boone’s Lick Road. To touch the Old Munichburg stone wall. To dip your feet into Sailboat Cove.

Now you can make that exploration into a game. As part of the state’s bicentennial celebration this August, the Missouri Explorers program has issued a series of challenges to residents and tourists alike. By completing one, two or all 22, intrepid explorers can earn merit badge buttons and share their findings via the hashtag #MoExplorers.

Karen Meirink, director of visitor and volunteer services for Explore St. Louis, coordinated with the state as it prepared to launch the Explorers program. By reaching out to local businesses, Explore St. Louis helped craft six challenges in which St. Louis-area attractions take center stage.

“We put it really in the hands of this working group — partners of ours in the tourism industry — and they had the opportunity to hand-select and sponsor a challenge,” Meirink explained on Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air. “So really, we took their guidance [as to] what did they want to feature.”

Click in for details of local challenges:

Meirink said tourism is beginning to return to St. Louis, 17 months after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down much of the country.

“Travel really has jumped back, and we're seeing great numbers, and hotels are starting to reach some days where they were in 2019, which was a banner year,” she said. “Not every day, but on some days, we are making those numbers.”

Daily departures from St. Louis Lambert International Airport are also closing in on 2019 levels, she said. Now Explore St. Louis is just waiting for businesses to again start sending workers on the road.

“The areas of opportunity would be business travel, getting people back out on the roads,” Meirink said. “Everyone is still successfully managing to work remotely, but ultimately, people need to meet face to face.”

For more on the Missouri Explorers program and its challenges across the state, see missouri2021.org/missouri-explorers/

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. Paola Rodriguez is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Sarah Fenske served as host of St. Louis on the Air from July 2019 until June 2022. Before that, she spent twenty years in newspapers, working as a reporter, columnist and editor in Cleveland, Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles and St. Louis.