By Trish Muyco-Tobin
Its location along interstates 44 and 270 makes Sunset Hills an easy destination to live, work and play. Incorporated in 1957, the town is comprised of approximately 9 square miles that border Kirkwood and Crestwood to the north, Fenton to the west, and unincorporated South St. Louis County on the other side.
You might say the 8,5oo or so residents who call it home have it all when it comes to convenience: There’s a plenitude of chain retail stores and eateries, with a few mom-and-pop establishments thrown in, within a mile or two of any point in Sunset Hills.
There’s also an abundance of green space. The city’s biggest park, Watson Trail Park, is popular for its picnic sites, nature trails, play areas, tennis courts and even a disk golf course—frolf, anyone? There’s even a dog park within Kitun Park, shared with neighboring Crestwood. In nearby Kirkwood, Powder Valley Nature Center is a haven for hikers.
But Sunset Hills’ crown jewel is none other than Laumeier Sculpture Park—and what a treasure it is! Considered among the first and largest dedicated sculpture parks in America, Laumeier stands out as one of St. Louis’ exceptional outdoor public spaces. Where else can you stare down a giant eyeball that doesn’t blink, climb a “living,” earthen amphitheater, and marvel at a collection of iconic sculptures by St. Louis native Ernest Trova?
Laumeier marked its 40th year in 2016. It’s named after Henry and Matilda Laumeier, who owned and lived on the property where the park sits today. Henry’s German ancestors immigrated to St. Louis in the mid-1800s; therefore, the correct pronunciation of the name is “Lau” (rhymes with “now”), and “meier” (rhymes with “higher”). Depending on how you pronounce it—and we know there are many versions—this much is true: The name is synonymous with art and nature and how they intertwine.
LAUMEIER ART FAIR
May 11 to 13
The annual event is a Mother’s Day weekend tradition featuring 150 juried artists from across the country, with works in categories such as ceramics, textiles, glass, jewelry, painting, photography and sculpture.
Live music, hands-on children’s activities, and local food and beverage vendors will also be on hand.
Friday, May 11, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Saturday, May 12, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sunday, May 13, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
$10 admission (free for ages 10 and younger, and for Laumeier Sculpture Park members)
IN AND AROUND SUNSET HILLS
This family-run operation is a pretzel-lover’s dream come true. The smell of pretzels baking is enough to make you grab a jar of mustard and plant yourself in front of that oven. Have your fill of Softies (whole pretzels) by the pair ($2.50), dozen ($12), or go crazy with a box of 100 ($45). We prefer the fun, bite-sized Nuggets ($16 for 100). They also have them stuffed with brats, salsiccia and even Cajun chicken. stlpretzelboys.com
This serene, low-key sushi bar delivers consistently with its menu and its service. From the freshly prepared nigiri and sashimi to delectable rolls such as the simple yet sublime Alaskan Roll and the sinfully delicious, deep-fried Las Vegas Roll, there is enough of a selection to satisfy your sushi craving. Or, if you prefer, tempura, teriyaki, katsu and noodles are also on the menu. (314) 984-5050
Honey Pit Smokehouse
Buzz on over to neighboring Kirkwood to get your fill of Southern-style/Georgia barbecue. This relatively new-to-the-scene eatery touts hot and fast “competition-style bbq” using water smokers that allow the meat to smoke, tenderize and be infused with flavor, all at the same time. Servings are generous, especially the platters. But if you’re really hungry, the Harley Hitter—brisket, sausage, pickles, coleslaw and Honey Fire sauce on a toasted bun—should hit the spot. We also loved perusing the array of sides, which include Krazy Korn, Provel Mac N’ Cheese and a tasty Zesty Potato Salad. honeypitsmokehouse.com