Talk to Dea Hoover for five minutes, and it’s obvious she’s a one-woman tourist office.
She transformed her passion for the bi-state region by operating two local travel agencies and wrote a book, “STL Scavenger”.
Captioned “The Ultimate Search for St. Louis’ Hidden Gems,” it features 17 neighborhoods, including Belleville, Edwardsville and Alton.
In the spiral-bound softcover book, she provides clues and photos for a scavenger hunt throughout the Saint-Louis metropolitan area, which includes the Metro East.
In fact, people can research these buildings, businesses, statues, and architectural details on their own scavenger hunt (Hoover’s hint: look!).
“I want people to find new places that they might not have seen before,” she said. “Plan a day for each section and linger to enjoy the shops, restaurants and parks along your discovery trail from St. Charles to Edwardsville, and many intermediate destinations.”
Hoover wanted to provide a one-of-a-kind experience, and with her expert eye and appreciation for the area, she used her vast knowledge in new ways.
Reedy Press came up with the format so that it could “gamify” the experience – an entertaining and educational interaction with local sites.
She attributes the concept to Barbara Northcott, production manager of the Saint-Louis publishing house.
“I would have been a rudderless ship without her. I’m so grateful, “she said.” She made it so much better. We made the rhymes shorter.
The format allows for taking notes and engaging multiple people, she said.
The book was so popular when it was first printed in May that it followed with a second printing 13 days later, she said.
“I was really happy with the feedback,” she said. “It means something to the people here. “
And as the country deals with the continuing coronavirus pandemic, she said most of the included neighborhoods are known for their “walking accessibility.”
She chose Alton for its history, Belleville because it is an industrial center and Edwardsville for its past.
“Edwardsville has an incredible history. It was a land office of the Bureau of Land Management, ”Hoover said.
The Madison County Recorder’s Office has records dating back to 1812.
“Alton has 100 guesthouses and 10 paranormal locations (on haunted tours),” she said.
Hoover noted the historic architecture and stately homes that can be found in Belleville, reflecting German heritage.
“I was impressed,” she said.
Among his fun facts:
- St. Louis is home to the second most free attraction after Washington, DC
- The Gateway Arch is the tallest national monument and the St. Louis Cardinals are the National League’s most successful team.
- The Saint-Louis metropolitan region has 36 colleges and universities.
Join the hunt
Hoover offered an incentive to respond to the 366 clues – a contest, which now runs through November 15 for entries submitted.
On December 1, the contest will end with a draw for $ 500, first prize. STLMade.com gift bags, along with tickets to local attractions and gift certificates, will be offered for second and third prizes.
For each correct answer people submit, they receive 1 point. The individual with the most correct answers will win the grand prize, and if there is a tie between multiple individuals, Hoover said they will randomly select the winner. The same goes for local swag price packs.
To participate in the hunt, submit answers, and complete a bonus puzzle challenge, visit www.stlscavenger. Ben’s store in Belleville is one of nine companies participating in the puzzle challenge.
People can submit responses as an individual, even if they have played in a group. Participants cannot edit their responses once submitted.
Plus, people can buy the book online for $ 20.95. The book is also available at local bookstores and gift shops.
Individuals can follow on social media @STLScavenger and #stlscavenger for extra points, challenges, freebies, rating updates and special events.
The book has a map accessible on smartphone.