Spring Break -Part 2 (or On Being Snowed In: St. Louis Style)

Part 2 of our Spring Break…

Thursday of our week off we drove to St. Louis, MO.
(It’s about a six hour drive from here.)

What is fun to do in St. Louis for families? (Just for you, Kelly!)
Our top picks:

1. City Museum 
(This is honestly the main reason we go to St. Louis.)

An old shoe factory that’s been converted into the most awesome artist colony you’ve ever
seen.  Artists have turned empty spaces into a magical wonderland for both children and adults.
Your imagination can go crazy (and so can the kids!)  Plan to spend an entire day here.   This is the most expensive thing we do in STL and it’s around $13 a head I think.
There are lots of clubs and restaurants in this area also so you won’t be bored!

city museum stl
My kids want to live here!

Inside the “caves” 15 story slide!

Opera Poster exhibit I adored

Waiting to hear it play

2. Forest Park (Home of the 1904 World’s Fair)
So many things to do IN the park (and many for FREE)- We’ve been in the summer and rented bikes there- that way you can explore the park and go from attraction to attraction. 

  • St. Louis Zoo (FREE, and as my happy husband said “They have BEER!” If you park in the zoo’s lot it costs $10, but you can also park along streets in park for free.)
Beautiful butterflies
  •  St. Louis Science Center (free)

  • Grand Basin (or the grounds where you can fly kites, picnic,  or just let the kids run- and free)

We happened upon a nice guy flying a kite so high up you could barely see it.  He let us all “fly” it for a bit and talked about the science of kite flying. 

My family visiting the second silver tree in a week- second state!
  • Missouri History Museum

  • St. Louis Art Museum (free)


Dear Old St. Louis

3.  Fitz’s American Restaurant
In the DelMar loop- A fun family place to go after the park, Fitz’s makes their own Root Beer and soda right there.  You can see the bottling plant working while you eat. 

Be warned- This is a float SPLIT in 1/2!

 4.  The Gateway Arch  (This was the first time we didn’t stop to see it.  You can ride up to the top, or just explore the park and the Museum of Westward Expansion under the arch which is free.)

5. Anheuser-Busch Brewery 
(We didn’t visit the brewery this time either.  It’s a neat FREE tour of the factories and stables for the Clydesdale horses.  I find the history and actual factory very interesting.  Some like the free sampling and snacks at the end of the tour… Kids like the horses the best I think.)  Grant’s Farm is also supposed to be a really neat place to visit but it wasn’t open this trip due to weather.

My honey had to work the next week so our plan was for us to drive up and stay til Sunday morning, and he’d fly back the following week after working at his company’s office there.

However, Mother Nature had other plans!  Snow started Saturday night and by Sunday morning this was our view from the hotel…

Snow Dancers Outside the hotel
 12 inches of snow by the time it was over!
Another day of vacation is never a bad thing, right?

On the way back we stopped at Lambert’s Cafe “Home of the Throwed Rolls” in Sikeston, MO.

Really a fun place for kids- they actually yell “ROLLS?” and if you want one you raise your hands and have to catch them.  Really hot, good, homemade rolls.  Wish the butter was real…
The kids liked the giant drinks and all through the meal they come around asking if you want this or that.  Make sure you’re hungry or share a meal.  We shared and still had leftovers for days. Oh, and they don’t take credit cards…(this is when a teenage daughter who doesn’t spend money comes in handy- Thank You, E.)

For more fun in St. Louis check this out:
They have a great food festival Labor Day weekend that’s FREE and fun!
 St. Louis in Fall

*If you’re driving up from LR, also check out Blue Owl Bakery in Kimmswick, MO (fun!), Mastodon State Park and Museum of Transportation right before you get to St. Louis.  REALLY fun with kids! 

Quick Trip to St. Louis

We went to St. Louis for Fall Break-
The kids really only wanted to go to play in the City Museum
(and we got our money’s worth- we played for about four hours, then went to the hotel for a break and back again until after midnight!)  
City Museum
If you make it to St. Louis you HAVE to visit this museum (no matter how old/young you are.) 
A fantastic
old shoe factory that was converted into an art gallery/playground that is
next to nothing you’ve ever seen before.  They take recycling to a new
extreme.   Our kids were old enough this time for me to not panic when
they disappeared into a tunnel.  I trusted that they would stay together
and they did for the most part.  Since we were there last time they’ve
added so much.  A whole middle section that goes up at least ten stories
with slides that span the entire building and a rooftop garden complete
with ferris wheel!  Where else can you watch a circus, be a human skateboard, see the world’s largest pencil, slide down ten stories, climb in an airplane hanging on a crane, enter the belly of a whale, and more??  Bring your walking shoes! 

Dragon Friend on Patio

 It was a crazy weekend in St. Louis, as many in the summer/early fall are.  Make sure you try and get a room booked ahead of time.  I had one for the first night and we just lucked into one the second night (thank goodness.)  There was a college football game, professional football game, Food Festival (which was so much fun,) and a Cardinals game all that weekend!  Downtown St. Louis has really boomed since we visited a year or two ago.  I was amazed at all the new bars, shops, and restaurants downtown as well as the neat lofts and condos in the old factory district.  Very cool.

Gateway Arch (great free museum underneath!)

View from Arch (Only 3 of the 6 of us were brave enough)  See the Cards game in Busch Stadium?

  The Anheuser-Busch Brewery Tour is another fun (and free) thing to do.  It takes about an hour if you catch it at the right time.  The architecture and artwork is phenomenal and the kids love seeing the Clydesdales and the bottling plant.  (Free drinks and pretzels at the end of the tour!)

Scott the Clydesdale

Hops Chandelier in Mash Room at A.B.

Anheuser-Busch Brewery

 On the way home we stopped at the Mastodon State Park.  Not as grand as I’d imagined, but a nice break with some fun information that the kids enjoyed.  (And we learned the difference between mastodons and woolly mammoths!)

Run for the Border

 Missouri border, that is.
We hadn’t taken a vacation this summer and school starts next week so we decided to
take the kids to Branson on a whim.
Leaving at 8:30, we got to see fireworks almost the entire drive up because we follow a country highway from Little Rock to Branson (3 hour drive.)  Sort of cool to see people celebrating the holiday (even if it was premature.)
We checked into the hotel and crashed, got up early and headed to Silver Dollar City.   It was really a fun day.  Silver Dollar City has a lot of wonderful landscaping and lots of trees so we never felt hot, despite the crazy summer temperatures. 

Max getting kissed by a pretty cowgirl before the saloon show

Target Shooting!
 Even though it was busy it didn’t feel like it and we only had to wait in one line for awhile, and that was due to a technical problem.  They have some great roller-coasters which hubby enjoyed!  The boys loved the Dog Show that was part of the Kid’s Fest they have going on now.  

Scott Ready to Ride
Not Even Half of This Ride!

Do you think they’d sell me this?
We left when they closed and went to Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede for dinner. 
I thought the kids would like the rodeo type show and cowboy dinner, which they did. 
Super Cheesy- Branson style.  The 6 year old’s quote when we left. 
“Wow, that was SUPER cheesy and funny.” 
Their favorite part was getting to see the horses up close on the way in and out. 
My favorite part was watching the buffalos roll in the dirt like puppies.
Dixie Stampede
Long day and we made it home by midnight. 
Think the kids might forgive us now for no “real” vacation…

Quick Break

We decided Friday to make a run for the border.  (Missouri border that is,) so we headed up to Branson.  We hadn’t been there in years and thought we’d give it another chance.  I found a free room at this place everyone said was great with kids The Castle Rock Resort and Hotel.
The hotel has an actual waterpark with 2 large slides, large kiddie pool, lazy river, and two other pools indoors.  Now, I have to admit the beds were so horrible we didn’t sleep a wink, but there was an alcove for the boys with bunkbeds and their own TV which they loved (we don’t do cable etc. at home so they don’t watch TV normally.)  The upswing was the waterpark part is all part of your room fees, and we did get the room free thanks to AMEX points!  (EVEN BETTER!)

Half of the waterpark
Loving the Lazy River
They loved it.

After they played a bit we drove around looking for things that were open (it’s the off-season in Branson so not much was open.)  We toured the Butterfly Palace.  A bit expensive for my tastes- I’d been in better butterfly habitats that weren’t so pricey. 

Butterfly Bar 

Then we found a new open-air mall down on the river called Branson Landing where the Bass Pro Shop was.   We ate at an awful restaurant somehow connected with Bass Pro called The Fish House (I think.)  Yuck.  Downtown Branson has really changed since we were there about 4 years ago to ride Thomas the Tank Engine!

Got back to the hotel and the boys went to swim for another three hours or so in the waterpark while Emily and I went to the room and vegetated.  (The chlorine in the pool was so strong it was making us sick.)

This morning we woke up and hit the town. 

Today we got up and hit the town.
First, we toured the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum.  (Complete with shrunken heads and world’s largest ball of twine!)

World’s Largest Ball of Twine! (really, aren’t you impressed?)

Next, we did the Titanic Museum.  Yes, pretty depressing, but the kids seemed to like touching the cold water and “iceberg.”  Very interesting to say the least.

Then we headed back to Branson Landing to some place the kids really wanted to go,  Ridemakerz, where they build their own car (think Build-A-Bear for boys.) I normally don’t fall for that corporate junk but the kids are really happy with their dumb cars. 

All in all it was a fun, cheesy trip, but I think I’ve had enough of Branson for another ten years or so.