Monday, April 7, 2014

Five Days of …. Missouri - St. Louis {Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog Hop}


April Blog Hop

The Schoolhouse Review Crew is participating in a blog hop this week. There are over 60 of my crew members participating in the hop with topics ranging from geography to homemaking to frugal homeschooling to parenting. 

With summer vacations nearing, I thought I would change things up a bit and post about all things Missouri this week. I will be posting about our favorite cities to visit, historical landmarks, and just strange and fun things to do here. Missouri is one of those states that is off the radar when it comes to vacationing, but I hope that after reading some of my posts this week you might decide you would like to visit our fine state.


Our first stop is our favorite city in Missouri …. St. Louis!

We have actually vacationed in St. Louis on three different occasions. It is my kids' favorite place to vacation. No, there are no beaches and we do not go to Six Flags. But, there are so many fun and free things to do in St. Louis that it makes for a really fun trip and inexpensive trip. We still haven't done all that we would like to do there.

Where to Stay

You could certainly stay downtown near the Gateway Arch, Busch Stadium, and other downtown attractions. However, you are going to pay for it. We always choose to stay west of the city closer to the St. Louis Zoo. The hotel prices are much cheaper and it's only about a 20 minute drive downtown. There are lots of things to do on that side of the city. We have stayed at a Hampton Inn right next to the zoo and even a little further out at a Sonesta ES Suites. We liked this choice for our family because we had four kids with us and our border collie. The big boys had a room and bathroom of their own (they even brought their Xbox), the little kids slept on the sofa bed in the living room, and Rick and I had a king sized bed, our own bathroom and some privacy. There was also a kitchen so we ate all of our meals at home, save one special outing. The hotel had an outdoor pool, free breakfast, and free appetizer-style dinner. It was totally worth it.


What to Do

I could write about this for days, but I will just touch on our favorite things to do.

Gateway Arch

First up, the Gateway Arch. This is the tallest man-made monument in the United States. It acts as a symbol of the gateway to westward expansion. In the base of the arch there is a fabulous and FREE Museum of Westward Expansion. There is a junior ranger program the kids can do and lots of opportunities for photos. An IMAX theatre gives the opportunity for you to view Lewis and Clark: Great Journey West, which we have done several times. We have even watched it at home, but nothing beats an IMAX production. And, of course, you have to go up into the arch itself. There is nothing like it! From one side of the observation deck you see Missouri and on the other side you see Illinois. It's quite spectacular and it is NOT scary to go up into it. It is totally worth the admission price.



After you exit the arch itself, there are beautiful grounds surrounding it. If you go down the large stone staircase to the Mississippi River, you can go on a river boat tour on the Becky Thatcher or the Tom Sawyer. In my opinion, it's not worth it. But if you like that sort of thing, go for it!

Walk a little further down the river and there is a large statute of Lewis and Clark and Seaman at the base of the Eads Bridge. Again, my kids love this.

City Museum

If you are going to choose just one thing to do in St. Louis, go to the City Museum! I am not even sure I can adequately describe it. Basically it is a three-story (plus) playhouse of recycled materials where your kids can climb, climb, and climb until they are exhausted! Parents can, and should, participate, too! Your kids will climb up a slinky into the ceiling and then pop up out of a hole in the ground. They will slide down three-story slides. They will crawl through caves and dinosaur bones. And that's just on the main floor.

On upper floors there is a skateboard park .. but not for skateboards. It's just for climbing and running. This is my kids' favorite part! Talk about sweaty .. yuck! There is Art City where your kids can try out several different mediums. There is an area where circus performers show some of their skills. Pianos strewn about allow patrons to play. We sat and listened to a high school glee choir play and sing. It was fabulous!


And then it's time to go outside to Monstro City and The Roof. More climbing, more sliding, and there's even Eli the ferris wheel on the roof!

It is a crazy, fun place to go. We usually go on a Friday or Saturday night after 5:00 p.m. because the basic admission fee is just $10.00. It's an additional cost to go to The Roof or to the aquarium. Yes, there's even an aquarium.

St. Louis Zoo

Want something FREE to do? Go to the St. Louis Zoo. It really is free! The only thing they charge for is parking. But, I have a tip. Park your car at the Turtle Playground across the walking bridge from the zoo. It is free to park there. We park on the street. Pack a large lunch and at lunch time head back over to climb on all of the turtle statues and enjoy your lunch. There are things you can purchase in the zoo, special exhibits, but we really only just purchase the seal lion show. It's good. The baby animal zoo? There is FREE admission if you get there during the first hour of operation. That's what we do if we want to visit there. We get up at o'dark:thirty (my kids love that) to get there when it opens and then go straight to the baby animal zoo.



St. Louis Science Center

The St. Louis Science Center also has FREE admission. They do charge for parking, but we just park on the street instead. It is a pretty typical science museum, but it is still a lot of fun! There is also a planetarium that is cool to see.


Other Places You Might Like

These are not places we visit on every trip, and some we have never visited at all, but your family might be interested in what they have to offer.

Magic House
Grant's Farm
Anheuser-Busch Brewery Tour
Busch Stadium - St. Louis Cardinals
Six Flags

Transportation

One thing we did this last trip was to take the train into downtown St. Louis. The kids really enjoyed it! We even rode it across Eads bridge into Illinois, got out to say we had been to Illinois, and then re-boarded to head back to Missouri.


Where to Eat

Of course you can eat at all of the typical chain restaurants, and there is a Hard Rock Cafe. But our favorite place to eat is Fitz's Soda and Grill. It is a real, working soda factory and restaurant with yummy burgers and American fare and the biggest and most amazing floats you will ever taste! They are so huge that a whole family could share just one! But the varieties of flavors make you buy several. If you are lucky you can see the sodas being bottled as you eat dinner. It is very reasonably priced and just a whole lot of fun.



Vacationing in St. Louis is a lot of fun and I highly recommend a trip there. To do just the things I have highlighted above, you will need to plan for four or five days. Like I said, we still haven't done all that St. Louis has to offer.

Come to Missouri! We'd love to see you!


Be sure to check out all of the other bloggers joining in on this blog hop. Specifically, I would love it if you would visit some of my good friends …

Dusty @ The Moon and Back ~ Five Days of Babywearing
Kristi @ The Potter's Hand Academy ~ Five Days of Spring Studies
Jennifer @ Royal Little Lambs ~ Five Days of Essential Oils
Annette @ A Net in Time ~ Five Days of Science
Jen @ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Five Days of Frugal Fitness
Meg @ Adventures with Jude ~ Five Days of Homeschooling from the Kitchen
Lori @ At Home: Where Life Happens ~ Five Days of Favorite Books
Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker ~ Five Days of A Christ-Centered Home



6 comments:

  1. I already want to make this my next vacation. A free zoo? That is so neat. The giant turtles sound like fun, too. We saw the St. Louis arch represented at our local museum in an exhibit of the 50 states and the girls really thought it was cool. Can't wait to see tomorrow's activities! ~ Lori H

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  2. What a lovely introduction to Missouri. :) You've definitely given me ideas of what do so should I ever make it down that way.

    Including Link to my blog as you don't give the option of linking to it otherwise. :)

    Annette @ A Net in Time (http://anetintimeschooling.weebly.com/a-net-in-time-blog.html)

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  3. Visiting from the Crew (and living on the eastern side of our great state). The Zoo is free and it's great--Marlin Perkins of Wild Kingdom fame was on the board for years. Other free things are the Art Museum and Grant's Farm. You can even see a Broadway show for free if you don't mind standing in line (or sitting in the back). The Muny in Forest Park offers 1500 free seats to every performance in the summer. Let me know the next time you come to town.

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  4. This is a great guide! We went to St. Louis once, and up in the Arch. Once you get over your claustrophobia in the little Souyz-like elevators, it's a really cool ride up to the top, and the view is magnificent, even on an overcast day!

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  5. I've always wanted to see the Gateway Arch! I was this close to going to St. Louis when I was in college, but things didn't work out. My kids would LOVE that skateboard park to run in!

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  6. I went on a choir trip to Six Flags in STL one time, and we hit the Arch. That's pretty much it, but it looks like there is so much more to it! Definitely have to go back!

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