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Category Archives: St. Louis

Exploring St. Louis with kids

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Gateway Arch, St. Louis

St. Louis might be one of the most underrated family destinations in the U.S. With world-class museums, professional sports for every season, and a stunning monument to 20th-century design and engineering, St. Louis offers families a host of affordable entertainment options.

Where to Begin: the Gateway Arch

Perhaps the best place to start a St. Louis adventure is the famous Gateway Arch. At 630 feet, this monument’s grace ascent gives the city a skyline like no other. Visitors can experience the Museum of Westward Expansion before climbing into a pod-shaped elevator and making the journey to the top of the Arch. There, visitors can look out the small windows and see the city to the west and the Mississippi River and Illinois to the east.

Educational Adventures

No trip to St. Louis is complete without a visit to the zoo. The Saint Louis Zoo features over 19,000 animals, a zoo train, and a lively sea lion show. Surprisingly, admission to the zoo is free. Visit soon to see the zoo’s newest resident, a baby Asian elephant that was born in April 2013.

Another free option in Forest Park is the Saint Louis Art Museum. From ancient Egyptian artifacts to paintings by modern masters like Paul Cezanne, Georges Braque, and Andy Warhol, the museum’s comprehensive collection can help inspire young artists and their parents.

For families who prefer science to Cezanne, the Saint Louis Science Center is a fun and educational option. Cross the pedestrian walkway and watch the cars zip by on the highway below, or watch a movie on the five-story screen at the OMNIMAX theater.

In addition to its impressive museums, St. Louis also boasts a well-deserved reputation as a sports town. During warm summer nights, families can take in a Cardinals baseball game at the 2006-reincarnation of Busch Stadium.

Relax and Refuel

Once you’ve experienced the art, culture, wildlife, and sports of St. Louis, you’ll need to recharge with something scrumptious. Fans of Italian food should visit “the Hill,” a predominately Italian-American neighborhood known for its wide array of old-school Italian restaurants. Local favorites include Cunetto’s House of Pasta and Charlie Gitto’s.

After dinner, consider a stop at the St. Louis staple Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. Known for their so-thick-you-can-turn-the-cup-upside-down “concretes,” this ice cream shop is a must-visit for kids (and their parents) who have a sweet tooth.

St. Louis is a fantastic budget-friendly summer destination for families. We have visited many, many times, and we always find new things to try.

Helpful Planning Resources:

Gateway Arch: gatewayarch.com
Saint Louis Zoo: stlzoo.org
Saint Louis Art Museum: slam.org
Saint Louis Science Center: slsc.org
Ted Drewes Frozen Custard: teddrewes.com

Kid-Friendly Fun in St. Louis, Missouri

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Butterfly House, Faust Park

Having grown up in St. Louis, it’s always fun to go back and take my daughter to places that I remember from my own childhood. During our most recent trip to the Midwest, we were able to explore Faust Park, located not far from where I grew up on the west side of town.

Faust Park is perfect for families because it offers visitors many options: a playground, a beautiful indoor carousel, and the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Butterfly House, just to name a few.

We started our visit to the park with a ride on the carousel, which was built by the Dentzel Company of Philadelphia in the 1920’s. At age five, E. still loves rides like this. Tickets are $2 each. Even though the carousel is indoors, large windows circle the room, making it a pretty cool (literally!) setting.

We also explored the Butterfly House, a short walk from the carousel. We were able to walk through a beautiful wonderland of butterflies and flowers. I’m not much of a photographer, but this would be a spectacular place for a photo walk.

Butterfly House, Faust Park

Butterfly House, Faust Park

Faust Park is located at:

15193 Olive Blvd.
Chesterfield, MO 63017

Have you visited Faust Park? Share your thoughts:

Tips for Visiting the Gateway Arch

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Gateway Arch, St. Louis

During our travels to Missouri and Illinois this summer, we finally took E. to see the Gateway Arch. It’s crazy to think of all the times we’ve visited St. Louis, but haven’t made time to act like tourists!

Here are a few tips to keep in mind during your visit to the top of the monument:

Ticket Times: Don’t get too excited. When you see that it’s a busy day at the Arch, you might be surprised to find that your assigned tram time is only minutes away. However, keep in mind that you’ll do some additional waiting even after you report to the north or south tram line. First, you’ll need to wait to get your boarding pass, then you’ll wait again for your tram group to be called, and then you’ll watch a short film while waiting to board. In other words, bring something along to keep the kids entertained!

Restrooms and the “Point of No Return”: As I’m sure you can imagine, there aren’t restrooms at the top of the Arch. There aren’t any near the tram loading area either, so use the ones near the ticket counter when you have the chance. Also, be prepared for your child to announce, “I have to pee,” as soon as you step onto the tram and can’t go back. (Yes, this happened to us.)

Duck! The trams/elevators are very compact, even though they hold up to five people. You’ll need to watch your head getting on and off the tram. If compact spaces make you uncomfortable, remember that the ride up to the top only takes about five minutes.

View from the Top: Once you’re at the top of the Arch, you can look out the windows and see St. Louis on one side and the Mississippi River and Illinois on the other. Some highlights to spot before you go back down: the beautiful courthouse building (to the west), Busch Stadium (west), and the Arch’s shadow.

View from the top of the Gateway Arch

Most of all, enjoy your visit!

St. Louis Favorites: Five Fun Things to Do with Kids

1. The Saint Louis Zoo: This is by far my favorite zoo that I’ve visited. In addition to the elaborate, well-maintained habitats for the animals, the zoo has one feature that is really quite amazing…it’s FREE (although there are fees for some areas, like the children’s zoo and the zoo train).

2. Magic House: I visited the Magic House as a child and still have fond memories of placing my hand on the electrostatic generator and feeling my hair stand on end. Although admission is $8.50 per person, parking is free.

3. Sporting Events: St. Louis offers visitors three pro teams–Cardinals (baseball), Rams (football), and Blues (hockey).

4. Missouri Botanical Garden: The garden offers so much to explore–my favorite is the Japanese Garden, which is the largest Japanese strolling garden in the Western hemisphere. Kids will love checking out the large, colorful fish that live in the pond. Also, don’t miss the Children’s Garden.

5. The Arch: Even if you aren’t so sure about heights and are hesitant to take the journey to the top, it is still worth a stop at the famous Gateway Arch. It’s hard to imagine any kid (or grown-up, for that matter) who isn’t impressed by this landmark. Plus, it’s a great place to take pictures, from the ground or from above.

Looking for a place to eat in St. Louis? Check out my post Cunetto’s in St. Louis.

Missouri and Kansas Trip: Pt. 2: Cunetto’s in St. Louis

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Our stop in St. Louis focused on family, friends, and food. One piece of advice to those visiting St. Louis: you must eat dinner in a predominately Italian neighborhood called the Hill. (For more on the Hill and its history, click here.)

The Hill is known for its fantastic Italian restaurants. Most of them are family-owned and serve traditional Italian food. None of that Olive Garden or Macaroni Grill stuff! This is the real deal.

Our first night back in St. Louis, we ate dinner with family at Cunetto House of Pasta. The name pretty much says it all: you’ll find a wide variety of pasta dishes as well as steak, fish, and veal. I recommend the cannelloni con salsa. The portions are huge. When we asked for a kid’s order of pasta with meat sauce for E., they proudly brought out a massive plate of food for her and told us that this was the smallest portion they offered. (It was an adult-sized portion at a kids meal price.)

Another recommendation–and I can’t state this strongly enough–get the toasted ravioli as an appetizer. Delicious!

Keep in mind that Cunetto’s is a popular place and that reservations are taken for lunch only. You might want to consider visiting on a weekday night, especially if you’re with kids and don’t want to wait for a table.

Please stay tuned for more from our Missouri/Kansas road trip. Next up: food and drinks in Columbia, Missouri.

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