family road tripWith only 20 days left of summer, we decided we needed a good old fashioned family road trip. We’ve been to Branson dozens of times, visited KC and Memphis. We wanted to go somewhere new (to us) but still within a reasonable (half day) drive. St. Louis seemed to fit the bill.

A quick Google search of “St. Louis for kids” turned up several unique and affordable places to visit. So, with my trusty iPad in hand and my Pinterest account open, I began “pinning” all the interesting sites. I had been to St. Louis for a Red Cross conference several years ago and had an excellent stay at the Renaissance, so guess where we are staying?

DAY 1

Today was travel day. I got up, washed a couple of loads of laundry (Olympic gymnastics helped me procrastinate on packing last night) and got us packed up while Mark went into work for a couple of hours. We were packed up and on the road by 9:30.

Traveling with kids these days is a breeze. Ethan slept for the first 3-4 hours, Gracie doodled, Genna dozed and played her electronic game. In spite of everyone being plugged in to their personal electronic device (including me), it seemed much longer than a 5.5 hour drive.

We stopped for lunch at the Rocking Chair Restaurant in Conway, Missouri. The restaurant was HUGE and all of the walls were decorated with the local children’s artwork. Each piece was labeled with the artist’s name and age and “framed” on a piece of colorful construction paper. I’m pretty sure from the curious glances we received, that we were the only customers in the place who weren’t locals.

The kids started to wake up and get excited dueling the last hour of our drive. At one point, Gracie and Genna were singing Taylor Swift’s “Love Song” when Ethan piped up, “It’s Pi time!” (3:14pm). If that, in a nutshell, doesn’t describe our kid’s personalities and their sibling dynamics, I don’t know what does!

We arrived and checked in to the Renaissance at 4:00. Ethan And Genna were quite impressed with the bellman and the scale of the Renaissance hotel. Score one for MOM!

We headed out to explore with no agenda just to get the lay of the land. Along the way we visited a skate shop and a souvenir shop and stopped and had gelatto. Mark totally embarrassed the girls by stopping in a fancy men’s underwear store for a pair of swim trunks. (The clerk was using a lint roller on a pair of see through underwear when we walked in.) I guess I didn’t know that swim trunks could range in price from $100-$150(!!!), but indeed they do. Luckily, they had one pair left in a reasonable price.

We walked to CityGarden, a unique green space with sculptures and water features. It was a great place for photos and so we took advantage. Afterwards, we took the gelatto girl’s recommendation for dinner and ate at Bailey’s Range– a gourmet burger restaurant in a refurbished office furniture warehouse. Mark had a Bison burger called the PB & J (pesto, bison and tomato jam). My “buzzed” burger was encrusted with espresso beans and served with Bleu cheese, bacon, apples and onions. Gracie had the “LGBT” (lettuce, goat cheese, bacon and tomato) burger, Genna opted for the grass fed hotdog and Ethan, of course, went for the basic veggie burger. Endless mason jars filled with cane sugar sodas washed it all down. I didn’t think the kids would EVER go to sleep tonight!

Across the street from Bailey’s Range was an AWESOME grocery store called Culinaria. We picked up fruit and yogurt for breakfast this week, then walked back to the hotel.

It only took about 15 minutes in the hot tub to wear off the effects of all the sugared soda. We watched Olympics in our room before dozing off . . .

DAY 2

Today we visited City Museum, “the most non-educational museum ever!” according to Genna. We hit the rooftop early as there was a 20% chance of rain and it was already getting HOT!  Inside we explored man made caves, climbed up, up and up to slide down a 10 foot slide, and ran around the indoor skate park.  In the evening, we drove to The Hill district to meet cousin Carol and her family at Milo’s Bocce Garden on the Hill.

DAY 3

Spent all day Friday at the St. Louis Zoo.  If I had a nickel for every time I heard Genna exclaim, “AWWWW!!!! That’s so CUTE!!!” we would be set! After much needed afternoon showers, we ventured back to the Hill to eat at Cunetto’s House of Pasta.

We had a long wait, but it was worth it!  Great recommendation from my cousin Carol.

Day 4

Our last full day in St. Louis.  We walked to the Gateway Arch, took the obligatory photos, watched the excrutiatingly boring documentary on how it was built (4 out of 5 Dilday’s thought it was boring.  You’ll never guess which one of us thought it was fascinating!), then only the brave among us ventured to the top.  (That would be Mark, Ethan and Genna)

Afterwards, we headed to the area of St. Louis known as “The Loop.” The Loop St. Louis, Delmar Loop, Blueberry Hill RestaurantI’ll admit,  I had Memphis’ Beale Street or Fayetteville’s own Dickson St. or Block Ave. in mind when I read about this place.  I thought an eclectic little shopping and entertainment district would be right up our alley.   I’m not gonna lie, the “Loop” didn’t really live up to the hype.  But we did have a great casual dinner at Blueberry Hill, followed by Fro Yo for dessert before heading back to the hotel for a little swimming and Sweet Home Alabama on TV.

Day 5

The last thing on our agenda was to have Sunday Brunch at Blondies.  Blondies was a just a few blocks from our hotel and was another great recommendation from a local.  Extra stout coffee kept Mark wide awake for the 5.5 hour drive home!

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