One Day Itinerary in St. Louis

Despite the close location from Dallas, this was our first experience going to St. Louis and I definitely left feeling like I want to experience more!  We arrived Friday night and settled in with Pizza at our hotel.  We got the kids to bed early (Thank you, Melatonin) and prepared for an early departure from the hotel to get the most out of our day.

8 am-12 St. Louis Zoo

12-1 Lunch break

1 pm-5 St Louis Science Museum

5-6 Dinner

6pm-8 St. Louis Arch

ZOO: We started in the cooler weather at the St Louis Zoo.  The entry fee is FREE!  I know, I couldn’t believe it either!   Parking here was $15 a car and it was quite a long line to get in.

 

We went to lunch at Steak ‘n Shake. Kids eat free on the weekends (for every $9 spent, get one kids meal free).  This restaurant makes dining in easy with kids.  They provide coloring mats and crayons along with build-your-own cars with stickers. The menu is kid-friendly with pictures.  The food came quickly about right when the kids were finishing up their activities.

We headed to the St Louis Science Museum.  This was in the same area as the zoo (Forrest park).  It was probably a mile of driving, so not close enough to walk, but very close to the zoo. This was also a FREE entrance fee!  The parking here was $12/car.

My thoughts were, “You get what you pay for” and figured an hour or 2 would be all the enjoyment we would get.  However, this was a legit science museum; full of various exhibits and interactive learning.  We spent 4 hours and didn’t get enough. As a mom I love reading and learning different aspects of science and the kids have so much to touch, do, discover and learn.  Science museums really have something for every level.  We were busy playing and interacting so we didn’t get many pictures.  You’ll just have to experience it yourself!

Only 5 miles away was the St. Louis Gateway Arch.  The kids loved finding it on the skyline as we drove that way.

We weren’t sure where to park or how to get to it.  So we passed the first base and parked just passed the northern base.  I don’t think it really matters though, just find a space or a parking garage.  There was a Cardinals baseball game starting the night we were there so we wanted to get away from the stadium a bit. Where ever you park you will have to walk into the park, but it is made into a gorgeous park looking out over the Mississippi.

The visitors center is closest to the North Base.  We just paid for tickets right outside to get into the visitors center ($3 for adults/ Kids free).  The wait for going up the arch was 2 hours, but just going in there was no wait.  Once you got inside the Center there is a theater, a Ranger Station (with Jr Ranger booklets)  a gift shop and  LONG lines to get up the arch elevator.  Our kids were tired and I was glad we didn’t spend $60 to go up, but then again, we missed part of the experience.   We watched the 20 minute movie about how the arch was made. I thought it was fascinating (even though it was made in the 70s and was so dated! It just added to the appeal).  When we went in 2017, much of the arch was under construction, but it should be amazing when they finish the park in front of the arch, the museum entrance and the Museum exhibits inside.

IMG_9266Hopefully, when you finish this full day you get to crash at a hotel and maybe hit the pool, but we  drove 3 hours  to get to our next destination.  An audio book put the kids right to sleep!

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When the crap hits the fan

I’m going to try to write an embarrassing or funny story on Funny Fridays.  My top embarrassment is written here.

This happened on our most recent flight.  The flight was smooth-sailing.  I always try to go to the bathroom before the descent just in case I can’t go for a while.  As I felt the descent begin, I realized I hadn’t gone yet.  So I passed the baby off to my husband and headed in to take care of business.  In the middle of this process, the planes hits some major turbulence.  I am rocking from side to side and up and down.  I’m getting sea-sick. And I realize I need to get out of there!  I wipe as well as I can while rocking around.  I jump up trying to wash my hands, flush and get my pants up at the same time.  I’m worried somehow the stuff will exit the toilet and get on me and I start panicking.  We then hit the worst turbulence I’ve felt in 6 years of traveling!  My feet leave the ground and my head hits the ceiling with my pants down.  For some reason, not having pants on when you hit the ceiling is so much more vulnerable!IMG_2756

I’m pretty sure my pants were up as I exited the bathroom, but they definitely weren’t done up!  I couldn’t get to my seat fast enough!  I grabbed the baby and tried to walk as carefully as I could.  Holding every seat as I passed and gripping baby tightly.  I finally sat down and locked baby in as fast as I could.

We didn’t hit another bump until wheels down.

Top Ten reasons to travel with a baby

Frequently, I hear of families putting off trips because they have a small baby. It seems like too much work, so they want to wait until the baby is weaned and they can leave him/her home.  First of all, I understand this thinking.  They are a lot of work.  There are messes and sleepless nights.  There are unknowns and fears of strange places.  There are things you won’t be able to do with baby in tow.  Plus, the baby won’t remember any of it! All that being said, I love traveling with a baby!  Let me tell you why.

  1. Most people love babies.  I met and struck up conversations with the most interesting people because of having a baby with me.  Locals, docents and tour guides who normally leave tourists alone,  couldn’t resist the smiles and coos of a baby.  This really helped me experience the location through the eyes of people who lived there.  It also helped me connect with other travelers who have great ideas or tips of things to do (or not to do!). Babies are easy conversation starter with people in lines or airplanes.
  2.  Babies help pass the ‘downtime’ of travel with joy. I loved the smiles and tickles and complete attention I could give my baby while I waited in lines, sat at the airport (delayed, of course!) and in my hotels. As my 3rd and 4th babies, sometimes they don’t get the attention they deserve and on trips I could fill their cup to overflowing.  I loved having pressure-free time to snuggle baby on the plane.
  3. When you are together traveling you make sure to feed and change the baby frequently, before it is too late and causes a probably. Meeting the baby’s every need means that she will be happy, healthy and sweet the whole trip.
  4. Little babies can sleep anywhere! My babies aren’t great at sleeping long on the go, but made up for it by napping frequently. Being in a stroller, car or plane helps lull them to sleep. We even changed time zones 9 hours and my baby learned to sleep when it was dark within one night!
  5. Even though babies wont remember the trip, there are still pictures and stories they will be told as they grow.  A love of the world and traveling can be started this young.  They will be exposed to other peoples and cultures (and probably some foods!) that will help them become more understanding of others.  My baby can say she’s been to Paris and show photos.  She will grow up with a connection in her mind to Paris.
  6. Babies are mobile and flexible. As you child gets older, babies will need consistent naps in a bed (not on the go).  They will want more movement and independence, have louder lung capacity and be more needy.  As a baby, they are perfectly happy where ever they are when their needs are met.
  7.  Nursing is the best if you are traveling!  No need for bottles or cleaning.  In this photo, I nursed my baby in the wrap, during the swamp tour and she proceeded to fall asleep for the rest of the ride.
  8. Strollers actually can be a benefit for traveling.  We got to skip the amazingly long line at the Empire State building and go straight into the wheelchair/ stroller line!  Disneyland has the stroller pass which we maximized to ride as many rides as possible!  Having a stroller means people give a little more space for you, which can be nice in crowded places.  ( my snap and go is my favorite for baby travel because the carrier can snap in and out of it.  It is so light weight)
  9. A baby wrap makes it possible to hike, walk steps, and do any activity mom desires.  Plus, baby loves to be close to mom for snuggles and sleep.  Its a win-win!
  10. Bonding with baby can happen for mom or dad as you do something together.  It was difficult for my husband to bond with a newborn since I am doing most of the caring and serving and ALL of the feeding (my babies wouldn’t take bottles).  When we took a trip with just #3, he finally connected and felt a relationship with her  because of time spent and memories created with her.  Even if the baby doesn’t remember, you will remember your time with them forever. And that contributes to your family closeness and bond.

So you can have a baby and travel, too!  Make it happen!  What do you love about traveling with a baby?

 

 

St. Louis Zoo

We started in the cooler weather at the St Louis Zoo (8 am opening!) The entry fee is FREE!  I know, I couldn’t believe it either!  Zoos are typically so expensive, to just walk right in was so unknown,  that we waited in a line, just to have the confused attendant, point to the gate and tell us to walk in like we were complete idiots.

Parking: Parking at the zoo was $15 a car. When we were leaving the zoo we saw people walking accross the street presumably to cheaper or free residential parking, but we didn’t know that trick, so we paid to park in the lot.

TIP: My husband dropped the kids and I off at the front entrance.  He then drove passed the LONG line, flipped a U-turn and entered the parking lot from the other direction where the line was only 4-5 cars long.

We went on a Saturday to a free zoo so, understandably, it was crowded.  But if we were patient, we were able to see all the animals we desired. The crowds moved freely and everyone at their own pace and agenda, so it all works out.

 

Favorite Exhibits: I loved the smooth perfection of the Cheetah’s fur, the butterfly encounter fluttering all around us and the polar bear swimming right up against the glass.  Seeing my 8-month-old laugh at the elephants and get splashed by a penguin was the best!  My daughter loved the sea lions swimming right over our heads in a walk through aquarium.  My son loved the butt of a wild hog and monkey, of course (He’s 9 thats what boys like).  Giant tortoises, red pandas, prairie dogs and the small insect rooms were among the other favorites.  We missed the whole section with lions, giraffe, etc.  So we will have to come again.

Costs: The zoo had plenty of options to see things the were free. That being said there were several things we wanted to see that you had to pay to get into. The kids were very excited about the children’s zoo with animals to pet and otters.  It was $4 a person and I would’ve paid it normally, but we had a few  more venues we wanted to hit, so we passed… this time.  There was also a sea lion show, wild west outpost (discovery room) and sting ray encounter for $4 to see.   The carousel, railroad, safari adventure, and theater we other pay-for attractions. We opted to see everything we desired for free and then move on, vowing to try it out again another day.  We still missed 2 HUGE sections of the zoo after 3 hours of animal viewing.

Food: Outside food and drinks (including coolers) are permitted inside the zoo.  If we would’ve been more prepared we could’ve eaten and stayed longer, but we needed a food break and recharge, so we headed out.

TIP: A Souvenir cup of soda costs $10.99.  Outrageous! but after you buy it you can get a soda refill for $1 and water at any of the concession stands for free.   Refilling with slushie was $2.50  We kept our kids hydrated in the hot temperature, so it was worth it to get refills constantly.

This will definitely be getting another visit from us!  Thanks City of St. Louis for offering such an amazing FREE zoo!

St Louis Zoo Homepage