I'll not claim "high-spirits" or chipper moods, but everyone is a little less grouchy now that we've recovered from the second leg of our journey. Our last bit of traveling across the state of Missouri is tomorrow, and should "only" take about 5 hours or so with the car in tow. I have high hopes that by Wednesday night I'll be sleeping on my own bed.
We'll not manage to get to everything on our to-see list, but we will have done a lot. I'll include links for future reference and for all those Googlers who key in "visiting St. Louis with little children - things to do in three days." Pictures will have to wait until I get my computer, and, more importantly, get an internet connection. That might be a while.
Friday morning, we visited The Arch. There is a Museum of Westward Expansion underneath which Bill and the kids visited while I stood in line for tickets to the top. Lots of stuffed animals and "talking robots," as Billy described excitedly. After the unique ride to the top, everybody enjoyed the views of the Mississippi River and St. Louis. I give The Arch experience 7 thumbs up.
We stopped in for a brief prayer at The Old Cathedral. This is the oldest Catholic church west of the Mississippi. Simple, elegant beauty. We walked past The Old Courthouse of Dred Scott decision fame, but did not go in.
That afternoon, we went to the Saint Louis Zoo. We got there late enough that even the parking was free. Definitely 7 thumbs up on this. And although to children a zoo is a zoo is a zoo, I appreciated the shady walkways throughout the park (in contrast, all I remember about the Cleveland Zoo is the blazing sun) and the pathway in one section was made to look like dried mud with pawprints and leafprints and other such decorations along the way. Very nice.
Yesterday morning, we went to the Anheuser-Busch Factory for their tour. Bill liked it. Fritz and Katie didn't seem to have any complaints, but the one-hour tour was too long for Billy and Jenny. Pete was fine as long as I was holding/carrying him - an exhausting reality that limited my own enjoyment. One disappointment was that the filling and packaging line we viewed was down. The kids would have thought it much cooler to see bottles whirling around at high speeds. The tour includes some neat history of St. Louis, the beer industry, and life in these United States, so you don't have to like beer to like the tour. In fact, even if you are a beer snob like my husband, you might find the factory experience interesting. Note: I did not see my husband turning his nose up at the free samples at the end. For ages 5 and up, I give it 4 out of 5 thumbs up.
After naps, we went to Grant's Farm, owned by the Busch family. You take a tram ride through Deer Park, where you get to see lots of free-ranging animals - some quite close to the road. At the farm itself, you can pet goats and chickens and view an assortment of other animals from Bald Eagles to elephants to camels. One or two hours is plenty of time for this venture, entrance is free, and parking is only $8. At the other side of the parking lot are stables and pastures for the Clydesdale horses owned and bred by the Busch family. Pretty things. This stop (farm and stables) was a big hit: another 7 thumbs up.
Not too far from Grant's farm, we located one of the two Ted Drewes frozen custard stands. Having seen the movie Cars (twice in the last week alone), we were all interested to discover that the stand we went to on Chippewa is on a section of the historic Route 66. We didn't know enough to try a legendary "concrete" - a bit like ordering a coffee at Starbucks is how Bill described them - but what we did eat went down with no complaints. 7 thumbs up! And a side note, should you ever get married in St. Louis, it is apparently customary to head on over to Drewes after the reception in your fancy clothes. It seems they give away free custard to the wedding party, and we were able to see, not one, but two brides and their entourages.
This morning we attended Mass at The New Cathedral. Breathtaking. Here is a link to the inside. It's filled with mosaics. I've been in plenty of gorgeous churches in the world, and this one held it's ground. I'll give this stop 2 thumbs up from the adults. The kids did seem to admire the art as well, but a church is a church is a church and there is no F-U-N in that. One day, they'll appreciate it.
Pete is just about done with his nap, and Bill and the kids should be back soon from The Science Center. I hope they had fun. I also hope they get back in time for us to dash off to The Missouri Botanical Gardens. That would conclude our sight-seeing adventures in St. Louis. There's more we could have done, if our kids were older, if we pushed hard to get out the door earlier, if we didn't stop for naps or meals. But maybe we'll just come back another time.
In conclusion, if you enjoy urban travels for your long weekend getaways, I recommend St. Louis as a spot with plenty to do, even with five little kids in tow.