Last week my family went on a vacation. It wasn’t a holiday, we weren’t traveling to meet other family, and it wasn’t a trip for work that we called “vacation”. It was a true, me taking a few days off, and us getting a hotel for no other reason than to get away as “The Anderson’s”. It was beautiful.
THURSDAY: The girls had swim lessons in Decatur, then we packed up for the Gateway City. Checking into our hotel (thanks Orbitz!), we took the girls for their promised swim in the hotel pool…on the roof! Then we changed, and went out for dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory, and a leisurely stroll through the park around the arch & along the flooded riverbank. Bedtime around 9:30pm.
FRIDAY: We got up early so we could be at the (free!) zoo by 8am. Between 8-9am, there is free access to usually admission-costing exhibits. We were able to pet stingrays and sharks, then head over the children’s zoo/play areas/exhibits. Our kids had a blast! The weather was hot, but we spaced it out with visits to indoor animals (LOVE the Penguins, of course!), and did quite well. We took a train ride after lunch, and left still feeling great.
Next we headed over to the (free!) Science Center, where our kids enjoyed a few exhibits for younger kids. Most of the (free sections of the) museum is for an older age group, but we still enjoyed a solid couple hours there. We returned to our hotel for another long swim on the roof, soaking up the sun and scenery. Then it was dinner at the hotel (we had a giftcard!!), and a seemingly early bedtime of 9-ish-pm after an extensive family reading/playtime. (Bedtime with 3 toddlers in a hotel is always “ish”)
SATURDAY: We awoke at a relaxed pace, and headed over to Park Avenue Coffee (LaFayette Square location) to try a few of their 73 flavors of “Oooey Gooey Butter Cake”. It was all that I imagined butter cake could be, and then some. Our girls loved it, and they had a great outdoor patio area to enjoy. We walked around a bit near there, enjoying the weather and throwing a few pennies in the fountain. Then we drove around the city a bit, being rerouted due to a “For the Cure” 5k Walk.
Next we ended up at Union Station, where our girls loved the “Fudgery“, complete with vocal entertainment, crowd interaction, and fresh fudge samples. We walked around a bit, got flattened souvenir pennies, and mommy got to grab a quick “salad-to-go” from Houlihans before we went back to the hotel. After a quick lunch of stuff we brought, Sarah laid Ruby down for a nap while I took the older two out exploring the city. We went under the arch to the museum and old-timed snack shop, and then walked deep into the downtown area to visit Schnucks and be in awe of all the all buildings!!!
We went for a quick swim in a pool that was jumping with people (many celebrating something or something else with a bit of 21-and-older beverages), and decided to go out for dinner. We wanted to check out President Obama’s favorite pizza place, “Pi Pizza“, famous for their cornbread crust. It was, indeed, great pizza, no matter your opinion on the man. It was even better topped off with some Ted Drewes Frozen Custard!
We ended the day by walking from the hotel down to the “City Garden“, where our girls LOVED playing in the colored lights and spraying waters of the fountains! They played until well past sundown, and we walked back to put our soaking wet kids to bed.
SUNDAY: We began with a light in-room breakfast purchased from the Arch store on Saturday, sausage and cheese, and crackers…mmm. We did a short Bible story in honor of the Sabbath, of when Jesus “went on vacation” with his family, and his parents lost track of Him. Then we changed into our suits, and headed back over to the CityGarden for some more playing in the fountain while the sun was up! Our kids SERIOUSLY loved these fountains! And during the day hours, you’re allowed to swim IN the actual fountains! Gotta love that, and we really think Decatur, Illinois NEEDS something similar!
After a quick change, we checked out of the hotel, and went over to a SONIC (mom’s favorite) for lunch. Then it was off to the “Magic House“, which is a children’s museum on steroids! We spent the first couple hours in a building apparently for older kids, but found quite a bit our girls loved. Then we realized an entirely different building meant for kids our girls’ age, and began to explore that!! We definitely could have stayed, alas they closed at 5:30. So after a TON of exploring, pretending, learning, and playing, we headed out to meet family from the area for a quick dinner at Fazoli’s, before our girls passed out on the way home.
Altogether an INCREDIBLE time away with family. A very good reminder that a vacation with 3 toddlers CAN be done, done well, and done inexpensively!! And Saint Louis is a great city to take such a trip!!!!