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St. Louis help - off the beaten path

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Jun 24th, 2012, 06:56 AM
  #1
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St. Louis help - off the beaten path

Headed to Missouri in April. Originally we were going to spend some time in Branson, but now I'm thinking about just staying in the St. Louis area for a week. There seems to be a lot to do!

So far I'd like to hit up:

The Arch
Forest Park
The Zoo
Botanical Gardens
City Museum
Magic House
Grant's Farm
Museum of Transportation

Was thinking of the confluence park where the Missouri meets the Mississippi. Is there anything else nearby to add to the day trip? And is it worth it?

With 3 and 4 year old boys, are there any family friendly hiking areas nearby? I did get a recommendation for Elephant Rocks.

We are staying at the Residence Inn Galleria.
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Jun 24th, 2012, 06:57 AM
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Oh, and to get back to my title...is there anything off the beaten path we should check out? Places that don't get mentioned in tour guides?
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Jun 24th, 2012, 07:25 AM
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hi rizzo,
A fun day trip would be to go to Hannible, MO where Mark Twain's childhood home is now a museum.
I think Magic Mountain is not too far away.
Marimak Caverns is a little distance away but is great if your kids are into caves and geology.
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Jun 24th, 2012, 08:07 AM
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I don't know about 3 and 4 year olds, but we enjoyed a day at St Charles! http://rendezvousinstcharles.com/
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Jun 24th, 2012, 08:18 AM
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cd - St. Charles looks like a perfect day trip. My inlaws will be with us and she will LOVE it there!

nanabee - Will check out hannible now. that sounds fun. and I think my boys would enjoy a cavern tour...I know I would!
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Jun 24th, 2012, 08:29 AM
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Elephant Rocks is a great place- especially for active kids to climb on.

Johnson Shut Ins is a fun place- gets very crowded though.

There are a couple of Inns down in that area on the Black River- maybe spend a night or two there instead of all the time in St Louis.- I think it just called Black River Lodge. I love that part of the country- my ex grew up in Ironton so he knows every swimming hole in the area-

Hannibal is fun and interesting!
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Jun 24th, 2012, 08:41 AM
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Sunbum .... Is Johnson shut ins open? I thought I read that it got damaged in floods....but I could be completely wrong.
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Jun 24th, 2012, 08:55 AM
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It did get damaged in the floods- but I think is open again- I'll check and see.
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Jun 24th, 2012, 09:10 AM
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looks like the park is open again. Another interesting thing to do is a tour of the old mine at Bonne Terre- the mine has been filled with water and they scuba dive through the various shafts.

Its been awhile since I was there but at that time they also did a walking tour through part of it- we did the walking tour and I thought it was pretty interesting.

Ironton/Ft Davidson is the site of a civil war battle- there is a little of the old fort left- really just a mound of dirt now- a museum. Grant received his commission in Ironton so lots of history here.
My mother in law has found civil war bullets in her front yard- washed down from Shepherd Mtn.
I used to love visiting there
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Jun 24th, 2012, 09:54 AM
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Also check out the Cahokia Mounds- something I always meant to visit but drove past- however it looks very interesting- but maybe not to a 3 and 4 year old.

The history is pretty amazing
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Jun 24th, 2012, 11:20 AM
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Grant's Farm is such a great family activity! Our children are grown but we've been there twice. Also agree with Hannible!
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Jun 24th, 2012, 09:03 PM
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For family hiking you might be interested in the
Katy Trail http://www.hermannmissouri.com/katy_trail.htm

Hermann would be another day trip http://www.visithermann.com/
It is great for walking, and you can walk across the Mo river on the new bridge. Adults can enjoy the wineries.
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Jun 24th, 2012, 10:43 PM
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I second Grant's Farm for little kids. Also try Crown Candy Kitchen downtown: http://crowncandykitchen.net/

There's a cool root beer brew pub in University City, near Washington University and Forest Park. Fitz's: http://www.fitzsrootbeer.com/

I think the City Museum is a must-see. My kids always like it, and they're now teens and tweens! The artist who founded that museum also sculpted some neat turtle statues you can climb on just across U.S. 40 from Forest Park: http://www.riverfronttimes.com/besto...-spot-1463521/

Do you like Italian food? The Hill is fun little conclave and near the Missouri Botanical Gardens, which have exhibits that change with the seasons:
http://www.thehillstl.com/
http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/

With kids the ages of yours, you should consider a visit to the Magic House in Kirkwood. It's a great children's museum. Very hands-on. http://www.magichouse.org/
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Jun 24th, 2012, 10:45 PM
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Oh, forgot the St. Louis Science Center. It's pretty neat and has a planetarium: http://www.slsc.org/
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Jun 25th, 2012, 05:47 AM
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Your kids might be too young but the ballpark in downtown St. Louis is fun if the family likes baseball.
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Jun 25th, 2012, 07:34 AM
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Grants Farm is a Must!!!

The MO Botnical Garden has an amazing exhibit for all ages -

"Elaborate outdoor sets crafted of silk and steel celebrate Chinese culture through bold color, dazzling light and striking design. The exhibition offers visitors a unique opportunity to witness a spectacle rarely staged outside of Asia."

http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.o...-festival.aspx

The Loop in University is a fun place during the day with kids.
The rootbeer place above was mentioned but alos check out -
Blueberry HIll. - Fun Memorabilia and really good food.
http://www.blueberryhill.com/

The loop is a 5 min drive from your hotel.

For pizza and sandwiches/salads - family friendly and fun is Manhattan Cafe - again very close to your hotel.

http://local.yahoo.com/info-28290820...hattan-clayton

There are many nice parks nearby to play and walk around in addition to Forest Park if you just want a morning to play on a playground etc..
Shaw Park in Clayton
Oak Knoll Park in Clayton


For hiking I would suggest Babler Park in West county. It is very scenic and has great trails for all ages.

If you like BBQ - try PAppys downtown - maybe after The City Museum. It has won national awards and is fun and delicious!!
http://pappyssmokehouse.com/
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Jun 25th, 2012, 07:53 AM
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Anyone who lives in St. Louis - do you still go to Steak & Shake? Are they still around? My DH grew up in ST. Louis and back in the day (before his parents passed away) he would always take our young daughters to Stk&Shk when we'd go back to visit his family. This year - they seemed to have disappeared.
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Jun 25th, 2012, 07:58 AM
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nanabee - YES!! we still have steak N shakes - just not as many as more. There used to be one 5 min from me but it burned down -

OH - nanabee and OP - there is an old favorite diner called - Carls drive-in - has burgers very similar to Steak n Shake. It is very old fashioned - have not changed in 50 years - it has one of the only old fashioned functioning original rootbeer kegs - it is a must!!! We just ate there the other night!!!
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Jun 25th, 2012, 08:14 AM
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Plenty of Steak & Shakes in St. Louis http://www.steaknshake.com/

With such little kids, I agree with your staying in St. Louis. And I can't really think of much for them to do in Branson.

You've gotten some great suggestions already. I think the Magic House and Grants Farm are most age appropriate. The City Museum is great, but I think maybe a little daunting for little ones, unless you're agile enough to climb through everything with them.

If they are into trains, The Museum of Transportation would be fun but it's a bit of a drive and not very shady, so if it's a sunny day, it can be a bit overwhelming.

Riding on the train at the zoo, closer to where you're staying, (and with animals too!) could be just as fun. The zoo itself is free, but that makes everything else (parking, children's zoo admission, train tickets) cost more. If you get there early, you can get street parking.

Here's a good list of local hikes.

http://www.localhikes.com/MSA/MSA_7040.asp

Crown Candy Kitchen has gotten a lot of national PR lately. It's been on Man vs Food and is now supposed to be in a Food Network show on sandwiches. If you go, please be aware that it is an oasis in a not great part of the city. Please don't go exploring from that vantage point.
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Jun 25th, 2012, 08:17 AM
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Anne, Carl's is a great idea! Go early for lunch, or late afternoon for late lunch or an early dinner. Less crowds then.

http://www.yelp.com/biz/carls-drive-in-brentwood
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