December 3, 2017

24 Hours In Kansas City With Kids

One of our favorite quick Midwest getaways is Kansas City. It’s been a while since we visited during the holiday season (check out all the incredibly fun things we did when we spent a holiday weekend in KC in 2015). We returned to visit some new (and new-to-us) places, including Worlds of Fun’s WinterFest. We did it all in about 24 hours…with kids.

24 hours Kansas City guide

Here’s how you can have a fun 24-hour trip to Kansas City with kids:

Pick the right hotel: For this trip, we knew there were some definites for the trip: We wanted to try ice skating on the terrace in Crown Center, we wanted to visit the Country Club Plaza to see the beautiful lights and decorations, and we were going to WinterFest. Two places were much closer than the third.

We stayed at a Holiday Inn in Kansas City that was within walking distance to the shops and restaurants (and holiday lights) at the Plaza.

So, we picked Crown Center/Country Club Plaza for our hotel spot: The Holiday Inn Country Club Plaza, which is great for families. Our complimentary stay was provided by our trip hosts, Visit KC, so I can write about it (check the blog last this month!). The only downside to the hotel was that the pool was seasonal since it was outdoors, so that disappointed the kids. If a pool is a must, I recommend the Sheraton in Crown Center in the area. The rooftop heated pool is great, even in the winter.

If your activities are further afield, here are two other hotels worth checking out: DoubleTree in Overland Park, Kan., and The Courtyard in North Kansas City (a good choice to be closer to Worlds of Fun).

Kid-Friendly things to do in 24 hours: We arrived in Kansas City in the morning, and were able to see quite a bit before checking into the hotel.

Science City inside Union Station has several indoor and outdoor exhibits that are interactive and fun for all ages.

Our first stop was Science City, which is a favorite stop of our family’s, and we go nearly every time we’re in Kansas City. Our visit was complimentary.

Tip: If you have a membership to Omaha Children’s Museum, your admission is free to Science City!

Next, we walked the elevated pathways to Crown Center where there are shops, attractions like LEGOLAND Discovery Center, restaurants, and our next destination, Crown Center Ice Terrace.

The Ice Terrace at Crown Center is open throughout the winter in Kansas City.

The Ice Terrace is a seasonal, outdoor ice skating rink open November through February each year. It’s a popular activity, so expect a bit of a wait to get your skates.

We had lunch afterward at Crown Center. If you walk around, you can come across a couple kid-friendly shops like a toy store and a Crayola shop.

My son loves all things art so the Crayola store was a good stop for him.

Depending on how long it takes to eat and walk, you may have time to check out the shops before checking into the hotel.

Our next stop was WinterFest at Worlds of Fun, which is an evening-only event, so we had some time to kill at the hotel. This would be a good time for a cat nap if your kids need one; if your kids don’t nap, you can go to Worlds of Fun before the event actually starts (you can get inside at 4:30 p.m., though the event starts at 5 p.m.).

We wandered into a space that felt at home in CandyLand, complete with a candy cane lane and gingerbread men.

WinterFest started just this year at Worlds of Fun, and it was a hit with every age in our group. It runs until Dec. 30. Food is pricey–it is an amusement park–so I suggest snacks there and eating outside the park before or after.

The next day, we had breakfast at Eggtc, and arrived just in time to beat the local rush. This was one of my favorite breakfast spot discoveries yet. Another breakfast recommendation is Blue Bird Bistro. If you choose to stay at Holiday Inn, kids eat for FREE with an adult entree.

There are a couple Eggtc locations in Kansas City, and one is about a mile from the County Club Plaza and the Holiday Inn. It’s very kid-friendly.

Well fed and caffeinated, we headed for LEGOLAND Discovery Center. If you have a lengthy drive ahead of you, this is a good place for kids to let off a lot of energy before getting buckled in for ride home. You could spend about two hours there, and I recommend not skipping the 10-minute 4-D movie–the kids loved it. There are two rides, but I wouldn’t let that be a selling point. This is not an amusement park, so manage your expectations in that direction; it’s more for building, and admiring creations, and there is a sufficient amount of play spaces for kids to explore.

LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Kansas City has a lot of hands-on play, two rides and a 4-D movie.

Before leaving, we had lunch at Fiorella’s Jack Stack BBQ, a Kansas City institution with five locations. A good thing to note: There’s one location super near Union Station with a pedestrian bridge connecting the two. It’s another great kid-friendly place to try.

The large dining room at Jack Stack in Kansas City. Serving sizes are large.

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Want more KC family vacation ideas?

Our WinterFest visit was part of a 24-hour trip to Kansas City, packed with a ton of fun, great food, and beautiful sights. Be sure to read all about our adventures:

Tips For WinterFest At Worlds Of Fun 

Where To Stay Near The Crown Plaza

5 Things To Know About LEGOLAND Discovery Center

Kid-Friendly Indoor Activities For KC Winter Getaways – Jan. 11

 

Looking for more things to do during the holidays? Here’s a post with 15+ fun things to do in Kansas during the holidays and a KC Holidays Bucket List.

If you have a little more time for your visit, check out fun things to do in the winter with kids in Kansas City or see what family-friendly activities are near Worlds of Fun.

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November 28, 2017

Tips For WinterFest At Worlds Of Fun

Updated with 2018 details!

Worlds of Fun in Kansas City has successfully branched out from being only a summer destination for my family. Thanks to its new WinterFest, there’s a good reason to consider it now. The holidays at Worlds of Fun is enchanting!

Disclosure: My family’s visit was hosted through a partnership with Blog Meets Brand and Cedar Fair. This post may contain affiliate links.

WinterFest at Worlds of Fun runs through Dec. 30, 2017.

During WinterFest, the amusement park opens in the evening for rides, music, holiday characters, and everything merry. The first year of the event was in 2017, and it looks like it’s gotten bigger and better. In 2018, Winterfest runs through select nights from Nov. 23 through Dec. 31.

Related post: Make a weekend of it! Here are 15+ Fun Things To Do On A KC Christmas Getaway!

There’s a lot to see and do, and frankly, one night is not enough. And if you have little ones with you, late nights aren’t a good option. So, here’s how a family visiting with young children make the most of it.

Arrive early

WinterFest starts at either 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. (depending on the night) and ends at 10 p.m. (and midnight on Dec. 31). Five or six hours seems like enough, right? Oh, it never is. Arrive early. You can get into to International Plaza and Das Eishaus Ice Skating at an hour before opening (at least we could last year). The parking lot opens at 3:30 p.m.

TIP: Worlds of Fun’s entrance has two right-hand turn lanes, but the night we visited almost everyone lined up on the far right one. Wish we had skipped the line and zipped ahead in that second-to-the-right lane.

Your early arrival allows time for family photos with a little daylight, and time to plan out your night.

You won’t see lines like a busy summer day, I’m guessing, but if you arrive at 5, expect a line of cars trying to get into park.

Plan Your Rides

There are 25 rides open during WinterFest, including rollercoasters like Prowler and Spinning Dragon. We didn’t talk about what rides we wanted to do beforehand, so we spent a good portion of the night looking at our map and wandering around.

Most rides in the kids area of the park, Planet Snoopy, were open. This may be great for your family, but if your kids are older, there are far fewer rides that will interest them.

We’re not crazy, riding the wooden rollercoaster, Prowler, in November.

The good news is, the ride lines were not unbearable, especially for the Prowler. The longest wait was for the ride closest to the entrance.

TIP: If you’ve got kids under the age of 8 in your group, head straight for Planet Snoopy for the most rides in one area (and pretty much zero wait time).

And I guess it goes without saying: Dress warmly. It gets cold on rollercoasters and the spinning rides in the middle of winter.

Where to find holiday characters

There are characters throughout the park, and if you just walk around, you’ll find them. No need to go hunt them down…except for The Big Two (Santa and Mrs. Claus).

Head over to Scandinavia to find Santa. You’ll find Mrs. Claus in her kitchen in Europa (for an extra fee, you can decorate humongous cookies there). If you’re a Peanuts fan, look for characters over in Planet Snoopy.

TIP: If cookie decorating is on your list, expect a line. It went fairly quickly but, just giving you a heads up.

We found her! It’s true: Mrs. Claus does bake the best cookies, and they’re about as big as your head.

Be on the look out for characters like Jack Frost, the Sugar Plum Fairy, Candy Cane and Jingle Bell throughout WinterFest. Interaction with these festive folks add a fun touch to the night. Jack Frost can even make it snow.

Slow down to enjoy things

I’ve never seen Worlds of Fun — or any space — as beautifully decorated for the holidays. Walking around makes your feel like a child again.

We wandered into a space that felt at home in CandyLand, complete with a candy cane lane and gingerbread men.

It’s tempting to rush from ride to ride, but you’ll be missing out on the spirit of the event.

By the way, if lights are your thing, be sure to ride the train.

TIP: For good, overhead views of the park, look to your left as you go up the first hill of Prowler.

Other things to see & do at WinterFest:

Artisan Alley – Designed like Christmas markets around the world, you can shop more than 30 local vendors. This was low on my kids’ interest list.

Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree Lot – Walk through a maze of trees and find Peanuts characters at the end for a fun photo opp.

Das Eishaus Skating – For an extra fee, you can ice skate under twinkling lights. This is one of the few ice skating rinks I’ve come across that provides skating assistance for beginners (think: A walker on ice).

Food & Beverages – Wherever you are in the park, you’ll find some seasonal food and drinks, as well as some usual amusement park fare like pizza, turkey legs and funnel cakes. It wouldn’t be Christmas without hot cocoa, and there’s also spiked drink options for the grownups.

TIP: There were lines for hot chocolate throughout the park, except for one place I stumbled upon: Spike’s Cheery Concoctions. It’s not just for the grown-up beverages, you can get cocoa there.

Let It Snow – It snows every 15 minutes at Hometown Square in Americana, thanks to Jack Frost. There are also performers and fantastic photo opps like the 300-foot-tall “tree” (AKA the ride SteelHawk).

We went on an unseasonably warm weekend and the fake snowfall was a nice touch.

Live Shows – There are 10 shows to catch during WinterFest, and I’ll admit, we didn’t seek many of these out. We were on a mission for rides and cookies (and hot cocoa). There’s a Broadway-calibre “Charlie Brown Christmas Spectacular,” “Sounds of the Nativity” with live animals, and everything from jazz to bluegrass and performers on a roving trolley.

Kids can feed the animals in the Living Nativity (for a few dollars) while singers perform on a nearby stage. There are donkeys, goats, calves, and a few surly camels.

We caught the tree lighting ceremony, which is held each night the park is open at 5:30 p.m. Snoopy and about 20 singers and dancers perform a few numbers and then quickly, the tree lights up and then there’s a surprise ending. In my honest opinion, kids didn’t want to wait around for this and if I could do it again, I’d skip it and go on the rides. The tree stays lit the entire night.

North Pole Post Office – Kids can stop by the post office to write letters to Santa. Nearby, you’ll find Reindeer Roundup with Murray the Moose and others. Don’t go out of your way to find Murray.

Sally’s Christmas Crafts – Kids 12 and younger can decorate an ornament to take home or hang on the tree, as well as make cards.

If you go

WinterFest at Worlds of Fun
Santa sets the mood from the start at the entrance to Worlds of Fun.

WinterFest

When: Nov. 23 through Dec. 31, 2018; hours vary and the park is open on Fridays through Sundays only through Dec. 17, when it’s open nightly (except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, when the park is closed). See the hours here.

Where: Worlds of Fun, 4545 Worlds of Fun Ave, Kansas City, Mo.

Cost: I haven’t seen the price for 2018 Winterfest Tickets. Last year they were $25 (or a bit more at the gate); the all-inclusive ticket was $45 (plus fees & taxes) online, and that included admission, parking, a single meal deal, and a souvenir mug. Ice skating was $15, and the cookie decorating with Mrs. Claus was $14 (includes four cookies). You’ll want to check this worldsoffun.com for ticket information. It’s almost always a better idea to buy tickets in advance to pay the lowest fee and to avoid lines for tickets.

Find Kansas City hotels near Worlds of Fun and read reviews on TripAdviser

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Our WinterFest visit was part of a 24-hour trip to Kansas City, packed with a ton of fun, great food, and beautiful sights. In the next weeks, return to this blog to read all about our adventures:

24 Hours In KC With Kids

Where To Stay Near The Crown Plaza 

5 Things To Know About LEGOLAND Discovery Center

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Subscribe to the FREE twice a month(ish) e-newsletter sharing what’s new in Omaha, giveaways, family travel ideas, and more! Subscribe here.

Things to know and helpful tips for attending WinterFest, an annual event at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City #KC #Christmas #holidays
August 28, 2017

Visiting Missouri Botanical Garden With Kids

I knew Missouri Botanical Garden was considered one of the best in the country (USA Today’s Readers’ Choice Top 10 in 2016, Conde Nast’s Top 9 Beautiful Gardens in the US. I just didn’t understand what that meant until my family visited this summer.

Best means the most beautiful. Best means the grounds are impressively huge. And best means there’s a lot to see.

Unfortunately for us, we were on a tight schedule trying to take in the best of St. Louis in 24 hours. So we hit the kid-friendly garden highlights and left knowing there was more to see on a return visit. Our visit was hosted by Explore St. Louis.

 

Mi

Highlights of Missouri Botanical Garden With Kids

Children’s Garden

The Doris I. Schnuck Children’s Garden is a seasonal garden that’s an additional cost to visit, but if you’re at Missouri Botanical Garden with young children, you’re going to want to include this on your visit. Keep in mind, YOU don’t have to pay for a ticket as the adult (anyone over 13 is FREE in the children’s garden, as is anyone younger than 2). The price for children ages 3-12 is $5 if you’re not a member.

My daughter loved playing with the boats and waterways in the shaded pond in the children’s garden.

My daughter gravitated toward the water features, particularly the pond with little boats and, briefly, the sprayground. I recommend bringing a towel and having your child wear a swimsuit if you think yours will head for the same areas!

My son, on the other hand, was all go go go, and loved climbing, sliding, and exploring the tree house and limestone cave.

Looking down one of the rope bridges at the children’s garden inside the Missouri Botanical Garden.

 

Japanese Garden

My kids love koi ponds wherever we go (the one in Wichita was pretty memorable). They enjoyed feeding the koi at Missouri Botanical Gardens, as well as finding other waterlife in the 4-acre lake. They were delighted to spot several turtles.

The overall, sweeping views and the tiny details found in the Japanese Garden made it a favorite of mine.

This was one of my favorite areas of all. It was peaceful and so beautifully designed, with traditional Japanese bridges, waterfalls, lanterns and sculptures. It’s a large space to walk – 14 acres in all!

 

Climatron
The Climatron is a greenhouse designed to create a rainforest atmosphere for visitors, complete with a waterfall and tropical fish. When we visited, there was an additional fee to enter because of a glass sculpture show called “Garden of Glass.”

We weren’t expecting a waterfall inside the Climatron!

 

Tram Rides

If you’re traveling with littles, it’s going to be tough to see it all unless you have a stroller or get tram tickets. The tram rides are pretty insightful, so I recommend getting tickets for it. It is a hop-on hop-off kind of thing, but you aren’t guaranteed a seat if you try to hop on at a later stop.

The view of the Climatron as seen from the tram.

There is no need to take the tram to go to the children’s garden. It’s not a far walk from the entrance.

FYI: You can rent strollers at Missouri Botanical Gardens. Just a note, these are for truly little kids. My 5-year-old did not fit into it.

 

Other Notable Areas

We passed through some absolutely stunning gardens the morning we visited. Among them were the Carver Garden, the English Woodland Garden and the Boxwood Garden.

My kids never miss a chance to run through a maze.

If you’re familiar with Missouri Botanical Garden, you know then, that we missed a lot! However, given how young our children were and how hot a July morning can get, we picked the best gardens that our children would love.

Admiring the reflections seen in the water feature of the Carver Garden.

Plan on spending at a minimum three hours here and not seeing it all.


If you go

Missouri Botanical Garden

Where: 4344 Shaw Blvd., St. Louis, Mo.

When: Open year-round, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (with a few exceptions). Closed Christmas Day.
Cost: $12, adults (age 13 and over); FREE for children (age 12 and under) and members.

Website

Time your visit to coincide with one of their special events

 

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Want a St. Louis adventure for your family?

 

 

Read more about our awesome visit to St. Louis this summer! Here are some more posts about St. Louis with young families in mind:

– Spoil Your Kids at Four Seasons St. Louis

– 5 Tips To Make The Most Of Your City Museum Visit

 

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August 21, 2017

5 tips to make the most of your City Museum visit

City Museum in St. Louis is a rare find. It’s an epic attraction for the entire family, and one I swear I’ll never grow tired of visiting. It’s fun, it’s crazy, it’s beautiful, and it looks a little dangerous. And I love it.

We visited this summer during a whirlwind 24-hour visit to St. Louis. We packed a lot in, and if I could do it all over again, I’d allow more time for City Museum. Our visit was hosted by Explore St. Louis. 

Want to plan your visit to the City Museum? I’ve got some advice for you:

Tips For Visiting City Museum in St. Louis

 

  1. Dress comfortably

The City Museum is not the place to dress fashionably. You’ll likely be crawling through some tight spaces, climbing up some metal ladders, and sliding down some pretty gnarly slides. Tennis shoes, pants, and a shirt that won’t have you flashing everybody is smart choice. And you’re going to get sweaty. You might not want to wear a shirt that’s going to tell the world just how big of a sweater you are.

Time to slide at City Museum in St. Louis.

People in the know bring knee pads (or you can buy them in the gift shop). If you think of it, bring those flashlights kids can wear on their head. There are some dark spaces there.

 

  1. Go up to the rooftop

If you visit when the rooftop is open, splurge and spend the extra few dollars to see it. It’s a marvel, with a ferris wheel, the school bus, slides and more.

It gets hot up there, so if you can manage it, go out there early in the morning rather than in the heat of the day.

Check it out – a ferris wheel on the roof!

And, don’t make the same mistake we did: Take the elevator. There’s a sign to use the stairs, that it might be faster…don’t do it. It’s a loooong way up. Unless you’re a regular stair racer, you’re going to be tired by the time you reach the roof.

There are a few moments at City Museum when you wonder if you should’ve brought a change of clothes for a child. This water feature was one of them.

 

  1. Pair up

If you visit with more than one child, aim to play man-to-man parenting defense. Our kids, ages 5 and 7, usually follow directions when I ask them to not leave an area without me or my husband. All rules go out the door when they set foot in the City Museum.

True story: One kid headed for the huge ball pit while the other was still playing a story above us. Visiting the City Museum with more than one child begs for a man-to-man parenting defense.

It’s like a wonderland and they hit the floor running. I follow one kid, Mr. Wonderful tracks the other. Or we attempt to. Good luck if you’re outnumbered by your kids.

Have you ever tried crawling through the tunnels there? Oy.

 

  1. Have a meeting place

Try as you might, there’s a chance your child is going to outrun you in the City Museum. The building is quite cavernous. We picked out a meeting spot on the first floor, should we lose part of our group. We went with the information desk as the meeting spot.

The City Museum in St. Louis.

Make sure your kid knows your phone number. If not, I highly recommend these kid safety tatsWe put them on the kids when we went to Disney World and they stayed on our entire vacation.

 

  1. Be a kid again

You don’t need to have kids to visit City Museum. If you are there with kids, don’t just watch. Get out there and have fun. Do the slides. Cram yourself into the tunnels. Sit on one of those spinning top thingys. Jump in the ball pit. Delight in the circus. It’s so much more fun.

Adults and kids had fun playing on these over-sized tops.

By the way, there’s a 10-story slide at City Museum. It sounds epic, but it’s my least favorite thing to do there. I just wasn’t able to slide well, so it was 10 stories of scooting.

The view from the bottom of the legendary 10-story slide at City Museum.

* * * * *

Want a St. Louis adventure for your family?

 

 

Read more about our awesome visit to St. Louis this summer! Here are some more posts about St. Louis with young families in mind:

Spoil Your Kids at Four Seasons St. Louis

Missouri Botanical Garden For Families

 

Love this travel post?

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August 14, 2017

Spoiling Kids At Four Seasons St. Louis

I have a hotel recommendation to make your next St. Louis visit extra? Stay at the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis. Your kids aren’t going to forget this hotel.

We stayed at Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis on the first leg of the #OhMyEpicRoadTrip adventure this summer. I’d spent a long time daydreaming about St. Louis—what I’d do if time and money were no matter. One thing on my list: A view of the Gateway Arch. I found that and more at the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis, which hosted my family’s stay.

 

Spoil the kids

From the moment you arrive, your kids get special treatment at the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis. At check in, they wheel out a wagon full of toys for kids to select a present.

They had my two kids hooked at that moment.

Then, it’s up to the room. I’d requested a room with a view, and they delivered. I could spend all day looking out from this window.

St. Louis view

Night or day, this view from our room at Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis never got old.

If you can get them to step away from the view, there is a surprise waiting for your kids in the room. The hotel asks for your kids’ names ahead of time to personalize things. Our kids’ welcome treat were huge chocolate dipped marshmallows, jellybeans, and our favorite, a chocolate arch. Nice touch!

Not that my kids need help relaxing, but there are even kid-sized robes and slippers in the room (as well as full-size ones for us). Even more thoughtful, organic, kid-friendly toiletries and rubber ducks wait in the bathroom.

Organic, kid-friendly products (and rubber duckies) were waiting for my kids.

About the rooftop pool

I’ve never found a hotel pool with this kind of view in the middle of a city’s busy downtown area. The kids had fun splashing in the pool, wading pool, and hot tub, no doubt. We forgot goggles, but the pool attendants found extra for us.

Four Seasons St. Louis pool

Cabanas are available for rent at the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis rooftop pool.

The pool area had cabanas for rent, as well as lounge chairs for guests. Attendants prep the chair for you, and bring you towels…and drinks. It’s an adults’ happy place. There were definitely more childless adults relaxing by the pool than families, though, so I felt compelled to keep reminding my kids that cannonballs were frowned upon.

Feeding the kids

Don’t skip the Four Seasons’ complimentary gelato or pizza-making experience offered to kids younger than 12. Held in the kitchen of the hotel’s restaurant, Cielo, kids get one-on-one time with an executive chef and ends with a tasty treat.

Chef Saul with my kiddos after they made gelato sundaes together in the kitchen of Cielo. This experience is free for hotel guests under the age of 12!

My kids made gelato sundaes with the executive pastry chef, Chef Saul, who showed them how the restaurant makes its own gelato, and had a prepped food area for them to choose the toppings for their sundaes. I might have nudged my daughter in the direction of adding some chocolate-covered strawberries to her sundae so I could sample. It lasted about 20 minutes and ended with a happy sugar high for all of us.

When you let a 5-year-old build her own sundae with a chef’s help, you get this creation.

Cielo faces the pool area, and if the weather is right, offers great al fresco dining for families. Kids younger than 5 eat for free, and there is a kids menu there.

We had breakfast outdoors, facing the Gateway Arch. If you want some recommendations, definitely order the chicken and waffles and fresh juice. I haven’t had fresh orange juice. I had french toast, which was as good as it looks, but I admit to stealing more off my husband’s chicken and waffles plate than is probably socially acceptable.

 

What’s near Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis

When you leave the hotel, you’ll find a lot of family-friendly attractions nearby. Here are the distances to a few of notable attractions:

  • Gateway Arch – Less than half a mile, you could walk this!
  • City Museum – 1 mile
  • Busch Stadium (home to the Cardinals) – 1 mile
  • Union Station – Slightly more than 1 mile
  • The Dome at America’s Center (home to the Rams) – 1.5 miles
  • Forest Park (St. Louis Zoo, St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis Science Center) – Less than 6 miles
  • Missouri Botanical Garden – Less than 6 miles

And, not family-friendly at all, but it’s worth noting that the Four Seasons St. Louis is right next to (pretty much connected to) a casino.

 

If you go

Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis

Where: 999 N. Second St., St. Louis, Mo.

Cost: $$$$ (parking and valet parking is an additional fee)

Website

 

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Plan your St. Louis family adventure! Start with some inspiration with this St. Louis Bucket List and a 24-hour St. Louis Itinerary for Families. Then read more into our favorite stops:

5 Tips To Make The Most of Your Time at City Museum

Missouri Botanical Garden For Families

 

Need more ideas? Check out my St. Louis With Kids board on Pinterest:

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August 7, 2017

24-Hour Guide To St. Louis With Kids

St. Louis is a city that begs for more than 24 hours to explore it, but you can see a lot if that’s all you have.

My family visited this summer for a quick 24-hour adventure while on our epic road trip (check it out #ohmyepicroadtrip). It wasn’t our first visit – we’d been there in the winter and enjoyed some indoor activities and a cool day at the zoo.

This time, our mission was to see the outdoor things that aren’t ideal (or open) in the winter. To plan it, I started with a bucket list of fun things to do in St. Louis. Explore St. Louis and Four Seasons St. Louis hosted us on our visit.

Here’s the resulting 24-hours of fun in St. Louis:

Fun Stop 1: Missouri Botanical Garden

We arrived early in the morning to Missouri Botanical Garden. If visiting in the summer, you pretty much have to do this; by midmorning, it gets hot and humid in St. Louis.

One small area of the Japanese Garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden. There is a koi pond nearby where, for a quarter, kids can get some fish food to feed the koi.

Highlights for our children included the 14-acre Japanese Garden and koi pond and children’s garden.  The Japanese Garden is one of the largest in North America, and it tired us out.

If you visit before Aug. 21, you can also see a cool glass sculpture exhibit called Garden of Glass inside the Climatron. It’s pretty in the day and kids definitely will like the water features. If you can time it, though, I suggest visiting in the evening to see it lit up. FYI: This exhibit is an additional charge to the gardens.

We spent a good two hours at Missouri Botanical Gardens and didn’t get to see it all. It’s large! Read what we thought the kid-friendly highlights were here.

 

Lunch: Blueberry Hill

The landmark restaurant, Blueberry Hill, opened in the Delmar Loop neighborhood in St. Louis in 1972. The restaurant helped launch the revitalization of the neighborhood.

We headed to The Loop to dine at an iconic restaurant called Blueberry Hill on Delmar Avenue. It’s not the closest thing to the gardens, but I wanted to see this cool neighborhood and I love Chuck Berry.

FYI: Chuck Berry fans can look for his star on the sidewalk in front and find a statue of him across the street.

The restaurant is full of memorabilia and will help pass the time while you wait for your burgers to be cooked. They’re known for their hamburgers, so order one to find out why.

If you have time, you can ride one of the trolleys that pass by Blueberry Hill.

 

Fun Stop 2: Sundae experience at Four Seasons St. Louis

The kids got to make their own huge gelato sundae creations in the kitchen of Cielo. It’s a complimentary experience for hotel guests aged 12 and under!

We spent our afternoon at our hotel, the Four Seasons St. Louis. First, the kids got to go into the kitchen of the hotel restaurant, Cielo, and make gelato sundaes with the executive pastry chef. The hotel offers two types of food experiences for the kids: pizza making or gelato, and well, we’re all sugar fiends, so it was an easy choice for us. They are FREE for children under the age of 12, and I recommend trying to schedule it before you arrive.

Once the kids had enough of their sundaes, we hit the rooftop pool to wind down.

The hot tub and pool, in the background, on the rooftop of Four Seasons St. Louis.

 

Dinner: Pappy’s Smokehouse

For top notch Memphis-style barbecue in St. Louis, we headed to Pappy’s Smokehouse. Word was that food can run out at Pappy’s so, we got there early. It was a short wait for our meal, and well worth it.

Once Pappy’s Smokehouse runs out of an item on the menu, they’ll cross it off the chalkboard. We arrived early enough to have a full selection.

Our evening ended right after dinner because the inevitable happened: One kiddo started feeling sick. We had factored in enough time for an evening trip to the Gateway Arch, and it would’ve timed out perfect. Tours of the Arch can be booked ahead of time, and I’m told early evening is a great time to do it. If you’re planning a 24-hour whirlwind tour like ours, aim for 8 or 8:30 p.m. to go to the Arch.

 

Breakfast: Cielo at Four Seasons St. Louis

Nothing beats a meal with a view, so the next morning, our breakfast was at the rooftop restaurant, Cielo, at the Four Seasons. This place has a nice view of the Gateway Arch. I recommend the fresh squeezed orange juice and chicken and waffles.

 

Fun Stop 3: City Museum

Everything at the City Museum is magnificent to see but always on the verge of danger (in this case, wet danger)…which is why everyone in my family loves it. This is a water feature on the rooftop.

We’re no strangers to City Museum – it’s quite possibly my favorite museum in the entire world. However, this was our first time visiting when the rooftop was open. For an additional charge, you can play up top in the summer season (which includes a school bus hanging over the edge of the building, a ferris wheel, and a number of crawly spaces).

It’s hard to describe the City Museum, so just trust me when I say you need to visit with or without children. It’s an architectural marvel/playground/tunnel labyrinth. It’s beautiful and overwhelming, and taking just three hours to explore (like we did) is not enough. Plus, there’s a circus there.

But, wouldn’t you know it, the other child started feeling sick and since we were due at our next stop in a few hours, we had to cut our visit short.

 

Want a St. Louis adventure for your family?

Read more about our trip! Here are some more posts about St. Louis with young families in mind:

Spoil Your Kids at Four Seasons St. Louis

– 5 Tips To Make The Most of Your Time at City Museum

Missouri Botanical Garden For Families

 

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