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.

Got only a day in St. Louis? Here's a guide of fun things to do with kids in the city! #familytravel #stlouis #STL #Missouri

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.

A bridge in the Japanese Garden at the Missouri Botanical Gardens
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

Iconic St. Louis restaurant called Blueberry Hill, located in The Loop
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

Behind-the-scenes sundae making at Four Seasons in St. Louis
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!

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.

Rooftop pool and hot tub at the Four Seasons in St. Louis, Missouri
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.

Chalkboard menu board at Pappy's Smokehouse in St. Louis
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

Playing on the rooftop of the City Museum in St. Louis
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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June 16, 2017

My St. Louis Bucket List

We’re planning a trip to St. Louis during a great time of year: Summer. There’s so much to see there with the kids, I’ve decided to make a bucket list of it all. The last time we were there, it was winter and we couldn’t do a lot of great things.

A St. Louis Bucket List - A list of things to see, do and eat in St. Louis, Missouri #USA #STL #Missouri

Here’s what we’d see and do in St. Louis if time and money didn’t matter. Our upcoming visit is hosted by Explore St. Louis and Four Seasons St. Louis

Planning a road trip through Missouri? Don’t miss this post full of off-the-beaten path attractions and things to do like diving in a mine and walking among Elephant Rocks – My Missouri Bucket List!

Play outdoors

Waterfall at Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis
Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis is continually ranked among the best (and biggest) botanical gardens in the U.S. Photo by Burt Remis, courtesy St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission

I’d love to further explore Forest Park, home to the St. Louis Zoo and called the No. 1 city park by USA Today. It’s a huge space, with a lake and somewhere in there, the 75-foot Flegel Falls. While we’re in the area, I hope we can time a stop to Missouri Botanical Gardens. The Travel Channel called it one of the best botanical gardens in the U.S. Ever since St. Louis local, Adam from Fly Over Country, included it in on a St. Louis Insider’s Guide on my blog, I’ve wanted to see it.

Since we’ll spend a lot of time downtown, I’d also like to stroll through Citygarden. It’s a cool-looking sculpture park and fountain garden.

See a show at The Muny

Outdoor show at night at The Muny in St. Louis
The Muny in St. Louis is the nation’s oldest and largest outdoor theatre. Photo by Debbie Franke, courtesy St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission

Located in Forest Park, The Muny is the country’s oldest and largest outdoor musical theatre. Broadway revivals are presented in the summer, and I peeked at the season – so good! There are even ones that my kids would love.

Go up the Gateway Arch

This is for my kids, since I’ve already done this tour. They’re dying to get to the 630-foot ride to the top and see the view.

Stay somewhere with a view

A view of The Arch from a room at the Four Seasons Hotel in St. Louis
A view of the Gateway Arch from a room at the Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis. Photo courtesy Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis

Being such an iconic part of the city, how cool would it be to have your first view and final view of the day be out a window facing The Arch? Four Seasons in St. Louis has that view, and I’m hoping we get a room with this sort of view! There’s a reason it’s the No. 15 hotel in the entire country, according to the New York Post.

Eat all the food

Fountain on Locust, a soda fountain/ice cream shop in downtown St. Louis
Dining at the Fountain on Locust, home of the Ice Cream Martini, is on my St. Louis Bucket List, for sure. Photo by Katherine Bish, courtesy St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission

It wouldn’t be an Oh My! Omaha bucket list if there wasn’t a list of restaurants on it. I’ve got to try some St. Louis barbecue, and two names that keep getting mentioned are Bogart’s and Pappy’s. Pappy’s has been on Food Network and Travel Channel shows, including one “Man Vs. Food” episode about its “Big Ben” meal – a full slab of ribs, 2 sandwiches, a quarter-chicken, and 4 side dishes. Bogart’s was on The Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods America,” for what doesn’t seem like too strange of a menu (I suppose apricot-bruleed ribs is a little different).

I also want to take the kids to somewhere fun, like Blueberry Hill in The Loop (Chuck Berry used to play there).

For dessert, where else should we go in St. Louis than Ted Drewes for a concrete? I also have my eye on The Fountain. Every sundae (and they have some adult ones) sounds amazing, and the place just looks cool to be in. Or, we might head to Gooey Louie’s. I read the gooey butter cake is a speciality in St. Louis and Gooey Louie’s is the place to go for it.

See more St. Louis museums

Exterior photo of The City Museum in St. Louis, with a view of the Ferris wheel on the roof
The City Museum is a playground and museum for children and adults. The rooftop is an area I have yet to explore. Photo by McElroy Fine Art Photography, courtesy St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission

I love St. Louis museums (many are free). We want to go back to City Museum, even though we’ve been to this fantastic place before. Why is it on my bucket list? This time, with nice weather, we’ll be able to explore the amazing rooftop area. 

Related post: 5 Tips For Making The Most Of Your Visit To The City Museum

We also still need to visit The Magic House, St. Louis Children’s Museum, and my son, particularly is loving art museums, so a trip to St. Louis Art Museum is in order. There are family guides to for areas like the armor and mummies.

Have some thrills

Batman The Ride at Six Flags in St. Louis
Six Flags St. Louis is home to the thrilling Batman the Ride. Photo courtesy St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission

My kids are starting to become little theme park junkies. We should totally check out Six Flags St. Louis. I wonder if my oldest is tall enough for Batman the Ride yet.

See the Budweiser Clydesdales

One of the Budweiser Clydesdales at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery
You can see the world famous Clydales in St. Louis. Photo courtesy St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission.

There’s a free tour of the historic Anheuser-Busch Brewery, visit the Budweiser Clydesdales and sample some brew (me, not the kids). On a related note, we should visit Grant’s Farm, the 281-acre ancestral home of the Busch family.

* * * * *

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, Kim, it’s St. Louis, go to the zoo and a Cardinals’ game. I know. I’ve done them both and checked them off my list. We’ve also been to the Science Center (it’s FREE, you should go). I wrote about our first visit to St. Louis years ago (OMG, look how young Mooch and Farley are!).

What else am I missing? Please leave a comment with what should be added to this list!

Headed to Saint Louis? Here's a dream list of things to do and see in the city! #STL #Missouri #bucketlist

* * * * *

I got a lot of ideas from an Insider’s Family Guide to St. Louis. You ought to check it out!

Want even more ideas? Check out the site Explore St. Louis or view all the stuff pinned to St. Louis Fun With Kids:

https://www.pinterest.com/ohmyomaha/st-louis-fun-with-kids/

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June 10, 2017

Going To Oceans Of Fun With Small Kids

Our plan: See if Oceans of Fun was as kid-friendly as Worlds of Fun.

Our analysis: Most definitely.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored through a partnership with Blog Meets Brand and Cedar Fair, I was compensated for this post. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own. 

I admit to being reluctant taking two beginner swimmers to a water park the size of Oceans of Fun. But when Cedar Fair invited my family to visit for the first time, I decided it was time to see for myself if they can handle it.  (Boy, could they handle it!)

Tip for other nervous parents: There are free life jackets near most major pool areas.

If you haven’t been to the Kansas City area, please check out some of my guides, including family-fun in North Kansas City (where this water park is), a hotel recommendation near Oceans of Fun, a hotel recommendation downtown, and one of my family’s favorite KC attractions, Science City.

Kid-friendly Oceans of Fun

If you are bringing school aged or older children to Oceans of Fun, the many water slides will be a bigger attraction to you than the kiddie stuff. Our trip was decidedly less thrill and more splash. Here’s what my 5- and 7-year-old loved:

The biggest hits were Coconut Cove and Aruba Tuba.

Pool at Oceans of Fun in Kansas City, Missouri
We could’ve spent our entire time at Coconut Cove and my two kids would’ve been happy. The pool had slides, fountains, floating animals and a ropes course.

Coconut Cove is the pool of every kid’s dreams. Mini slides, rope walk, animals to climb on, and no waves to knock you over.

Aruba Tuba was, hands down, my kids’ favorite slide in the park. You need to be 42 inches to ride. It was quick enough to feel thrilling, but no scares. Both kids did well going down on their own and in a two-person tube.

Sign to Crocodile Isle, an area for younger kids at Oceans of Fun in Missouri
For preschoolers and the younger crowd, the best place to explore in the park was Crocodile Isle.

The area for really little kids, Captain Kidd’s pirate ship and Crocodile Isle (as well as Splash Island), were fun and a friendly way to ease into the water park experience. After a little while, though, my bigger kids were ready to move on.

Paradise Falls splash park at Oceans of Fun in Kansas City, Missouri
Paradise Falls looks like a lot of fun, doesn’t it? There’s so much to see, slide down, and splash through, that the commotion was too much for my youngsters.

Surprisingly, my kids didn’t like Paradise Falls as much as I expected them to. It’s an awe-inspiring play area. I think the 1,000-gallon bucket of water dumping out every so often was a too much for them. I walked through it myself; it was a lot for the senses to take in.

We also had a fun time at the Surf City Wave Pool. Nab one of the free tubes to make playing in that pool extra fun. If your family is feeling brave, and everyone is tall enough (46 inches), Hurricane Falls is near the wave pool, and being a four-person tube ride, it’s a fun one to take the family on.

Caribbean Cooler, a river flowing through Oceans of Fun in Missouri
Caribbean Cooler may have been the most chill area in Oceans of Fun (if you don’t count the adults-only relaxing pool and swim-up bar…sigh).

Slides and other water attractions we skipped were many, partly because my kids had their favorite areas and simply wouldn’t leave…and if I’m honest, partly because I didn’t want to go down any really big slides. Hurricane Falls was enough for me.

Best slides for kids at Oceans of Fun

Aruba Tube, the two-person and single tube ride, was the biggest hit with my kids, who are 5 and 7. It had the perfect combo of just-enough speed and dips in the slide to please, but not scare, every thrill seeker in our group. 

Hurricane Falls was the lone thrill ride we did at Oceans of Fun. It’s a four-person tube flume, and you should expect a wait to get on it. My younger child enjoyed it, which surprised me. As for myself, it was a bit too much going backwards and fearing the worst. I’m a big baby, it turns out. 

My Oceans of Fun Tips

– If the idea of your little ones in a big water park makes you nervous (it did for me), you can get a life jacket for them free-of-charge.

Life jacket station at Oceans of Fun
There are plenty of free life jackets to keep youngsters and weak swimmers feeling safe in the water.

– Parents in the know arrive early, nab a spot in the shade before anything else, and leave a towel there before exploring.

– You can rent a locker all day, since they’re digital now. We felt comfortable leaving our bags nearby and going to play.

– My kids wore water shoes, but that wasn’t the norm. It made sense, to me at least, to wear them, since the cement does get hot and slides get slippery.

How to get into Worlds of Fun

The height check station for rides at Oceans of Fun
My daughter reached a new height level this year that let her do some more thrilling rides and slides during our visit to Oceans of Fun and, later that day, Worlds of Fun.

Oceans of Fun and Worlds of Fun are one park now, which means you buy one ticket and can get into both. Super deal, if you ask me.

Can you do both in one day with small kids?

The way I see it, you have two routes to go if you’re trying to fit it in all in one day. If your kids are past the nap time age, I recommend hitting Worlds of Fun first and then cooling off at the end of the day at Oceans of Fun.

My kids needed a break (OK, I needed one). Since we were staying at a cabin on site, we went to Oceans of Fun right when it opened, took a midday break in the cabin, and then in the evening, rode a few rides at Worlds of Fun. The water park was great early in the day: Short lines, plenty of room in the pools, loungers galore. After noon, it warmed up more and the crowds arrived. 

Cabins at Worlds of Fun Village in Kansas City, Missouri
We stayed in one of these cabins at the Worlds of Fun Village and had a view of the rollercoaster called the Mamba. These are the closest accommodations you can get to Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun.

If you go

Worlds of Fun & Oceans of Fun

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

When: Open through Labor Day 2017; hours and days open vary so see calendar before going. You can time your visit to coincide with one of these fun events at Worlds of Fun.

Tickets: Buy online here

Cost: Buy online ahead of time for the best deal. You can get one-day passes for as low as $39.99. Two-day tickets are an even better deal: $59. Mom Saves Money shared more deals for 2017; check those out here.

Website

Visiting Kansas City in the summer? You'll want to go to Oceans of Fun! Here are some tips to make the most of your visit, especially if you're bringing kids. #familytravel #Missouri #KC

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October 5, 2016

6 Worlds Of Fun Halloween Tips For Families

Updated: Sept. 30, 2018

I think I found a new fall tradition: Halloween at Worlds of Fun. It’s like summer vacation meets sweater weather. It’s fabulous. Read on to learn more about the Great Pumpkin Fest.

pirate-at-worlds-of-fun

Visiting Worlds of Fun in the fall means Halloween activities for all ages, plus all of your favorite rides (except for those water ones…)!

My family was invited by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company and Blog Meets Brand to experience the Great Pumpkin Fest at Worlds of Fun for the first time ever this year. We’d had a blast at Worlds of Fun in the early summer, so I was curious to see how different it was in the fall.

(If you want to try yet another season, try visiting during the holidays when the theme park puts on WinterFest!)

Here’s how to make the most of it fall activities at Worlds of Fun, especially if you’re going to visit with young kids.

Beware: Daytime Halloween is completely different from nighttime Halloween at Worlds of Fun.

1. Time your visit right for your family

Hints of what happens at Worlds of Fun at night can be found throughout the park.

Hints of what happens at Worlds of Fun at night can be found throughout the park.

The park is open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays this month. Great Pumpkin Fest is on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Go then if you’re looking for the fall festival feel. Things turn mighty creepy after dark on Friday and Saturday nights for Halloween Haunt. Go only if your kids are old enough (recommended age is 14+). Click here to get the park hours and be doubly sure you’re going at the right time.

And in case you were wondering, most rides are open and the lines are much shorter in October than they are in the summer. Holla!

2. Going on Saturday for Great Pumpkin Fest? Hit the big rides early

The lines were shorter for rides earlier in the day during The Great Pumpkin Fest. When grown-ups started to arrive for Haunt, the lines for the roller coasters grew.

The lines were shorter for rides earlier in the day during The Great Pumpkin Fest. When grown-ups started to arrive for Haunt, the lines for the roller coasters grew.

Saturday is the only day that has both Great Pumpkin Fest followed by Halloween Haunt. The older crowd that’s planning on going to Haunt start arriving before it actually starts (scares begin at 6  p.m.), but not so early in the day as you think. If your kid is tall enough for roller coasters and the other big rides at Worlds of Fun, ride them before about 2 or 3 p.m. to enjoy the shorter wait. There is a notable uptick in visitors later in the day and those grown ups are headed to the thrill rides.

3. Plan ahead and get your preschooler a FREE ticket

Small kids will like the easy hay bale maze.

Did you know you can get free complimentary admission to Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun for all of 2017 by registering your kiddo for a Pre-K pass? If you register now, your preschooler can get a free ticket to Great Pumpkin Fest!

Worlds of Fun offers kids ages 3 to 5 a free Pre-K pass. The pass grants complimentary admission to Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun for the entire 2017 season. Register and process (AKA, redeem) a Pre-K pass during the 2016 season in order to get a free visit to the Great Pumpkin Fest this year! Get started here.

4. Let your kids wear costumes

You can meet Snoopy during The Great Pumpkin Fest at Worlds of Fun.

Costumes come in handy with all the photo opportunities and the trick or treating.

There’s a costume contest in Planet Snoopy at 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays for ages 11 and younger. Kids love dressing up regardless. But, more importantly, in this age of Instagramming everything, just think of the cute photos. Which leads me to the next tip.

5. Bring the camera

You'll find oversized photo opps inside and outside the park, like giant jack-o-lanterns.

You’ll find oversized photo opps inside and outside the park, like giant jack-o-lanterns.

Throughout the park, you’ll find great fall-themed photo opportunities. Be sure to tag Worlds of Fun, you just might end up on one of the TVs throughout the park. Use #WorldsOfFun and if it’s your first time going there, use #WOFFirstTimer.

And yeah, some of the photo opps will be creepier than others.

6. Pick your Halloween fun

The mini pumpkin patch at Planet Snoopy.

The Linus’ Great Pumpkin Patch at Planet Snoopy, the kids area at Worlds of Fun.

My kids wanted to ride everything AND see everything, which just isn’t possible. So they picked what they really wanted to do: Meet Snoopy, pick a pumpkin out, and trick or treat. Throw in a handful of rides and it was a great afternoon.

Here’s the rundown for your family to pick your Halloween must-dos, you’ll find all of this in Planet Snoopy:

– Photo ops with Peanuts characters walking around

– “It’s the Great Pumpkin” Picture Show on the screen at the Peanuts Showplace

– Lucy’s Costume Contest

– Trick-or-Treating in Peanuts Playhouse

– Peppermint Patty’s Haybale Maze is cute for the littler kids

– Linus’ Great Pumpkin Patch is right near the entrance of Planet Snoopy and that’s where your kids can pick out their free pumpkin

– Sally’s Creepy Crafts

– Spooky Tales With Snoopy

If you go

Worlds of Fun in October

When: Great Pumpkin Fest and Halloween Haunt run from Sept. 15 through Oct. 28 (Fridays, from 6 p.m. to midnight, and Saturdays, 6 p.m. to 1 a.m.). Halloween Haunt is not recommended for children younger than 14.

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

Cost: Park tickets are as low as $38. Tickets cover admission to all Great Pumpkin Fest starts activities and if you wanted to, you can stay for Halloween Haunt. Halloween Haunt-only tickets starts at $38. Parking starts at $15. But online to save some money.

Worlds of Fun Website

Make a trip of it!

My family has had a long love affair with Kansas City. For ideas for other fun things to do with kids in Kansas City, start here! If you can’t make it to Kansas City this fall, consider winter because, seriously, it’s the best time to visit! Here are 15+ things to do in Kansas City at Christmas time, and here’s a KC weekend winter itinerary.

Need a hotel? Check out this great Courtyard we stayed at with the kids. A little further from Worlds of Fun, but closer to some fantastic attractions is the Sheraton the my kids still talk about (that rooftop pool…).

May 18, 2016

Exploring Shoal Creek Living History Museum With Kids

Updated June 6, 2018

My family and I recently found a place in Kansas City that’s all about wide open spaces and a quiet stroll, and history mixed with nature: Shoal Creek Living History Museum.

Shoal Creek Living History Museum is in Kansas City, Missouri.

Shoal Creek Living History Museum is in Kansas City, Missouri.

We visited this new-to-us place during a super fun weekend trip and it was a welcome change from the go-go-go adventures we’d had the day before at Worlds of Fun.

What’s Shoal Creek Living History Museum

Located on 80 acres within Hodge Park in Northern Kansas City, Shoal Creek Living History Museum is a FREE attractions takes families on a walk through Missouri’s past as told through architecture.

Farley loved taking pictures of the buildings at Shoal Creek.

Farley loved taking pictures of the buildings at Shoal Creek. I may be raising a mini blogger.

Grab a brochure at the entrance to learn a bit more about the buildings on the grounds: There are 21 structures, 17 of which are authentic buildings dating from 1807-1885.  

Some of the more interesting structures included the Blacksmith barn built in the 1800s and was originally on a farm next to Hodge Park; the 1868 City Hall and Jail; and the 1880 Eldorado School. There’s also a carpenter shop, doctor’s office, church and several homes that I imagine are interesting to visit during re-enactment events.

On a regular day, you won't find any re-enactors at Shoal Creek Living History Museum. Plan to visit during a special event to see sites like the blacksmith barn come to life.

On a regular day, you won’t find any re-enactors at Shoal Creek Living History Museum. Plan to visit during a special event to see sites like the blacksmith barn come to life.

Just a handful of people were there when we visited.

Given the wide-open feel of it, it felt like we had the place to ourselves.

What we liked about Shoal Creek

I loved the space it provided for the kids to run, but even more so, I liked how relaxing it was.

Shoal Creek is such a photogenic place.

Shoal Creek Living History Museum is a photogenic place.

My favorite building was the Grist Mill. It’s the first thing that caught my eye and it just stood out from the rest of the buildings. It’s actually the lone structure there that was built on site and is a replica of an 1824 mill. Figures.

The kids?

They loved the American Bison herd kept on the land.

Bison at Shoal Creek Living History Museum in Kansas City.

Bison at Shoal Creek Living History Museum in Kansas City.

While they did seem pretty peaceful, one reminded us that they are still wild animals.

It charged the fence. Even standing back a few feet from the fence didn’t feel like a good idea.

See that guy in the background? That's what a charging bison looks like. Don't worry, the photographer was behind a fence.

Thank goodness for zoom lenses. The one on the right was headed our way.

Perhaps a lesson learned here: Stand further back from the fence. 

 

American Bison herd in Kansas City, Missouri.

American Bison herd at Shoal Creek Living History Museum in Kansas City, Missouri.

Special Events At Shoal Creek

On a given day, there isn’t programming in place, and you can only see the buildings from the outside.

Re-enactors are at special events throughout the year at Shoal Creek Living History Museum, helping bring history to life for visiting families.

Re-enactors are at special events throughout the year at Shoal Creek Living History Museum, helping bring history to life for visiting families.

But there are special events throughout the year where you may find re-enactors and perhaps enter some of the buildings.

2018 Events

* Always check ahead of your visit to make sure an event is still happening. Things can be rescheduled!

First Saturdays – June 2, July 7, Aug. 4 and Sept. 1, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. FREE family fun event with re-enactors bring the village to life with skits and shootouts throughout the day, food and craft vendors, family activities and demonstrations, and shop at the mercantile. Some activities may charge for their services, cash only.

14 Annual Harvest Festival – October 14, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. $5 per person, FREE for ages 5 and younger. Old-fashioned county fair with a puppet show, historical games, re-enactors, pony rides and more.  $1 horse-drawn wagon rides from noon to 4 p.m.

Kids Safe Halloween – October 27, noon to 3 p.m. FREE with donations accepted. Trick or treat event is for infants and elementary aged children.

Wilderness Run – Nov. 3, 9 a.m. Choose between a 5-mile or 2-mile trail run. 

An American Girl Doll Tea – TBD

22nd Annual Visit From St. Nicholas – Dec. 1, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. $5 per person, FREE for ages 5 and younger. Homes will be decorated and e-enactors will bring 19th century Christmas to life. Take a brief horse drawn sleigh ride through the countryside from noon to 4 p.m.

If you go

Shoal Creek Living History Museum

Where: Located in Hodge Park at 7000 Northeast Barry Road, Kansas City, Mo.

When: Open all year, seven days a week, dawn to dusk

Cost: FREE to view the exterior of the buildings; buildings are open during special events with an admission fee or donation.

Website 

 

May 9, 2016

Exploring Patee House Museum In St. Joseph

St. Joseph, Mo., is a Midwestern city that celebrates its history – if you’ve driven through, surely you’ve picked up on the Pony Express pride.

My family ventured into St. Jo recently to visit a few of its points of interest. If Farley hadn’t started getting sick as soon as we arrived at our first stop – Patee House Museum – we would’ve seen more. Ah, but isn’t that typical family travel?

Our visit was hosted by Visit St. Joseph with the help of Visit KC (I totally need to plan another visit since ours was cut short!).

Patee House Museum

The Patee House Museum is ranked one of the Top 10 Western Museums in the US. It's located in St. Joseph, Missouri.

The Patee House Museum is ranked one of the Top 10 Western Museums in the US. It’s located in St. Joseph, Missouri.

If you stop for just one thing, this 1858 National Historic Landmark needs to be it. Hands down, the Patee House Museum is worth seeking out. It’s been ranked as one of America’s Top 10 Western Museums by True West magazine – for good reason.

It’s so full of interesting exhibits, you’re torn between lingering on the details and racing forward to see more.

A view of the main hall of the Patee House, taken from the second floor.

A view of the main hall of the Patee House Museum, taken from the second floor.

Since I was touring with my 4-year-old, we took the racing approach.

You’ll see vestiges of the museum’s past as a luxury hotel, Pony Express Headquarters, courthouse…etc., and you’ll see exhibits of our region’s past.

Family Favorites

I think our favorite room in the entire place is the Buffalo Saloon.

Don't miss the Buffalo Saloon inside the Patee House Museum. You can order $1 soda or sarsparilla, and popcorn. But, the favorite thing in the room was the Nickelodian that played random tunes for a quarter. My daughter had a dance party!

Don’t miss the Buffalo Saloon inside the Patee House Museum. You can order $1 soda or sarsparilla, and popcorn. But, the favorite thing in the room was the Nickelodeon that played random tunes for a quarter.

It’s not originally part of the building, but isn’t it a nice addition?

The kids liked ordering up a dollar drink—sarsaparilla if you want to feel authentic—and pumping quarters into the nickelodeon to play a little dancing tune.

If you have a child that loves trains, plan on climbing aboard the large 1860 in the middle of the museum. You can’t miss it. Venture upstairs and see if the model train is working, too.

Another kid favorite is the working vintage “Wild Thing” carousel.

The working carousel inside the Patee House Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri.

The working carousel inside the Patee House Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri.

I forgot cash, so we didn’t ride. Next time?

Kids can also check out the 1877 railroad depot, a stagecoach, cars, trucks, fire trucks, wagons, buggies and carriages, Jeeps, a racecar, horse-drawn hearses and a real gallows.

You never know just what will catch the eye of a kid. Mooch was fascinated by this display case.

You never know just what will catch the eye of a kid. Mooch was fascinated by this display case.

Step into history

I liked the exhibits of everyday life from long ago.

My daughter checking out a general store replica inside the museum.

My daughter checking out a general store replica inside the museum.

There’s a wing in the museum where you can walk into an ice cream shop, peek into a pharmacy or barbershop, as well as an area dedicated to the museum’s history as the headquarters to the Pony Express.

Here's what the Pony Express Headquarters once looked like.

Here’s what the Pony Express Headquarters once looked like.

It’s meant to look like St. Joe from the 1860s-1880s.

Jesse James Home

The front of the home where outlaw Jesse James met his demise.

The front of the home where outlaw Jesse James met his demise.

Literally out back of the museum is the Jesse James House. It’s the infamous house where the outlaw was shot and killed by Bob Ford.

It wasn’t originally right next to Patee House—it was one block away. But it has ties to Patee. After the James’ death, his family stayed at the hotel and was interviewed there.

If you aren’t really a history buff or curious about seeing the bullet hole…you can bypass this small home, particularly if traveling with young children.

The Jesse James House, the very house where the infamous outlaw was shot and killed. The bullet home is marked by a picture frame for those curious enough to seek it out.

The Jesse James House, the very house where the infamous outlaw was shot and killed. The bullet home is marked by a picture frame for those curious enough to seek it out.

My children knew nothing about Jesse James so I stopped myself before jumping down that rabbit hole of explaining who he was, what he did, why he died…etc. I’ll wait a few more years.

If you do visit, you’ll learn a lot about who he was and his notoriety (if your children let you read the signage). You’ll see some macabre items, too, like artifacts from his grave and a replica of his skull, post gunshot.

Of course, my daughter immediately sees this display at the Jesse James House.

Of course, my daughter immediately sees this display at the Jesse James House.

Naturally, the skull is what catches Mooch’s attention.

Awkward.

An informative display case located near the gift shop.

An informative display case located near the gift shop.

There’s a small gift shop in the house as well.

 

If you go

Patee House Museum

Where: 1202 Penn St., St. Joseph, Mo.

When: Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.

Cost: $6 for adults; $5 for senior citizens (60+); $4 for students (ages 6-17); FREE for children 5 & younger

Website

 

Jesse James House

Where: 1202 Penn St., St. Joseph, Mo.

Cost: $4 for adults; $3 for senior citizens (60+); $2 for students (ages 6-17) ; FREE for children 5 & younger

Website