January 3, 2018

5 Things To Know About LEGOLAND Discovery Center

You’d think after nearly a half-dozen visits to Kansas City with the kids, you’d think we would have gone to LEGOLAND Discovery Center by now. We have a son that’s really into LEGOs. We finally made it to the Crown Center attraction this winter, and here’s the takeaway from the experience.

Disclosure: I was provided complimentary admission to visit LEGOLAND Discovery Center so I could write about it.

5 things to know about LEGOLAND Discovery Center

1. LEGOLAND Discovery Center is not the same thing as LEGOLAND.

LEGOLAND Discovery Centers bill themselves as smaller versions of LEGOLAND, but having been to both, I’d say that’s a bit of a stretch. They are owned by the same company, and they are similar in that:

  • Both are inspired by the blocks and feature a ton of really amazing LEGO sculptures
  • Both have rides.
  • You can build things at both.

LEGO Merlin at the LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Kansas City.

By their nature of being indoors, Discovery Centers are much smaller than LEGOLAND theme parks. The good news is that the lines are way more tolerable than LEGOLAND theme park lines. In fact, we had no wait for either ride at LEGOLAND Discovery Center KC.

Have reasonable expectations and you’ll enjoy the experience.

2. The rides shouldn’t be your main draw here.

Before visiting the Kansas City LEGOLAND Discovery Center, I had a friend tell me there were two rides there and her kids only wanted to go on those rides over and over again. So, I assumed they were super cool. Well…I guess LEGOLAND San Diego set some high standards.

As Merlin’s Apprentice Ride spun around, you could control the height of your seats by the speed of your pedaling.

The rides in KC are indeed good rides for kids, particularly for the early elementary age or younger crowd. Older kids may be bored. But don’t discount a good target shooting ride. If you ever played Ninetendo or Playstation, you’ll probably enjoy the Kingdom Quest.

But do not assume these rides will be like LEGOLAND theme park rides. Remember the whole “indoor attraction” thing? These rides are on the small side.

3. Don’t skip the 4D cinema.

It’s tempting to think a 10-minute movie is skippable, but don’t do it.

Glasses on and all ready for the 4D movie to begin at LEGOLAND Discovery Center KC.

It’s pretty entertaining getting “sneezed” on by a dragon in a movie or feeling the snowfall you see on screen.

4. Expect to spend about two hours here.

How much time you spend at the Kansas City LEGOLAND Discover Center depends on a few factors, including just how into LEGO detail work your kids are, how easy you can get them out of the climbing area, and whether your kiddos need a nap.

My daughter did not want to leave the play area inside LEGOLAND Discovery Center.

We spent less than two hours here since we had a long drive home, but I could see it lasting longer. Take into consideration some of the daily programs there, and whether or not your kid is prone to riding rides over and over again.

Your kids will likely run pass some pretty cool things, like MIniland, that you may want to linger in to see the exquisite detail of things. The Miniland in KC was pretty impressive.

The Miniland inside LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Kansas City has quite a few KC landmarks made out of LEGOs, as well as this interactive race car track.

5. Get down and build alongside your littles.

It’s tempting to sit down and watch, but things get a whole lot more enjoyable when you get down and build with your kids. I designed my own square for a wall quilt and helped my son build a race car. There are 10 building areas at LEGOLAND Discovery Center. Good times, and good memories, for sure.

There are 10 areas where families can create LEGO structures, including one with earthquake tables and a race car track to test out your engineering skills.

If you go

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Kansas City

Where: 2475 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.

Cost: $15 to visit if you purchase online in advance; in-person tickets will cost at least $4 more per person. Kids under 2 are FREE.

TIP: LEGOLAND Discovery Center is right next to SEA LIFE Kansas City Aquarium, and you can usually purchase tickets together for a better price.

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Kansas City is near a lot of great attractions around Crown Center. Here’s a family guide to Crown Center.

* * * * *

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:

24 Hours In Kansas City With Kids

Tips For WinterFest At Worlds Of Fun

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.

* * * * *

Get Travel Inspiration Delivered To Your Inbox

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

 

December 30, 2017

10 Beautiful Midwest Destinations For Families

I’d like 2018 to be a year of beauty and wonder for my kids. The good news is that you don’t have to travel far to encounter some truly beautiful or unique places. There are so many beautiful Midwest destinations! Here are a few of my family’s favorites so you, too, can have a year of beauty and wonder with your family.

I’m stilling brainstorming where we may go in 2018, so I’d love your suggestions! Where in the Midwest should I go with my family for beautiful sights and wonder-inducing experiences?

 

Botanica, The Wichita Gardens

The Monster Trees might have been my favorite part of all Botanica Wichita.

Where: Wichita, Kan.

Why it’s beautiful: Obviously, being a botanical garden, things are going to be beautiful. Must-see pretty spots at Botanica include the koi pond and Chinese Friendship Garden.

Why kids will like it: You must take the kids to the whimsical Downing Children’s Garden to see the Monster Woods, musical maze, the familiar storybook character statues. and, being Kansas, the yellow brick road.

Read more about this kid-favorite destination!

 

Clear Lake

The view from the top of the carousel at Clear Lake’s Fourth of July celebration.

Where: Clear Lake, Iowa

Why it’s beautiful: Like most Midwestern lakes, there’s a beautiful of the sky reflecting on the water and the serene appeal of quiet, lapping waves on a shore. But, the bonus with Clear Lake is that it’s a getaway without being far from modern conveniences. The town of Clear Lake is literally right at the water’s edge.

Why kids will like it: There are a couple beaches to choose from where kids where it’s shallow enough for littles to enter the water safely. My kids particularly remember Clear Lake for its Fourth of July festival…and the chance to stay overnight in a yurt.

Want to stay in a yurt? Here’s a post about the only yurts in Iowa you can stay in. 

 

Coronado Heights Park

Coronado Heights Park has a structure that looks strikingly like a castle to young children (and grown ups with big imaginations).

Where: Lindsborg, Kan.

Why it’s beautiful: Coronado Heights sits on a sandstone bluff looking over flat pastures. The beauty is the view, yes, but also the stark contrast of an ancient-looking castle set on the plains.

Why kids will like it: The castle, obviously. It’s not really a castle, but go ahead and let them believe there was once a small, medieval castle just northwest of Lindsborg.

Bonus: Don’t just visit the park and miss out on the charming town of Lindsborg. The town wears its Swedish heritage with pride, and it’s utterly charming to visit.

We tacked on a visit to Coronado Heights during our weekend trip to Wichita. Read about that stop here!

 

Ledges State Park

We looked for rocks in the shallow river that flowed through Ledges State Park.

Where: Madrid, Iowa

Why it’s beautiful: This park is an unexpected treasure in the middle of Iowa. The walk along the sandstone gorge carved out by a tributary of the Des Moines River is unforgettable.

Why kids will like it: Playing in the water is a big draw, but part of the fun, too, is Canyon Drive, a route that passes through the sandstone gorge and is often partly submerged under water. The bigger the splash, the better.

 

Loess Hills

They don’t call them the Loess Hills for nothing. Don’t expect a flat hike at Preparation Canyon State Park.

Where: Western Iowa and Missouri

Why it’s beautiful: We’ve hiked a few trails in western Iowa’s Loess Hills, and each have had their own unique beauty about them. Trails along these unique formations can sometimes lead to rolling hills or steep bluffs, and have views of prairies or forests. You’ll find them along the eastern edge of the Missouri River flood plain.

Why kids will like it: This is Midwest nature at its purest.

Here are three hikes in the Loess Hills to consider!

 

Missouri Botanical Garden

The Japanese Garden at Missouri Botanical Garden is 14 acres with bridges, waterfalls and peaceful nooks.

Where: St. Louis, Mo.

Why it’s beautiful: This huge botanical garden has a space that appeals to everyone, but the most beautiful, to me at least, is the 14-acre Japanese Garden. It’s peaceful with its path around the lake, and everywhere you look, you see pure beauty.

Why kids will like it: The kids enjoyed feeding the Koi fish at the Japanese Garden and looking for turtles around lake. However, you’d be making a huge mistake if you skip the seasonal Doris I. Schnuck Children’s Garden. It’s a lot of fun (pack their swimsuits).

They don’t call this place one of the most beautiful gardens in the U.S. for nothing! Read why here.

 

Smith Falls

A view of Smith Falls on a sunny day.

Where: Cherry County, Nebraska (nearest city is Valentine, Neb.)

Why it’s beautiful: Located in Smith Falls State Park, this 63-foot waterfall is the tallest in Nebraska. You don’t forget the first time you ever see this waterfall.

Why kids will like it: You hear the waterfall before you actually see it, which thrills children to no end. The fun part is that you can stand under the water, if you dare (it’s very cold no matter the season, and the water hits you pretty hard).

Bonus: Getting to Smith Falls from Omaha is half the fun – you drive through the beautiful Sandhills of Nebraska. Plus, most people opt to canoe the Niobrara River to Smith Falls State Park, which in my opinion, is another beautiful thing to experience.

Get Western Nebraska road trip inspiration to visit Smith Falls here!

 

Sylvan Lake

Where: Black Hills, South Dakota

Why it’s beautiful: Sylvan Lake is found within Custer State Park in South Dakota, which is itself, a truly unique and wonderful destination. Visit Custer, and make sure Sylvan Lake is on your list of stops. This gorgeous lake is a worthy destination for any family, either for an easy hike, water sports, or a waterside picnic.

Why kids will like it: The trail around lake is mostly easy, but there are some more challenging points that kids love. This is a spectacular spot to immerse yourself in nature.

Get inspired for a Black Hills road trip starting with this post!

 

Table Rock Lake

Jumping into Table Rock Lake to cool off in the summer.

Where: Stone County, Missouri

Why it’s beautiful: Table Rock Lake is a reservoir in the expansive Ozarks region of southern Missouri (and expands well into Arkansas). I particularly enjoyed Table Rock because it offered an peaceful escape from the frenzy of nearby Branson, Mo.

Why kids will like it: Water sports and small cliff jumping is a big appeal here. If you plan ahead, you can rent a houseboat to extend your stay on the water.

Toadstool Geologic Park

Nebraska’s own Badlands, AKA Toadstool Geological Park.

Where: Harrison, Neb.

Why it’s beautiful: This is Nebraska’s own Badlands. It’s off the beaten path, and much smaller than South Dakota’s Badlands, but park is just stunning to hike.

Why kids will like it: I suspect they like it because they’re imagining they’re on the moon. At least, that’s why I liked the park. Please note: The trail can be challenging for young children, and seriously panic-inducing for parents who bring their young children. Hike with care.

Read some Western Nebraska road trip inspiration in this post!

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December 20, 2017

Staying Near Country Club Plaza in KC

One of the most-visited areas in Kansas City is the beautiful Country Club Plaza. There are few trips we make to KC that don’t involve a stop there.

Until recently, we’ve never stayed near there, though. If you’re looking for a hotel near Country Club Plaza, here’s what we found at Holiday Inn Country Club Plaza. It’s within walking distance to great shops and a ton of restaurants. Disclosure: Our stay was complimentary for this review.

Holiday Inn Amenities

We were in Kansas City for a quick holiday getaway, and we wanted to stay somewhere near some of our key activities like ice skating at Crown Center, playing at LEGOLAND Discovery Center and Science City, and hopefully, getting some shopping done. So, we opted for a hotel near the Country Club Plaza. It was nowhere near our third destination of the trip (Worlds of Fun).

The lobby at the Holiday Inn in Kansas City was welcoming. You can’t see it, but off to the side was a Christmas tree for the season.

Traveling to big cities, parking can be costly. A great perk at Holiday Inn near Country Club Plaza is the complimentary self-parking. Having it underground is a bonus, especially in the winter.

My family includes two young kids so one big thing is a requirement for hotels: A pool. This Holiday Inn has one, but alas, it’s outdoors and open seasonally. To keep the kids occupied, you could check out an Xbox Connect or board games.

There’s actually a year-round outdoor pool in Kansas City, and I highly recommend it for families (read about it in the Sheraton Hotel review here). It’s not within walking distance of the Plaza, though.

Another nice amenity is the free wi-fi access at the hotel.

Holiday Inn Rooms

The Holiday Inn near the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City had really comfy beds that were perfect to fall into after a busy day.

You can bet after a day of ice skating and strolling around Worlds of Fun’s WinterFest, the family was beyond tired. Our room at two double beds with the coziest pillows ever. The blackout curtains insured the kids slept in for as long as they needed.

Our room overlooked the pool courtyard, which I imagine would be nice other times of year. During the winter, there isn’t much to see.

Free Dining

I didn’t get a chance to dine at the Holiday Inn’s restaurant, but for families on a budget, here’s the deal: Up to four kids ages 11 and under eat free any time of the day in any Holiday Inn® on-site restaurant.

Walk to the Country Club Plaza

The Country Club Plaza in Kansas City is stunning any time of year. The architecture is beautiful. However, around the holidays, the KCP&L Plaza Lights at night add an extra “aww” factor to your visit. The Plaza Lights run Thanksgiving through Jan. 14 from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. daily.

It doesn’t get much more Christmas-y than this photo of the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City. Photo courtesy Visit KC

There are several other events at the Plaza besides the Plaza Lights. You can get event details here.

One more tip: If you’re looking for a great breakfast choice, eggtc. is a KC staple with a location less than a mile from the Holiday Inn. It’s very family-friendly, but you want to get there early to beat the local rush.

 

If you go

Holiday Inn Country Club Plaza

Where:

Book a stay!

 

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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:

24 Hours In Kansas City With Kids

Tips For WinterFest At Worlds Of Fun

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.

* * * * *

Get Travel Inspiration Delivered To Your Inbox

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

 

November 28, 2017

Tips For WinterFest At Worlds Of Fun

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.

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. It just opened and lucky for you, there’s plenty of weekends (and weekdays starting mid-December) to plan a visit through Dec. 30.

MAKE A TRIP OF IT: Plan a weekend to see more of Kansas City’s fun holiday attractions. 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 5 p.m. and ends at 10 p.m. Five hours seems like enough, right? Oh, it never is. Arrive early. You can get into to International Plaza and Das Eishaus Ice Skating at 4 p.m. 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.

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: Through Dec. 30, 2017; it’s open from 5 to 10 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, through Dec. 17, and then nightly from Dec. 18-30 (except Dec. 24 and 25) from 5 to 10 p.m.

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

Cost: Purchase tickets online here to pay $25 (plus fees & taxes), or pay a bit more at the gate. An all-inclusive ticket is $45 (plus fees & taxes) online, and that includes admission, parking, a single meal deal, and a souvenir mug. Ice skating is $15, and the cookie decorating with Mrs. Claus is $14 (includes four cookies).

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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

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

 

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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 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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