Although many people are unaware of it, St. Louis County boasts a world-class wolf sanctuary. Originally founded by Marlin Perkins, the Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka houses several species of endangered wolves and foxes from around the world. We spent the final day of our staycation on a tour of the facility. I guess we had pretty good luck because we saw quite a few wolves and some of them were active despite the heat. I’m including a short video below of our wolf-watching adventure. We followed it up with a fantastic seafood lunch at Gulf Shores in Creve Coeur.
It’s not often that you get a St. Louis weather forecast in August that calls for highs in the low 80s, so when you get one, you have to take advantage of it. Day 5 of our staycation found us enjoying a day at Six Flags. Here are the video highlights of our day.
Day four of our staycation took us to see the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica, a rather incongruous blend of Romanesque architecture and Byzantine art that took almost 70 years to complete. It houses one of the largest collections of mosaics in the world, all of which are stunning. The kids were impressed with the size of the space inside, and Noah really liked the stained glass windows. It’s hard to believe I’ve lived in St. Louis almost my entire life and I’ve never visited before. They currently have on display a bronze cast replica of Michelangelo’s La Pieta, a marble statue at the Vatican.
We ate lunch at the Central Cafe and Bakery that serves a refreshing menu of Lebanese cuisine. Dixie and I enjoyed the babaganoush appetizer, and I had a very flavorful salad of vegetables and herbs with some yummy lamb kabobs. Luckily their menu also includes a cheese pizza that was a hit with the kids. We followed this up with a walk around the block to The Cup for gourmet cupcakes for dessert. Dixie had a “Graceland” that is banana cake with peanut butter frosting. They even provide free candles if it’s your birthday.
We ended the day with a tour of the Herbaria Soap Factory on The Hill. They make all natural cold process soap with essential oils for scent and color, and if you ask, they’ll take you in back of the shop and give you a tour of the soap-making process, and even let the kids cut out their own bars of soap using cookie cutters. Humans have been making soap for thousands of years, and it is somewhat surprising that the process has remained unchanged in all of that time.
I still can’t figure out how St. Louis was lucky enough to be selected as the location for Marine Week 2011, but I’m not complaining. It was a great way to spend a father/son afternoon. Noah got a big kick out of the helicopters, the weapons, and the tank. Here’s a short video of our adventure:
Day two of our staycation took us to see the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. We watched Albert Pujols et al finish a three-game sweep of their long-time rivals the Chicago Cubs, defeating them 3-2 in the 10th inning. It turned out to be a beautiful day despite the forecasts of record heat and humidity, and though we were in the “nose bleed” seats, we were thankful for the shade underneath the stadium roof. We finished the day with dinner at Balducci’s, and I had what might have been the best cannelloni I’ve ever eaten. The personal deep dish pizza was fabulous too (according to my sources).
As a consequence of our canine commitments, an extended vacation this summer was not in the cards, so we decided to do a “staycation” this year. And since the kids haven’t seen many of the St. Louis landmarks, we figured this would be a good option for us. First up: a trip to the Arch. But we started with breakfast at the City Coffeehouse & Creperie in Clayton. If you haven’t tried it, you should make plans to have breakfast there sometime. It is delicious.
Then, because Noah loves trains, we took a ride on the Metrolink to get downtown. Despite the kids being a little scared on the tram ride to the top, they both seemed to enjoy it once we got up there, although Josie wasn’t really a fan of the view. We spent some time at the Museum of Westward Expansion in the basement of the Arch, and Noah tried his hand at roping. Josie was fading fast, so we didn’t get a chance to watch either of the movies (maybe next time). We hopped on the Metrolink and headed home. There are some pics in my album.
Next up: Six Flags, a Cardinals game, and ??? …
As I said yesterday, the kids had a blast in Kansas City. Here’s some video from our trip. Josie loved Oceans of Fun, but didn’t really like the Air Mail ride at Camp Snoopy. Pay special attention to the segment from Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant — the little train that delivers your food to your table is quite impressive (there’s more video of it on their web site).
We just got back from our family vacation to Kansas CIty. It was a crazy busy week. We stayed at the Embassy Suites hotel on the Plaza. We hit a number of the sights, including Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun, which the kids thoroughly enjoyed. We also visited the Steamboat Arabia museum, which I found fascinating.
A couple of restaurants that we really liked were the T-Rex Cafe and Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant, which is simply a marvel of engineering. We also had lunch at Ingredient, and dinner one night at Wild Bill’s Steakhouse.
We finished the week with room service and an absolutely excellent meal provided by the hotel’s Cattleman’s Steakhouse. Overall, it was a great week, and a good time with the family. Pictures from the trip are now available in my album.
So I was probably ten years old the last time I was in Branson, Missouri. Everyone that I’ve talked to has told me that I wouldn’t recognize it, that it had become like Las Vegas. I guess maybe my expectations were too high because I can’t say that I was overly impressed. I can see the comparisons to Las Vegas, if it’s the aging, retro, Fremont Street Vegas to which people are comparing the Branson strip. But that’s not necessarily a good thing.
We stayed at the Hilton on Branson Landing, and this is a great place for families to stay. This was our first family vacation since Josie was born, and our condo suite was just right for us since we could pull out the sofa bed and put the kids in one room, and we still had access to the balcony from our bedroom.
Overall we had a good time, but there were some disappointments. Our food experiences were, in general, not good. We ate the first night at a little gyros/pizza place just a short walk from our room. I would recommend you avoid this place like the plague. The pizza tasted like it was a day old, and the gyro did nothing for me. The Cantina Laredo was good, although the entree I ordered was a bit too spicy for my tastes. Our best meals were at the Chateau on the Lake, and, sadly, at Backyard Burgers, a fast-food chain we tried because they don’t have them in St. Louis.
The kids (especially Noah) had a blast at Silver Dollar City. The rides in the kids area were just right for him. He especially loved the roller coaster. We also went to see the Titanic museum, which is well worth seeing, although it’s not a great attraction for young children. Photos from our trip are now available in my album.