Our family just returned from our latest travel adventure, which included two new-to-us states and a family reunion in a state we've visited before. We had a great time and I'm excited to share all the neat things we did. Because I blog about educational travel, I received complimentary admission tickets, discounts, media rates, and other benefits for some of the places we visited throughout the trip. Many attractions we toured are free to everyone; I paid full price for the rest. This has no bearing on my reviews. Everything I am sharing is something that I whole-heartedly recommend.
Family-Friendly Fun in St. Louis, Missouri
We flew out of Sacramento in the morning on Friday, July 19. Our trip started with unwelcome excitement when, about an hour into the flight, there was a medical emergency two rows in front of us. The crew, along with a doctor and a nurse who happened to be onboard, did an outstanding job of stabilizing the passenger and keeping the rest of us calm and out of the way. Fortunately, the patient improved and we did not need to make an emergency stop. We landed at our intended destination of St. Louis at 3:00 pm. That's 3:00 pm Central, which meant that our Pacific bodies were overdue for lunch. We got our rental car and headed to the highly recommended Salt + Smoke.
As is our custom when we travel, we ordered multiple dishes to share. We got the burnt ends toasted ravioli to start and it was incredible. Seriously. It's worth a trip to St. Louis just for this dish. Then we shared a Bestie Combo plate with brisket and ribs, coleslaw, white cheddar cracker mac, and a bacon and cheddar popover. Everything was SO good and it was just the right amount of food for the three of us. We left satisfied but not stuffed. Go to Salt + Smoke. You will not be disappointed.
We discovered two neat things outside Salt + Smoke. The first was the St. Louis Walk of Fame. It was so cool to discover the actors, politicians, athletes, and other notable people with connections to St. Louis. With 150 stars along Delmar Boulevard, we didn't have time to read them all but checked out as many as we could. Definitely go!
The second is the Delmar Loop Planet Walk. We did a Planet Walk at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park and highly recommend it. This urban option in St. Louis is shorter than the one we did in California, but packs in a lot of information and helps you grasp the relative size of our solar system.
We said a reluctant goodbye to Delmar Boulevard and headed to Forest Park. What a treasure! It is considered one of the country's best urban public parks and has something for everyone. Including a 3500 lb. three-way plug.
We walked from the plug to the St. Louis Zoo. The zoo is completely free, as are the museums in Forest Park.
What a fabulous place! This 90-acre zoo has over 17,000 animals, many rare and endangered. It's very lush and well-shaded, which was a huge plus for us since it was over 100°F when we arrived at 5:30 pm.
The hippos were hopping along the bottom of their tank, which was great fun to watch. No clue why Trevor is standing like a flamingo.
Snake art. Not an actual snake.
We all loved the penguin exhibit, both for the many different species on display and for the fact that it gave us a break from the heat.
This prairie dog didn't let the heat stop him from standing guard. I love watching prairie dogs.
This bear was cooling off in the water. Can't blame him.
We only had 1.5 hours at the zoo before it closed at 7:00, so we hurried through it to see as much as we could. We did linger a bit here though.
I've been in tunnels where sharks and other fish swim above, but this was my first time in a tank with marine mammals swimming above. It was so neat.
Look how happy I am! (OK, 20% of my happiness is because we bought Icees, but a good 80% is because of the sea lions.)
When the zoo closed, we walked the short distance to the St. Louis Art Museum.
We go to a lot of art museums and each have our own favorite galleries. I love Native American art, particularly intricate beading and detailed painted pottery.
Steve likes interesting sculpture and metalwork.
Trevor likes rabbits. OK, we all like rabbits...
My favorite exhibit at the St. Louis Art Museum was this temporary one, called Conserving the Mississippi Panorama. This painting is 350 feet wide, wrapped around scrolls. It was so neat to watch the conservator doing restoration work on this 170-year old painting.
When we left the museum, we had to try the "Best Tasting City Water in America." It didn't disappoint, as it tasted exactly like water.
After our full day of travel and sightseeing, we headed toward our hotel in downtown St. Louis. Notice the Gateway Arch in the photo below? Gotta love a monument that makes it so easy to orient yourself while navigating a new place!
I'll tell you all about where we stayed and how we spent our next day in St. Louis tomorrow.