St. Louis, a family friendly vacation destination

So this summer we aren’t lucky enough to be taking any vacations. A series of tragedies, our college student financial situation(my husband and I are both in college right now and will be for years to come)and my daughter’s extended school year all add up to mean that we are sticking around home this summer. It is a small bummer, but I’m o.k. with it, my little girl is only out of school for 6 weeks total which also means my husband is only out for 5 weeks total because he works at her school and goes back a week earlier than she does. They are both only a short way from heading back, summer is almost over!!

But I do like reminiscing about past vacations so I thought it would be fun to do a mini-series here on the blog about destinations I love and the places you can’t miss when you visit them. Sound cool? I totally think so!
So today I am going to start with lovely St. Louis. Man, St. Louis is such a pretty city, it should be known as the Paris of the mid-west…is it? Well, in my mind it always will be. With it’s gorgeous park, free zoo, awesome food and uniquely cool neighborhoods it is the perfect family-friendly summer destination. And for a vintage lover like me I really get off on all of the retro places that are still thriving there. Let’s get started!

Out my window, heading into town.

So there is no where better start when talking about the cool places to go and things to see in St. Louis than to mention The Arch. When I am driving into the city it is the first thing I see and it is so impressive, it really does make an impression…if first impressions are important then St. Louis has this one nailed.

The above image is a great map of the different neighborhoods there are to explore in the city and I will outline which ones I wouldn’t miss and what each ones offers.

The image above is the view from the top of The City Museum in the downtown neighborhood. Downtown is where you will find the arch. The City museum is perfect for the whole family and there is TONS to see and do, you will not be disappointed by this one. Click here to see their site.

Another really unusual and super cool place to check out is in the next neighborhood over from downtown, Grand Center, and it’s Circus Flora. The first time I saw this tent I thought it was like any circus, only in town for a while and then on it’s way, but not Circus Flora, they have taken up residence and they are unique, do not miss this St. Louis treasure, it gives me chills just thinking about it! Matinees and Wednesdays are your best bet for price, and there is a price range to suite anyone’s taste. Click here to go to Circus Flora’s site.

Heading away from downtown, towards Delmar/the Loop…

Moving on to the next neighborhood of Delmar/The Loop. I like to just wander around looking at the people, shops and eventually eating somewhere. This is just one of the cooler neighborhoods, y’know, where the cool kids are. You can find music shows here and even an indie movie theater called the Tivoli.
I have eaten at Pi restaurant which is a really yummy pizza place. What drew us there was that President Obama had eaten there recently. Hey, if it’s good enough for the prez….and it was actually great.

Apparently President Obama loved it so much he flew the chef to white house to cook for his family.

We also have eaten at Blueberry Hill which was a pick by my kiddo.

Look at that face! My little girl picked to eat at Blueberry Hill in Delmar and she enjoyed every minute of it πŸ™‚

That is the look of sheer excitement, I think her dad’s larger than life burger had just arrived.

Look at that grin, that is a man that has been satisfied by burger consumption!

I would not usually choose this sort of place but she thought it was so cool and fun and the hamburger was good. It is a place where you could see live music or eat outside in the street-side seating which is nice. Go to the Blueberry Hill website.
Next up is the gorgeous and stunning FREE Zoo. You do have to pay to park if you want to pay in their lot, but the zoo itself is free all. the. time. Seriously, you cannot beat that, and it is SO pretty, you will be so impressed.

The landscaping is really well done and maintained.

This indoor penguin area was so nice and cold on a hot Summer day….stinky as all get out, but really refreshing and other-wordly.

Check out the St. Louis Zoo’s own website, HERE.
There are other things to do near the Zoo, too. The Zoo is actually situated in Forest Park which is home to an Art Museum, Science Museum, the Opera House and rolling hills with mature trees perfect for picnicking under.
Adjacent to Forest Park is the Central West End which is as chi-chi as it sounds and just so darn picturesque.

I wish I had better pictures, this evening was so glorious during sunset!

My little girl and I eating Gelato on my birthday! It was a perfect birthday spent eating and sight seeing around SL.

My little girl getting every last drop of the peach/mango gelato from Gelato Riso that used to be off of Euclid Street in the CWE.

Even the street lamps are classy in the CWE.

And finally, my favorite part of town…..drumroll, please……The Hill!

The Hill in SL.

The Hill is the Italian district of SL and you will find my favorite kinds of food there. Gelato, pasta, pastry and sandwiches. With these four food groups I am a happy lady πŸ™‚
The only places you need to know are:

Get the Amighetti Special which comes on bread they bake their self, the meatball and an ice cold coke!
And then there is Rigazzi’s where you also want to get a sandwich, the Joan’s Torpedo. While I’m sure all the sandwiches are awesome and while I haven’t tried any other sandwiches there, this sandwich, the torpedo, was SO GOOD that I went back the next day and got another for the road. O.k., I also got another Amighetti’s Special for the road. They are that freaking good so just try them!
Here is a link to the Rigazzi’s website.
And then you can hit up Gelato di Riso, which is no longer in the CWE but is still in the Hill. There website, HERE.

I don’t remember the hotel we stayed at because it wasn’t memorable, but our trip was so great that it didn’t even matter one bit, we were never in the room except to change or sleep!

Wow, this was really fun, I had such an awesome time on this trip down memory lane, I am looking forward to doing the next one. Count on that coming soon.

Some other cool places to visit that I haven’t been to yet are:
Crown Candy Kitchen– A real soda fountain from almost a hundred years ago, still serving up yummy treats today like candy, ice cream and also lunch and dinner, supposed to have good sandwiches and a butterscotch malted that I will try one day.
Ted Drewes Frozen Custard-This place has been around since the thirties and has two locations in St. Louis. They are known for their frozen custard which can be had in the form of a concrete shake, malts, sundaes and cones.
360 Rooftop Bar– IF you are looking for a little adult time, this bar offers 360 degree views over the city, river and of the Arch plus cocktails and food that is supposed to be awesome. Think pork belly, sliders, local cheese, local this, local that…all the culinary buzz words your heart could desire πŸ˜‰
Cheeseology Mac’n’cheese Restaurant-I don’t know what more I could say than this place specializes in mac’n’cheese…16 different kinds including a vegan one. So, yeah.


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