This post is sponsored by Fisher-Price. All opinions are my own. #RocktopusWalmart

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree

Have you thought about holiday shopping for your kiddos yet? November is here and it’s never too early to find the perfect gift. The Think and Learn Rocktopus from Fisher-Price is the perfect learning game that combines music and brain games for hours of educational fun. There are 15 different instruments and has three modes: math, music, and games.

The Roctopus Makes Math and Music Fun

I can’t recommend this toy highly enough! My younger son, Mason loves music and this is such a great way for him to experiment with different rhythms and sounds. It’s also a fun way to introduce your children to math and strengthen their problem solving skills. I don’t think there are enough toys out there that do this in a way that’s truly enjoyable for little kids with short attention spans. It provides hours of entertainment – a good, hands-on alternative to a educational TV show.

Who Would Love this Toy?

The Rocktopus is especially great for little music lovers ages 3-6. While it’s a great introductory method to math and music, it still provides a fun challenge for the five and six year olds.

The rockin’ Roctopus is a great gift for the little Mozart who enjoys creating patterns, solving problems and composing their own music. Who else is taking the Rocktopus home this holiday season?  Run to Walmart to pick one up.

 

 

I am so excited to share some insider tips on all things STL! As many of you know, I love to get out and about and explore my native St. Louis and I believe you can have a blast in your own backyard. You don’t have to stray far from the Lou to find adventure.

Recently I took the boys for a St Louis staycation.   I want to share with you all the inside scoop on what to do with your kids for a fun St. Louis trip. This is a roundup of sorts. From fairytale carriage rides to rooftop cocktails by the Arch, there’s really something for everyone to enjoy in this awesome city! Here are a few of my favorite spots and activities.

Getaway near the Gateway

For our recent weekend trip downtown, we stayed in the Drury Inn and Suites situated in the heart of St. Louis. TripAdvisor named Drury as the number one hotel downtown and it’s easy to see why! Only steps away from the Gateway Arch grounds, this hotel is the perfect place to stay with family when you’re looking to plan a little getaway that offers both convenience, history and value. The Drury attracts both locals and tourists for its many unbeatable amenities. It’s in a great location for going to a Blues or Cardinals game, attending a show downtown, or simply for taking in the sites. With a recent historic renovation, Drury Inn and Suites offers a few unique architectural touches that make you feel as if you were on a luxurious vacation. For the best view in town, simply take the elevator up to the 8th floor to their new observation terrace where you can enjoy a glass of wine from the daily kickback hour and take in the sites.  Location!  Location!  Location!  

Historic Drury showing arch proximity

Speaking of wine, what really sets Drury apart from other hotels in the area is their amazing dining options. From 5:30-7pm, enjoy Drury’s Kick Back Hour with 3 free drinks (yes 3 per adult) and “snacks.” These “snacks” include chili, salad, loaded baked potatoes, hot dogs, nachos and their main dish of the night which is chicken, tacos or pasta. This is perfect for traveling with kids who aren’t great at sitting still in restaurants for too long. Just grab your food and dine in style in their elegant dining space or head to the terrace.

Drury terrace kickbackIn the morning before a big day of sightseeing, start your day off right with a healthy and delicious breakfast downstairs. At Drury, you don’t have to worry about mediocre continental breakfasts. This truly is the breakfast of champions with a massive variety of options. Indulge your sweet tooth with a stack of fresh pancakes or fuel up on something hearty likes eggs and potatoes. We made our own waffles and I enjoyed some oatmeal and yogurt with a cup of freshly brewed Kelso Bros coffee.

Drury also has a state of the art fitness center to work off those pancakes. 😉 You don’t have to miss your daily workouts while traveling.

 

If you want to save 15% off your next Drury hotel stay use the code:  HAPPY at checkout.

STL must-see sights

The St Louis Arch

Now, I’m sure if you’ve lived in St. Louis for long enough, you’ve probably been to the Arch at least more than once, but you may not be aware of some of their new and improved features.

Arch museum

Their recently renovated high-tech museum is filled with rich Lewis and Clark history and has lots of interactive, educational exhibits for kids. It’s a great place to learn the story of the Native Americans, explorers, pioneers, and rebels who made America possible. They also offer private tours which is definitely something to try if you haven’t already.

The tram ride itself takes about 4 minutes to the top and 3 minutes down.

Arch to the top

Tips to know before you go:  The best way to buy tickets is online at http://www.gatewayarch.com/buytickets. Tram rides sell out early and often, so online is the best option for purchasing.

Be prepared to go through security.

For a discount, check out the coupon here

 

The Riverboats

The St. Louis Riverboats are a great way to sightsee in a relaxing setting. It offers spectacular views of the Arch, Old Courthouse, and city skyline from the Mississippi on a replica 19th-century paddle-wheel boat. You can travel day or night.

St Louis Carriage Company

This was definitely a favorite activity with my boys, Logan and Mason! We cruised the streets of downtown in a cozy carriage led by our magnificent horse, Jett! Check him out on Facebook…he’s pretty awesome.

Drury and carriage

We made advance reservations and were picked up right outside our hotel. It was so convenient! It was a chillier day, so we were given cozy blankets upon arrival. Logan asked if he could sit up with our driver, Gina who was super friendly. She even let him take the reins for a bit!  #wesurvived lol.  

This is such a fun way to explore downtown and your kids will absolutely love it. Keep this in mind for date night too. It’s a romantic and charming way to see the sights.

Tip: You can request the Cinderella carriage too.

 Brookdale Farms

You can spend the day at Brookdale Farms.  They have events year round.  We love going in the Fall.  You buy a wristband that gets you unlimited access to the corn maze, bounce houses, hayride, kids zip line and play area, pumpkin patch, animals and more.  For an additional fee, you kids can slingshot pumpkins or do Logan’s favorite the Pumpkin chunkin!

Brookdale Farms

During the summer months, you can take a float trip or reserve a private hayride and bonfire for up to 20 people year round.

Brookdale Farms is also the home for the lantern fest along with rodeos, light shows, a balloon glow and so much more.

Mom tip:  Have your kiddos wear their old shoes so they can run free on the farm.

Brookdale pumpkins

City Museum,

If you have limited time in St. Louis, add this to the top of your list! This is a MUST for kids. This is no boring museum. The entire place is made of recycled materials including the gigantic bus on the rooftop — it’s the ultimate playground. Your kids will be begging you to stay. Mason’s favorite was the rooftop Ferris wheel and the bus and Logan’s favorite was the TEN…yes ten story slide.

City museum rooftop

 

Tip: Make sure you establish a meeting space with your kids no matter how old they are. There are so many nooks and crannies in this amazing space, so you will need it just to check in.

What to wear: I’d highly recommend wearing shorts or pants and comfortable shoes. When I took my boys, I had a dress on and flip flops…the worst possible idea because I think I flashed some kids below me on the airplane while climbing up to help Mason!

Parking: I’d recommend parking in the City Museum parking. The cost is $10 and cash only, but it’s worth it.

Children’s Garden and Botanical Gardens

I absolutely love the Botanical Gardens for its natural beauty and outdoor fun for kids. In the garden, kids can learn about plants, nature, and sustainability through hands-on activities. The park is open April-October and in the warmer months, there are plenty of opportunities to cool off in the Splash Area. Make sure in the cooler months to check out the Climatron for a toasty tropical experience.

Mo bot garden climatron

Tips:

-St Louis city and county residents get in free on Saturday and Wednesday mornings. It’s a little more crowded on these days, but it’s worth it!

-There is also an indoor kids area if it gets too hot or cold with interactive things for kids.  

-There are also splash pads during the summer months for kids who love to get in the water.  Come prepared with swimsuits and towels.

Magic House:  

This place is fun from top to bottom. My boys love the 3 story slide and the ball that makes your hair stand up. It’s also great for birthday parties!  

Tip: On the first Friday night of each month, they have family fun nights where you can get in free. For a discount coupon check out the link here

 

Big Joel’s Safari

This place is worth the trip if your kids love animals. My boys got a kick out of riding the camel and feeding the birds. You can buy a stick with peanut butter and the birds will eat it off!

Myseum

Myseum is an indoor play place perfect for rainy/extreme hot or cool days when your kids get restless. The great thing about Myseum is it’s a manageable size place to keep an eye on your kids without wondering where they ran off to. My boys favorite attraction is the Spaceship.

Tips:

-Don’t forget your socks.  Everyone must have socks or you can buy them for $2.00

-You can bring in your own food and drink.  They have an area of tables you can relax while the kids play so stock up on snacks!

Boathouse at Forest Park with paddle boats

The boathouse is a must if you are visiting St Louis. You can rent paddle boats, canoes, paddle boards or kayaks and cruise through the canals of Forest Park seeing the world’s fair museum, all kinds of birds and turtles and end up on the grand basin looking up at the beautiful art museum.  

Tip:  You can get fish and turtle food out of a coin cranked vending machine. This kept my boys entertained while we were waiting for the boats.

St Louis Zoo:  

My kids would go to the zoo every weekend if they could.  This place is a MUST.

Tip:  For parking all the local park on the street outside the zoo.  Even near turtle playground and walk over the highway bridge to save the parking fee.  If you can find Oakland and Tamm avenues, you’ll save some $$ and get to walk across the bridge above the highway.  You can also drive past the South parking entrance and past the stop sign there is free parking on the street but get there early.  

The early bird gets the worm. Tip 2: The zoo opens at 8:00. If you can get there when they open, you can go to the children’s zoo, pet the stingrays and ride the carousel for FREE. These are all typically paid exhibits. This is a hidden gem, so make sure to set your alarm and make the most of the freebies.  This is also for the last hour the zoo is open each day.  

Don’t miss the Tiki Fruiti hut with cored out pineapple with Pineapple whip.  Sooo refreshing. One of the only places besides Disney World that serves this tasty treat.  

Tip: One of our favorite spots to picnic in all of St Louis is Art Hill so after you leave the Zoo I recommend picnicking on Art Hill and you can watch the paddle boats cruise around the grand basin.

 

Eckert’s Family Farm

My family loves going to Eckert’s. It’s across the river in Belleville IL, but totally worth the trip. Our favorite activity is taking the tractor to the fields to pick fruit. Depending on the season, you can pick strawberries, blackberries, peaches, vegetables, flowers, apples, pumpkins and more. They have a massive market where you can buy produce and many other food items already made.

We also LOVE going to the country restaurant.  They serve fried biscuits with fresh apple butter that are off the charts amazing.  They are worth the trip alone!!! (Promise)

Grant’s Farm

This is a must for animal lovers! On the tram ride, you’ll see bison, deer, geese, and ostrich.

Once your at the end, you can walk through animal shows, ride the carousel and feed the baby goats.  You can get a fun pass for your kids: 2 goat bottles or food, carousel ride, and a snow cone for $6.  

The courtyard transports you to a German town center. There are free Anheuser Busch samples at the food and drink pavilion.  I tried the Golden Light and it was perfection.

This attraction offers free admission, but you pay $12 for parking unless you want to park at Gravois and McNary and take a 5-10 minute walk to the entrance. On nice days this is a good option since there’s a lot of traffic waiting to get into the parking lot.

 

St Louis Science Center

The Science Center is fun and educational experience for kids (and adults) of all ages and many of the exhibits are free! We love seeing shows at The Imax Theatre. It’s such a treat. My boys especially love the outdoor Grow exhibit where they can climb in an actual combine, see chickens, and get an idea of what it’s like to milk a cow. Important life skills, people.

My boys also like to walk across the bridge that goes over highway 40.  You can wave at cars below and see how fast they are driving.

Admission is free but some special exhibits have a fee.  In the discovery room, your kids can play and explore in a room full of fun hands-on attractions to keep them entertained. They only allow a limited number of kids in at once and have all sorts of exhibits.

For discounts check out the link here

Laumeier Sculpture Park

This park is an exciting treasure hunt. There are so many interesting sculptures to check out. My family loves the trails and all the interesting gems to see along the way.  

Tip: Print out a map of the trails and a scavenger hunt here

City Garden

This city garden has so many unique and fun sculptures the kiddos can climb on.  My boys loved the waterfalls and walking over the water path…never mind Mason put his foot in the water and completely submerged his foot.  

If you want to get a description of the sculptures and do a fun audio tour, you can get the info here.

St Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium,

At Centerfield, there is a family pavilion for kids 12 and under where they have a massive jungle gym to climb on, a virtual reality game to play, Yadi bobblehead to get some pics with, radar guns, and a soft play area for little kiddos.  

Fred Bird photo ops are in the Family Pavilion from 1st pitch to the bottom of the 2nd.  

The family pavilion also has their own kid meals with milk, apple juice and kid-friendly food that you will not get at other parts of the park, so make sure you get your kids the food at this concession stand if they are picky eaters like my boys.  

Tip: If it’s not a busy game and if you don’t mind sitting separate or if there are only two of you, you can get 1st pitch tickets through the ticket lottery the day of for $5.50 for TWO tickets. This could be fun if you just want to take your kids for the experience but don’t plan on sitting in the seats.

Here’s the scoop:  The ticket window opens at 9:00 am. You buy two tickets for $5.50 and then come back at first pitch and are handed an envelope to see where your seats are.  They can be anywhere in the arena.

For other discount, promotions check out the link here.

The Muny

The Muny is an iconic outdoor theatre in Forest Park that offers amazing Broadway shows from mid-June to mid-August. I love exposing my kids to the arts and The Muny is a pressure-free way as a mom to kids

Tip: You can always picnic around the theatre, bring icy towels to stay cool,

If your not sure how your kids will like it try the free seats first to test it out but bring binoculars.  

Transportation Museum

This museum is super fun if your kids are into all things trains, planes, and automobiles. They even have a little room called Creation Station filled with train tables. You must purchase tickets for this and times fill up fast, it’s best to book ahead.  

My boys love the miniature train outside that lets you ride around the property.  Check out groupon.com for discounts. 

Where to get good grub in the Lou:

Sugarfire at the Boathouse in Forest Park

Fitz’s Root Beer in the Loop

The Fountain on Locust

Bailey’s Range

Dewey’s Pizza

St Louis foods you must try while in St Louis.  

Imo’s St Louis style pizza

Toasted Ravioli

Gooey Butter Cake

Ted Drewes Frozen Custard

These are all our favorite spots.  Tell me what you love in St. Louis.
We want to say a huge thanks for all the businesses who partnered with us to bring you this post.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

XOXO  Sarah~

To see other fun trips with kids check them out here:
Branson Mo
Cape Girardeau, MO
Nashville TN
Gulf Shores AL

Soccer, karate, tee-ball, cooking classes, guitar, swimming, gymnastics, dance. If you’re a mom, chances are, your kids have tried one of these activities. The real question though, is did they stick it out?

Little Mason, my younger son mentioned an interest in soccer so, I thought I’d try it out with him. I’ve been a little hesitant to sign Mason up for so many things like I did with Logan, my eldest after Logan refused to participate. In several classes, Logan initially showed interest and then quickly lost the desire to participate so, I didn’t want to repeat the same mistake with Mason while wasting time and money.

I expressed my concern to Vetta Sports after Mason said he wanted to try soccer and they were very understanding. Vetta, unlike other sports places we’ve tried, host an open house in the fall and the spring where kids can participate in a mini session to see if they like it or not. That way, you can gage whether or not it’s a good fit before making a full-time commitment. They also offer a free trial class before you sign up for the season! You can do this at any time of the year. Yeah!!

Mason’s progression with Kickaroos

Mason’s progression with Kickaroos at Vetta Sports has been surprising and fun to witness as a parent. During week 1, as I predicted, Mason did not want participate. With that being said, I was so impressed with the coaches and their patience with him. He was able to stay close to me which made him feel a little more comfortable, and they made sure not to pressure him too much but tried to include him and make the experience as fun as possible. Week 2 was a little better. Mason was a little shy at first, but started to come out of his shell near the end. He wanted to carry around a toy with him and the coaches were completely accommodating. Mason had a breakthrough during weeks 3 and 4 and actually wore his Kickaroos jersey and participated without any hesitation. He was having a blast and was a completely different kid from where he started. By the end, he had a big proud smile on his face and finished practice with energy and eagerness.

Little boy learning soccer
Mason’s first week. As you can see, he’s being a little shy.
Funny soccer coach teaches kids
Mason was able to warm up to the coaches early on. It’s easy to see why!
Little boy playing soccer
This is week 4 Mason sporting his Kickaroos jersey!
Little boy in soccer practice
Here’s Mason with a big proud smile on his face after finishing practice and receiving his special stamp!

Building confidence

This program really builds Mason’s confidence which is more important to me than whether or not he ends up a star soccer player. When it comes to deciding which activities should be priority for our kids, it’s important to pay attention to their growth and progression and listen carefully to their feedback. It’s not really about whether or not your child excels from the get-go. There may be times when something just fits so naturally with their talents and interests, but most of the time it’s a gamble with younger kids. Encouraging them to stick with it no matter what is also important. They may not remember how to dribble a ball or make a perfect pass in their adult lives, but the perseverance and confidence building skills are going to make a lasting impression.

Focus on the joy

As a mom, I think it’s important to focus less on obligation and more on the joy of the activity. Vetta is great at this. Every single one of the coaches were so sweet and so patient with Mason’s progression. He was introduced to the sport in a way that was comfortable for him. So, rather than associating negative feelings about the sport, he was able to embrace it at his own pace.

Kids soccer practice

Kids soccer practice

Kickaroos is an active and simple introduction to sports that allows kids to discover soccer in a pressure-free environment. The program offers sessions for tots at 18 months all the way up to six year olds. There are kids of all different levels building both their soccer and social skills and it’s a fun way for your kids to make new friends. I also love Vetta’s unique approach to teaching the sport. The Kickaroos program makes learning fun. It’s child centered by putting instruction into a context kids can actually understand. And it’s not just about developing them into soccer masters. While the fundamentals of soccer are introduced, Kickaroos helps develop social and cognitive skills that are important both on and off the field. I am a 100% behind this approach!

If you’re interested in checking out a Kickaroos soccer class, visit their website for more information on each program here. Signing Mason up was a big win in my book!

***We are so thankful to partner with Vetta on this blog post but all thought and opinions are my own.  

So, I have this thing with wall murals. I drive around the city during the work day and love stumbling upon big, bright and colorful works of art. There are so many unique murals in St. Louis and it’s always a fun surprise to come across new ones. Here are some of my favorites along with where to find them next time you’re in the city in search of some great street art!

Peacock pianist 

The Grove.  Manchester Avenue St. Louis, MO

St. Louis wall mural in The Grove

Greetings from St Louis

The Garcia Properties building at 3537 Kingshighway St Louis Mo  63139

Greetings from St. Louis wall mural

 

Psychedelic vibes on Cherokee 

STyLe House Cherokee and Compton 3159 Cherokee St. St Louis Mo 63118

Colorful wall mural in St. Louis

This way to antiques

 The Little Shop Around the Corner 4474 Castleman  St Louis Mo 63110

Antiques in St. Louis

 

Color me happy

SOHA Art gallery 4915 Macklind Ave St Louis Mo 63109

Soarin’ in STL

Koho Boutique 5433 Hampton Ave St Louis MO 63109

Nashville wings in St. louis

Little birdie

The intersection of Macklind and Sutherland in SOHA neighborhood. 

A true triumph

In between The moto museum and Triumph Grill. 3441 Olive St. St Louis MO 63103

Pantone perfection

Right by SLU and FOX. Turn right down the alley before getting to The Best Steakhouse 516 N Grand Blvd.  63103

Catch ya later in the Lou!

Lou Realty Group, 4600 Loughborough Ave. 63116

I’ll keep you in the loop

THe Loop.  Delmar Blvd, University City, MO 63130

 

Groovy murals in The Grove

Rad robo

‘Nest’led in the grove

Bird mural in St. Louis

Cute cardinal 

Cardinal mural in the grove

Grab some grub in the groove

Life’s a beach

 

 

 

Back in the day, I was all about taking trips to Mexico and the Dominican Republic with my girlfriends. Now, I’m lucky if I can break away for one afternoon. That’s why I was over the moon with excitement when I discovered Ameristar in St. Charles. I immediately called my girlfriends.  

The goal was simple: find a spot with a pool, spa, good food, tasty cocktails, shopping and nightlife. What we stumbled upon exceeded our expectations with the hidden gem Ameristar. Now, I know Ameristar is really no “secret” to St. Louisans…I mean everyone knows it’s there. It’s hard to overlook the glitzy building stationed across the St. Charles river. The reason I call it a “hidden gem” is because of the unexpected surprises offered to visitors. I would have never considered going to a casino for the weekend, but Ameristar is the perfect destination for fun girls getaway with everything you could ever possibly want and need for a stress-free St. Louis staycation.

I’m going to be sharing my experience staying at Ameristar and my top recommendations for a carefree and luxurious getaway. Just grab your girls, your favorite pair of shades, and a bathing suit. Get dad to take the kids on for a couple days and get ready to have some fun. No passport necessary.

Ameristar St Charles

 

Unwind at the Ara Spa

Ara spa

Named by St. Louis Magazine as one of the best spas in Missouri, Ara spa is truly a magical place that creates a personalized experience for each one of its guests. Ara offers VIP treatments, a luxurious steam room, sauna, hydro-pool, fitness center, Vichy Shower, spa boutique and two pools which we’ll touch on in a bit. You don’t have to book a room at the Ameristar in order to enjoy a day at the spa. Just book a treatment, and you’ll have open access to all spa amenities and pool for the entire day.

Ara spa

Ara flip flops hydropool

There are several relaxing treatments to choose from at Ara spa, but I decided to go with the soothing Dream Weaver and Seasonal Body Treatment. The Dream Weaver was a calming 25-minute hot oil head and face massage. The nourishing oils were used to gently massage my forehead, temples, and scalp relieving me of some tension and congestion I was experiencing earlier that week. The oil used contained keratin which is great for dry hair (which I have) and helps to smooth and bring out a healthy shine. A cooling eucalyptus towel was placed on my forehead as well which I learned can easily be made at home when you need a little zen time to decompress. Simply take a clean cool towel and apply 10% oil and 90% water and voila!

Shortly after the dreamy Dream Weaver, I went in for my Seasonal Treatment in the Vichy Shower. The treatment is broken up into three steps. First, you receive a scrub which is like a facial, but for your entire body which is then rinsed with the Vichy’s seven relaxing shower heads. In the second phase, a mask is applied and then covered with a warming blanket. A foot massage is also offered. Finally for the third step, you’ll receive a moisturizing treatment for your whole body. The whole experience took about 50 minutes and was absolutely amazing. 

My girlfriends opted for facials and massages.  They have so many options.

For lunch at the spa, we had some refreshing champagne, an assortment of fine cheeses, crackers, sausages, fresh fruits, a variety of hummus and veggies with grilled pita, yogurt parfait, a grilled chicken salad and a platter of chocolate covered strawberries and homemade banana bread. We enjoyed our mid-day meal inside the spa and our healthy and delicious treats were delivered by Falcon Diner, one of the many restaurants inside Ameristar.

Spa lunch

To make a day out of it, I recommend arriving early before your appointment and utilizing the state of the art fitness facility to squeeze in a little workout before heading into full on relaxation mode. Then, slip into your robe and slippers and unwind in the steam room, sauna or hydrotherapy tubs. You can also sit and relax in their waiting room and chat with friends, read or just decompress with a cold eucalyptus towel. They seriously smell like heaven.

Pamper yourself by the pool

When I first caught glimpse of the Ameristar pool, I thought for a moment that I might be at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. It was as if I had stepped into a European courtyard, only it was hot and I couldn’t wait to catch some rays and sip on some frozen cocktails.

Ameristar Pool

 

Pool side couch

Ameristar offers two gorgeous pools, one indoor and one outdoor and both are heated so that you can treat yourself to a swim rain or shine, summer or fall. There are no kids allowed after 6 pm or on weekends so, if you plan to make this getaway a truly relaxing occasion, worry not. Screaming babies and frequent cannonballs are replaced with adult conversation and tropical beverages. If you’re feeling adventurous and fancy a dip in the deep end, you can jam out to your favorite tunes underwater with the pool’s advanced speaker system or doggy paddle back and forth between the indoor and outdoor sections.

STL Staycation at the Ameristar

Ameristar pool #poolside

On Sundays, Ameristar hosts something called Liquid Society during summer months which is as big and bougie as it sounds. Liquid Society is essentially a giant Las Vegas-esque pool party where you can hang out with friends and enjoy the pool amenities. It’s fabulous.

If it’s full-on luxury you crave, you can rent a poolside cabana for the day starting at $100 which includes a fridge to store pina coladas, complementary sparkling fruit infused water, and those heavenly eucalyptus towels. You can also order from the spa and pool’s enormous menu with specialty dishes prepared by Chef Josh and Chad who we got to meet on our trip. Some of their most popular items include the Impossible Burger, a 100% vegan treat that’s quickly becoming one of the trendiest modern dishes in the food industry. I am not a vegan and this was just downright delicious. The menu also includes flatbreads, wraps, salads and dessert items. The bar offers lighter bites for poolside snacking. The Fruit Platter drizzled in decadent honey sauce was a favorite of mine as well as their savory Chicken Spinach Salad with homemade strawberry vinaigrette. And what native St. Louisan could pass up Gooey Butter Cake for dessert? Yum!

Poolside lunch in bento boxes

Girls pool side much Ameristar

 

 

Stay the night in one of Ameristar’s dreamy hotel rooms

Hotel ameristar

I would highly recommend booking a reservation for one of the casino’s beautiful hotel rooms even for just a night. The standard room is spacious and elegant. Walk in and to the left, you’ll see a full sized bathroom with a tub, shower, double vanities and a TV…yeah a TV in the bathroom to watch your favorite shows while you get ready for a night out! There’s also a living room complete with a mini fridge, cute seating area and a window with full view of the Ara pool. Upon arrival, we were brought bottles of chilled wine and chocolate covered strawberries which was a nice touch.

One of the best reasons to stay a night (or two) at Ameristar is the opportunity to enjoy the sites around St. Charles in the most convenient way. The hotel offers a trolley service which makes several stops around the area including Main Street, St. Charles where you enjoy a day of shopping and sightseeing around the historic and charming little town. You can also spend a few hours riding bikes on the famous Katy Trail if you’re looking for a little outdoor fun. Across the highway, there’s a movie theater and tons of restaurants and boutiques at the Streets of St. Charles. You’ll never run out of things to do!

Ameristar hotel #vacay #hotel

Wine (or sake) and dine in one of Ameristar’s fabulous restaurants

I cannot begin to tell you how impressed I was with the dining options at Ameristar. Everything was simply exquisite. St. Louis foodies will love the artistry and complexity of each carefully prepared dish. While there are endless delicious options to choose from, I’m going to highlight what I ate on the trip.

Asia Ameristar

To say the chefs at Ameristar are passionate about great food, would be an understatement. Each dish is inventive and modern and incorporates high-quality ingredients that are both locally sourced and nutritious. For our first dinner at Ameristar, we choose Asia, a restaurant that takes you through a culinary excursion with exceptional dishes from all around the far east. Everything from the wok-tossed noodles to the fresh sushi rolls are made authentically. Asia takes pride in their sous chef who spent years mastering his culinary craft in several Asian countries like Japan, China, Korea and Thailand.

We began our trip through Asia with some bubble tea followed by what they call a “Sake Flight” where we were able to sample three different kinds of sake which was super fun. One of their most popular sakes is called The Wandering Poet. I preferred a smooth blend called The Snow Maiden which incorporated a unique and flavorful combination of honey dew and pumpkin. We then moved on to some tasty appetizers. From their extensive menu, we opted for the famous must try Wonton Wrappers, Crab Rangoon and Eel Sushi Rolls. For our main entrees, we went with Hong Kong Noodle Lemongrass Chicken, Szechaun Style Beef, Salt and Pepper Shrimp and a sea bass dish that looked like a piece of art on a plate. We were offered warm hand towels before and after our incredible meal and the atmosphere and ambience was both pleasant and exciting.

Asia Bubble tea

 

Asia appetizers

Side note on Asia: The restaurant is open until 2am on weekends so if you’re looking for a five star quality meal late at night, this is the place to go!

Asia Ameristar

sake flight

Start your day right with a memorable breakfast at Falcon Diner

As a busy working mom who spends most of her mornings sipping a smoothie on the go, indulging in a big breakfast is a real treat for me. The Falcon Diner offered more than just great grub. It was an experience. This isn’t your typical side of the road pit-stop. It is a bit retro, but it’s elevated and somewhat elegant in both its chic Art-Deco interiors and presentation of food. We were excited to get a visit with Chef Chad.  

We decided to go all out with the Chicken and Waffle Tower which included cheddar bacon waffles, fried chicken, and a yes, you guessed it, a tower of onion rings topped with a sweet bourbon maple syrup. To complement this hearty meal, I also ordered a power bowl (I’m obsessed with granola) and a decadent salted caramel oatmeal brulee. Is your mouth watering yet? While I would have liked to try everything on the menu, I was stuffed to say the least, but their farm fresh quiche and loaded skillets definitely caught my eye.

chicken and waffle tower Falcon diner

power bowl Falcon diner

Chef Chad stopped by our table for a quick chat where he made sure that we were having a great time. With mouths stuffed with bourbon maple waffles, we simply smiled and nodded our heads in delighted appreciation. Chad’s determined to make every visitor’s experience memorable and I don’t think he needs to worry.

 

If you’re looking for a place within driving distance of St. Louis where you can just get away for a bit, Ameristar is the destination for you. It’s Disneyland for adults combining three of my favorite things: amazing food, shopping and relaxing with friends! You can also make it a romantic getaway for two.  It’s a great way to vacation without getting on a plane or dropping thousands of dollars on a Mexico beach trip. My younger globe-trotting self is nodding in approval. I was able to save more money and enjoy myself without the guilt of being away for too long from my kids.

***I was thrilled to partner with Ameristar on this post but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life gets busy and it’s easy to get overwhelmed especially now that lazy days by the pool are being replaced with manic mornings getting the kids ready for school. But, for some moms, September is the silent savior they’ve been patiently waiting for. Instead of biting your nails with anxiety like you did in junior high, you now sigh with relief when you hear the words, “back to school.” It’s different for every mom depending on your lifestyle, work, and the age of your kids, but chances are, no matter what situation you’re in, you could use a little time for more self-care.

walking-in-the-forest

Being Mindful

Fall is a great time to practice positive habits and daily rituals that give us the zest for life we crave and deserve. It’s important to stop and be mindful of what’s going on in our day to day and develop an awareness. In order to spend more time doing the things you love and less time being overwhelmed, you have to know what causes unhealthy stress and what makes you feel happy and fulfilled.

A few months ago, I hosted a Mother’s Day fundraiser brunch for first grade moms at my son’s school where we talked about work- life balance and the ongoing juggle struggle between kids and self-care. As part of a fun exercise, I had each mom write a letter to themselves with a summer goal (all self-care related) and I collected them all up to send back at the end of August. I partnered with Gladly Designs to create some pretty note cards the moms could use to jot down their personal goals. This could include anything from restorative yoga to MNO happy hour.

I decided that this summer, I would commit to some “me” time since it is so hard to find time to yourself when the kids are out of school. I made a plan to meet regularly with my health coach, try out a new yoga class (I love the quiet zen time!), float in a float tank, and get at least one facial for some much needed pampering and relaxation.

This exercise was challenging for some of the moms since it had been a while since they had the time to do something for themselves. Moments of downtime for busy moms are few and far between so, it’s tempting to take those rare hours of solitude to get ahead on work and cross off other housekeeping to-do’s. Rarely does float tank session make the list. As summer comes to an end, it’s important to prioritize health and well-being in order to feel restored and revitalized for the beginning of a new season.

Putting the ‘self’ back in self-care

Self-care is word that’s often overused nowadays with it being such a trendy topic on social media. Remember, self-care is about doing what’s right for you. Sometimes self-care can be as simple as quieting your mind for a few minutes with a glass of wine away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It doesn’t necessarily have to involve a high-energy fitness activity or stressing out over a complicated vegan recipe you found on Pinterest. For me, journaling is a quick and easy way to find some peace. I like to reflect on my day and write down what I’m grateful for and looking forward to in the coming weeks and months. If your self-care routine ends up feeling more like a chore, it’s not fulfilling its purpose. Find activities that make you feel good!

relaxing spa in STL

Mom to mom: a few self-care routines to add to your autumn bucket list

As a working mom with a hectic schedule, I’m here to suggest some self-care activities that won’t leave you feeling even more exhausted than before you started them! Find some calm in your busy life and embrace Fall with open arms as a new and refreshed you!

yoga blogger

Try a meditation app or podcast

Meditation can do wonders for the brain and soul. It’s no easy task to empty the mind completely, but once you get into a flow, you’ll find just how restorative it can be. Apps like Rituals and Headspace are great for those of us with things to do and places to be. Simply pop in some headphones during your morning walks or even on your commute for a guided, easy to follow stress-free session. For those who struggle with meditation, opt for a new audiobook or binge-worthy, inspirational podcast. I love listening to Goal Digger, How I Built This, and The Influencer Podcast while I’m working out, taking a walk, tidying up the house or driving in the car. For busy bookworms, I recommend Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis.

Wake up earlier than the kids to do something you love!

I’m not suggesting that you wake up at the crack of dawn to get work done or get in that mile run before the sun comes up. Wake up a little bit earlier so that you have some time to yourself to simply ‘be.’ Sit in bed with some morning coffee, make a delicious breakfast or flip through the pages of St Louis magazines you never have time to read. Take a brisk walk as the weather gets chillier and enjoy the quiet morning calm before the storm.

Take a mini vacay with friends

Now, this one might be a bit harder to do with kids and busy schedules, but I highly recommend doing this at least once a year! Plan a mini solo vacay or getaway with friends over a weekend where you can decompress and indulge in a little R&R. It can also be incredibly empowering to go solo and do things your own way. You call the shots, you create the itinerary. You don’t have to travel too far either! Make it a staycation by staying local. Plan a spa weekend, an outdoor adventure or simply a couple nights in nice hotel with room service and a kid-free evening to enjoy a Netflix binge-a-thon. I recently took a little weekend trip to Ameristar with one of my girlfriends where we lounged by their luxurious pool and relaxed at the spa.

float tank #selfcare #spa

Try something new

I always look forward to new things I have not experienced before! Experiencing new things is a major thrill for me. Try something unique and unforgettable like a trapeze exercise class, sipping on a new drink from a coffee shop you’ve never been to or detoxing in an infrared sauna.

In a world where we’re always “on”, it can be difficult to slow down and just breathe. Add kids, work and other adult responsibilities to the mix and we’re left with very little time to focus on ourselves, but holding yourself accountable and making a real commitment to self-care will prove worth it in the long run. What commitments will you make this Fall?

 

If you’re a family with young kids living in the Midwest, you don’t need to look very far for a fun-filled vacation. Turns out, my family found the perfect getaway when we booked a trip to Branson, Missouri this summer.

Branson Road Trip with Kids #notyourgrandmasBranson! #

Branson Road Trip with Kids

I know what you’re thinking: “Branson, Missouri?! Isn’t that a senior citizen hot spot?”

Why yes, yes it is, but trust me, our trip was nothing like a seniors tour. This was #notyourgrandmasBranson! We had an amazing time, and I can definitely say that there really is something for everyone in this bustling little midwestern town. My family loves being outside in nature, finding lots of adventurous activities for the kids, and spending quality time together. We found all that and much more in Branson, and here, I’ll share all of our favorite recommendations with you.  

We can’t wait to go back!  

First things first: when you arrive in Branson, be sure to make the Branson Tourism Center (off Branson Hills Parkway exit) your very first stop. They have tons of information on tickets and local attractions, and local tour guides can help you plan an incredible trip. Or, if you’d like to plan your trip ahead of time, visit them at http://www.Branson.com or call (800) 785-1610.

For our family’s trip, I told them my boys love nature, adventure and animals. All of their agents live in the area and have great ideas!

Here’s what we did:

Wolfe Mountain Branson

It may not snow much in Branson, but that won’t stop your family from enjoying an amazing day of snow tubing at the Snowflex Tubing Hill. It’s the largest synthetic tubing hill in the world, and this was definitely one of the most exciting things we did—the kids absolutely loved it! According to my 7 year-old son, “it’s scary looking from the top, but once you go one time, you’ll want to go over and over again!”


Tickets are $35 for adults and $29 for kids, which gets you one hour of tubing, and there’s a conveyor belt that takes you to the top of the hill so you don’t have to climb each time.

This is a fun MUST.

Tubing at Wolfe Mountain in Branson #hosted #bransonzipline #snowflexmountain #tubing

The Track Family Fun Parks

What kid doesn’t love go-karts? I know mine do! And so do I, which is why we made sure to check out the Track Family Fun Park. Forget everything you know about go-karts, because this is a next-level experience! This park has several different go-kart tracks for every level of experience. They’ve got super-simple karts for kids as young as four, all the way up to a “wild woody” track that’s basically a wooden roller coaster for go-karts…and grown-ups! In addition to the tracks, they have bumper boats where you can spray the other boaters—that was Logan’s favorite, and of course, classic karts where little ones can ride alongside a driver—Mason’s personal favorite since he’s not quite ready to drive yet.

This popular Branson attraction made for a whole evening of family fun, so I definitely recommend that you add it to your Branson bucket list, especially if you bring your kids.

go-karting in Branson #hosted #Branson.com #gokarts

Shepherd of the Hills Inspiration Tower

If you want to see Branson from above, I recommend you check out Inspiration Tower, which as my kids aptly pointed out, looks like the “Paw Patrol tower”. For just $8, you can take the elevator to the top of this 230-foot concrete tower and take in sweeping views of Branson and the surrounding areas. And for those of you adventure-seekers with older kids, know that the tower is also the jumping-off point for the Vigilante Extreme Ziprider, a thrilling half-mile ride through the sky on the highest zipline in the state of Missouri. Bring on the adventure!  

Two boys looking out over Branson in Inspiration Tower #hosted #branson

Silver Dollar City Amusement Park

No family-centered vacation to Branson with kids can be complete without a trip to an amusement park, right? That’s why we took a whole day to hit the Silver Dollar City amusement park. It’s a theme park designed to be reminiscent of an 1880s silver mine. There’s lots of fun rides and attractions for kids of all ages, and you can even get discounted tickets if you take a 20-ounce bottle of any Coke product to the ticket window.

Here are some inside tips we learned that you can take advantage of when planning your trip to Silver Dollar City:

  • SDC has free parking! It’s one of the few theme parks in the country to offer this.
  • Download the Silver Dollar City app  

The app uses GPS to show you exactly where the nearest restrooms and restaurants are, along with up-to-the-minute wait times for all attractions. It also has a feature where you can create a wishlist of attractions you’re interested in. So handy!

  • SDC allows outside coolers, food and beverages, so stock up to save!
  • There are phone charging stations at Fireman’s landing.  
  • Take advantage of smaller crowds immediately after the park opens by enjoying breakfast at Molly’s Mill restaurant, which opens at 8:30 AM.
  • Go to Grand Expo during lunchtime, since it’ll be much less crowded then.
  • Lie down on the bed in grandfather’s mansion to see a hidden message

Silver Dollar City Theme Park #silverdollarcity

The Amazing Pet Show

If your kids love animals (and honestly, what kid doesn’t?), be sure to stop by this fun pet show. It takes place in the Grand Country Music Hall, and tickets can be purchased at the Branson Travel Office website. You’ll find lots of cats, dogs and parrots performing cool tricks as part of the show, and here’s a fun fact – many of the pets in the show are rescue animals! During the show’s intermission, your kids can get a photo with a poodle, which Logan couldn’t wait to do. I’m personally excited to have this photo to show the first girlfriend Logan brings home.  My boys still talk about this show. It was one of their favorites.

Little boy with poodle at Amazing Pets in Branson

Fun Spot Farm Mini Golf

Experience life “down on the farm” at this fun, family-centered mini golf center right on the strip in downtown Branson. My boys love anything farm-related, so they were right at home here. The 18-hole course was fun and just challenging enough that the kids could enjoy the game without feeling frustrated.

If the afternoon sun gets a bit hot, there’s an adjoining game center that has lots of video and arcade-type games for kids. Load money onto game cards and let them play for as long as they want.

Mini golf in Branson, MO #hosted #minigolf

Top of the Rock, Lost Canyon Cave & Nature Trail

For a fantastic outdoor adventure, a tour through Lost Canyon Cave simply can’t be beat. This two-mile, golf cart tour leads you on a paved path through the amazing geological features of Lost Canyon in the Ozark mountains. You’ll see incredible rock formations and beautiful waterfalls. The tickets are a bit pricey ($28 for adults and $12 for kids) but trust me, it’s totally worth it! This was one of our favorite attractions of the entire trip.

 

Where we stayed:  

The Hilton Branson Convention Center

For this trip, we decided to stay at the Hilton Branson Convention Center. You’ll recognize it by the Welcome to Branson mural located directly outside the hotel. 

Branson Roadtrip with Kids

Aside from being a beautiful, well appointed hotel, the Hilton was fabulous for its convenient location. In fact, location is the name of the game here, with the hotel centrally located within walking distance to historic downtown Branson. There’s lots of great shows it’s also right across the street from Branson Landing, which boasts great shopping and dining. If you don’t feel like walking, you’re in luck, since the trolley drives right by the hotel and offers rides to all of these attractions.

There are two fabulous pools—one indoor and one outdoor—that are big enough for a large crowd, and cabanas can be reserved in advance for $75.

Lobby inside Hilton Branson, MO

Ride Sparky the Trolley

And speaking of trolleys, you can’t visit downtown Branson without taking a ride on Sparky, the town’s resident trolley. #RideSparky. Sparky’s free, and offers 13 stops that take you all around downtown Branson. My boys love trolleys, so this was a must-do for us!

The Branson Landing

Since our hotel was directly across the street from Branson Landing, we definitely had to spend some time there. There’s so much to see and do! There’s Parakeet Pete’s, which is a zipline that takes you up over the waterfront and allows you to get a birds-eye view of the entire downtown area. At night, the zipline lights up for a trippy, zippy ride in the dark.

Other fun Branson Landing attractions include Steampunk Balloons, where you can experience what it’s like riding in a hot air balloon without the dizzying heights, and Buster’s Old Time Photos, because who doesn’t love dressing up like an outlaw every now and again? We loved Branson Landing, and found something fun for the whole family here. They even have a  Bellagio-style Water Fountain Show, every hour on the hour.

Wondering where we ate on our kid-friendly Branson vacation? Here’s the lineup!

Rocco’s pizza –fantastic New York-style pizza which tons of different recipes.

Cantina Laredo, Landing – easily the best queso and fresh guacamole made right at your table!

Mr B’s Ice cream parlor – a cute 50’s-style ice cream parlor within walking distance from the hotel.  

Cakes-n-Creams 50’s Diner – another retro spot, serving delicious burgers and shakes, with authentic juke boxes at each table.

Billy Gail’s Cafe – Wonderful, country-style breakfast joint on the way to Silver Dollar City with pancakes larger than a plate.

hot air ballon in Branson, MO
Steampunk Balloons
Two boys eating cookies #bransonlanding
Cookies at the Hilton!

 

 

 

 

 

Mother’s Day Brunch Bunch

On Sunday, May 6th, with the help of my fabulous co-hosts Jen Znosko, Amy Schuster, and Julie Fowler, I hosted a Mother’s Day brunch to benefit Westchester elementary.  It was a fun way to raise money for the school while also taking time to celebrate moms who work so hard for their families and communities. The goal of the party was to allow moms to have fun and celebrate Mother’s Day free of distractions for a few hours.

Just like the selfie scavenger hunt we hosted back in April, this was also a fundraising sign-up party. In honor of the beautiful spring weather, we created a light brunch menu. First up were some cute “mom-osas” served with pink-and-white straws and “spa” water (fruit-infused water). Along with plenty of brunch finger foods, a simply decadent chocolate tasting courtesy of Bissinger’s Chocolates was a perfect way to round out the menu.

Mom-osa brunch

We wanted to keep the brunch menu simple yet delicious, so we chose finger foods and appetizers that everyone was sure to enjoy. Nothing is more simple and scrumptious brunch food than skewers. You’ll see there were several on the Mother’s Day brunch menu, and they certainly didn’t disappoint!

Here’s what was on the menu:

“Mom-osas”

The perfect fun brunch drink to celebrate amongst fellow hard working moms.

Mother's Day Brunch

 

Mothers Day Brunch

Momosa brunch

Spa Water

Mother's Day Brunch

We loved having two different types of infused water to keep things fresh and light. My favorites were Detox Cucumber (cucumber infused water) and Citrus (oranges, lemons, and basil).  These H2Os were beautiful and refreshing!

Veggie Cups and Dip

Mother's Day Brunch

Veggie cups

The veggie cups with dip were simple, delicious and healthy; a can’t-miss brunch food idea!  Simply put some dip in the bottom of clear plastic cups, then place carrot and celery sticks, broccoli and a tiny skewer of grape tomatoes in the cup on top of the dip. These made such a bright, colorful, and fun addition to our brunch food.

Bacon Skewers

Bacon Skewers

If you want an amazing brunch item that looks simple but is anything but simple in the taste department, then trust me—these bacon skewers MUST for your next gathering! They were spicy, sweet and simply amazing! Amy found these taste bud electrifiers on Pinterest, and I couldn’t stop eating them. Get the recipe here

Yogurt parfaits with Irene’s granola

Irene's granola parfait

Here’s another simple brunch food idea that was beautiful and easy to assemble. For our yogurt parfaits, we simply layered yogurt over fresh-cut fruit, then topped it off with Irene’s soft granola for a little bowl of heaven!  Irene’s granola is made locally in Kirkwood and is amazing.

Quiche

Momosa brunch

You can’t host a brunch without serving quiche, right? It’s a great brunch food since it’s filling, but pairs perfectly with finger foods and appetizers. For our quiche, we decided to offer some variety with a two-pack from Costco. We chose the spinach-artichoke and cheddar-broccoli flavors from La Terra Fina, and we were super pleased.  They were healthy and delicious!  Check out their site for a coupon.  My friend Jen said the spinach-artichoke dip is amazing.  I can’t wait to try that too!

Fruit Kabobs

fruit kabobs

Who doesn’t love a fruit kabobs?   These little gems were on our brunch menu! So light, so delicious, and so easy! Cut the fruit and skewer.

Donut Hole pops

Donut Pops

This was an easy brunch treat to assemble and provided such a fun presentation.  My friend Julie bought a box of Munchkins donut holes from Dunkin Donuts.  We skewered each one and served.  Perfection!

All these foods were super easy for a busy mom who doesn’t have time to be slaving away in the kitchen.  These would be great ideas if you are hosting a baby or wedding shower, graduation parties or having brunch with your favorite girls.  Whatever your event, this easy and simple menu will give you more time to toast with your friends.  Cheers!

XOXO

Sarah~

Special thanks to my co-hostesses Jen, Amy, and Julie.
The businesses who made this party special:  Elizabeth from Gladly designs for all the beautiful signs and food tents, Irene’s granola for the amazing granola.

Plus all the amazing businesses that donated to the Mother’s Survival Kit swag bags:

Swag Bag
Kidzxplor, Yoga 6, Fit Flavors, Chick fil a- Des Peres, Bissinger’s,  Marley Lilly, The Daily Bread Cafe, Wee Tutoring, Kendra Scott, Shine Tan, European Wax, Soap Box and Prana Yoga.

We did a self-care accountability activity check out that post here.

Photos from @missverajeanae_

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Are you looking for a quick and fun road trip with kids?  I’ve got all the tips for a successful road trip to Cape Girardeau including where to stay, where to eat, and things to do your kids will love.  

Cape Girardeau MO

Cape Girardeau Road Trip with Kids

Recently we headed south for a family wedding to my hometown of Cape Girardeau, MO.  I’ll break down all the kid-approved hot spots you should check out. Cape is an easy drive only 120 miles from St. Louis.  If you’re looking for a relaxing escape, here are some ideas my boys recommend.

What To Do:

Buchheit’s Farm Supply

Buchheit Cape Girardeau

If your kids are animal lovers like mine, you need to stop at Buchheit’s Farm Store; it’s one of my boys’ all-time favorite activities.  On Saturday and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. you can walk a potbelly pig around the store.  They put the pig on a leash and feed it fresh-popped popcorn available at no cost. It’s the funniest sight to see, ever kid will go bonkers.  The newest pig is named Curly Sue. There’s also a variety of cute little farm animals to see, such as chickens, chicks, bunnies, pigs and more.  The last time we were there, Curly Sue had outgrown her leash, so we couldn’t take her around the store but remained in the enclosed animal area.  The other perk my boys love is the free popcorn.    

Buchheim Cape Girardeau MO

Buchheim Cape Girardeau MO

Buchheim Cape Girardeau MO

Trail of Tears State Park

We love hiking, and Trail of Tears State Park has several trails to choose from.  Make sure to come prepared for your hike, and I recommend wearing long pants instead of shorts.  Our favorite trail features a bluff overlooking the mighty Mississippi River, with a fantastic view. There’s also a different river overlook if you don’t want to walk the trail.  The visitors center is small but worth a peek to see different animals and also has clean bathrooms.

St Louis Iron Mountain Railroad

All aboard!  This place brings back childhood memories for me.  This was my first job when I was 14, and I sold snacks on the goodie cart.  If you have any train lovers in your family, this is a must. A lot of the rides offered on the train are themed.  We went on the Easter one, where the Easter Bunny makes an appearance, and there’s a huge egg hunt included. I’ve heard the Santa Express is very popular, and I always loved the one where characters dressed like Jesse James and his gang board and put on a robbery performance.  Also, they offer a chocolate-addict ride, which sounds absolutely fabulous.

Downtown Cape Girardeau Farmers Market,

This is a small farmers market featuring live music and local vendors selling fresh goodies.  My boys are obsessed with their donut truck.  These aren’t your average donuts, they’re made on site and are humongous!  My mom introduced this destination to us, and it’s become one of our traditions when in town.  After you’re done at the market, you can take a nice stroll down to the Mississippi River.

Downtown Riverwalk

The flood wall by the banks of the river feature hand-painted murals with history of the surrounding area.  

Riverfront Cape Girardeau MO

If you’re lucky there will be a barge or boat cruising down the river, and will honk its horn; my boys always get a kick out of that.  A lot of the 2014 movie Gone Girl, starring Ben Affleck, was shot in Cape Girardeau, especially downtown which is located near the Riverwalk.  You can check out some of the sites from the movie including a saloon called “The Bar”. They also have a driving tour where you see some of the filming sites and special stops.  This isn’t necessarily a kid-friendly tour, but something fun if you’re in the area.

The Discovery Playhouse (Children’s museum)

This place is a blast.  They have tons of hands-on exhibits, and they’ve always added more each time we go.  My boys always enjoy the slides, water tables, grocery store, critter area, firetrucks, tire tower and more.  Your kiddos won’t want to leave.

Discovery Playhouse

Discovery Playhouse

Melaina’s Playground

This is a great playground that will peak the interest of your kids and definitely burn off a lot of their energy.  It was built in honor of a 3-year-old girl who passed away in 2009. She had physical limitations and was unable to enjoy most playgrounds, so through large fundraising efforts, this terrific playground was built.     

Melania's Playground Cape Girardeau MO

Melania's playground

Levi’s Adventure Trail

This is one of the most unique playgrounds I’ve been to in a while.  It features a ride that’s a zip line/ roller coaster/ swing rolled-into-one, that my boys couldn’t get enough of.  I got a kick out of watching them play on it, and secretly wish I could give it a whirl. It was blazing hot outside, and my guys were super upset when we had to leave.

Levi's Adventure Trail Cape Girardeau MO

Levi's Adventure Trail Cape Girardeau MO

Other kid-friendly places to try depending on the weather:  

Lazy L Safari Park

Cape Splash Family Aquatic Center

Where We Stayed:

There’s a new Drury Plaza Hotel and Conference Center off the Cape Girardeau/ Gordonville exit on I-55.  We partnered up with Drury for this getaway, and this location was amazing.  Drury Hotels began in the Cape Girardeau area, so staying here supports a local company and is truly the best value available not to mention the hotel is modern and gorgeous.  

Drury hotel and convention center, Cape Girardeau MO

Drury hotel Cape Girardeau, MO

Drury hotel Cape Girardeau, MO

When we arrived they were having their famous kickback hour (#kickbackhour) that runs every night from 5:30- 7:00.  They call it a snack, but it’s more of a meal. That evening they had a taco bar, which is perfect for my guys because tacos are one of their favorite meals.  While they ate tacos, I grabbed some cocktails (#win-win). We took our food and drinks upstairs to the terrace, and as the name indicates, kick backed and relaxed.  

Drury kickback hour Cape Girardeau MO

After kickback hour we headed to the pool.  My boys can’t wait to show off their cannonball skills any chance they get.  There was a little baby there who would let out a belly laugh each time an older kid jumped in the pool; it was super cute.  

Drury pool Cape Girardeau MO

The next morning before the boys woke up, I snuck downstairs for my coffee fix.  The breakfast at Drury is amazing. My boys love to indulge in special treats they don’t normally get, like waffles, donuts and Lucky Charms cereal. I try to stay with healthy options, which are readily available too.

Drury waffles, Cape Girardeau MO

Drury breakfast, Cape Girardeau MO

Drury breakfast, Cape Girardeau MO

One thing you can count on anytime you stay at a Drury Hotel is friendly staff and the amazing value.  During our stay, we met the GM David, who was greeting people during breakfast.  The great thing about Drury Hotels, is they’re a large company, but always have that personal touch.  They’re current hashtag “#travelhappy” is quite fitting for this top-notch hotel chain.

Where To Eat:  

You can find all kinds of chain restaurants right off the highway, but of course, I have my favs when I go home, that are musts:  

  1. Lambert’s Cafe,  Located in Sikeston, MO, just 30 minutes south of Cape Girardeau.  Bring your appetite, and keep your head up for their delicious hot rolls, which they actually throw at you.  They also bring around carts with amazing all-you-can-eat homemade side dishes. Make sure to bring cash, because they don’t accept credit card or checks.  If you forget, they do have an ATM in the lobby.
  2. Gordonville Grill, Fun bar, and grill located in the tiny town I grew up in.
  3. Gabriel’s Italian.  This place will make you feel like your in Italy.  They feature amazing gourmet Italian cuisine.  They also offer kids cooking classes
    Gabriel's Cape Girardeau, MO
  4. Minglewood Brewery, kid-friendly and great pizzas.  Also, make sure to try their Bavarian pretzels and beer cheese dip with your brew.Minglewood brewery Cape Girardeau, MO
  5. My Daddy’s Cheesecake, a cute little cafe with great sandwiches and salads.  But make sure you save room for the cheesecake!
  6. Simply Swirled, Frozen yogurt and cookie dough.  Need I say more?

Overall Cape Girardeau will always be one of my favorite places in the world because of all my family and memories there.  If you need a fun, getaway, are attending a sports tournament, passing through or like to explore new parts of the state like me check out Cape Girardeau.  I hope this helps guide you in having fun with your family.

XOXO  Sarah~

If you want to see our other travel post check them out here:

Nashville road trip with kids
Gulf Shores AL, Beach vacation
Echo Bluff State Park

Thank you so much for Drury hotels for partnering with us on this post.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Who is excited about the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale?
I know I am which is why I booked my appointment with Amber Kemp, the Nordstrom personal stylist in St Louis.  

If you are like me and time is the most valuable asset you have to call Amber to make an appointment.  Her number is 314-452-6589 Her email is: Amber.R.Kemp@nordstrom.com To see my previous post with Amber and to get her list for wardrobe basics click here.   

Why call Amber?  

  1. Her service is FREE.  Why would you not use her??????  
  2. She will listen to what you want and have your sizes ready and waiting for you in the fitting room.  
  3. She’s a stylist.  She’ll help you pull it all together for the look you want.  

In the end, you’ll end up saving time and money.  Here are a few of my favorite looks from this sale.  

I’ll be wearing this look straight to Eckert’s pumpkin patch this fall.

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

Sperry rain boots | DenimMoto jacket | More love graphic T | Flannel | Flannel (similar) | Statement necklace
Panama hat
This moto jacket is my favorite piece from this outfit.  The price, the fit, the removable hood, it’s such a fun jacket.

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

This dress is perfect now and into fall.  How perfect is this look for brunch with your girls at The clover and the bee?  

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

Floral dress | Denim jacket | Booties | Gold earrings | KS Favorite |

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

Every mom needs a superwoman shirt.  How perfect is this look for weekend soccer games and trips to the Kirkwood farmers market?

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

Graphic T | Cammo jacket | KS earrings | Crossbody | Boots | Denim

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

A simple but updated business casual look for work.  Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

Leggings | Sweater | Kendra Scott pendant | Earrings 
Shoe options:  Mule | Studded pump | Kentvi sandals

Perfect night out with your girlfriends at Billy G’s patio outfit.

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

Denim | Lace top | Booties | Leopard Clutch | KS earrings

Perfect night out with your girlfriends at Billy G’s sitting by the fire sipping on red wine outfit.  Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

Denim | Lace top | Booties | Leopard Clutch | KS earrings | Suede jacket

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave