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.

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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

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Beach Vacation, Gulf Shores AL.

When I asked my boys where they wanted to go on vacation they both yelled, “the beach!” Who doesn’t love the beach, right? I know I do, so I was eager to start planning the trip. And since the beach pretty much makes a perfect family vacation all by itself, the hardest part of the decision was choosing which beach to go to. I know several families who love Gulf Shores, so I thought we would check it out this summer.

Gulf Shores is a town on Alabama’s Gulf Coast that’s known for its endless strip of white, sandy beaches, lively dining and entertainment scene and natural habitats. It’s a relatively easy drive from St. Louis, but we broke up the trip by spending a few days sightseeing in Nashville first. Check out that post here.  Then we headed south down I-65 to the white sandy beaches of the Gulf.

Gulf Shores AL

As we were driving to the Gulf we had some time before we checked into our condo so we stopped in downtown Mobile and found some fun street art.  There are several cafes and restaurants in downtown if you need a snack.

Mobile AL

Battleship Memorial Park

My boys loved climbing all over the huge battleship.  It is a great place to stop if you need to get your kids out of the car and run some energy out plus an amazing way to bring history to life.  We all loved the submarine tour too.  It’s a quick tour and not as many places for your kids to hide.

USS Alabama

USS Alabama

Another fun adventure on your way to Gulf Shores would be to take the ferry to Dauphin Island.  You can then explore the island and then take a ferry over to Gulf Shores.

Where We Stayed in Gulf Shores, AL

When I planned this trip, I had one requirement: a place right on the beach so that I could listen to the waves at night. I can’t remember the last time I woke up feeling so relaxed and calm.

Gulf Shores AL

Space was another consideration when looking for a place to stay. I wanted my boys to have a room where they would get a good night’s rest and have their own space, and we had Grandma with us on the trip—I knew she would definitely need her own room to escape the madness!

I ended up finding the perfect place that fit our needs exactly: a condo with two bedrooms and two bathrooms beachfront, plus a bonus bunk room for the boys.  The condo was beautiful and spacious with upgrades throughout, pool and beachfront views. But the best was, it was right on the beach. Check it out here.

If you ever find yourself looking for a condo rental in Gulf Shores, I’d highly recommend renting through Gulf Beach Rentals. They were a great resource for ideas and kid-friendly suggestions in the area.  Not only that, they were super helpful when we got locked out of the unit (don’t ask), and flexible when we decided to stay an extra day because we were having too much fun! #familyfun

For a packing list when renting a beach condo check it out here.

Gulf Beach Rentals
Info@gulfbeachrentals.co
Contact Emily at (251) 500-0596

Gulf Shores AL

EAT
When I asked the locals what the area is known for food/drinks they said:

The Bushwacker, a frosty rum drink
Snapper, grouper, oysters fresh from the Gulf

Since eating out with two boys isn’t always relaxing we used the kitchen in our condo quite a bit. It was functional and had everything we needed to make simple meals and enjoy them while relaxing on the balcony of the condo. Many breakfasts were spent just waking up to the ocean waves and watching dolphins as we ate.

Gulf Shores AL

When we did head out to eat, we tried to hit all the best kid-friendly restaurants in the immediate area. Bonus points for establishments that didn’t have golden arches or Kraft mac & cheese as an entrée! Here’s a run-down of our favorites:

Lulus is named after its semi-famous founder, Jimmy Buffett’s sister, Lucy. It’s a super-popular establishment with three locations; one in Destin, Florida, one in Gulf Shores and one in Myrtle Beach. With live music, fresh fish and seafood, and a giant sand area for kids to play in while families eat, we found Lulus to be absolutely perfect for kids. My advice is to plan to go at an off time (early or late lunch/dinner) to avoid looooong waits and huge crowds.

Matt’s Homemade ice cream.  You can’t go on vacation without ice cream, right? My boys are always looking for a treat, and Matt’s certainly delivered—it was perfection. It’s the only homemade ice cream shop in Gulf Shores, serving 40 different flavors of ice cream, along with delicious throwback confections like banana splits, sundaes, and milkshakes. The boys couldn’t believe how amazing it was, and Logan was complaining his wasn’t as big as the rest of ours. Because, you know, comparisons.

The Hang Out.  This fun beachfront place was perfect for families, with their loud, boisterous ambiance. In fact, while we were eating, an announcer came out and asked if anyone was celebrating a birthday. And I’m pretty sure that the few brave souls who admitted to it won’t soon forget it! The fun, friendly staff routinely gets people up dancing on tables, doing the electric slide, and generally having fun like you should on vacation.

Gulf Shores AL

A few places we didn’t have time to try that came recommended were:

Flora-Bama, home of the Bushwacker (the must-try frozen drink of the area)
The Gulf, a waterfront restaurant made of shipping containers
GT’s on the Bay

What we did for fun

There are endless activities that tourists enjoy in Gulf Shores, but we chose to keep things a bit more simple since we were traveling with young kids. We spent a ton of time on the beach, where we hunted for seashells, rode waves and built sandcastles. We went on walks and set up little scavenger hunts for the boys, which they loved. And at night after dinner, we’d return to the beach to get pictures and hunt for crabs as the sunset and the beach got dark. Don’t forget your flashlights and buckets for this fun activity!

Gulf Shores AL

 

Gulf Shores AL

Gulf Shores AL

For lots of other fun ideas (and discounts!), check out the coupon books located all around the area. There’s a place called The Track go-karts that’s a must-do; it’s a wild, woody track that has three levels of wild driving—perfect for my boys!

There’s also Pirate’s Island Mini Golf, which is a great family-friendly option if you’ve had enough of the beach.

A couple other recommendations we didn’t have time to try were:
Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, called the little zoo that could.
Owa, an amusement park

All in all, Gulf Shores was the perfect beach getaway! It’s easily accessible.   The beach is absolutely stunning, lodging is abundant and reasonably priced, and the dining, entertainment, and nightlife just can’t be beaten for families.   There’s truly something for everyone in Gulf Shores!

Gulf Shores AL

Gulf Shores AL

Let me know your favorite beach trips with kids.

For other kid-friendly trips check out my posts about Nashville, Bentonville Ar, Big Cedar Lodge Branson Mo, and Echo Bluff State Park

XOXO  Sarah~

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The ultimate packing list when renting a beach condo 

 

Beach Items:

Beach Bag
Beach Towels
Sunscreen
Hat
Sunglasses
Kid glasses
Swimsuits, a couple in case they need to dry
Soft cooler
Snacks
Goggles
Beach shoes/flip flops
Waterproof pouch for your phone.
Beach Balls/Toys/Sandcastle supplies/water guns/nets/mask and snorkel
Magazines
Water bottles
Scarfs to tie as a sarong
Boogie Board

 

Kitchen Supplies

Paper Plates and Cups
Dishwasher pods, one for each day
Trash Bags, one for each day
Coffee and supplies

 

Rainy Day Activities

Games, cards, legos, art supplies
Travel Booking information and contact numbers

 

The evening’s on the beach

Flashlights or headlamps (hands-free),  nets, buckets

 

Mom to Mom-Angela co-creator of Kidzxplor

Angela Sandler

Background of Kidzxplor

Angela Sandler is the Co-Founder/CEO of Kidzxplor– a revolutionary app and web-based membership that connects families with local activity & experience partners. Kidzxplor strives to help kids find their passion by making parents lives a bit easier. Kidzxplor is a subscription-based B2B and B2C partnership that works in tandem with local business owners to manage their activity open inventory and redistribute it via Kidzxplor where consumers can attend a variety of activities, all on one platform. Kidzxplor takes the stress out of the search and discovery of activities- often a daunting task for parents. By utilizing technology, Kidzxplor is a one-stop-shop for all activities kid. Parents can purchase Passes through Kidzxplor on a monthly basis or via a la carte packages. There is never any commitment and flexibility is key.

Angela is a business manager with over 19 years of proven results in brand management, new product development, strategic planning, marketing, and sales. An intuitive marketer with a keen sense of timing to identify and capture emerging market opportunities. Angela started her career at May Department Stores and has worked for a variety of companies launching new brands, and developing existing brands such as Victorinox Swiss Army, Timberland, Carhartt, Jonathan Adler and BMW. Angela was recognized as one of 200 female founder startups selected by Rent the Runway Foundation and UBS, to participate in the 2017 Project Entrepreneur intensive.

Angela was born and raised in St. Louis and attended the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss).  She is married to her husband, Andy, and lives in Creve Coeur with her daughter Joie, and a son, Grant.  In her free time, Angela enjoys spending time with family and friends, running and doing yoga, and traveling wherever and whenever she can.

Kidzxplor currently operates in St. Louis, Missouri and Houston, Texas.

Angela’s goals for Kidzxplor in the balance of 2018 is to continue to grow the events side of the business, network with more businesses, and continue to connect parents to opportunities in their community.

Social handles:

IG: http://www.instagram.com/angela_sandler

FB: http://www.facebook.com/angelawecklsandler

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/mrssandler & http://www.twitter.com/kidzxplor

Email: angela@kidzxplor.com

Business Questions

Why/ When was the Kidzxplor app created?  The Kkidzxplor concept was created in September of 2015 on Miami Beach.  Attending a mutual friends 40th birthday celebration, after a walk on the beach complaining about how much we were spending on kids activities and the commitment involved- we felt there had to be a better way.  We were all ClassPass users and felt that the same concept could easily be adapted to kids activities and that the concept made even more sense since kids are finicky and often must try many things before they find their passion.  After the trip- we started the process of developing the technology and then launched to the public in August of 2016.

What is your favorite thing about being a woman-owned business?  The comradery.  I love working with different women business owners as we all really support each other.  We all face struggles in life that men don’t experience- the balancing of both the business, our families & children, running a household, and also trying to keep ourselves happy and healthy.  There is a lot of struggles in finding a balance or happy medium and women understand this.  We all can commiserate and help each other find solutions and support together.

How has your business evolved?   Our business has evolved very much from the beginning.  From the start, we have always been passionate about offering families experiences- and those experiences have now grown to include events, birthday parties, and finding unique experiences you cannot find anywhere else- much more than just taking an art or music class.  Initially, we were 100% focused on the child, and now we are moving towards being more focused on the whole family- mom, dad, and kids.  We also, in the beginning, were very focused on the consumer, but as we have developed- we find that the businesses are also a big part of the equation.  ALL businesses are looking to bring families in their doors – we have found that these businesses include retail, restaurants, services, etc.- much more than just the original kid’s activity providers we started with.

What’s the biggest challenge about creating an app?  The biggest challenge with building an app being a startup is budget.  App’s and tech can be very expensive and as you grow as a company- there are always additional improvements and updates you would like to make to improve the experience, which can be very costly.

What are your favorite mom apps?  I love Apps!  I use so many to help!  My favorites include Blinklist, kidzxplor (of course!), Mind/Body, Apple Music, Venmo, Open Table, Postmates, Shine, and The Skimm.  I don’t know if those are all Mom-App’s- but they sure help me manage my life!

You recently hosted an amazing Mod Mamas event.  How did you get the idea?  Moms today are so busy and rarely have a day to themselves to help nourish their mind, body, and spirit.  Mod Mama’s was created as a one-stop-shop for busy Mama’s to help them experience community, education on key topics for Mama’s, fitness, food, and friends all in one place.  It really was developed out of what we personally felt that we would like and enjoy and how we felt we could bring the best information these Mamas in small bites.

What do you want people to know about Kidzxplor?  Great question!!!  I think there is still a lot of confusion about kidzxplor and what it offered and how it works.  I think the main thing is that its such an incredible savings over retail!  You can pick and choose, on your schedule, what works for you and your child.  You can purchase credits that allow you to drop-in to whichever activities you want – there is no commitment, no membership, and it’s completely flexible to your needs.

Mom Life

Angela Sandler

How do you balance work and family?  I am not sure there is ever a balance- it’s more of an ebb and flow.  Some weeks are busier with families, some weeks are work heavier, some weeks you can breathe.  I do a lot of outsourcing to help.  I want to be having fun and enjoying my children when I am around them- so I try to offload the things I don’t like doing so that when they are home- I can be with them.  I hire someone to do our families laundry so that is taken care of, I order all my groceries online, I use a lot of app’s to have streamline processes, and I use my calendar to schedule everything to make sure that everything has it’s place- particularly exercise so it doesn’t get lost.

What are qualities you try and role model for your kids?  Kindness 100%.  There is never a reason not to be kind.  Thinking positive and looking for the good in most things.  I also really try to make my kids self-reliant.  I don’t do a lot of things for them that they can do themselves and I tend to let them manage their time and their actions- I don’t fight their battles and I look forward to opportunities for them to make mistakes (in reason) so that they can learn from them.

What would you tell your younger self? It’s all going to be OK.

Who inspires you?  I am really inspired by my business coach Erin Joy- and also female entrepreneurs that are making their dreams happen.

The advice you’d give to other working moms?  Take a deep breath- and outsource, outsource, outsource.

Personal

What is your guilty pleasure? Hmmmm… probably alcohol.  Truth.

What do you put in your coffee?  Hazelnut creamer from Trader Joes at home, half and half at coffee shops

Favorite workout?  Shred415 – hands down.

What is one thing you cannot go to bed without doing?  Checking Instagram

Best place in the world you have been?  There’s too many to mention!  Hong Kong, St. Lucia, Bangkok, Venice, Barcelona.

Your bucket list is The Maldives, Phuket, Galapagos’, Canary Islands

 

If you missed the other Mom to Mom check out:

Mom to Mom with Stephanie Pohlman Designs:
Mom to Mom Meet Sarah

 

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Are you planning a Nashville road trip with kids?  I’ve got all the tip and tricks for a successful road trip to Nashville including where to stay, where to eat, and more.

Nashville Road Trip with Kids

This year, we kicked off the boys’ summer break with a trip to Nashville. Nashville is a city close to my heart because I’ve been there on several girls’ weekends. It’s a place I knew my kids would love, so I new we couldn’t go wrong.  What made it even better, was Nashville was on the way to Gulf Shores, Alabama, where we were going for a beach vacation.

Nashville mural

Nashville Road Trip – Kid-friendly Activities

After the four-hour drive from St. Louis, we wasted no time heading straight to one of Nashville’s top attractions for families: the Adventure Science Center. It was a great choice for sure!  After being cooped up in the car for so long, my boys ran from one side of the science center to the other. The science center has a ton of hands-on and interactive activities for kiddos of all ages!

Mason’s favorite thing to do was pretending to drive the ambulance, while Logan was fascinated by the exhibit that allowed him to imagine what it would be like to walk on the moon.

Adventure Science Center

The next day we did the Hop on/Hop off Trolley tour of Nashville. If you choose to do this, here’s a tip: tickets for this are less expensive if you purchase online or over the phone than at the ticket booth.

Trolley Nashville

The first time I saw the trolley on previous visits to Nashville, I was dying to get the boys on it.    I knew they would love it and then we have loads of options to explore.  We boarded the trolley at Downtown Broadway. Our first stop was at the Nashville Farmers Market, where there’s plenty of fresh food for sale. There’s a ton of different food vendors, and we went with a brick-oven pizza, which was delicious!

Nashville Parthenon

Next, we stopped at the Nashville Parthenon, which looks exactly like the Parthenon in Greece. It’s an art museum on the inside, with lots of beautiful grounds on the outside, including a playground and lots of open fields. Finally, we stopped at the Gulch to get pics at the famous wings mural, which is just one of many fun murals in Nashville.

Wings mural

Some other fun kid-friendly ideas that we had on our list but swimming at the Drury indoor/outdoor pool won out :  

Nashville Zoo

Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge

The Ryman Tour

Another tip when traveling with kids:  Be flexible.  I had a lot of things planned but ultimately they were begging to swim and Mason fell asleep on the trolley.

Nashville Road Trip – Where We Stayed:  

When it comes to lodging, I’m very particular.  We look for certain amenities that will make the vacation easier for all of us. A hotel breakfast is super important to my kids, and it saves us from having to eat out and spend a lot of money on food the kids may or may not eat. And I like having a separate bedroom with a door, so I’m not forced to go to bed at the same time as the kids. Also, the boys insist on the hotel to have a pool, which is fine by me so they can burn off all their energy.  

I was thrilled to partner with  Drury Plaza Hotel in Franklin, Tennessee, because it was the perfect fit for us.  We absolutely loved it!  Located just 15-20 minutes south of downtown Nashville, so you won’t have any parking hassles or late-night party scene.

The first thing you notice when you enter is the amazing lobby. It’s grand, yet welcoming.  And every afternoon, the scent of fresh popcorn wafts through the air, enticing guests both young and old, to stop and enjoy a quick afternoon snack.

Our room was clean and updated. There was a fridge microwave and sink in the bar area. The bathroom was spacious, featuring a gigantic tub and separate shower, toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, and body wash) in large dispensers inside the shower.  (Check out my Instagram story by clicking the “highlight” button to see the full video)

While our room was wonderful, we certainly not prepared for the value of the breakfast at Drury. There was no shrink-wrapped, slapped-together convenience food—it was a full-blown breakfast with anything you could want!  They served a full spread of hot foods like eggs, biscuits and gravy and sausage and potatoes. Then there was a huge selection of cereals, fresh cut fruit, and yogurt. They even had a station where you could get made-to-order pancakes and another where you could make your own waffles, which the boys loved. The food was all super fresh, and the Kelso Bros Coffee was piping hot.   

Drury breakfast

Another great feature was the pool. My kids love to swim no matter where we are, and the pool at Drury didn’t disappoint. It was heated, with a neat indoor/outdoor feature—where you could swim under a large partition to go from one side to another.  There also was a huge hot tub, and an endless supply of high-quality clean towels too.

Drury indoor/outdoor pool

Drury indoor/outdoor pool

What was our favorite thing about Drury? It definitely was something called “kickback hour”.  It’s every evening at  5:30, and to say that it exceeded our wildest expectations, would be putting it lightly.  Even though it’s considered a snack, it’s really more like a full-blown dinner.  It has a full spread of items like baked potatoes, pasta, chicken tenders, a nacho bar, hot dogs, and salad bar. I found this to be a nice touch, and an unexpected surprise, because going out to eat with the kids can be stressful and expensive!  Also, get this, adults can get THREE free drinks during kickback hour. Yes, you read that right, THREE!  Amazing!  

Drury kickback hour

Drury kickback hour

We absolutely LOVED Drury and can’t believe the value and quality offered,  and can’t wait to stay with them again. 

Nashville Road Trip – Where We Ate:

When traveling I like to find out what special food the area is known for.  In talking with some locals the Nashville foods to try are:  hot chicken, biscuits, sweet treats, BBQ, and goo goo cluster bars

Since we regularly ate a huge breakfast at the hotel and appetizers for dinner at the kickback hour, eating around Nashville was more for lunch and progressive-style snacking and treats.  Because vacation calories don’t count right?

Biscuit Love, Immensely popular, known for cuisine centered around biscuits.  Make sure to try a bonut, which is fried biscuit dough topped with Italian cream cheese.  Delish!

Bonut Biscuit Love

Biscuit Love Nashville

Five Daughters Bakery Try and tackle one of their 100 layer donuts, which is a hybrid of a croissant and donut.  Are you kidding me?!

Five daughters Nashville

5 daughters Nashville

Caviar and Bananas This gourmet market and cafe uses only fresh ingredients to deliver a tasty culinary experience.   The decor is as amazing as the food.  This place looks like its right out of a magazine.  Caviar and Bananas

Martin’s BBQ Their specialty item is a Redneck Taco, which is any of their hickory-smoked meats on a corn cake.  Yee haw!

Martin's BBQ Nashville

Other kid-friendly places we wanted to try but didn’t have time:  

Hattie B’s Hot Chicken If you never tried chicken and waffles, this is the place to give a whirl.  Also, the chicken comes in different spice levels; the hottest contains the fire-breathing ghost pepper.  Yikes! Note: When we stopped by this place there was a 45-minute wait outside the building. Be prepared to wait and have something to entertain the kids.  

The Grilled Cheeserie Its humble beginnings was as a popular Nashville food truck, whose menu was created by a master chef.  So, this isn’t your run of the mill sandwich.

The Aquarium Restaurant  A true underwater dining experience, as you’re surrounded by a 200,000-gallon saltwater aquarium.    

The Pancake Pantry You’ll get a full serving of Southern hospitality at this 50 plus year-old Nashville hot spot.

Overall Nashville is such a great town to explore with kids.  We had so much fun, and hope to be back soon.  I hope this helps you plan a fun trip there with your family.

Nashville mural

XOXO  Sarah

We were so grateful to partner with Drury Hotels for this trip, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Staying accountable to self-care over the summer.

Hey ladies.  I feel like I need a vacation from my vacation after being with my boys non-stop for 10 days.  We had so much fun but I’m exhausted.  Since a vacation is not possible my goal this week is all about self-care.  Can anyone relate?

Beach Vacay, Gulf Shores

A few weeks back I co-hosted a brunch for some other 1st-grade mom friends.  I wanted to have an activity that encouraged these moms to engage in a little self-care over the summer. As hectic as mom life is all year ‘round, somehow the summer months always seem to be the most frantic of all. If you’re a stay-at-home mom, you’re suddenly tasked with entertaining your school-aged kids all day, every day—no easy task! And if you’re a working mom, it’s a challenge; I literally made a spreadsheet of what camps Logan will be at each week. You’ve got to schedule camps, sitters, and activities to fill all those hours your kids used to be in school while you’re at work so they are not plugged into the TV all day!

Gladly designs

With all that madness going on, it’s so easy to put ourselves last. Many of us can’t remember the last time we took five minutes to decompress and just, well, think our thoughts. With that in mind, I partnered with Gladly Designs to create a stack of beautiful note cards for my event. Then, at the brunch, I handed a card to each mom and asked her to write down at least one personal goal she wanted to complete over the summer or a self-care task that she’d like to accomplish. Maybe that’s meeting up for a summer MNO happy hour, going to yoga, or getting a pedicure; whatever their goal was, I asked the moms to write it on their card, address it to themselves.

Gladly designs

Gladly designs

The activity was a challenge for some and fun for others.  I loved hearing what they are willing to commit to doing for themselves. At the end of the summer, I’ll mail each of the moms her card so she’ll get a chance to check in with herself and see if she completed her task. I can only hope that they all do.

My question for you is:  What self-care do you want to commit to doing for yourself this summer?  You deserve it.  Here are a few of mine:

Meet with my health coach
Try a new yoga class
Float in a float tank
Get a facial

Thank you to Gladly designs for partnering on this activity.  To see all her amazing design work check out the Etsy shop here and be sure to sign up for a discount coupon on your first order.

Below are a few things she designed for the party and if you missed the brunch details check them out here.

Gladly Designs

Gladly Designs

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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.  The stunning signs were done by Elizabeth at Gladly Designs.

Mom-osa brunch

Momosa brunch

Spa Water

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

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.

Photos from @missverajeanae_

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Stikwood focal wall

Looking for an easy way to spruce up a boring wall?  Stikwood tiles is the perfect solution!   This easy DIY Stikwood Tile Focal Wall tutorial is the perfect way to transform a blank wall into a masterpiece.

A couple weeks ago I reached out to Stephanie Pohlman @stephniepohlmandesigns to discuss some spring updates for my home.  I definitely wanted to paint my front door, but also wanted Stephanie’s suggestions for a few more updates. Stephanie had made an Instagram post about these amazing wood focal walls she had done.  So, I asked her to bring some samples. As soon as I saw them in-person, I became obsessed, and knew this was the perfect product for my spring refresh!

Check out the before and after photos.

Before photo:

Living room before

After photos with the Stikwood tiles.

Stikwood wall

Stikwood is a peel-and-stick wood plank product that’s made from reclaimed lumber.  The company was started by Jerry and Laura McCall of Sacramento, California in 2012.  Jerry is a master woodworker, so the couple wanted to combine his skills with Laura’s creative vision to make an eye-catching décor product that also reuses natural resources.

Most U.S. family rooms have large flat screen TVs that dominate a wall.  While our family room has a mantle and fireplace directly under the TV, I still wanted another element that would direct visitor’s eyes away from the entertainment component.   

Stikwood was the perfect product!

Stikwood wall

While paint and wallpaper can add a perceived texture to walls, what I like best about Stikwood, is it adds physical texture which can’t be achieved with other products.  Monochromatic is very popular now in interior design, so that’s why I chose white to go with our mantle, and a herringbone design to make a big statement.  Go to Stikwood’s website to check out the wide variety of colors and textures available, all of which will add a lot of “wow” factor to your living space.  Stikwood has also been featured on HGTV’s show Property Brothers.  Stikwood products can only be purchased on the company’s website http://www.stikwood.com

Stikwood wall

While Stikwood is a D.I.Y. product, my obsession with herringbone required professional help to make it happen.  I chose to hire a local contractor to install it because I herringbone requires a lot of precise cutting, especially around windows and mantles.  If you live in the St. Louis metro area, I highly recommend One and Done Contracting. Their customer service and attention to detail were amazing!  Check out the time lapse video below to see the crew work their magic.

I was ecstatic with how everything turned out!  Plus, Stephanie helped me add some small details like new pillows, blanket ladder, ottomans and a fun chair that updated and pulled the room together.  It’s totally magazine-worthy room by my favorite designer Stephanie Pohlman.

Stikwood wall Stikwood wall

If you’re building or remodeling a home in the St. Louis area contact Stephanie to schedule a consultation.

Stephanie Pohlman Design: Phone: (314) 954-5095 

DEAL ALERT–Stephanie is offering a special for you to update any of your rooms with a:

1-hour consultation, mood board and links to items to purchase for your room for $125, just mention SarahOutandAbout

IG: @StephaniePohlmanDesigns | FB: StephaniePohlmanDesigns

If you want to get to know Stephanie better check out my mom to mom post on Stephanie.

One and Done Contracting: Phone: (314) 743-6657 | FB: OneAndDoneContracting

   

 

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Meet Stephanie Pohlman from Stephanie Pohlman Designs.
Stephanie has helped me design my entire home.  I love working with her because she designs for spaces that need to be, not only beautiful, but functional for my entire family.  Having two boys doesn’t mean I have to sacrifice on style.

Stephanie Pohlamn Designs

My name is Stephanie Pohlman, and I grew up in Saint Charles, MO!  Ever since “Trading Spaces” and “While you were out” aired on TLC in 2000, I have been obsessed with interior design. I went to Mizzou to follow my passion to be a designer and graduated in 2012. I worked for another designer and a builder before having my baby girl in January of 2017, which led me to start my own business.  After having my daughter, I realized I needed to have more flexibility and control my work hours.  I am married to my best friend, Matt and we have one little girl, Rey who is 15 months old!

Social handles:

IG: StepaniePohlmanDesigns
FB: Pohlman Designs on Facebook
Email: spohlmandesigns@gmail.com

Why/When did you start your Stephanie Pohlman Designs?

In 2016, I was working for a custom home builder part time and decided to start Stephanie Pohlman Designs on the side for some extra cash. After having my baby girl in January 2017, I decided it was the right time to start my business full time to allow for more flexibility with my work schedule. I gave it a shot in May of 2017, and it’s thrived ever since!

What are your favorite things about designing client homes?  

I love to see their reaction when my vision comes to life. My favorite is when my clients let me design while they are gone for the day and come home to a finished product. Receiving a text saying how much they love it, makes all the hard work so worth it! I can easily say I never dread a day of work. I mean I get to shop for a living, it’s pretty much a dream!

What’s the biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge is the very beginning of a job, trying to pinpoint my client’s style exactly. Everyone has something different they want for their own home, and it’s my job to figure that out!

Where do you get your inspiration?

I follow a lot of interior designers on Instagram and love to browse Pinterest. A lot of times, I will be walking through the aisles of Home Goods before I come up with my ideas.

Who are your favorite designers?

Ahh, this is a tough one! Of course, I love Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper. Who doesn’t? On Instagram, I am obsessed with Studio McGee. Her style is probably more modern than my own, but I love it!

Mom Questions:

How do you balance work and family? 

I try to remove myself from work after 5 and on the weekends, but of course, that isn’t always easy with owning a business. Luckily, my clients are all very understanding and let me choose family first if anything ever comes up. Otherwise, I just make time in the evenings and weekends to spend time with her and my husband.

What are qualities you try and role model for your kids?

I want her to see that you can follow your dream and make a living doing what you truly love!  I also try to live a healthy lifestyle by exercising and staying active.

What would you tell your younger self? 

To take more business classes! Haha

Who inspires you?

My mom, she’s my biggest cheerleader!

The advice you’d give to other working moms?

To try to remove yourself from work while you are with your kiddos, even though I am guilty of this sometimes. We need to embrace every second with them because time flies!

Personal Questions:  

What is your guilty pleasure? 

Reality TV, especially Big Brother and the Bachelor/Bachelorette!

What do you put in your coffee?  

Natural Vanilla Creamer.

Favorite beauty tip?

Drink lots of water. 😊

Favorite beauty product?

Anyone who really knows me, knows I am not very good with makeup or beauty products.  So any advice here is welcome! Haha

What is one thing you cannot go to bed without doing?

Brushing my teeth and washing my face.

Best place in the world you have been?  Bucket List travel spot?

Jamaica for my honeymoon was absolutely beautiful. Australia is on my bucket list!

 

Read the other mom to mom questions here.

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