Travel

Margaritaville

What do you picture when you think of the perfect summer getaway? Fun for the kids? Blue lake water lapping nearby? A margarita in one hand by the pool? If these check your boxes for a relaxing and fun-filled weekend, try booking a stay at Margaritaville Lake Resort, Lake of the Ozarks! Margaritaville is known for its casual-luxe design feel and has recently undergone a huge renovation from the previous Tan Tara resort.

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Margaritaville Lake of the Ozarks

This is the first full-service lake resort for Margaritaville. With this recent addition, there are now 18 Margaritaville-branded lodging locations. Margaritaville is all about fun for the whole family!

Margaritaville Lake of the Ozarks

Margaritaville has tons of amenities onsite, all within walking distance for a #nostressweekend! There is something for everyone at this resort, and we tried it all. Here are some of our favorite activities we did while at the resort that we highly recommend.

Margaritaville Lake of the Ozarks

On property amenities:

  • Three outdoor pool complexes. One has a swim-up bar and another has a toddler splash pool and waterslide. My boys had a blast cannonballing, diving for rings, and splashing non-stop. They could not get enough of all the swimming areas!
    •  Mom tips: Save your luggage space because the resort offers towels!
Margaritaville Lake of the Ozarks
  •  A fitness center, and basketball and tennis courts.
  •  Jolly Mon Indoor Water Park. This indoor water park has 600 feet of water slides, a lazy river
    for tube floating, a hot tub, water basketball, and a three-story beach house play area. This place is perfect for rainy or cooler days when the weather is unpredictable. There’s also a snack bar area on site. It’s $17 pp, 2 and under free, $5 observation fee to watch your kids if you don’t want to slide. Towels provided.

    • My boys had an absolute blast at the water park and we spent a good 4-5 hours here. It’s an awesome way to spend the day when the weather won’t cooperate.
    • Good news if you are not staying at Margaritaville, you can still come for the day to the waterpark.  Special fees apply.
Margaritaville Lake of the Ozarks
Margaritaville Lake of the Ozarks
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Margaritaville Lake of the Ozarks
  •  Fin City Arcade features state-of-the-art video games, classic favorites, and electronic simulators. I normally don’t let the boys spend too much time in arcades but for excellent behavior, my boys earned a video game card and they were in heaven!
Margaritaville Lake of the Ozarks
  •  Fin City Bowling is the resort’s eight-lane bowling alley, which can be set up for bumper bowling and hosts cosmic bowling nights.
  •  Port of Indecision Marina offers watercraft rentals, such as wave runners, pontoon boats, ski boats, paddle boards, and paddle boats.
    • ○  If you want to rent a boat but have no clue how to drive one the marina suggested to Google “Lake of the Ozark Charters” and enquire to hire your own driver from the area.
    • ○  If you are under 36, you have to have a MO boaters license. If you are over 36, you just have to have a MO license.
    • We opted to cruise the lake in the paddle boats. The boys loved looking for the ducks, large carpe, and geese. Bring your quarters for fish food
Margaritaville Lake of the Ozarks

●  On-site spa, call 573-348-3535 to schedule a spa appointment

●  Harbor Master Mini-Golf Course is the resort’s onsite mini-golf course and fun for the whole family!  As if my boys are not competitive enough, they wanted to play some mini golf! It was super fun, on-site and kept them busy.

Margaritaville Lake of the Ozarks

●  Daily Scenic Cruises on the Tropic Island Yacht allows guests to get out on the water and enjoy picturesque views of the Lake of the Ozarks. For reservations call 573-348-0083. The boat leaves Tues-Sun at 3:00.

●  Horseback Riding gives guests the opportunity to explore the resort grounds in a unique way.  I’d recommend making the reservation in advance because they fill up fast. The ride is approx 1 hour in length. If your kids are small they have pony rides too!

Restaurants options on property:  

There are so many amazing restaurants on property.  I was impressed with the amazing food and atmosphere of them all.

●  LandShark Bar & Grill. This newly opened flagship waterfront restaurant features delicious classics like nachos, wings, and signature LandShark burgers. This restaurant overlooks the lake and has a swim-up pool bar for even more fun! There are approximately 40 slips (2 docks) open to boaters who wish to dock and dine at LandShark Bar & Grill. They’re available on a first come-first served basis.
FYI- Boaters welcome. If you are at the lake you can drive your boat over to enjoy eating at Landshark. We would highly recommend the fish tacos. They were absolutely amazing.

●  JB’s Boathouse Grill boasts classic nautical décor with bright blues and crisp whites and is the perfect spot for diners to enjoy breakfast fare, sandwiches, salads, steaks, drinks and more.

○ There is an additional package when you book your room where you can add the breakfast buffet, which features all kinds of fresh fruit, cereals, sausage, waffles, and more. You can also order off the menu for breakfast like I did. I opted for a tropical fruit parfait. Yum! This restaurant also has a stunning view of the lake and marina with an outdoor patio out front.

●  Frank & Lola’s Pizzeria. Pizza night is something my family can all agree on. This family-friendly casual dining option is ideal for families and friends looking to grab a fresh pie while enjoying a game of pool or darts. My boys went crazy for the dessert pizza. So yummy!

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●  Windrose Marker 26 Lakeside Dining is the resort’s beautiful lakeside restaurant, serving exceptional seafood, steaks and more.

●  License to Chill Bar & Grill is the resort’s lobby spot, immediately welcoming guests to paradise upon arrival. The perfect place to grab a margarita to start your trip off right.

Margaritaville

●  The Tiki Hut Pool Bar is located at the resort’s Lakeside Pool, offering tropical beverages for those enjoying fun in the sun. The kids can even get frozen smoothies. My boys would recommend the mango.

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●  Margaritaville Coffee Shop which is located in the lobby serves freshly brewed coffee from signature blends, as well as blended frappes, tea, smoothies and hot cocoa.

The shop also has breakfast pastries and breakfast sandwiches, fresh fruit cups, and yogurt parfaits. I ordered a skinny vanilla latte and smoothies for the boys.

Quick Shop is a convenience store on site where you can get ice cream, fudge, wine/beer and all sorts of snacks.

Margaritaville felt like a true escape. With amazing restaurants, tons of fun amenities, and everything right at our fingertips, it was a no stress family weekend close to home. My boys had an absolute blast. Logan’s favorite thing was the Jolly Mon Indoor Water Park, while Mason’s was the arcade and the slide at the outdoor pool.  My favorite by far was that everything we needed was on property- swimming, entertainment, restaurants.  

Margaritaville is a state of mind, centered on fun and escapism. The brand adapts to a variety of locations and is sure to be fun for travelers of all ages! It embodies paradise in every way, whether that’s on the sandy beaches of Florida, or at the Lake of the Ozarks! Happy travels!

If you are looking for other Missouri getaways check out Branson, St. Louis, Cape Girardeau, St. Charles.

Where are you off too this weekend?

I have heard many great things about Sedona, so we decided to explore the town and stay overnight. You could easily take a day trip to and from Flagstaff if you wanted. On the main street in the downtown area there were many places to explore, such as charming shops, restaurants, and the visitor center which featured different tour companies. We strolled up and down the streets but couldn’t leave without adding a new stuffed animal to the boys’ collection to remember Arizona! I also picked out a Christmas ornament, which is my favorite kind of souvenir to remember our trips together.

What We Did

Red Rock Magic Trolley

In Sedona, we took the Red Rock Magic Trolley, which is a great way to see all the red rock formations and to get acquainted with the downtown area. It’s also a super relaxing ride and they even give out cookies halfway through the tour (the boys favorite part)!

In the area there are also multiple hikes you can do. I recommend the Courthouse Vista Trailhead for kids. Although the city is famous for the Devil’s Bridge, I decided not to take the boys on this one due to the complexity of the hike but I’m dying to check this hike off my bucket list.  Another unique site in Sedona is the Chapel of the Holy Cross.  

Pink Jeep Tours

A Pink Jeep Tour was a must for Sedona. This turned out to be Logan, Mason, and Grandma’s favorite part of our trip! Our driver Sean was a fantastic tour guide, taking pictures of us and giving us lots of interesting information about the area. The tour took us off-roading down the gulch in a bright pink open jeep. Because it was a little chilly that day, they even provided us with blankets.

Sedona Airport Overlook

Our tour guide also told us that for amazing views and photo opportunities that we should drive up Airport Road. I would highly recommend this. They also have an overlook where you can pay $3 to get an ariel view. There’s even a restaurant if you want dinner with a view.

Where We Stayed

While in town, we booked an Air B&B and stayed right on the main strip at Sedona Uptown Suites. It was the perfect size and location for all of us, and was clean and updated with two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Where We Ate

While you’re in town, I recommend grabbing a healthy lunch at Wildflower. They have tons of yummy choices to pick from. Or if you’re looking for a unique pitstop, give the famous Cowboy Club a try. They have grilled rattlesnake and cactus fries! If you still have room for dessert, indulge your sweet tooth at Sabrina’s ice cream.

Don’t miss our Phoenix and Flagstaff posts too. Have you been to Arizona? What’s your favorite part?

Flagstaff is a great place to stay in Arizona if you want to visit iconic attractions such as the Grand Canyon!

Out of Africa Wildlife Park

Out of Africa

On the road trip from Phoenix to Flagstaff, we stopped at Out of Africa Wildlife Park in Camp Verde.

This park has a lot of exhibits and shows you can check out, but the African Bush Safari is a must-see! Visitors get to ride in a large open window bus where you can see tons of different kinds of animals, such as zebras and giraffes, roaming around.

They also have walking areas and free trams that go through the park where you can check out the exhibits. My boys love to see animals, so this place was a perfect stop on our way to Flagstaff.

Montezuma Castle National Monument

Another potential stop at the same exit is the Montezuma Castle National Monument. It is an 800 year old building made of limestone, and it is the best preserved cliff dwelling in North America.

Horseshoe Bend and Lower Antelope Canyon

Horse Shoe Bend

As a homebase during this portion of the trip, we stayed at the Flagstaff Drury Inn and Suites. From there, day trips to Horseshoe Bend and Lower Antelope Canyon were an easy feat. Horseshoe Bend is an absolutely stunning view where the Colorado River bends into a horseshoe shape. There, they are currently building a parking lot for future travelers to park and walk to the bend, but in the meantime, we parked a distance away and a bus dropped us off. From there we walked half a mile over some sandy and rocky terrain where the best pictures can be snapped of the Bend.

*Mom Tip: If your kids are brave like mine, I’d keep tight reins on them or avoid this place. The rail for safety is pretty tiny. My heart was racing the whole time, worrying that my boys might get too close!

After we saw the Horseshoe Bend, we visited the Antelope Canyon. I cannot recommend enough Dixie’s Lower Antelope Canyon Tours. Our tour guide Raymond was phenomenal. He showed us all the good photo opps and even helped us set the camera to get the best shots.  We even got to see a velociraptor footprint at the end of the tour!

Lower Antelope canyon
Lower Antelope canyon

I’d recommend having reservations before you visit this canyon. We drove from Flagstaff, so I was devastated when I was turned away by some other tour companies. In addition, some other tour companies may not be the best pick for you and your family, so do some research before paying a visit. Upper canyon tours end early and don’t get as much light. Others don’t take cash or do not allow children.

From the office of the tour company, you can walk to the canyon and weave in and out of all the amazing rock formations. There were steps and ladders getting in and out of some places, but my boys didn’t have a problem.

Lower Antelope canyon
Lower Antelope canyon
Lower Antelope canyon
Lower Antelope canyon

The majestic beauty and sheer wonder of this canyon is indescribable. I have never seen anything like it! Mason and Logan loved the canyon as well, even pretending to be little Indiana Jones. Definitely make a visit to Antelope Canyon if you’re planning a trip to Arizona.

The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon

From Flagstaff you can also take a day trip to The South Rim of The Grand Canyon, which speaks for itself and can’t be missed if you’re in the state. The spectacular geology will take your breath away, not to mention make for some pretty amazing photo ops. This was my third time to the Grand Canyon, and it is absolutely amazing.

The grand canyon

Once you are in the park there is a visitors center that can guide you to what you’d like to see. We opted to ride the shuttle around the park and hop on and off to eat lunch and check out different areas. We saw lots of wildlife eating alongside the road too. There are several hikes, biking, shopping and eating options.

The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon

Bearizona Wildlife Park

Bearizona

Another place we checked out on our way to the Grand Canyon was Bearizona Wildlife Park, which has wolves, birds of prey, barnyard animals, bison, and you guessed it, bears. They have an area where you can walk to see smaller critters, an area that you can drive through in your car, and a bus ride with open windows that goes through the bear area. They also have shows such as the birds of prey show. If you and your family love animals as much as we do, this place is definitely worth checking out.

Bearizona was the perfect stop to break up the driving from Flagstaff to The Grand Canyon.

Bearizona

Drury Inn & Suites Flagstaff

Drury Flagstaff

We stayed at Drury Inn & Suites Flagstaff, located in the quaint downtown area of Flagstaff, which had tons of shops and restaurants to explore all within blocks of our hotel. Our room was a super cute double queen suite, that had a stunning view from the balcony of the San Francisco mountain peak. We absolutely loved staying in Flagstaff! This Drury was one of our favorites. The best part is we know what to expect when we are at a Drury hotel. Amazing locations, suite options for family space, free breakfast, free kickback hour (3 free drinks per parent), snacks, popcorn, a pool, laundry, Wi-fi, and friendly staff. I have not found this at other hotel chains so consistently!

Drury breakfast

Our next stop is Sedona, AZ. If you missed Phoenix, check it out here. Have you been to Arizona before with kids? If so, tell me what your family loved?

Click here to check out my other posts from Arizona!

Fun in the Valley of the Sun! We headed out west for some outdoor fun on Spring Break. When we first arrived in Arizona, we stayed in Phoenix for a few days.

Lost Dutchman State Park

While we were in Phoenix, our goal was to be outside as much as possible. First on the list was the Lost Dutchman State Park. My boys and I love hiking. The Superstition Mountains were highly recommended for having scenic views and being kid-friendly. There is an entrance fee of $7 and a map is provided upon arrival. The park has many hiking trails that cut through the spectacular views of the Sonoran Desert landscape. We decided on the Treasure Loop Trail, but it was more challenging and advanced than we had expected.

Take a pic of map

Logan’s tip: When hiking, take a photo on your phone of the map. I cannot tell you how many times we had to reference it. The last thing you want is to get off on the wrong trail with little hikers.

Suspicious mountains
Logan photos

Mom’s tip: Remember to always bring a First Aid Kit when you’re hiking with kids! Both of my boys wiped out on this trail. Thank goodness for the good Samaritans we met along the way. Also, be sure to bring plenty of snacks and water. Don’t forget sunscreen! All that being said, the trail was very beautiful and provided great views of the scenic Superstition Mountains.

Suspicious Mountains

Goldfield Ghost Town

Goldfield Ghost town
Goldfield Ghost town

We also visited the Goldfield Ghost Town, which is just minutes from the
Superstition Mountains. Built in 1893, this old mining town is a must destination for any kids interested in westerns. There are all kinds of shops and restaurants to explore, including a museum and a train ride. In its hay day, the town had three saloons, a brewery, a general store, a blacksmith, a boarding house, a school, and a meat market. Visitors can get a feel of what life was like in a boomtown in the wild west. Another fun thing this destination features is a live reenactment of gun fights, just like an old Western.

Desert Breeze Park

In Chandler, we visited Desert Breeze Park, which was near our Drury Hotel. This park has a lake with ducks, bathrooms, picnic tables, shaded pavilions, a huge playground, and even a little train that goes around the park that you can purchase tickets for. The kids had tons of fun running around here, getting all of their energy out. It was a great last stop.

Other Recommendations in the Phoenix Area

A couple of other places that were highly recommended in the Phoenix area that we didn’t get to visit were:

  • Odysea Aquarium
  • The Cactus League – If you are a baseball fan, you may want to check out spring training baseball games. We met tons of families checking out their favorite teams at spring training.

Drury Inn & Suites

Drury Chandler AZ

When we were in Phoenix, we stayed at Drury Inn & Suites in a friendly suburb in Chandler. As always, they have all the perks we are looking for when traveling with the family and looking to maximize our vacation budget. Free, hot, delicious breakfast before setting out every morning is a great bonus that they provide. They have pretty much every breakfast item under the sun, but Mason’s favorite is by far the lucky charms and powdered donuts!

Drury breakfast

They also offer the crowd pleaser Kickback Hour every night from 5:30 to 7 PM, which includes three free drinks for adults and tons of snacks, such as hot dogs, nachos, tacos, and more. For my family, the snacks are more like a meal and provide a cheap but tasty alternative to going out to a restaurant every night for dinner.

The hotel also has free Wi-Fi for all of your vacation needs, like downloading movies or audiobooks for the plane ride. Plus, their suites are the perfect way for my family to travel because you can close the doors of the separate bedrooms when it’s time for the kids’ bedtime.

Our next stop is Flagstaff, my personal favorite of the trip.  Stay tuned!


When it’s cold and dreary outside, all I want to do is pack my bags and head south. I think to get through the winter months we all need a little something to look forward to from time to time. To get out of this slump, this past long weekend, the boys, grandma and I hopped in the car and headed for Memphis, Tennessee. It was also my mom’s birthday weekend, and given that she went to business school in Memphis, we decided to surprise her with a little trip to a city that holds a special place in her heart.

We had an absolute blast exploring all the things Memphis had to offer. For any STL mom looking for a little vacation to a vibrant city full of kid-friendly haunts, good eats, and is only a short road trip away, then Memphis is a perfect weekend getaway.

I love Memphis
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Last year was filled with road trips for my family.  I have set a goal to get my boys to all 50 states by the time they graduate high school so we hit the road and created loads of family memories doing it.  

My parents were avid travelers so I learned at an early age there is so much to explore in this beautiful country and I want my boys to experience that as well.  One of my biggest passions is traveling and I am thrilled to share all the places we would recommend with you is to hopefully make your travel planning process easier.  

Here are the most popular travel destinations from last year.  Click the link below each pic for all the scoop on where we stayed, what we did and where we ate.  

Nashville mural
Nashville
Gulf Shores
Mobile AL
Gulf Shores, AL
Branson Road Trip with Kids #notyourgrandmasBranson! #
Branson, MO
Cape Girardeau MO
Cape Girardeau, MO
STL Staycation at the Ameristar
St. Charles, MO
St Louis Arch
St. Louis Arch Staycation
Echo Bluff
Echo Bluff
Echo Bluff State Park
Kozy Kaboose
Kozy Caboose, Eureka, MO
St Charles Christmas Traditions
St. Charles, Holiday Staycation

We had so much fun on all these trips. I want these trip posts to be a valuable resource for you because I know the time it takes to plan a vacation. Please let me know anything else you would like to see that would be helpful. I’d love to know where your traveling to this year.

XOXO Sarah~

Holiday Staycation

This holiday season, the boys, grandma and I took a holiday staycation in St. Charles! Every year the city holds the St. Charles Christmas Traditions featuring tons of festive events for the whole family. It’s a great way to reconnect with loved ones and take a break from the distractions of daily life. And you don’t need to take a plane or train to get there! I wanted to share with you some of our favorite events we attended, where we stayed, and a few of my favorite places to shop downtown; all in time for this holiday season.

What we did

 The St. Charles Christmas Traditions filled with all sorts of fun events such as parades, caroling, Christmas characters, and card collecting and more!

St Charles Christmas Traditions

After we got all settled and checked into the Drury, we decided to take the trolley that night into the downtown area to catch some fun holiday festivities. We used the Ride Saint Charles app to find out the trolley route and times which show you when the trolley will be in your area. It was free and best of all we didn’t have to park.

When we got onto Main Street in the downtown area, I felt like I had stepped straight into a Hallmark Christmas movie! Everything was so festive and jolly, with carolers, music, lights, decorations and even Christmas characters. They had Santas and Magical Legends of Christmas, who were in character all over Main Street. They give you a brief background of who they are, and even carry around cards with their name and a little picture of themselves, with a description on the back so you can remember them! Some of them were jokesters and others seemed to take a page straight from Ebenezer Scrooge himself. My boys got really into meeting and talking to all of them, especially the Christmas Angel who was Logan’s favorite.

St Charles Christmas Traditions

Another great event that everyone from 1 to 92 will get a kick out of is the Santa Parade! Every Saturday and Sunday during the festival, the Santa Parade rolls on down Main Street with music, floats, and even international Santas. The grand finale features Santa and Mrs. Claus riding in their horse-drawn carriage. The Ice Block Party is also a fun way to end the day with a bang. It starts every Friday and Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

St Charles Christmas Traditions

After strolling around for a bit, we took a horse-drawn carriage ride through the streets to take in all the holiday cheer.  

The horse-drawn carriages are parked along the street.  You can take a short or long ride and they are equipped with cozy blankets to keep you warm.  We could not resist this cute horse.  I mean look at the glitter hoofs.

St Charles Christmas Traditions

St Charles Christmas Traditions

My Favorite Places to Shop on Main Street

No visit to the historic downtown area of St. Charles is complete without a little shopping! I love perusing the locally owned stores that line the brick streets for gifts and goods you really can’t find anywhere else.

Grandma’s Cookies

If you’re in need of a quick and delicious pick-me-up, make sure to stop by Grandma’s cookies. They have a holiday special:  Cookie and Cocoa for $2.00. With classic flavors like chocolate chip, sugar sprinkle, snickerdoodle, and coconut, Grandma’s cookies is sure to please all sweet tooths in your family. Not to mention the cute little location the bakery calls home is the same building where all the cookie magic started in 1976 with the Grandma herself, Charlotte Thompson.

Bathhouse Soapery and Caldarium

Get ready to treat your nose, because Bathhouse Soapery and Caldarium has soaps and bath products that smell good enough to eat. Spiced cranberry bar soaps, pumpkin spice latte bath bombs and apple mint oatmeal sugar scrub are just some of the indulgent creations this one of a kind soap shop whips up. They also make for great gifts!  My favorite-The bath bombs.  

Happy Camper

This shop makes me happy.  It’s the only shop you need for the best graphic T’s.  My current favorite T-shirt says Hallmark Movies and Christmas Cookies!  Yessss. They have loads of cute T’s for adults and kids.

Main Street Books

This cute little red brick building is every book lover’s dream. Stop by for a new book or a gift for your loved ones. The shop also has unique greeting cards, children’s toys, journals and more. Sometimes, just getting lost in the bookshelves the perfect way to spend an afternoon.

Candle Fusion

If you are looking for a fun hands-on activity you can create your own candle at Candle Fusion.  They have over 100 different scents to choose from and you create your candle from beginning to end.  This would be the perfect girls night or fun to do with kids to create the perfect gift for someone special.

Holiday Lights

If you’re in the area of St. Charles, O’Fallon isn’t a far drive away and worth visiting for its “Celebration of Lights,” which you can experience from the comfort of your own car. The event is held at Fort Zumwalt Park and runs from Thursday to Sunday 6-9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 6-10 p.m. You can also make your visit a little more special by reserving a horse-drawn wagonette, a train, or a sleigh hayride!

We decided to drive around and catch some holiday light displays in the area! To limit our time trying to find houses all over the area, we used the website, Holiday Light Hopping, which lists an easy to use guide of all the best home light displays. 

Bass Pro Shop

If you’re in the area of St. Charles, a visit to Bass Pro Shop is a free fun indoor spot for kids. My boys love to come here for Santa’s Wonderland.  There are tons of fun activities for the kids inside the store like video games, kids shooting range, write a letter to Santa, play with remote control trucks, and even Santa photos for free.  

When you arrive you’ll get a pass for a specific time to see Santa.

Bass Pro St Charles

Where we ate

Looking for a pizza joint that offers delicious pies while also being completely customizable? Then Pieology is your new favorite spot! This week, the boys and I headed over to Pieology to try a slice (or a few) from the restaurant’s six new crusts. Not only were they super yummy, but we also got to choose exactly what we wanted. With tons of choices and individual sized pizzas, there’s a little something for everyone at this not your average pizzeria.

Pieology recently released six new premium crusts that you can choose from when building your pizza. The menu features Artisan Thin, Artisan Thin Hearty Wheat, PieRise® Thick, Hand-Crafted Deep Dish, Cauliflower Crust and Gluten Free. I ordered my boys the Cauliflower Crust as a base for their cheese pizza, and they absolutely loved it! They ate every bite and had no clue they were eating something good for them. I’d call that a win. I tried the Hand-Crafted Deep Dish and the Artisan Thin Hearty Wheat which were both delicious.

Pieology lets you create any type of pizza you want, but if you get a little overwhelmed with all the choices like I sometimes do, the menu also has Chef Inspired Pizza. One of the most popular choices on the menu is the “Butcher’s Choice” which features house red sauce, pepperoni, sausage, meatball, mozzarella and olive oil blend. The other favorite is the Margherita Da Vinci, which is a classic margherita pizza. The restaurant also has delicious salads, such as the Elevated Caesar, and the Classic Italian, and even beer and wine for the adults in the family.

Pieology

Another great feature that Pieology offers is their app, “Pieology Pie Life Rewards,” which makes it super easy to order and pick up your pizza. Although you can’t get delivery through the app, you can still order Pieology pizza using Grub Hub or Door Dash. With the restaurant’s app, you can easily customize your pizza any way you want just like in the restaurant, and it even has loyalty reward points and exclusive offers for an added bonus. You can pay through the app, and every 100 points earned is a free pizza!

App_Pizza_image 2

Pieology is perfect for kids, family friendly and in a great location in the streets of St. Charles. They also hold great fundraisers for organizations raising money for a charitable cause. It’s great food, with a great message. Give Pieology a visit today!

Where We Stayed

For our holiday weekend, we stayed at the Drury Plaza Hotel St. Louis St. Charles. It’s fun meets convenient! TripAdvisor lists the Drury as excellent, and it’s not hard to see why with amazing amenities to make your stay comfortable and completely stress-free.  This hotel is modern and new and is the only Drury with a mini convenience store

Drury St Charles

The boys loved the indoor/outdoor pool, and I loved hitting the jacuzzi after a long day spent out in the cold. But what was definitely an added bonus was our suite. Comfortable and roomy, the suite had a private bedroom separated by a door so the kids go could go to bed early and I can stay up binge watching Christmas movies.

Drury indoor outdoor pool

The free, hot (and delicious) breakfast the Drury features is sure to please even the pickiest eater in the family. With biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, Belgian waffles, sausage, fresh fruit, coffee and more, it’s the perfect way to start your day before heading into town.

Drury hot breakfast

In addition to the breakfast, what really sets the Drury apart from other hotels is their free “Kickback” hour. Yep, free food and drinks! Starting every day at 5:30 and running to 7, the hotel offers 3 free drinks per adult and yummy “snacks.” The snacks include chili, baked potato, hot dogs, and nachos as well as their main dish of the night which varies from chicken, tacos, or pasta. It’s perfect for kids (and adults) who want a little bit of everything without the formal setting or expenses of a sit-down restaurant.

Drury kickback hour

This hotel is just minutes from downtown St. Charles and is walking distance to the free trolley service that shuttles you into town for all of the holiday events. (No parking hassles-yeah)

So gear up for the holidays and create some long-lasting memories by visiting all the festivities in St. Charles! It’s a close to home holiday adventure, perfect for your family this Christmas.  We have posted more of our favorite St Louis metro holiday traditions here.  

If you are in St Charles check out my adult Ameristar staycation post too.

Have you been before?  Tell me your favorite Christmas tradition.

**  Thank you to all the businesses we partnered with to bring you this story.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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

Bwok Bwok Chicken Chicken, Grace Meat + Three

IMG_3713.jpg

Bye Bye Birdie, Sanctuaria

IMG_9542-2.jpg

Compassion wings, Urban Chestnut brewery

IMG_8265

There is no black and white situation, corner of Newstead and Manchester

IMG_3078

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