It’s been over a year since we have taken any sort of a trip, so I decided to take the kids with me out of town for a long weekend away. We ended up making the drive to St Louis and stayed Saturday through Monday. We love St Louis because there are so many things that you can do and see for free. This year with COVID, you do need reservations now though, so you have to plan around that. We did the St Louis Science Center, the St Louis Zoo, and the Aquarium at Union Station. The aquarium was the only thing that I had to buy tickets for, and there was a $3.50 fee to reserve a time slot to the science center. Parking at the science center was $10, the zoo was $15 and the aquarium was free. We stayed at a Drury Inn on Sulphur which is close to everything and they serve breakfast as well as dinner, so there were two meals a day covered, though my kids are picky and don’t always want whats on the hotel menu for the evening. Aside from food and the hotel, I didn’t really spend much for a fun trip for the kids. We’ve also been to the arch before as well as the City Museum which I also highly recommend. We didn’t do those this time because I was leery of taking four little kids all by myself and juggling where they were all at.
The science center is a fun, interactive place for the kids to get some energy out. we stayed there for about an hour and a half and didn’t even see it all, so there’s lots to do. Some parts are more museum-like than others which was kind of boring for my smaller ones, but there are plenty of hands-on activities. There are hand sanitation stations before and after every exhibit which felt safe for us. They do a live science exhibition every hour that is cool to watch. We sat in on one about how clouds form and the kids loved it. It’s a nice sit down break while still entertaining, and you get to learn something too! Their bridge walk across the freeway is cool, and once over there, you can enter their space exploration center which is all hands-on too. They even have paid flight simulation rides that you can do plus a star show. There’s also an IMAX theater that you can purchase tickets to see. They rotate what shows they put on throughout the year. Right now, its about animals coming back from the brink of extinction. Overall, its a wonderful place to take your family and even for adults. The best part is that it’s free. If you’re up for a walk, you can even avoid paying for the parking. You could definitely make it an all day event since they have a cafe/snack bar in case anybody gets hungry and of course a souvenir shop.
The Aquarium at Union Station is a new attraction that we have never been to. They just opened last year. Although it wasn’t what I was expecting, it was still a fun experience for the kids and I’d do it again. From the hype on their facebook page during construction, I imagined a zoo-like feel but strictly aquarium. In reality, it’s basically the exact same as Sea Life, even down to the ticket price. There are lots of other attracitons attached to Union Station that you can see at the same time, but you can also get that experience at Sea Life when you buy LEGO land tickets as a bundle. Neither aquarium is better than the other, but they’re pretty much the same. They have two touch pools – stingrays and starfish – as well as interactive water tables, and you even get to color a fish photo at the end and put it in a virtual fish tank projected on the wall, just like Sea Life. The aquarium has a blue lobster named Stanley that lives there as well, and your child will get to take home a free stuffy of him that they pass out when you enter. Like I said, I’d definitely go again and I think it was worth the money, but it isn’t an aquarium like something you’d see at the Henry Doorly Zoo, which it seems like it was touted as.
The zoo trip is always a fun one. I don’t think we have ever seen it all, and we go there almost yearly. It is a nice, clean, family friendly zoo and we thoroughly enjoy it every time we go. It was a gorgeous 68F-degree [20C] day outside too, perfect for walking around the zoo. I ended up putting Noa in my Onbuhimo carrier on my back. She is at a very busy age and I didn’t want her running off, especially outdoors. She was perfectly content there, as usual. She was better able to see everything that way, and as long as I kept moving or there was an animal near by to see, she was happy. Amalia rode in the stroller and the boys walked alongside. I would normally take our wagon stroller, but I can’t push or pull it uphill by myself when all the kids are piled in. If Javier had been there, we would have just used that instead so that the boys could rest their feet too. there’s park benches everywhere, so we had plenty of opportunities to rest and watch the animals. We had a snack lunch there as well at one of the outdoor cafe’s. The food is on the pricey side, but I think that’s to be expected at places like that. This time, we didn’t do any add on tickets, but you can get a combo pass, or pay by the attraction. They have a merry-go-round, train ride tour, the childrens zoo – aka petting zoo/splash pad – as well as stingray and giraffe feeding, all of which I recommend, especially the children’s zoo.
Overall, we had a great time. The kids got some of their pre-summer vacation jitters out, and I got to spend some quality time with my kids. Watching them experience things – especially things that I thought were so cool as a child – is one of my favorite things about raising kids. They did amazing during the car rides, and did really well about staying close by when we were out and about. I’m not gonna lie, I was a little nervous being alone with four kids in a big place, but they were troopers, and I’d do it again. So glad I decided to go through with it despite my worries, because we had a wonderful time.