Monday, June 20, 2011

St. Louis Vacation 2011

I am the kind of person who shies away from experiences that might be….well, full of crying and stressful moments, particularly in public places. That would encompass a vacation with a nearly 3 year old and nearly 7 month old. But this year, I totally stepped out of my bubble and talked Andrew into a short vacation. We decided to go somewhere fairly close (St. Louis, only a 5 hour drive), for a fairly short time (3 nights, 4 days), for fairly cheap.

It was so much fun to plan the trip frugally. (Honestly, it was!) I’m now a and will never, ever pay full price for a hotel again. (Hello $40/night hotel room in a 3 star hotel!) Or use Expedia or any other agency. To save on entertainment I used Ebay to find coupons to the local, nationally rated children’s museum (Buy 1 admission, get 1 free!) and extremely cheap tickets to Six Flags (normal admission: $45. My admission price: $25! Not to mention, Drew & Hannah were free! Woo hoo!)

An added bonus of the trip is that Andrew’s mom joined us! She enjoyed spending time with her grandbabies and we greatly appreciated her extra set of hands!

We headed out at 9:00 Saturday morning, June 4, in the minivan.


As if I didn’t love my van enough, I fell even more in love with her after packing all that baby gear and luggage into her and still had room left over. The trip was pretty unremarkable minus allowing Drew to pee on the side of a road, getting a tick on my foot during the process, and stopping to eat at the nastiest McDonalds known to mankind. Hannah didn’t make a peep the entire way there in her seat. Drew made lots of peeps, but finally fell asleep…10 minutes before we arrived at the hotel. I couldn’t believe it. So typical of Drew. Ha!

Thanks to that great priceline deal, we got 2 rooms at the Doubletree. We stayed about 20-25 minutes outside of downtown St. Louis since most of the attractions we were visiting weren’t in the heart of the city anyway. It ended up being a perfect location. Ms. Debbie and Drew had one room and Andrew, Hannah, and I shared the other. That worked out really well, and I was thankful we spent the few extra bucks on another room.


Saturday night we headed down to see the Arch.


Andrew and I have visited here several times, but Ms. Debbie had never been, so it was exciting! We saw a lot of the flooding along the river line. Underneath this bridge’s arch is a street Andrew and I walked on a couple of years ago.






After we acted like total tourists outside the Arch taking the obligatory pictures (we were in good company), we headed underground to the free museum. With two little ones in tow, we didn’t get to stop and read all the information at the exhibits, but it was air conditioned and gave Drew something to look at and a place to roam for a few minutes. (Fun fact: this sunset background was used in a picture Andrew and I took by ourselves a few years ago. Now we have two babes with us. Awww…)


We headed back to the hotel, put Hannah to sleep in her pack-in-play in the bathroom (grade A parents), and conked out for the night. Alright…I ate cookies and played Word Feud and THEN conked out for the night.

Sunday morning Andrew continued our tradition of Krispy Kreme vacation donuts. Yum-o!


Then we ate lunch at a tiny Subway along with about 40 people from a baseball team, then headed over to the nationally renowned children’s museum, The Magic House. I was SO excited to take Drew here. It has received raving reviews, and we found out why firsthand! This place was AMAZING. The trip to St. Louis would have been worth it JUST to go to this museum. They had every exhibit you could think of: a playhouse, fishing pond, car shop, music section, a pretend grocery store, a pretend pizzeria, a kid sized house, a hospital nursery, a bank, a library, a water section, slides, tunnels, and so much more. And that’s just on the HALF that we visited! The other side was geared toward older kids. Seriously, Drew could have played here all day. We didn’t even venture to the outside exhibits, but Drew would have had a ball! Our last stop at the museum was the Alice in Wonderland exhibit. It was adorable, but Drew really loved the rabbit. He kept hugging him and jumping with excitement! (Which is so strange because he had zero interest in taking his picture with the Easter bunny. He wasn’t scared, he just looked like it was dumb to sit on a rabbit’s lap!)


We went back to the hotel and let Hannah nap while Drew, Ms. Debbie, and Andrew swam.


Sunday night we ate dinner at a local, well rated pizza joint. I’m not a huge pizza fan, but Andrew said it was fabulous! We followed it up with a trip to one humongous Target. I could have stayed in there shopping the sale racks for a long, long time.

Monday was the big day! We woke up early and got ready to head to Six Flags! We were there when they opened the gates, hoping to beat the crowds before the lines got too long. We had planned to purchase a flash pass which allows you to scan your device at the beginning of a ride and basically wait out your turn in the park instead of the line. We knew Drew wouldn’t be able to wait 2 hours to ride one ride, as we’ve had to wait that long before. Much to our surprise, the lines weren’t long AT ALL. They were so short, in fact, that many times we’d ride the same major rides 2-3 times in a row without getting out! It was wonderful! To put it plainly, DREW HAD A BALL! And I had a ball watching him. I now understand how my sweet mom spent all those years watching us have fun at amusement parks while she waited on the bench to see our smiles. It is worth it to see your baby having the time of his life! He loved the water park, Scobby Doo ride, log flume ride, round boat ride, American Plunge, Shazaam, Joker, and train. He would belly laugh until he couldn’t talk on the Joker which “gets” your stomach constantly. He would have ridden a roller coaster with no problem if he had been tall enough! The only ride he wasn’t fond of was the ferris wheel because it was too slow. No doubt he’s a daredevil!

Six Flags St. Louis has a water park attached, so we ventured over there for about an hour and a half. The sun was beating down on poor Hannah so badly (and she hated their pool) that I had to just sit under a shade with her while she sweated and fussed. I felt so sorry for her. But I couldn’t have asked any more of her. She rode in the stroller, napped in air conditioned places, and hardly fussed the entire day. She even rode the ferris wheel and choo choo train. I was SO glad I ventured out on this trip when I saw how well she did. My sweet girl came through with her laid-back tendency again! We ended up nearly closing the park down! They closed at 9, but we left at 8. As we were leaving, Drew started crying saying, “I wanna play outside!” As if we hadn’t been outside ALL DAY LONG! He was SO TIRED, but managed to get a large spurt of energy after getting back to the hotel and eating dinner. We had to force him to sleep that night. Crazy boy! Winking smile


Tuesday morning we got up to go swim one last time. Hannah got to swim for the first time that morning and seemed to enjoy it. I wouldn’t say she loved it, but she didn’t cry either. That’s a plus in my book.


We got dressed, packed, and headed out around 11:30 and stopped for lunch at Chick Fil A on the way out. The trip home wasn’t quite as easy on Drew as the way there, but he did just great. Hannah was equally wonderful!

We had a FANTASTIC time and it makes me actually look forward to taking another vacation with my babies!


Amanda said...

I love family vacations! It looks like you guys had a blast and I'm so glad for you that Andrew's mom came with you guys. It just makes it so much easier! BTW, you don't like pizza??? Wowzers ;) I could eat my weight in pizza! Loved all the pictures. Drew is getting so big and Hannah is a doll! Ready to see you again my friend!

Shannon said...

Ok, you have me convinced...St. Louis is calling our names. It looks like ya'll had so much fun. Where did you stay? And how did you get discounted Six Flags tickets?

Audra Laney said...

We stayed at the Courtyard by Marriot in Creve Couer, MO through I HIGHLY recommend using priceline after doing a lot of research of how to work the system. Use Better Bidding and The Traveling Bidder or...just email me at audralaney @ gmail dot com if you can't figure it out. There are SO MANY free things up there...Grant's Farm, all the museums, the zoo, etc. Look on ebay for coupons to places you know you'll be visiting that require an admission fee. I have coupons to the children's museum (which is a MUST!)for buy one admission($8) and get one free that I'll be glad to give you if you want them. Look on ebay for six flags coupons. This looks like the one I got.

Confirm with the seller, but it should be good for up to 4 people on that one coupon. And that coupon book would be awesome for inside the park. Our meal there was SO expensive!

Good luck! Email me ifyou have any questions!

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