Meet Me In St. Louis


Meet Me In St. LouisIf you have a long weekend and are tired of visiting the same destinations, why not getaway to the gateway…the Gateway to the West, that is!

St. Louis, while not generally on an East Tennessean’s radar, is a manageable drive boasting endless possibilities along the way for family fun, history, and exploration.

Whether you have a long weekend to sneak away or a whole week to meander towards the Midwest, I’ve got a list of our family’s top stops (and a few we have yet to experience). You might just find the open plains and fresh air good for your soul!


First stop, head north to Kentucky! If you’re ready for a cool down when you cross the border, Kentucky Splash is a long-time family favorite. It feels more like the water parks of childhood with reasonable prices, rides for all ages, and a lazy river (for mom).

When your kiddos are plum wore out, hit the road and gallop on up to Big Blue Nation: Lexington, Kentucky! Home of the famed Kentucky Horse Park, Kentucky Bourbon, and those crazy Wildcats. If you get lucky, you’ll catch a race at Keeneland, spend an afternoon living a peaceful life at the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, or go back to Bible times at the Ark Encounter.

Once you’ve got your fill of the Big Blue, take those rolling green hills of bluegrass and head West to Louisville, the perfect half-way point on your trip to St. Louis. There you’ll find the Louisville Slugger Museum and Mega Cavern – think ziplines, ropes course, and a mountain bike park in an underground mine! If Louisville is just a pass through though, you must at least stop across the river at Big Four Station. Quaint restaurants, a lovely park, and a cool one mile walking bridge over the Ohio River give the family a perfect chance to stretch their legs (and a great view of the city).

Indiana Road to St. Louis

This next piece of the drive will bring you out into the wide open spaces of the Midwest! Passing through the green plains and big skies of Indiana and Illinois, complete with chill highway driving, is this Midwest girl’s favorite part of the trek. For a unique, but surprisingly full stop, visit Santa Clause, Indiana! Kids will love the magical Christmas-themed town and if you need some thrills, Holiday Land and Splashin’ Safari is a highlight. From there, it’s an easy two and a half hours until you can spot the Gateway to the West on the horizon!


We highly recommend staying in downtown St. Louis, but if city life is not your speed, try staying across the river in Collinsville! Home of the world’s largest bottle of ketchup, it is also next door to Cahokia Mounds, one of the most fascinating Native American sites in the country. You can take a guided tour around this sacred prehistoric site and dip thousands of years into the past, long before the west was “won.” After soaking that in, it’s time to cross the sparkling Mighty Mississippi River.

St. Louis awaits!

The St. Louis Arch is a must-in-a-lifetime visit! And once you see that beautiful, shining monument outside your car window, you won’t want to miss it. Watch the movie, ride the tram to the top, and peruse the museum. Heck, if you’ve got time, throw in the Riverboat, too! Gateway Arch National Park is a wonderful place to learn how our country has grown in all the ways: the good, the bad, and the ugly. This is truly one of the richest historical cities in the country and they do history well.

St. Louis is also home of the Cardinals and famous Busch Stadium, St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station, St. Louis Zoo, The Science Center, Clydesdale Park…oh my! The list goes on and on.

But…if you have only one day, just ONE day in “Mound City,” you need to see the Arch in the morning and spend the rest of the day at City Museum.

City Museum St. LouisI can’t explain it, you’ll have to look it up. But for real…you must experience it for yourself and you’ll never ever in the history of forever experience anything quite like it ever again. All I’m going to say is airplanes and school buses hanging over the edge of buildings and a ten-story slide. This place is weirdly and wildly wonderful, and will be a trip that your kids will remember forever. Talk about the cherry on top of a Ted Drewes’ frozen custard Sundae!

So there it is…go west, Mom. Chase those wide open spaces. Make St. Louis your next gateway to new experiences and forever family memories!


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