St. Louis with Kids: A Perfect Family Day
To start the day off right, a breakfast at Uncle Bill's Pancake & Dinner House (3427 S. Kingshighway Blvd; 314-832-1973) is a necessary pit stop. An institution since 1961, Uncle Bill's has won the Riverfront Times' Best Breakfast in St. Louis since 1993. The homey interior provides food for the masses 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Uncle Bill's is known for their numerous varieties of pancakes (which are perfectly cooked to a golden brown every time) but the menu contains other breakfast staples such as omelets, french toast, waffles and meats. They also serve lunch and dinner, but the real star is the breakfast.
Insider tip: Be advised that there is usually a wait at the restaurant (Uncle Bill's does not take reservations) but it is always well worth the time invested.
After fueling up at Uncle Bill's, head over to Forest Park for a double feature of the St. Louis Zoo and St. Louis Science Center. According to their website, Forest Park was founded in 1876 and at 1,293 acres is 500 acres larger than New York City's Central Park. The park hosted the 1904 World's Fair and currently houses many attractions, such as the St. Louis Art Museum, Jewel Box, the Zoo, and Science Center. It's a must-see when you're in St. Louis with kids.
- The St. Louis Zoo has free admission, but attractions such as the Children's Zoo, Zooline Railroad the Sea Lion Show cost extra. The Bird Cage was originally constructed for the World's Fair and sits just east of the South entrance. The zoo's website can help you plan your visit, but walking around and finding things is a great option as well. With over 18,000 animals, there are hours of discovery to be had.
- The St. Louis Science Center is another option in Forest Park, either before or after the zoo, or replacing it all together. Like the zoo, the science center has no general admission but the extra features, such as IMAX films, cost money. Even without paying, there are many things to explore in the main building, such as a dinosaur exhibit and other experiments, as well as across the walkway (which goes over Insterstate 64 and comes equipped with radar guns) that leads to the planetarium.
- Insider tip: The $10 Safari Pass is a great deal and includes admission to five different attractions instead of paying for each individual place.
Recharging from Forest Park should be a sweet experience, and Crown Candy Kitchen (1401 Saint Louis Ave., 63106; 314-621-9650) is just the place. Founded in 1913 by Greek immigrants Harry Karandzieff and Pete Jugaloff (Karandzieff's grandsons Andy, Tommy and Mike all run the store now with their children), Crown Candy has long been a favorite of St. Louisian's for their hand-crafted shakes, malts and candies. The shop also has classic sandwiches, hot dogs and chili available for lunch and dinner. The dining room is covered with vintage signs and a special plaque designated for those who braved the Crown Candy Five Malt Challenge, which has been ongoing since the store first opened. The Travel Channel's Adam Richman, from the TV show 'Man vs. Food,' was halted by an avalanche of malted milkshake.
A great evening activity in St. Louis with kids is a St. Louis Cardinals game at Busch Stadium. Cardinal fans flock to Busch during baseball season, and the stadium is always a sea of red on game days This new stadium first opened in 2006 and provides numerous amenities that pack a punch and are also cost-effective. For all 81 home games, the Cardinals allow fans to bring their own food and drink into the stadium -- which can save lots of money upfront. There are also special prices for kids tickets, family packs of tickets and other promotions that happen frequently.
Insider tip: When catching a game at the stadium, don't wear any blue -- or Cardinals fans will mistake you for a Cubs fan. You do not want to suffer the repercussions!
One final must-visit in St. Louis is a Ted Drewes frozen custard shop (two locations: 6726 Chippewa St., 63109; 314-481-2652; and 4224 South Grand Blvd., 63111; 314-352-7376). The South Grand location of Ted Drewes has been putting out custard since 1931, while the Chippewa location (which is open all-year round and is the main stand) has been operating since 1941. The custard is creamy yet especially thick,allowing for the crowd favorite Concretes, which are turned upside down by the cashiers to demonstrate the consistency.
Insider tip: Like Uncle Bill's in the morning, Ted Drewes gets very crowded at night, especially after Cardinal games, but the lines always move very quickly. The South Grand location is only open during the warmer months, and is usually much less crowded than the main Chippewa location.
Now, sated and satisfied, you can all head back to your hotel for a much-deserved night's sleep -- and dreams of your perfect family vacation day in St. Louis with kids.
- Overview:St. Louis Travel Guide