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St. Louis on a Budget: Midwest Weekend Vacations Series

Hey, friends!

This post was sponsored by Drury Hotels. All opinions are 100% mine. Please see my advertising and disclosure policy for more information in the tab above.

Who doesn't love a road trip??

Am I right?!

I love a good little road trip with my fam and I want to share with you how we have a great time on these road trips without breaking the bank.

So, that is how this series was born... the "Midwest Family Road Trips on a Budget" series.  That's sort of a mouth full but it describes exactly what I'm talking about.

This one features St. Louis, Missouri.



Now that my boys are old enough to travel easily without a stroller, pack-n-play, potty chair, diaper bag, and all that kind of stuff it is much more fun (and easy!) to take road trips! We like to take weekend road trips throughout the year and St.Louis has plenty to do any season.

Now, let's get down to it.  I love St. Louis!  It is one of our families favorite weekend vacay cities.  This seems so ironic to me because I am a life-long Cubs fan.  When it comes to baseball I talk all the time about hating our arch-rivals (get it, arch rivals... St.Louis Arch... hahaha) the St. Louis Cardinals.

But whatever, it's a fun city and if you're on a budget it's way cheaper than a weekend in Chicago. I'm talking about half price of a weekend in Chicago. (Don't worry, we still do Chicago roadtrips, but if your budget is tight this month, STL is the way to go.)

Anywho, what can you do for fun in STL and how can you save money?

 Let's talk saving money first...

Where to stay:

We love to stay at The Drury Inn in Brentwood.  (Brentwood is a nice suburb about 20 minutes West of downtown). The Drury Inn in Brentwood is a newer hotel and very clean. This hotel is right next to a Super Target and across the street is a strip mall with great stores... Whole Foods, Nordstrom Rack, Arhaus, The Container Store, Michaels, to name a few.  On the other side of Target is a Trader Joe's, DSW Shoes, World Market, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Ulta and Carters.  These are all within walking distance of the hotel! You have to cross a busy road but there is a crosswalk so if you were stuck at the hotel without a car while your people are out you could definitely walk to these places.


 Plus it's nicely decorated,  I love it when a hotel is nicely decorated.;)  This is the lobby... 


We like to stay at Drury Hotel's for a lot of reasons and the first being all the free food. Drury's have free breakfast, free 5:30 kickback snacks and drinks (this is like a free dinner!) as well as free soft drinks and popcorn. A family can easily save a ton of money by eating the hotel breakfast, then eating 5:30 Kickback Snacks for dinner.

And I'm not talking about taking advantage of the hotel and greedily sneaking extra food.  Not at all, they literally have a buffet with lots of food available for their guests and unless you are a really big eater you could definitely make a meal out of it.


They serve a full hot breakfast that is legit, the waffle maker is always a hit with my boys and their coffee is actually good.  My husband calls me a coffee snob but really, I just like fresh coffee that hasn't been sitting for hours, theirs passed the test!  They scored bonus points for having my favorite French Vanilla creamer too. ;)

Again, the 5:30 Kickback Snacks could easily pass for dinner, especially for kids.  Our location offered a hot buffet style dining... hot dogs, chicken fingers, baked potato, salad, veggies, chips and snacks.  Plus three free drinks, beer, liquor and wine.

We like to enjoy new restaurants when we travel too but if you're on a tight budget the Drury can really save on meals.

We arrived late and were happy to be greeted by Drew at the front desks friendly face. And, we were super happy to see our comfy beds!

We had a suite so technically we could've had the kids sleep in the living room hide-a-bed couch and had the bedroom to ourselves but we let them have a bed too. The suite is awesome because it's not too much extra money and you get tons of extra space and two TVs! Great when you're traveling with kids (obviously).

Our bathroom was clean and modern.


I like that they had local art over the coffee/breakfast bar in our room. They had a little coffeemaker that I didn't use and a fridge which is always a bonus.  We like to take a little cooler on our roadtrips so it's good to be able to unload into the fridge and keep everything cool without having to go to the ice machine several times. 

One other thing we love about Drury Inn's is that they usually have an indoor/outdoor pool.  My boys absolutely love this in the winter time.  It blows their minds that they can swim under the window and literally swim outside during the cold winter months and somehow not freeze to death. 

Swimming in the hotel pool is another activity to do on your roadtrip that is free! My kids would swim all day if I let them. We usually like to run around to places during the day and then let the kids swim in the evening but if you're in need of another activity, it's free with your hotel stay. 

So now you know where to stay on a budget in St. Louis.  But what do you do while you're there on a budget?

Go to the FREE St.Louis Zoo!





St. Louis is an awesome zoo that is open year round and has free admission.  The first time we went it blew my mind how nice it was and it is truly is free.  There are paid activities, like riding a train, merry-go-round and the sting ray petting pool but you can have an amazing experience at the zoo without paying for anything. 

There is a paid parking lot but we have always been able to park on a road in the park that surrounds the zoo for free. The zoo can get pretty crowded which makes the free parking harder to get so I recommend getting there early.

The train gives you a great view of some of the animals and gives you a ride around the entire park. It's a great place to rest your feet and enjoy the view after walking around. My boys said the train ride was their favorite part. You have to pay to ride it but the tickets are reasonably priced.

Merry Go round the Penguin/Puffin exhibit at Wild Lights!
Every year in late November and through December the St.Louis Zoo does Wild Lights where they light up the zoo with tons of Christmas lights and displays.  They also have live music, smore's stations, cash bar, and some of the exhibits open.  It's $10 per person on the weekends but there are many ways to get a discount, sometimes through Groupon and weeknights are cheaper as well.  We did this a few years back and the boys enjoyed it.
Us at Wild Lights!




Another inexpensive place to visit as a family...

The National Museum of Transportation.


One of the last "Big Boy" steam engines in existence. Doesn't look like it in this pic but it is gigantic!
This museum is especially great for families with train lovers and/or classic car enthusiasts. My boys still love trains and we have been here twice as they have some very rare locomotives (so they tell me because I have no idea. :) Anyway, it's only $8 for adult admission and kids 13 and under are $5 bucks!  My boys spent about 3 hours here (while I went shopping) and didn't even look at everything.

My boys thought this car looked like Doc Hudson from the Cars (Lightning McQueen) movie. I agree!
 
They are open year round as well but make sure you check their calendar online when planning your trip.

The City Museum

One of our favorite places to visit in St.Louis is the City Museum. It isn't the cheapest place but I feel that it's very reasonably priced for the experience.  You could literally spend days here and still find new things and explore new areas.  Currently it's $12 for 3 years and up.  Totally worth the expense and less than $50 bucks for a family of four. 

Heck, a movie will set you back about that these days. Their parking lot cost $10 and isn't very big but we used it once when it was raining and we didn't want to walk far in the rain.  There is metered street parking around and also some close by pay lots. I think we paid $5 for the day once.  We've never had trouble parking here.

Anyway, this place is SO cool and unique that it's almost indescribable.  It's housed in an old shoe factory and was created by an artist who wanted to salvage and reuse architectural pieces and anything he could get his hands on really. 

This view is from the second floor looking down toward the entry.  You can see the people climbing through random  metal spirals suspended in the air (you won't catch me in those things!) and you can see the bottom of the 3 story metal slide that ends near the entrance where that woman is standing. The slide was super fun even for me and my hubs!  


They have two huge ball pits for kids and adults outside. On a rare occasion my boys had one to themselves, super fun!

They also have all kinds of tunnels, stairways, old planes, and randomness outside that you can climb on or in to.  It's a playground of kids and adult! This place really pushes my comfort limit as I am a little bit scared of heights.  You can see my youngest above is looking like he is a little unsure but he does great.  I literally just follow my boys around and it's such great fun and good exercise. In the pic above we are standing on an old airplane wing up probably four stories.  (Yes, a real airplane that has been gutted.) We are caged in as you can see but still! 

They also have an awesome rooftop area that is opened seasonally. This area has an additional charge but it is fun and worth the extra charge at least once. They even have an old school bus and a working ferris wheel on their rooftop.  The rooftop was closed this time but we really liked it. They also have a ten story slide but we ran out of time. 

This room above has an under the sea theme with a huge whale that you can walk into it's mouth that you can sort of see to the right.  It leads you to an upper lever in the room.  All the stuff hanging from the ceiling is airplane insulation cut into strips. Pretty cool, huh. 

Usually this place is packed with people, we got there right when they opened and had the place to ourselves for a bit which was AMAZING. 

Tips for The City Museum:
-wear tennis shoes/sneakers
-bring a flashlight (I've seen people wearing the flashlight thing you wear on your head too, seriously)
-Get there when they open (although their website says the opposite, this is when we've had the most luck beating the crowds.
-I've seen people wearing knee pads, 
-be prepared to sweat

Obviously there is SO much more to do in St. Louis but I hope I've given you some great ideas to get you started on your first trip. 

Next up, Indianapolis... stay tuned!

A special thanks to Drury Hotels for sponsoring this post! 


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1 comment :

  1. We have stayed the night at Drury Inn and Suites on several occasions, and they are always super nice! Great post!

    ReplyDelete

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