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St. Louis for a Steal

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You don't need to break the bank to have a great family getaway

By Hayley Tharp

St. Louis

the perfect weekend

We can all be guilty of getting lost in the monotony of our day-to-day lives. While the fast pace of everyday life and budgetary restrictions can make it difficult to take family trips, planning small getaways and scouting for deals can help us cherish these special moments with our families. The perfect weekend getaway for us is a trip to St. Louis. From the moment my husband, 10-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter see the Arch in the distance, our vacation has officially begun!

Pizza from The Post in St. Louis, MO
Gorilla statue at the Saint Louis Zoo in St. Louis, MO
Polar bear at the Saint Louis Zoo in St. Louis, MO
saint louis zoo

Our first stop is perhaps the most exciting of the day, the Saint Louis Zoo. The zoo is one of my favorite attractions because it keeps the kids in awe while costing us nothing to visit. The park’s 90 acres and nearly 18,000 animals make it a gem within the city. Once we park and enter the gates, we can barely contain the kids’ excitement. The hardest decision isn’t which areas to see, but which to see first. We start at River’s Edge so the kids can see the elephants, then work our way around to The Wild to see penguins and polar bears before deciding it’s time to grab lunch.

the post

We make a quick drive from the zoo to the quirky Maplewood neighborhood to check out a local restaurant that some employees at the zoo had recommended, The Post. To our delight, the restaurant was filled with ample televisions, a full menu and a welcoming staff. Our kids were thrilled chicken tenders and grilled cheese were on the menu, both of which are staples in our household. My husband and I started with an order of their award-winning toasted ravioli, before ordering a buffalo chicken pizza to share. The food was delicious and we were able to feed the family for less than $40.

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city museum

After finishing our food, we headed downtown to the City Museum. From the outside, the museum appears to be Picasso’s vision of a warehouse. The building has multiple figurines, bridges and structures protruding from its sides, while a Ferris wheel sits on the roof almost like a beacon for all to see. We were pleased to discover tickets for this museum cost only $16 per person. The odd beauty of the building’s exterior could not compare to what the inside had in store. The zany design was an added bonus to the obstacle course and play park hybrid museum. The kids explored for hours, while my husband and I marveled at the architecture.


Exhausted from the day, we decided to call it a night and head back to our hotel in downtown St. Louis.

Day 2
Peacock Loop Diner

Before embarking on day two in the city, we decided to swing by the Delmar Loop in midtown for breakfast. We came across a unique ’50s-themed restaurant called the Peacock Loop Diner. The vibrant fluorescent sign outside and the smell of food was enough to lure us in. My son ordered biscuits and gravy, and my daughter ordered a towering stack of pancakes. My husband and I opted for savory and sweet chicken and waffles. The food was unbelievable and cost us only around $30.

Peacock Loop Diner in St. Louis, MO
Breakfast sandwiches at Peacock Loop Diner in St. Louis, MO
Slides at City Museum in St. Louis, MO
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Amp Up Action Park

After exploring the eclectic shops along The Loop, we decided to take the kids to Amp Up Action Park. With laser tag, go-karts, a high-ropes obstacle course and a full arcade, there were plenty of options to keep both the kids and us entertained. The park is located along one of the main historic thoroughfares, Manchester Road. Besides the numerous attractions, the park offers a great “Sunday Funday” family deal. For less than $50, we were able to choose four activities to participate in. We also received $20 in arcade game cards and an extra-large one-topping pizza. The kids sprinted towards laser tag as soon as we got to the park. After a round of high ropes and some arcade time, we decided to take a break and enjoy a pepperoni pizza.

Laser tag at Amp Up Action Park in St. Louis, MO
Go karts at Amp Up Action Park in St. Louis, MO
Axe throwing at Amp Up Action Park in St. Louis, MO
the arch

As we loaded up the car and headed out of St. Louis, it was hard to believe that we were able to do so much in only two days without breaking the bank. My husband and I were happy to discover that both kids were fast asleep in the back seat after an eventful weekend. Our small vacation was over, but it was hard to be sad as we got on the interstate to head home. The city’s stainless steel focal point, the Arch loomed behind us as we crossed the Mississippi River. I was grateful for the memories made with my family and the city that provided us with an unforgettable weekend rich in history, great food and numerous family-friendly activities.

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