Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Enjoy A Zoo Visit: St Louis Zoo

One of my favorite vacation activities is to visit different zoos around the country. Most areas that you might be visiting will have a zoo within a comfortable driving distance and it is a good activity, particularly when traveling with young kids. Educational, fun and an ideal way to get outside and move around.

I have been to the St. Louis Zoo several times and have always enjoyed it. Located in the famous Forest Park of St. Louis and with 19,000 animals and 655 species, it is no wonder that there are 3 million visitors a year to this zoo. The best part about this zoo is that it is FREE to enter. You can visit 6 "zoo zones" and see animals from every continent, including one of the nicest penguin/puffin exhibits I have seen at any zoo. For an additional cost, there is a separate children's area, 4-D movie, railroad, carousel and sea lion show. We have a membership at another zoo, which has reciprocal benefits with the St. Louis Zoo. While the zoo itself is free, you can receive discounts on the paid attractions with reciprocal memberships.
Parking is a bit hefty if you want to park in the zoo parking lot, but if you arrive early, there is close parking that can be obtained for free.

A visit to this zoo is a definite must for a trip to St. Louis!  http://www.stlzoo.org/

Sunday, December 9, 2012

One Of A Kind Museum: National Museum of the US Air Force

If you are traveling through Ohio, particularly across Interstate 70, schedule a stop at the world's largest military aviation museum, The National Museum of the US Air Force. I have made dozens of trips over the years and my kids enjoy visiting and seeing all of the planes. More than 350 airplanes and missiles are displayed in exhibits exploring the beginnings of air travel with the Wright Brothers to World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, Cold War and Space Exploration Gallery. There are also special displays depicting artifacts from the Holocaust and the Bob Hope Tours to entertain the troops. If the weather is nice, a trip outside to see the outdoor Memorial Park and Air Park is a must.

One of the best parts of visiting the museum, is the chance to tour the Presidential Gallery, which houses the Air Force One that was in service for many Presidents, including the plane that escorted the body of John F. Kennedy following his assassination. There are many other Presidential aircraft on display as well. Here's your chance to stand on the steps of Air Force One and give your best presidential wave! This special gallery is accessible by shuttle from the main museum and adults will have to provide an ID in order to travel to that part of the base.

A trip to this museum will take several hours to tour and it is completely FREE to enter. The only charge comes if you wish to view an IMAX film. I highly encourage a stop at this one-of-a-kind museum!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Great 1-Night Trips: Indianapolis

Indianapolis is such a great city! The destinations in this 1-night stay work really well together because both are incredibly kid-friendly and one is mainly an outside attraction while the other is strictly inside so you can plan according to the weather.

The Indianapolis Children’s Museum is one of the nation’s top tourist draws and the world’s largest children’s museum. For those of you that have never been, it is huge and the kids will LOVE it! We spent at least 4 hours there and could have spent more time. From the fantastic dinosaur exhibit to the train exhibit, indoor carousel, toddler/preschooler play area and special touring exhibits, there is definitely something for everyone. They also have a cafeteria on the premises so you don’t have to leave for lunch. If you have kids, make sure you visit this great museum.

Conner Prairie is such a terrific place to visit and learn about early American history in a fun and interactive way. It is one of the nation’s largest outdoor living history museums and really brings history to life with costumed historical interpreters playing the part of their time periods. From the Indian encampment to the Prairetown,animal encounters, working farm and dedicated kids’ discovery areas, Conner Prairie will provide the whole family with hours of activities. My kids loved the old-fashioned dress-up play area and the Indian encampment the most, but my daughter was also enthralled with all of the baby animals in the farm area (we were last there in the spring and the baby animals were plentiful).

Indianapolis has a lot to offer in the way of hotel accommodations. I would recommend checking out the Caribean Cove Hotel and Waterpark. While we have not stayed there, I know that they offer special deals for some of the Indianapolis attractions.