A short drive and a long weekend in Missouri
For those of you who have been long-time followers of The Leek & The Carrot, this post will look familiar. I have a whole section of my blog that details trips we’ve taken, where we’ve gone, and the magic we’ve found around the Midwest (and at times, the world). It’s something I truly love to do: take a little trip, share it with you on social media, and then summarize it here so you can revisit it and create/curate a trip of your own!
This lovely platform, that will much more often be about the wonders of the local foodshed and what I’m cooking with local products, will also include an Explore section.
Though food (and Lilly) has 94% of my heart, the remainder goes to adventure and exploration. It’s always been a passion and priority for me to get outside of my little bubble and try new things, explore new places, and expand my worldview. And encourage others to do the same. I think the world is a better place when we get out and see it. I think we understand each other better and encourage ourselves to think differently when we leave our own cozy little homes and universes.
And, as a fierce advocate for local, small businesses, I love seeing how other parts of the country and world are crafting their own magical, regional goodness. It keeps my heart full and my mind inspired.
Small, micro trips like the one we took to St. Louis last weekend (which was just as focused on spending time together as a family as it was exploring our surroundings) do just as good a job of this for me as grander adventures.
This time, our family of three headed off with my mom, my brother, and his girlfriend. It’s the first trip I’ve taken with my brother in lord knows how long. I think since 2016?! For the past several years, our farm has kept us so busy, we’ve struggled to fit in time to adventure as our own little family unit, with our friends, and with our families (something that has always been a big priority for us).
It felt amazing to unequivocally say Hell yes!! when they pulled this little trip together, and asked if we could join in late April. Leaving the greenhouse in April for three nights is not something that’s usually possible for us, not to mention late April when there might be a dry window of time to get a million things planted.
Anyhow, off to St. Louis we went, caravanning our way down in separate vehicles so Lilly could handle the drive well and I could get some work done on the road. It was the perfect short drive to a great destination kind of trip to take with our sweet almost nine-month-old and my family.
We explored a lot, ate good food (half in restaurants, half back at the AirBnb with goodies my mom prepared and schlepped down there), played a million and one games (maybe more), and all enjoyed abundant Lilly time.
Here’s the highlights.
Balkan Treat Box//The best meal of the trip, and our favorite meal out in recent memory. It’s Balkan street food, mostly served on woodfired somun (which can only be described as the best flatbread I’ve ever had) with meat coking on a rotisserie, crazy flavor, plenty of sauce, and lots of veggies. We loved everything about this experience: the meal, the service, the space, the neighborhood, the bottled cocktail we drank later that night. It was perfection. We also sat on the back patio eating in the sunny, 80-degree weather and that was the break from Wisconsin rain and gloom I needed.
Forest Park// I love this park. It’s a 1300 acre urban oasis with lakes, bridges, and miles and miles of trails (paved, gravel, and boardwalk) for walking, running, and biking. It’s probably my favorite urban park I’ve been to outside of Europe. We stayed for only a few hours because Lilly got tired, but last time we visited, we spent a whole day here picnicking and reading. That’s what I would recommend. This place is great.
St. Louis Zoo// This was unequivocally my favorite part of the trip and I absolutely was not expecting that. I have mixed feelings about zoos, usually they make me sad. This one was like a weird animal wonderland where the animals were smiling and/or dancing, and you felt like you were legitimately stepping into an alternative reality. AND remarkably, it was also free. 10/10. Loved this so much.
Urban Chestnut Brewery & Biergarten// We visited their Grove location and let me tell you, this place is funnnnnn. First off, we called ahead to see if they had TVs and/or if they had the Bucks playoff game on because my brother is a huge Bucks fan. They said yes they had TVs and could probably get the game. When we walked in, they told us they had a TV set to the game for us in the arcade room. We never even explicitly said we were coming in. So sweet. So there we sat, in the arcade room, watching a playoff basketball game, eating great brewpub food (exceptional burgers and fried chicken sandwiches), sipping on great beer, and playing pinball during commercial breaks while Lilly crawled wherever the hell she wanted. They also had a pool table, air hockey, and a free hilarious hockey foosball table. Oh, and the building was built to be LEED certified and had a massive (could be truly German) bierhall. Loved this vibe.
Failoni’s Cafe//Fun, rowdy Italian place that my brother picked out with a huge patio, live music, and great pizza. We had such a great time playing cards and dancing in our chairs for hours. Lilly was back at the AirBnb sleeping with Kyle and that was a very good thing. Probably 100x too loud for a baby.
Grant’s Farm//This is the Busch Family Farm and home to the Anheuser Busch Clydesdales. It’s just a beautiful farm (barely) outside the city, nothing spectacular, unless of course you love Clydesdales, and then its pretty magical. My mom and Kyle both were obsessed with the Anheuser Busch Clydesdales so it was pretty cute to watch them fawn ;) over the sweet horses.
St. Louis Aquarium at Union Station// Meh. Our trip started here and none of us were particularly impressed by this place. It was $25 and about 25% as impressive as the Shedd Aquarium (one of my favorite places on Earth). There’s a lot of kids stations where they can touch different creatures, so maybe if you have a 3-8 year old you should check it out. Otherwise, hard pass.
Our AirBnb// Such a sweet little space with three gorgeous bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, and even a spacious dining room table for all our card gaming needs. We loved where we stayed and how close to pretty much everything it was, but I should also say, there’s a million (okay a couple hundred) super affordable AirBnbs in St. Louis.
We didn’t go, but several of you shared that City Museum is an exceptional spot we need to check out in the future. We’re definitely going to add that to the list next time we’re in town.
Also, this was a quick trip focused on not moving too fast because well, we have a Lillyan now and people seem to think (her included) I should move a little slower. That means we missed a few things I’d also very much recommend.
Mainly, seeing a show at The Pageant, visiting the Missouri Botanical Gardens, eating Thai food at Fork & Stix, brunching at Rooster (my brother and Sara very much enjoyed their meal here while we were managing a Lilly crisis), seeing a Brewers Cardinals game, and maybe also grabbing a pizza from Pi.
Alright friends, that’s all for now. It was a great trip and I hope it inspires you to head South.