June 13, 2007 Edition

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Trip is enjoyable

Gretchen Hunt

I have spent all my life in Northeast Arkansas, and though I am somewhat well-traveled, I had never visited St. Louis. I made my first trip to the popular destination over the weekend.

My sister and her husband live in St. Peters, and we decided to take a mini vacation and visit them before I got any more pregnant.

We had told Conley that we were going to try to go somewhere with a zoo, but until we knew for sure we could make the St. Louis trip, we didn't tell him. He loves the zoo, but he was far more excited to find out that he was going to get to visit his cousin, Liz.

We barely scratched the surface of all there is to do in the St. Louis area, but enjoyed visiting the St. Louis Zoo and Grant's Farm.

We split the zoo up in two trips, made easier by the fact that there is no admission fee. Jason, Conley and I went on Thursday afternoon and visited half of the exhibits, saving Liz's favorites for a trip back on Friday morning.

Her favorite areas are Red Rocks and River's Edge, which include the favorites of most children ~ zebras, giraffes, lions, tigers, elephants, rhinoceroses and hippos.

Seeing the new baby elephant was a highlight for both Conley and Liz.

Our trip to Grant's Farm was equally enjoyable. Grant's Farm, like the zoo, has a fee for parking, but no admission is charged.

I was impressed that both have been able to continue to offer free admission. I can imagine that for those with big families this can make the difference in being able to visit such attractions. I remember, growing up in a household with five children, that things you paid for by the carload were much more doable than things you paid for by the person.

I got tickled by Conley because one of his favorite things at both the zoo and Grant's Farm was feeding the goats. Since we have friends who have goats, he is quite familiar with them. I always think it is funny that he seems to get the biggest kick out of something he could do right here at home.

We also enjoyed eating out a couple of nights. We ate at Ethyl's Wildwood Smokehouse and Saloon and Joe's Crab Shack. What impressed me most about the two was not their food (not that I didn't enjoy both meals) but that even though they were nice sit-down restaurants, they also had a playground. We enjoyed both meals on the patio where we could watch the kids play and enjoy adult conversation without the constant hassle of trying to contain small children.

I wish someone in this area would provide a similar experience. It seems like in Northeast Arkansas, the only restaurants that have playgrounds are fast food and then they end up being more of an annoyance than a service as the kids want to stay much longer than the meal actually requires.

There is much we wanted to do that remained undone. Though the Cardinals were in town, evidenced by the many groups of fans wearing Cardinals T-shirts we saw sight-seeing in the area, we did not take in a game. Who knows, maybe next time.

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