Okay ya’ll, so first I should probably tell you I am the worst at keeping secrets! Not that I can’t keep secrets, but when I know something really awesome, I just want to share it! Or when I’ve planned something, I just want to share it right away!
The hubby’s birthday is September 2nd, so it almost always falls on Labor Fay weekend, so we usually try and get away to do something out of the ordinary. This year I kept trying to figure out where we should go, and since we would be leaving on late Saturday afternoon, I didn’t want the destination to be too far away. So my options were: Branson, Arkansas, Kansas City, or St. Louis. We had already done the Kansas City thing a couple years ago for his birthday, exploring downtown, midtown, and of course the plaza. Branson is an easy drive, and we’ve talked about staying in the cabins at Big Cedar, hiking some and relaxing, but the cabin and events would have been a little pricey for this particular trip and we love Eureka Springs, Arkansas, but we’ve already visited there a number of times and I wanted it to be something different. So really my only option left was St. Louis, so I went forward in planning our trip to St. Louis.
After selecting St. Louis as the location, I began to wonder if they had a planetarium or anything cool we could visit while there and I hit the jackpot! The St. Louis Science Center had a planetarium and had an awesome exhibit from the Smithsonian being featured and that exhibit just happened to be the Apollo 11 mission! I was super excited!!!
You see, Dave has always had a love for all things outer space and I just knew this would be such an awesome surprise! Also, just because it’s way cool, I have to tell you… as I was writing this blog post, I found out that this particular exhibit, “Destination Moon: the Apollo 11 mission”, was only going to be traveling to four different places, and St. Louis just happened to make the list! And we just happened to live 3 hours away!!! Pretty cool! And the planetarium has a ZEISS UNIVERSARIUM Model IX projector, which is apparently, the first and only in the Americas to use brilliant, sustainable LEDs. If you haven’t visited the St. Louis Science Center, I would definitely recommend it and you have to experience a show in the planetarium.
Dave had to work til about 4 on Saturday, but I text him and let him know that we were heading out of town for his birthday and he’d have to pack fast when he got home. It was SOOOOO hard not to spill the beans on where we were going- But you’ll be happy to know, I didn’t! So we set out for St. Louis! I had really only planned the Science Center part, so I let Dave pick out what restaurants he wanted to eat at and the other things he wanted to do. It was a blast!
Our first stop in St. Louis was one of Dave’s favorite Cal-zone places, Sauce on the Side… and man, was it packed! This place has really blown up over the last couple of years! Dave found this place while on tour and it was in a smaller building and just starting out. Now they are in a bigger building, have four other stores open and are in the process of franchising other stores around the Midwest. If you’re a Cal-zone fan, you will LOVE this place! Dave got his favorite Cal-zone, ” The Costanza,” based on George Costanza in Seinfeld ( also one of Dave’s favorite shows) and I got the “Pancho Villa”.
Breakfast Sunday Morning- The Egg
Dave chose to go to another one of his favorite places for breakfast, “The Egg.” Again, this place has blown up! The last time we were in town going to a concert, we decided to stop in at this restaurant and at that time, they had just started serving breakfast. There were probably only 4 other people in the restaurant with us four years ago, but that morning, it was a 20 min wait and there were tons of people outside waiting and the whole place was completely packed inside. So happy for them! Seriously, this is one of the best breakfast places and the environment is one you wont find anywhere else! The owners are so friendly and genuine and make you feel like family walking in. We had an amazing breakfast and the owner found out it was Dave’s birthday, so he popped open a bottle of champagne, made us a grapefruit mimosa at the table and cheered with us! I gave Dave his card and he was able to see where we were headed for the rest of the day. He was so excited!
Read a review of the egg: here
The St. Louis Science Center
Ya’ll this place is AMAZING! I would love to go back and see all the exhibits and wander around more. There is so much to do there and so much to see… One day definitely isn’t enough time. When we got the science center, we wandered around a little bit. The science center has some lab experiments and discoveries for kids to be a part of, an outdoor area that promotes and educates children about farming and planting, fossil exhibits and dinosaur replicas, and so much more! Again, we couldn’t explore it all in the time-frame we had, so we will definitely be making a trip back!
Above: these cases held soil from different areas all over the U.S. and mentioned what was grown in those areas and why!
Above: “never milked a cow… here’s your chance”! I got so excited, because I read that you could milk a cow, but I didn’t realize it was a machine… It was pretty funny to watch, actually.
Below: you could listen and watch the honey bees in their honey comb!
Above: as we walked to the planetarium, you go through some fun games/ experiment action and then walk over the highway! You can see the speeds of the cars and watch them as they pass below you.
After we wandered around a bit, we made our way to the planetarium for our show. They have 3-4 different shows in the planetarium during the day, and I can tell you the show is truly incredible, from getting to see the stars without light pollution, and hearing all about the stars from a planetarium educator.
After the planetarium, we went into the “Apollo 11 mission” exhibit and it was so educational, fascinating, and inspiring. “Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission,” a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, held the command module Columbia, which carried astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to the moon in 1969. The experience included a St. Louis-themed street that contained space artifacts from the 1960s as well as a mock living room that transported us back in time to a launch and landing television viewing party. Not gonna lie, I really loved the couch and the setup.
St. Louis is one of four cities that got the chance to host the exhibit and it’s pretty fitting, since St. Louis’ McDonnell Aircraft, before it merged with Douglas Aircraft Company, played an astronomical role in the pre-Apollo 11 missions of Projects Mercury and Gemini. The exhibit also showed Buzz Aldrin’s visor and gloves he wore while on the surface of the moon.
It was such a wonderful experience and I absolutely loved walking through the exhibit, reading about the mission, seeing the artifacts, watching news clips and listening to the audio between Buzz and the command center. The exhibit has moved from St. Louis, and it will be heading to Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Sept. 29, 2018 – Feb. 18, 2019.
Dinner at Annie Gunn’s
Dave found a really great dinner place for us to visit, but from the pictures online we had no idea how fancy the place actually was. It was such an enjoyable place to eat. The food was amazing, the atmosphere was really nice and I had the best glass of wine I have ever had there. Annie Gunn’s was rather pricey, so I went for a burger, while Dave tried their Steak. Both meals were incredible! And just to let you know how ritzy this place was, they had a full binder of their drinks and wines and the top price for a bottle of wine was $1000 something. When I looked at their site, Anne Gunn’s talks about their mission saying:
“Our mission is to use the finest food, the finest beverage and the finest quality service as a catalyst to make our community a better place in which to live. Through our sincere commitment to the following we will accomplish our mission: Customers.
To provide our customers with excellent service and sincere hospitality leading to an experience of exceptional value and quality.
To build a team of trained associates with a sense of pride and ownership and provide an environment conducive to continued growth, stability and satisfaction.
We are an environmentally responsible company committed to conserving, enhancing and sustaining a quality environment.
To meet or exceed the company’s expectation of the area of growth and profitability.
To participate in charities, organizations and activities that promote the well-being of our community.
They definitely exceeded our expectations! It was a lovely evening celebrating Dave’s birthday in style.
We couldn’t make the trip to St. Louis and not stop at IKEA, that would be crazy! 😉 I’m in love with IKEA and wish we had one in Springfield, but at least we have one in Kansas City and St. Louis. Dave and I enjoyed walking through all the living room and kitchen set ups, dreaming about the items we would love one day. We tried not to spend too much money, but I did walk away with a couple of pretty vases, some eucalyptus stems, and a cute plant table to prop our plant babies up on. We’ve been looking for a smaller table to place our plants on to help them thrive. Since moving into our new place, our plants have had a hard time adjusting and our two peace lilies were dying. Thankfully the table has been just what we needed and our peace lilies are springing back to life. IKEA is the best and if you haven’t had their Swedish meatballs, you have to try them on your next visit… so good!
Before leaving St. Louis to head back, we stopped to eat lunch at an awesome taco joint! Seoul Taco has the best Korean tacos and the atmosphere is so fun and unique! It is a definite must if you’re in the St. Louis area!
St. James Winery
On our way back home to Springfield, we almost always stop at St. James Winery. I love stopping in and tasting some of their new wines and old favorites. We decided to try the winemakers edition wines and Dave and I both loved one of the dryer white wines, the Seyval. It is crisp and fruity, but not too sweet. We ended up getting a bottle to bring home and another white wine that we enjoy, the Vignole.
Their tasting rooms are open Monday- Friday from 8am-7pm, and Sundays 9am- 7pm and they have different events you can be a part of year round. Their Harvest Fest is coming up on October 13th and it looks like it’ll be a real fun time. They will have live music, local vendors, good food, great beverages, games, activities and much more! The event is a great family-friendly way to the spend the day with the local community. This event is hosted in The Gardens at St. James
Here’s a little about their history:
Italian immigrants settled in the St. James area of the Meramec Highlands in the late 1800s. The railroad carried them to new and inexpensive land where the immigrants built a life and eventually began to use their agricultural knowledge to grow high-quality Concord grapes. Initially, these grapes were used predominantly for juice and jelly. However, the pristine growing conditions helped build new markets and more than 1,000 acres of grapes and over 200 wineries surrounded the St. James area by 1922. This community of winemakers helped make Missouri the second largest wine producing state in the U.S. until Prohibition wiped out the family wineries that had come to define the region. The ground was still fertile, but without any place to sell their wines, the families who had come to call St. James home were forced to close their wineries.
History brought back to life
As Missouri wines began to comeback in the 1960s, Jim and Pat Hofherr decided to re-establish the craft of winemaking in St. James. They used the same grapes and similar wines that made the region world famous a half-century before, and created the now-famous Velvet Red and Velvet White that remain a hallmark of the St. James Winery lineup. Using all the Hofherr children as (more or less willing) extra hands, the family produced 8,000 gallons of wine in 1970, their inaugural year. Winemaking was back in business in St. James.
Bold steps forward
It’s been nearly 50 years since the Hofherr family began making wine. In that time, St. James Winery has helped put Missouri wines back on the national stage. People throughout our state and across the country seek out our wine, and we have expanded to meet their demand. St. James Winery now produces 500,000 gallons of wine per year and is available for purchase in 16 different states. Some days, we produce as much in one day as the Hofherr family produced in the entire year of 1970. Jim and Pat’s middle son, Peter Hofherr, is now the CEO and he and world class winemaker Andrew Meggitt see to it that our wine stays true to the quality of the first winemakers of Meramec Highlands, while they grow and develop new award-winning flavors.
It was a fabulous weekend getaway and birthday weekend for Dave. St. Louis has so many wonderful things to offer and I strongly suggest going to the Science Center if you’re ever in the area. I can’t wait to go back to St. Louis and visit more places and stop in at our favorites again. What are some of your favorite places to visit in St. Louis? Got any recommendations?