I decided that my first planned, and therefor “official” travel adventure should be something fairly local, that didn’t involve a ridiculous amount of planning and logistics. As it turned out, the Missouri Botanical Gardens (MBG) was having the opening weekend of their children’s gardens, so I was able to get the grand kids and their parents to go, and then stop at a nearby park for a short picnic afterwards. If you’re coming here, plan the spend the entire day, the place is just that big, with so much to see, and for only $8 general admission, it’s probably one of the cheapest, best days you can spend in St. Louis. Getting to MBG is pretty easy, but I still always manage to get off I-55 at the right exit, but take the wrong exit ramp…St Louis has off-ramps which branch off of other off ramps, and it takes a really good GPS to catch them! Don’t worry though, the city is easy to navigate, and you’ll have no trouble getting to the gardens even if you make a wrong turn.
I’ll admit that I picked the wrong time of year for a botanical excursion because the last week in March means trees are just starting to bloom or at least bud, but I’m sure by the third week of April it starts to look really amazing! The saving grace for those visiting “out of season” is that MBG has the “Climatron”, a massive dome building which maintains a tropical atmosphere year round! There is tons to see and do, even in just this one building; trees, plants, birds, waterfalls, and even fish!
The children’s garden has face-painting, pot-your-own veggie/flower plants, slides, a large tree house complex, and more. A nice variety of activities and facilities means kids up to 12 or 13 can still enjoy running around, and learning how to pot their own plants, but some of it is definitely for younger kids. The children’s garden is an extra $5 for the kids to participate in all the activities, which I felt was good for what was offered, especially when admission to the main complex for even an 8 year old was free. I only got to visit about 20% of the whole park, so I’ll definitely go back some day, there is a lot of great stuff I didn’t get to see like the butterfly house, Japanese garden, and so much more. All the walking is on paved paths, everything is handicap accessible, but with all the walking you’ll do, I highly recommend bringing a water bottle, and comfortable walking shoes. There are water fountains dotted around the park for refills, some include specific filtered faucets specifically for refilling your water bottle.