Ballpark Tour Trip #1: Kansas City and St. Louis

For those who don't know us well, I'll just go ahead and tell ya that David and I are huge baseball fans. I grew up at a ball field. I played softball and my brother played travel baseball so we were at a ball field just about every weekend. I love everything about the game. The crack of a bat against the ball gives me this warm fuzzy feeling way down deep inside.

David has really gotten into the game since we started dating. I told him waayyy back when that if we're going to make it work he's going to have to become a baseball fan and he's gonna have to root for the Phillies. He absolutely embraced this and now he's even more into it than I am. He loves following different players, up-and-coming prospects, who's leading their division, etc. He knows all kinds of stats. I'm pretty sure his dream job would be to be a scout for an MLB team.

So how awesome would it be for two baseball fans to do a tour of all the MLB parks?! We have wanted to do this for a while so earlier this year we sat down and figured out where all the parks are located and how we could go about making this happen. It's going to take years and years to get to all of them but we are very excited about it. We ultimately decided to start with Kansas City and St. Louis. They are within driving distance, only about 4 hours apart, and we figured it would be the cheapest out of all the trips.

We started with Kansas City. It was a 10 hour drive and we decided drive through the night so that we wouldn't lose a day while driving and also so that baby girl would sleep most of the way. We switched out driving while the other one slept. I chugged some coffee and drove the first half and then David drove the rest of the way. We made it into Kansas City about 8 am Thursday morning. We stopped at Chic-fil-a for breakfast and let Raley run around for a little while in their play area.

After breakfast we headed to the Sea Life Aquarium in downtown KC. It was a cute little aquarium and it had a lot of things for kids to do, but it didn't have a ton of different animals. Raley still had tons of fun running around and looking at the "goldfish" (every animal was a goldfish!)

When we left the aquarium we went next door to the Crown Center shopping mall. It had some pretty neat shops but we could tell that Raley was getting tired and fussy. So we decided to start walking toward the restaurant for lunch since we couldn't check into the hotel until later.

We had heard that Jack Stack's was one of the best places to eat in Kansas City and it was within walking distance of where we were. Let me tell you, this place is no joke! It had some of the best BBQ I have ever eaten. I definitely recommend it if you're ever in KC.

By the time we were done eating our hotel room was ready to check in. So we went back to the hotel, swam for a minute in the pool and then we all crashed and took a nap before the game. We stayed at the Four Points Sheraton Sports Complex which was right across the street from Kauffman Stadium where the Royals play. It worked out perfectly since we were able to easily walk to the game and not pay for parking.

Kauffman Stadium is a beautiful park and so much fun! It has a really fun kids' play area including a playground, little ball field for kids to run around on, and a putt putt golf course. It also has a beautiful fountain behind the outfield (in the pic below). The game that we went to ended up being the longest game of the season lasting over 4 hours. So since it  was a night game we weren't able to stay for the entire game. The Royals ended up defeating the Detroit Tigers 15-7.
View from our seats

The next morning we said goodbye to KC and headed toward St. Louis. KC is a beautiful city and I would have liked to have had another day to explore the city a little more. 
"Two Paci's!"
It was about a 4 hour drive to St. Louis. Our first stop when we got into the city was the St. Louis Zoo. We LOVED this place! It is much much bigger than we expected. You really need a full day there if you're going to see and do everything. Raley's favorite was the polar bear and the penguins. The polar bear was asleep but she loved him! She even picked out a little stuffed polar bear to take home. 
She said "I wanna cheese with the bear. Cheeeese!"
She also really enjoyed the Children's Zoo. They have a little play area and goats that she could pet. They also have otters but they were hiding that day. Baby girl ended up passing out after a few hours of being there so she didn't get to see alot of the animals we thought she would enjoy like the black bears, elephants, and hippos. For this reason we ended up going back to the zoo again before we headed home.
Talking to the goat at the Children's Zoo
Tuckered out
We ended up leaving the zoo late in the afternoon and went to the hotel to check in. We stayed at the Double Tree at Union Station. This place is absolutely amazing! When we walked in the lobby Raley said "It's booo-tiful!" The only downside to this hotel is you have to pay $20/night just for parking. So that was an extra expense on top of the hotel rate. But we booked pretty early and got an amazing deal.
That night we went to Caleco's Bar and Grill in downtown St. Louis. They had just about anything and everything you could ever want on a menu - pasta, chicken, BBQ, sandwiches, burgers, steak, fish - literally everything! After dinner we just went back to the hotel and went to sleep.

The next morning we met up with a couple friends who had come into town for the weekend and headed to the Anheuser Busch brewery. They do a 45 minute complimentary tour where they take you through the brewing process and you get to see the iconic Budweiser Clydesdales, which are absolutely beautiful. At the end they give you a sample of either Bud or Bud Light and they give you a little chip which you can redeem at the Biergarten for a free beer of your choice. We ended up eating lunch at the Biergarten and it was pretty good (prices weren't terrible either.)

After lunch we went back to the hotel and let Raley take a nap before the game, which was at 3:05. She didn't get as long of a nap as I would have liked but she actually did pretty well with such little sleep. The stadium was about a mile away so we just walked so we wouldn't have to pay for parking. The stadium is really big and the seats that we got were awesome! We were in one of the upper decks just down the third base line. 
The view from our seats
Beautiful view!
Around the 7th inning Raley was starting to get antsy (we're actually surprised she lasted that long) so we explored the stadium a little bit. We found a little kids area where kids can play but they said that kids are required to wear socks in the play area. Of course Raley was not wearing socks in 95 degree weather so she wasn't able to play. But we did find a little corner of the stadium where she could run around freely for a few minutes. 
We had to change her into her Bama gear before the big game!

After the game we all went across the street and ended up getting a seat at Cardinals Nation Restaurant to eat and watch the Bama game. We stayed there until halftime and then headed back to the hotel. We put Raley to bed and then finished watching the game in the room. 

The next morning we ate breakfast at the breakfast buffet at the hotel (definitely overpriced btw) and then headed to Grant's Farm. We had actually planned on getting there when it opened at 9:30 but we ended up sleeping later and breakfast took longer than expected so we got there a little after 11:00. The place is really cute and fun once you finally get in but we had to wait in a long line in the sun in order to get on a tram that takes you on a 15 minute ride around the property in order to get to the actual park. So that was definitely frustrating for all of us because pregnant ladies and almost 2 year olds don't like standing still in the hot sun for almost an hour. Once we got into the park it was fun and there were alot of cool animals to see. Raley loved talking to the birds, feeding the camels, and petting the goats. She even got to feed the baby goats a bottle, which she loved. Another thing I didn't really care for is that there wasn't really a place to go inside and cool off. There were a couple little places to eat but you had to eat outside. You also had to wait in line to get back on the tram to go back to the parking lot. Overall, I'd say that if it weren't so hot and if we had gotten there when it opened like we had planned then it would have been a much more enjoyable experience.
Budweiser Clydesdales at Gran'ts Farm
I loved all the German decor and architecture
"Silly camel"

We had planned on going to the botanical gardens that afternoon after leaving Grant's Farm but by the time we left we were all hot and exhausted so we went back to the hotel and took a little nap before dinner. That night for dinner we went downtown and ate at the Old Spaghetti Factory. This place was beautiful and sooo tasty! I wish I could have taken some pictures but pictures would not have done this place justice. They are known for using Mizithra cheese so I got the Mizithra cheese and brown butter spaghetti which was soo good! David got the Breast of Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo which was better than any other fettuccine alfredo we have ever had before. Absolutely the best food we had all weekend.

The next morning we had planned on just getting up and driving home but we loved the zoo so much on Friday we had to go back! We considered doing the botanical gardens before leaving but we figured we would all enjoy the zoo more. We started at the opposite end of where we started the first day so that baby girl would get to see the animals she missed before. We got there shortly after it opened so alot of the animals were awake and playful. She LOVED the bears and she was very excited to see the hippos, monkeys, and elephants that she didn't get to see before. She also got to pet sting rays and I was so glad she got to see the polar bear awake and playing.

We could tell though that she was sleepy because after about an hour or so of being there she started to get pretty fussy. We ended up leaving about 11:00, grabbed some lunch at Culver's (which is soo good, I wish we had one!) and then headed home.

The drive home took about 6 hours but we had a couple stops to make on the way back into town so we didn't end up getting home til late. It was definitely a tiring trip but we had an amazing time. These are two beautiful and fun cities and I would love to go back at some point in the future.

Oh and by the way, we got a car DVD player for the trip and I firmly believe that it is the best purchase we have ever made. She watched all kinds of different movies and it kept her entertained the entire time. It's not something we plan on using every time we're in the car, but it is definitely worth the money for long trips.

Next stop: Boston and New York!

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