Monday, June 15, 2009

A Public Service Announcement- Only You Can Prevent SAD

So, next week is the 21st of June. It's here. Summer. As you probably know, I have Summer SAD. It's undiagnosed by a professional, but I think I know Summer SAD when I see it. Not really. I have no point of reference at all, actually. But diagnosed or not, I definitely have issues with summer. Don't get me wrong, I find the green grass and sunshine to be quite lovely. I think it's just that organized activities from the rest of the year are shut down during the summer. I just get so lonely. And bored. I've explained this last May, I know. I'm just refreshing everyone's memory. Anyhoo, I was determined not to get lonely or bored this year. I was determined to have plans, and plans galore. 

Last summer I missed our St. Louis attractions so much because I was in Nashville with no world famous zoo or free museums or insanely cheap animal parks with free beer at the end (link takes you to admission and hours of operation for summer 2009) There were other obvious things complicating my life which just made it a rough summer. I so could have used that free beer... I did mean to take the kids to a Sounds game though. There is something surprisingly enjoyable about eating cookies and cream ice cream out of a plastic batting helmet while watching a Nashville Sounds minor league baseball game. It's delightful, really. But we left Nashville somewhat abruptly after being there six weeks. Six weeks is a long time, but we just never got around to going to a game. We did manage to catch several Tom Tichenor puppet shows though. The Nashville Public Library is currently showing Tichenor's Hansel and Gretel on Friday and Saturday mornings at 9:30, 10:30, and 11:30AM through June 13th, which has already passed (I started this post a while ago). I can't find any new information, but here is the link which we can hope will be updated.  It is definitely worth the drive over. I am wondering if it isn't worth a five hour drive from here?! 

The aforementioned (in another post) loss of our car put quite the damper on all my plans to avoid Summer SAD, but, as I said, it hasn't been quite so bad; it just means we can't do what I had planned to do. However, there is no reason I can't give y'all the scoop on random things I have found out about. You likely know about them as well, but you know, I just felt like posting something. It will be nice to have them all together in one spot anyway. And perhaps it will entice you out-of-towners to come for a visit! All are welcome at the house on the hill! 

First, the obvious, and we'll start downtown. If you are willing to pay a lot, of course you know to check out a Cardinals game. (I think I mentioned that we bought tickets for this Thursday's game for a birthday/Father's day combo for George. We are very excited.) And there's always the Arch. Never will I ever go up into the Arch again though. It's not for people who are afraid of heights. I seriously thought the whole thing was going to flop over sideways into the Mississippi River. The Museum of Westward Expansion in the bottom is free, and interesting enough to occupy one as one waits for one's tram of death. Okay, so "tram of death" is a little much. But it is quite claustrophobic and noisy (a la Lost's smoke monster) and of course, it takes you to the top of the very high, swaying in the breeze, nauseatingly scary Arch. (At some point in time, between being on top of the Empire State Building and being on top of the Arch, I developed a fear of heights. But I don't suppose I had to mention that.) The tram ride to the top is not free (nor is it recommended by me), it's $10 an adult and $5 per child. Kind of steep. Literally. The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis is also amazing, not to mention gorgeous. George took me there when we were dating, and I have always meant to go back since we have moved here. You can take a tour or simply wander around on your own, Monday through Friday from 10am-12pm or 1pm to 3pm (schedule works around Mass schedule, but is subject to change in the event of a funeral); the requested donation is $2 adult and $1 "student." It is truly a beautiful place. 

I have also heard tell of a place called City Museum. I have heard all good things but have never been because it costs $12 a person, and I have heard that it is a little rough keeping up with young children there. Evidently, it is just an amazingly fun place with tons to explore. It sounds like a place we shall have to manage to get over to one of these days. 

Let's head on over to Forest Park right now though. Shall we? The St. Louis Zoo also has lots of goings on in the summer. Most of you will know that the carousel, the children's zoo, and this year's Stringrays at Carribean Cove are free from 8 to 9AM each day all summer. This is almost useless to me, even with a car, as it would involve having three children fed, dressed, and transported forty minutes away by eight o'clock in the morning. But hey, good luck to you! There are also free concerts on Friday nights through September 4th from 5-8PM. I know nothing about these; they could be really lame, but I am just trying to be helpful. 

The Missouri History Museum is currently exhibiting Mary Lee Bendolph, Gee's Bend Quilts, and Beyond until September 13th. I cannot wait to get over and see these. There is also a 150 year anniversary exhibition for the Missouri Botanical Gardens. All exhibitions are free on Tuesdays for St. Louis City and County Residents. There is also a lot going on at the St. Louis Science Center and I just don't know what is what. Just go on over any day to explore; admission is free. However, all the special exhibits are not free, so you may want to explore the website ahead of time to see which ones you want to bring extra money for. The St. Louis Art Museum is always free as well, but again, special exhibits are extra except on Fridays when, you guessed it, they're free. One noteworthy exhibit, noted at a glance by an untrained and uncultured art observer (that's me), is the Ansel Adams special exhibition which just opened this weekend and also runs through September 13th. Other things not to miss in Forest Park include the Jewel Box, Turtle Park, and the Boathouse (rentals are $15). 

And this is a link to the Muny. Just because, why Google, when Abby has a link? Can you believe that in five years I have never been to the Muny?! It's shameful really. I think we are definitely going to try to make it to see Annie next week. I don't think I can handle most of the other ones showing. And that attitude, ladies and gentleman, is how someone can live in St. Louis for five years and never go to the Muny. And I so used to love musicals... I also hope to get to at least one of the free concerts (this link is to the lineup, but I am guessing y'all wouldn't have ever heard of any of these people either; though it will help you avoid showing up on jazz clarinet night) at the Missouri Botanical Gardens this summer, which run through August 5th on Wednesday nights after 5PM (music starts at 7:30). "Garden Party Nights" , also at the Botanical Gardens, take place on Thursday evenings through September 3rd. It looks like a lot of fun, but they are charging admission. (Admission? What's that?) However, it does appear that they will be offering another St. Louis favorite, free beer! There are also free concerts followed by a free movie on Friday nights at 7PM at Laumeier Sculpture Park this June. This link will take you to the schedule of bands and movies.  Yes, I do, on occasion, listen to Y98. I know, it's getting more and more embarrassing as we go. Speaking of radio stations sponsoring a free concert series at parks, 102.5 is responsible for the ones at Faust Park in Chesterfield on Tuesday evenings at 7PM through August 4th. De--li--lah (that's not how I know about them though, I just looked it up. I just thought we could use the Delilah jingle since she airs on 102.5). 

And don't forget that the Missouri Botanical Gardens are also free for St. Louis City and County residents on Wednesday and Saturday mornings until noon, and that their Butterfly House in Chesterfield's Faust Park is free until 11am on the first Tuesday of the month. Until I looked it up, I didn't realize that you can tour the Historical Village at Faust Park on the last two weekends in May, June, and July from 1 to 5. Of course, you can always wander through the grounds and look in the windows, but on these days, there are tour guides in period clothing who will take you through the homes. The tours are free. And I should mention the carousel at Faust Park too; rides are $1 and run from 10-4 Tuesdays through Sundays. 

So, now that we're here, let's stay over on the west end of town and explore a little. There's the Magic House (no link because I cannot get their page to load for some reason), of course, but I think it is $8.50. However, it is free this Sunday for dads because of Father's Day, and for Family Nights for two adults and up to four children from 5:30-9pm on June 19th, July 17th, August 21st, and September 18th. The World Bird Sanctuary is nice, free, and low key. Lots of owls- hooty hoot! (Just shoot me! I am such a dork!) I have never been to Purina Farms, but I hear it is a good time, and of course, free. The Museum of Transportation is not free, but it will be this Sunday for Father's Day, and there will be a car show and "kids' fun." It is fairly reasonably priced the rest of the time, except for the the additional costs to ride the train or visit the Creation Station. If this is intriguing to you, yo may consider membership; it isn't much and offers lots of perks. In thinking of trains, it is also worth mentioning the Whittle Shortline Railroad in Valley Park. This is best suited for younger children. It has lots of train tables set up and kids can play for hours for free. There is coffee for purchase for moms, but I have to warn you, it is not the best. They tend to overlook your bringing in your own coffee if you purchase some sort of little snack (Famous Amos cookies for 65 cents go perfectly with my coffee from home for a mid-morning treat). Moms have figured out that the best way to get the kids to be ready to leave without having to pry their fingers from trains and carry them out kicking and screaming (Oh yes, it happens every time I am there, and do not judge, for the first several time we were there, it was August who was doing the kicking and screaming. An otherwise compliant and peaceful child turns into a monster when you take him from his trains. Nevermind that you have a set at home, it is not like this place.) is to wait until a train passes on the real train tracks outside. This lures everyone out to the sidewalk and the engineer kindly blows his whistle and waves. Once the train has passed, we head out to the car! It's genius, really. On Sundays, you can also head on over to The Wabash Frisco and Pacific Railroad in Wildwood. Real steam trains run along the Meramec River for a two mile round trip and depart every twenty minutes at $3 a ticket (children 3 and under ride free). 

We are now moving on to the more mundane, but good stuff nonetheless. This is the link to the free movies on Wednesday and Thursday mornings all summer at Wehrenberg (Wehrenberg... Wehrenberg...- in a creepy whisper- because you can't say "Wehrenberg" without thinking of the creepy whispering echo), and this is a link to the site that will tell you which free movies are playing on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at 10AM all summer at a Regal Cinema near you, just select your state for listings. I already glanced at a couple of states- in St. Louis, we only have St. Louis Mills, in Nashville, there is both Opry Mills and the Bellevue Cinema, and in Birmingham, there is just the Trussville Stadium 16. There are also several participating theaters in each of the Carolinas. There's even one in Brooklyn, New York- I checked! I don't know where else anyone lives, but you get the idea. The schedule is different in every theater, but it looks like there are some good ones. 

And this is a link to the children's class schedule at Dierberg's cooking schools. We have had so much fun doing these classes in the past. They even have week long "camps" for older kids. And, in my opinion, the classes are reasonably priced. Or they were, I'm looking now and I think Amabel just grew out of the cheap classes. Bummer. Anyway, they have a points program where the fifth class is free, so that's nice. Did you also know that Michael's has free summer events? Well, they are mostly demos that look kind of lame (I'm picturing us as the audience in an infomercial), but I am a little interested in the Wilton cake decorating classes. They are not free, but they are 50% off (off what though?) during the month of June (which is now halfway over), just in time for my big three summer birthday bashes!  Also, don't forget to check your local library for the events nearby. St. Louis County libraries alone have so many events, it would be impossible for me to mention all of them, but here is a link to the "latest happenings" Kids' page (you'll need to click on upcoming events and pick your branch). 

Speaking of branches, peach picking and blackberry picking start mid-July at Eckert's. I am not sure if strawberry picking is still going on or not. We look forward to apple and pumpkin picking every year (last year, we somehow ended up spending like $75!), but we have never made it out for any other fruits. I'm thinking I want to change that this year. Because mmmm, peaches. And even if you don't live in St. Louis, you can go peach pickin' somewhere! 

Well, that's about it from what I can gather. Not that it isn't plenty to keep one busy. I truly didn't fully appreciate it until I left last summer. It still won't change your life. I mean, give me the company of friends over creatures in cages any day. But it is good fun for your kids and keeps you busy when everyone else is on vacation. Anything y'all would care to add would be wonderful. I am not sure how helpful this post will be, but you never know. It is nice to have all the links and free days on one page, don't you think. It's my gift to you. And if you don't live in St. Louis and this was in no way helpful, then perhaps, you should pick a few things you'd like to do and come visit me! I think so. 


annie said...

Abby, I've never been to the Muny. I've lived here since 1996. How pitiful is that?

jennifer h said...

I've never been to the Muny either-- from 1995 - to 1998 and then from 2005 until now. And, I LOVE the musical. When we lived here the first time, it was always too hot to go. Now, we all just work too much!

e.c. said...

Abby, all of this stuff sounds so much FUN! I would LOVE to come visit you....unfortunately, I don't own a big enough vehicle to be helpful--we couldn't fit us and y'all in my van to go anywhere!

katie said...

The Muny has some good shows this year. Annie is later this summer. Maybe we can take the kids! :)

Anonymous said...

You should write a column about this stuff---does St. Louis have the equivalent of Mrs. Cheap? Not saying you are cheap, but she puts out articles with lots of free or reasonably priced events to do with kids around here....
I, on the other hand, am often too lazy to drag my kids to some of these activities...I really ought to try to do more with them! Hang in there--i know I have told you I struggle in the summer as well.

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