Do you want to take your family on a vacation this summer but don't want to spend a lot of money? Here are five great vacation destinations your family can drive to from St Louis in six hours or less. Each destination offers fun activities for the entire family and saves you money by not having to pay for airfare.
Head north on I-55 to Milwaukee and you'll arrive in just over 6 hours. At about 380 miles from St Louis, this is a great city to visit at least once. The summer months offer the added benefit of being able to experience Summerfest. For eleven days this summer your family can sample the music, the food and the fun of this great summer festival. With Lake Michigan as the backdrop, you will enjoy the entertainment in comfort with the cool lake breeze blowing through your hair.
Summerfest June 27 - July 1 and July 3 - July 8. Weekday pass $7, any day pass $15, children 10 and under $4, 2 and under free.
While you're there you can also take the kids on a tour of Jelly Belly's warehouse, located in Pleasant Prairie, about 30 minutes south of Milwaukee.
Jelly Belly tours: April 1 – October 31, 2012
Junior (age 3 to 12): $11.25
Child (2 and under): FREE
Baseball fans can catch a game at Miller Park, home of the Famous Racing Sausages.TM
On your way back from Milwaukee, stop and spend some time in the exciting city of Chicago. The city is about 300 miles north of St Louis, close to a five hour drive. If you have any girls in your family, you will want to be sure to visit American Girl Place and get a souvenir issue of American Girl® magazine with her face on the cover. Photo packages range from $22.95–$34.95, and reprints are $9.95.
Chicago's Millennium Park has free admission and is open daily from 6 AM to 11 PM. With interactive activities, arts and crafts and games it is sure to be a hit for kids of all ages.
Baseball fans can take a trip to Wrigley Field, which was built in 1914, and will host the Cubs for the 97th year. Wrigley Field is the second-oldest ballpark in the majors behind Boston's Fenway Park (1912).
Take Interstate 70-East for about 350 miles, or 5 1/2 hours, to Cincinnati. While there, take the kids to Parky's Wetland Adventure and Parky's Playbarn for some great water and animal fun. Hours and admission to the water park are as follows:
$2.50 per child (2-12)
$6.00 (for 3) children (2-12)
11:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. Daily (weather permitting)
May 26 - September 3, 2012
The water park features a 16-foot tree with 2 slides, a whimsical great blue heron, frogs, turtles and flowers which spray water. Parky's Playbarn is a 100-acre demonstration farm that includes: orchards, gardens and crops; live farm animals; a working windmill and an antique farm equipment display.
Baseball fans can also see the Cincinnati Reds play at the Great American Ballpark.
SANTA CLAUS, INDIANA
If you travel east on I-64 for about 3 hours (200 miles) you will arrive at Santa Claus. There your family can visit the amusement park and water park, Holiday World. Besides being a really fun amusement/water park, Holiday World will also quench your families thirst for free. That's right, soft drinks are free and unlimited—including carbonated beverages, pink lemonade, fruit punch, orange Gatorade, sweetened iced tea, coffee and ice water—in both parks. A 1 day ticket is $40.95 ($32.95 if you're under 54").
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI
If you would rather head west, and you want to stay in Missouri, then take Interstate 70 for 4 hours, 250 miles, to Kansas City. Your family can then visit the LEGOLAND Discovery Center. LEGOLAND offers hands-on play areas, a 4D Cinema, master classes from the LEGO® Master Model Builder, LEGO rides, and is a highly interactive and educational experience. Ticket prices are: Child (3-12) $15, Adult $19 (a 10% discount is offered for online purchases).
Kansas City also offers many free activities. The famous mall, Crown Center, features more than 60 shops and restaurants, including the Hallmark Visitors Center and Kaleidoscope, where kids can create amazing things in a magical art studio.
Baseball fans can visit Kauffman Stadium to see the Royals play.