Anytime you have 3 meals in 3 different states in 1 day, you'd have to qualify that as a pretty rad day. Breakfast in Cincy, Lunch in Louisville and dinner a couple blocks from Busch Stadium in St. Louis. That's how we spent our Thursday.
We stopped in Louisville long enough to do 2 things and 2 things only: the Louisville Slugger Bat Factory and Baseball Museum. And lunch. Even if you don't like baseball but happen to find yourself in Louisville, you've got to stand outside and marvel at the gigantic bat resting against the building. It's just too awesome not to appreciate.
The Louisville Slugger tour is free for kids 5 and under, and with the AAA discount it came to just $18 for the Mrs. and I. We were lucky enough to be part of a group that got to see bat production actually being done, making hundreds of bats every couple minutes. A very neat tour, much like the Gibson Guitar factory in Memphis, with employees hard at work making world famous wooden tools of a particular trade. The museum inside the facility is equally as impressive. It was designed, it seems, with young folks in mind because in addition to the big kid placards and statues are numerous secret drawers, levers, and hide-and-seek diversions containing artifacts from our national pastime. It's just one (big) room but it will keep your gang busy for a good while. Slide on some white gloves and, in a special game-used bat area, handle several bats used by the likes of Mantle, Thome, Ortiz and Carew. The Bear and I toted the Mick's lumber, circa 1960-1963.
Once outside the exhibit hall, head down to the giant glove and the modest kid's zone called small ball. The latter offers a tee ball batting cage, coloring sheets & crayons, bean bag chairs, and those fun bead toy-thingys for babies. Across the way is the big boy batting cage. $1 gets you 10 pitches at about 45 mph. You can choose to use a well-known player's bat (I opted for Griffey Jr's) and take some hacks. I didn't do well - whiffing twice, grounding into 5 double plays, 2 foul tips and one glorious line drive into the gap - but I also didn't pull a muscle. I'll take it.
The factory's concierge suggested Boomer's Canteen, just a block away for a quality, kid-friendly, non-chain lunch spot. Save for being cash/check only, she was spot-on.
Set inside an old house, you step in and are transported to a down-home parlor room, complete with decorations, knick-knacks and a residential kitchen. Oh, and also a ton of Boomer paintings and assorted beagle paraphernalia.
The menu is simple yet ordering ended up being complex. Us brilliant northerners struggled with the fill-out-the-sheet-yourself setup. Once we managed to convey our culinary desires to Steven, the uber-helpful server, we were quickly served pulled pork BBQ with sweet potato mash and corn-on-the-cob (The Mrs.), garden salad & loaded baked potato (moi), grilled cheese (Mouse) and a ham and cheese sandwich (Bear). The complimentary orange slices pleased the girls, as did being fawned over by the 2-man waitstaff and by the owners. Boomer's Canteen is the kind of place that reminds me why it's so important (and fun!) to avoid the chains, especially when vacationing in new, interesting places far from home. A great experience only available there, on West Main St., Louisville Kentucky.
4 hours later we arrived in St. Louis, passing by the Arch and crossing the mighty Mississippi as we made our entrance into "The West".
Our hotel room rocks, with a great view of the Arch and dinner was terrific at J. Buck's (I'm a sucker for legendary baseball announcers) - if you go, try the spinach and artichoke dip. Many places serve it but not many are this good. Yum!
The tater tots were lovely as well. They come with the mini-burger on the well-priced kid's menu (meal, drink and ice cream for $4 flat - not bad, especially in an urban setting). Witness the Bear's TOT STONEHENGE!
We had to enjoy the Cards vs. Cubs experience from outside the gates as we were priced out of Busch Stadium. Oh well, there will be more baseball on this trip, at more reasonable price points.
The girls are asleep and I will be soon. We're only 4 hrs away from the center of the family music world! KC Jiggle Jam awaits and we are pumped up for a weekend of outstanding kiddie rock and roll. Until Friday...
Wanna tag along virtually? Just click the "Jiggle Jam 2009" link below and get caught up on our journey.