Back in January I participated in a Twitter chat revolving around #MWTravel. This one happened to be about Clear Lake, Iowa (in my “backyard”). They gave away a variety of prizes for participating in the chat and I was astonished and stunned speechless when they posted that I was the winner of 2 round trip tickets from Air Choice One!
Here in North Iowa we are are lucky to have a small, nice, regional airport situated between Clear Lake and Mason City. We are also lucky to have Air Choice One offering service out of this airport to Chicago and St. Louis!
So…there I was with 2 tickets to Chicago or St. Louis. After much consideration T and I decided that the best use of the tickets would be to take R to St. Louis to see T’s dad and step-mom. (They live about 30 minutes from downtown STL.) So, I called the 800 number and booked my flights with ease! The customer service was outstanding and the process was easy! About a week ago, R and I arrived at the Mason City airport and took off on Air Choice Choice to STL! The planes were comfy, the pilots and employees friendly and professional! We enjoyed our experience.
Once in STL it was lots of food, laughs, and sight seeing! On Saturday we headed to Alton, IL, which is a suburb of STL and a very historic community! We were booked for a tour of their underground
railroad homes! We arrived a little early and were able to check out their historic downtown area and to be honest, I wish we had had more time to visit more shops, but that’s ok! One shop that did catch our eye was Olive Oil Marketplace! We briefly visited this amazing store prior to our tour and then returned after. This shop had more varieties of olive oils and balsamic vinegars than I had ever seen, plus a large variety of loose teas and spices plus lots of little kitchen knick knacks. I picked up some tea for Beth Ann of It’s Just Life as well as some gluten free pasta for Donna of donnahup.com. For myself I grabbed 2 bottles of balsamic; Garlic Cilantro & Bergamot Lemon.
Our tour of the underground homes was pretty interesting. While we didn’t get to view any of the homes, we learned a lot about slave trade in the St. Louis area as well as the freed slaves or those trying to gain freedom. Our tour left from the Alton Visitors Center, our bus driver was good, and our tour guide incredibly knowledgeable. We all learned a lot and R was the star of the show…maybe because he was the youngest person on the tour, followed by myself! After the tour and our final stop at Olive Oil Marketplace we headed to the suburb of Cahokia, IL for some BBQ! What a fun place! You can read more about our visit there HERE!
Sunday brought more touring. We began with Busch Stadium. This downtown area was jam packed full of people because of the Missouri Valley Championship being in town, so we didn’t do a lot of exploring, but the FOX Midwest Zone is nearby as well as the St. Louis
Cardinal museum. We took off on our tour with about 10 other people and learned a lot! None of us our St. Louis Cardinal fans, but it was very neat to hear about the history of the stadium and the team as well as see all the knooks and crannies of the stadium. Once again, our tour guide was very knowledgeable and entertaining. We all enjoyed the tour and R even said that he would like to tour some more stadiums! (Future road trip?)
Next, we headed for the Anheuser Busch Brewery. There we took their complimentary brewery tour! It was interesting to see the ornate buildings as well as the famous Clydsdale’s, and of course the brewing process! During the tour you (if you’re 21 of course) enjoy about a 3oz sample of beer (Budweiser or Bud Light, your choice) and then at the end of the tour you are given a token for a free full-size beverage in their Biergarten! I tried something new, their Shock Top Apple Ale! YUM!! For the kids, they have free sodas. The history of the place is amazing as well as the company’s vision and high standards of excellence!
The last time we went to St. Louis for a visit with the family we took in the St. Louis City Museum (which I highly recommend for families with kids), the Zoo (which is free, so also a good choice for families) and the Gateway Arch! A lot of the Arch area is currently closed for renovations, so it is more limited!
While I had never really thought of St. Louis as a place to vacation, I’m so glad we’ve gotten to explore the areas a couple of different times and I would highly recommend the area for a trip closer to home! I guess that’s all part of Learning As I Go!
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I received the two tickets from Air Choice One as part of the Twitter Chat, but the thoughts and ideas surrounding their service is 100% my own. See my Disclosure Policy for more information.