Fun Getaways for the Family

Plan your next trip to St. Louis, Columbus or Chicago

Champaign, IL - Two New Midwest Hotels & Fall Family Fun in St. Louis

By Marcia Frost

Fall has started off as hot as summer, but even if the temperatures decide to cool down, you can enjoy a quick getaway to new hotels in Chicago and Columbus, or take the whole family for a play day in St. Louis.


Hotel LeVeque and Ace Hotel Make Debuts

I had the opportunity to check out two new hotels in the Midwest and they both have unique offerings worth a trip.


As soon as you enter the lobby at Hotel LeVegue, you know you are in someplace special. It’s part of the Autograph Collection Hotels and is located in the LeVegue Tower, which dates back nearly 100 years. The rooms are big and the beds comfy. Enjoy the extra touches such as a “starry night display” on the ceiling.


They do not have a restaurant open yet, but The Keep is a stylish bar with old fashioned cocktails, a great wine list, and delicious small plates. The local cheese and charcuterie is fresh and delicious.  Also, until the restaurant is ready, the hotel serves a breakfast that includes oatmeal, eggs, bagels, pastry, and fruit.


I didn’t get to do any sightseeing this trip, but I did hit my favorite store in the country, the Eddie Bauer Warehouse. It’s worth a trip to Columbus just to shop in this tremendous warehouse, with Eddie Bauer fashions 50-80% off. After we left there, we had a delicious and relaxing lunch at Milestone 229 in Bicentennial Park. They have unique drinks and unique entrees. Try the Baked Vegetable Croquette with

baba ghanoush and order the warm pretzel bread.


New hotels seem to be popping up all the time in Chicago, but the Ace Hotel is one that really stands out. It’s in the up and coming West Loop neighborhood, directly across from Google’s headquarters. Its décor is very modern, from the hotel rooms that look like a dream dorm room, complete with plenty of charging areas for your gadgets, and a reasonably-priced mini bar that includes boxed water.


Ace Hotel has a rooftop bar with breathtaking views of the Chicago skyline. Downstairs, Chef Jason Vincent has created an eclectically delicious menu of mostly local ingredients at City Mouse. They also have tasty tap wine.


I started with the cornbread, warm and served with parmesan butter, followed by a fantastic Marinated Zucchini Salad, with rice dumplings. For my main course, I made the right choice in the light and fresh Corn Mezzaluna, a type of ravioli in a sweet corn sauce with tomatoes.  The desserts all sounded good. I went for the Sugar Plum Torte with honey whipped ricotta and a plum thyme sorbet.


I returned to City Mouse for breakfast with friends and it was just as good. We shared the Bacon Dill Twist, gluten-free chocolate donut, and the Caramel Cinnamon Roll. For a main course, there was the Gas Station Sandwich with egg, hash browns, cheese, sausage, and grape jelly, and the Brunch Burrito with scrambled eggs, pineapple, black beans, roast pork, and chihuahua cheese.


Family Fun Inside and Outside in Saint Louis

The first thing you should know about the Saint Louis Zoo is that admission is free. That means you can take the family there as often as you’d like. If you want to do some of the extras, such as the children’s zoo, the train, the sea lion show, and the stingrays, get the Adventure Pass for $12.)


The Stingrays at Caribbean Cove are a lot of fun. You can pet them and feed them, or just watch the beautiful creatures swim around. The sea lion show is also well-worth seeing, but if you don’t want to spend the extra money, you’ll find plenty to do for free.


The St. Louis Zoo has a huge animal collection, including giraffes, tigers, elephants, cheetahs, zebras, birds, and monkeys. A brand-new Grizzly Ridge cost $11.1 million and has 7,000 square feet of outdoor habitat for the bear.


Note: The children’s zoo is temporarily closed for some repairs, but will re-open October 9th.


If the weather isn’t cooperating or you are just looking for something new to do, head to The City Museum. This St. Louis spot always has something new and different so it doesn’t matter if you’ve been there before. Kids of all ages will enjoy climbing, sliding, exploring, and learning.  


Among the things you can’t miss at The City Museum are the 10-story slide, the Caves, Circus Harmony, and the unique art collections on the third and fourth floor.  The rooftop, where there is a Ferris wheel, slides, and a school bus half off the building you can climb, is worth the extra money.


You’ll also find a full bar on the rooftop and plenty of spots for snacks in between. Wear comfortable clothes and check the website before you go to see what’s new.

Note: City Museum is closed Monday and Tuesday, except Columbus Day, October 9th.


Follow Midwest Travel with Marcia Frost on Facebook and read her stories on her Wine And Spirits Travel blog


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