MEET US IN ST. LOUIS.
New play areas, bike paths, a museum renovation (opening in July) and an overhauled riverfront: The Gateway Arch National Park has been completely refreshed as part of the $380 million CityArchRiver project. But that’s not the only reason to plan a visit. You could spend the entire weekend at the zany City Museum, which bills itself as “an eclectic mixture of children’s playground, funhouse, surrealistic pavilion and architectural marvel made out of found objects.” (Seriously: Check out the video on the museum’s website.) And then there’s the St. Louis Zoo, the Cardinals, the riverboats and—last but not least—Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. Swoon. (explorestlouis.com)
PLAY BIG AT BIG CEDAR LODGE.
If you’ve been there, you know that Big Cedar Lodge in the hills near Branson, Missouri, doesn’t do anything “small.” That 18,000-square-foot spa the lodge renoed back in 2014? Bliss. The Top of the Rock attraction it added that same year? Ridiculous (in a good way)—especially the fact that you can have a cocktail in a cave. But it’s the newest on-site amenity that’ll make your kiddos’ tiny jaws drop: the aptly named Fun Mountain, a 50,000-square-foot Dave-&-Buster’s-for-littles-meets-Chuck-E.-Cheese-on-steroids type of place, complete with a laser-tag arena, go-karts, bumper cars, bowling alleys and an outdoor ropes course, all … Big Cedar-ified. Combine that with the resort’s dive-in movies, family bonfires, nature trails and the swimming beach on Table Rock Lake, and it’s the stuff summer-vacay dreams are made of. (bigcedar.com)
TAKE IT OUTSIDE IN CHATTANOOGA.
Things you can check off your kid’s bucket list after a weekend in Chattanooga: 1) Standing in one spot and seeing into seven states. 2) Feeling the spray from a 145-foot underground waterfall. 3) Riding a steam train through a pre-Civil War tunnel. 4) Exploring a garden full of gnomes created by the wife of the man who invented mini golf. (Yup, really.) You might not have known that last one was even on said bucket list, but that’s the thing—this Tennessee mountain town is chock-full of surprises. (chattanoogafun.com)