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Ask the Patch Pro: Gathering 'Staycation' Tips

Our panel of experts are waiting in the comments to answer all your questions about staycations in the latest installment of Ask the Patch Pro.

It's time for another edition of . Every week we'll tackle a different topic and open up the comments section for questions. Our team of experts will then stop in to help you out and answer your questions. 

Want to take vacation, but don't have anywhere to go and not a lot of money to spend? You may be in need of a staycation. What's a staycation? Simple, you take a break in your own backyard.

For the next installment in our "Ask the Patch Pro" series, we've gathered community experts to help make your staycation grand. What's a hidden gem in your city? What's a cheap way to spend a Friday night? Where is your favorite place to go in the city? What's the best park? What fun things can you do for free? 

We at Patch don't have the answers to those (and your) questions, but not to worry. We've compiled a crack team of experts to help us out. Meet the experts: 

  • Laura Helling: Executive Director at the Foundry Arts Centre
  • Donna Andrews: Director Public Relations, St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission
  • Larry Guessfeld: community staycationer and St. Charles County Community Council member
  • Dottie Phillips: Recreation Superintendent for the city of Wentzville
  • Vikki Cosner Love: Site Administrator, Missouri State Parks
  • David Leezer: Director of Economic Development and Tourism for St. Charles 
  • Martha Little: Assistant Director of Tourism
  • Carol Felzien: Director of Communication St. Charles 
  • Pam Schulz: Communications Coordinator St. Charles
  • Lisa Bedian: St. Peters Director of Communications

Got a question? Ask below!

Donna Andrews July 25, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Great question Joe ... a hidden gym is the World Aquarium inside City Museum. All the creatures in the WA are either donated or rescued really making this a special attractions. Also, the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog is a very good option. You'll see sculptures, exhibits, paintings depicting all breeds of man's best friend.
Dottie Phillips July 25, 2012 at 03:23 PM
When planning for a teen date night, I would check all of your local parks to see if there are activities that might be interesting. For example, why not make a whole day out of it - grab some card board boxes and duct tape and make a boat for the two of you to enter the Cardboard Boat Races at Progress Park on August 9th - the fee is only $10! Or you could make your very own box car and come to the drive in movie, "Winnie The Pooh" at Rotary Park on August 3rd. It's free to get in and refreshments are available at very affordable prices - or you could just pack a picnic and bring your own. If you are looking for something a little more active, register for a free program called "Songs of the Night Nature Walk". It's on August 10 at 8pm at the lower area of Rotary Park. Listen to the song of the birds, the chorus of insects and maybe even see some wild life. Check the city website at www.wentzvillemo.org/parks for these activities and more!
Donna Andrews July 25, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Tamara, if I were still a teen a good activity to include in "date night" would be a trip to the St Louis Carousel at Faust Park. It only costs $2 to ride the carousel and it really is a magical experience...
Brian Feldt (Editor) July 25, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Given the extreme heat? What are some cool indoor activities?
Laura Helling July 25, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Free Music of course! St. Charles County has a broad variety of free music performances for every listening style: - Music 360 at the Foundry Art Centre showcasing up and coming musicians the 4th Wednesday of each month - Music on Main in downtown St. Charles the 3rd Wednesday of the month 5 pm - 7:30 pm - St. Charles Municipal Band every Thursday at 8 pm in Frontier Park - O'Fallon Jammin' in Civic Park every Tuesday 5:30 - 8:30 Don't forget all of the free art studios and gallery shows around town too! - KAPOW! Comic Art & Storyboarding opens July 27th at 6 pm with a free public reception at the Foundry Art Centre. Come out and meet comic artists from around the nation in this tribute to the art of comics and storyboarding! While you're there, visit onsite studio artists. - Framations Gallery on Main Street St. Charles opens 3 new shows August 17th at 6 pm. - Art Glass Array on Kingshighway in St. Charles has open studio hours to view glass works in a variety of styles - St. Peters Cultural Arts Centre has ongoing shows daily showcasing the work of local artists from throughout the county.
Donna Andrews July 25, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Brian, how about Meramec Caverns - it's a constant 58 degrees! Sounds good doesn't it.
Brian Feldt (Editor) July 25, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Good idea Donna! Although I've never been there before, I feel like I've been every season considering the amounts of advertising they do along the highways. I've even seen a billboard for Meramec Caverns once in northern Texas (or maybe it was Oklahoma). Can you believe that?!?
Donna Andrews July 25, 2012 at 03:47 PM
Totally Brian .. when I am on the road and heading back to STL when I see those Caverns billboards I know I am near home :) Go check it out. It is an experience.
Kalen Ponche July 25, 2012 at 04:10 PM
I think sometimes when you take a "staycation" you have to put in a little more effort to do things you don't normally do to make it feel vacationy. Anyone have tips for making a day out of fun activities, like you might do if you visit another city?
Jane July 25, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Here is a link to a coupon for the Caverns: http://www.visitmo.com/meramec-caverns.aspx
Pam Schulz July 25, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Brian... the Convention & Visitors Bureau actually distributed an E-Newsletter to visitors this July, entitled "Beat the Heat" to focus on indoor activities and museums. Demolition Ball & Adrenaline Zone (www.db-az.com) is a unique game that combines hockey, football, polo & basketball -- played in bumper cars. Also the Lewis & Clark Boathouse and Nature Center, Foundry Art Centre, and Frenchtown Heritage Museum are indoor attractions.
Donna Andrews July 25, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Kalen, you are so right. Let's talk about eating. People can easily get into a routine of visiting the same restaurants. As a staycationer take off those blinders and try something new. Indulge in a Chef's Table at the Four Seasons, pick up a copy of either FEAST or Sauce magazines to learn about new/hightly regarded restaurants in the area. In terms of activities, many organizations maintain a Calendar of Events. Log on and find something interesting (Opera, free concerts, festivals). Try www.explorestlouis.com. Everything and anything you wanted to know about touring STL is at your fingertips - it's the virtual Visitor Guide everyone picks up when exploring a new destination.
Brian Feldt (Editor) July 25, 2012 at 05:20 PM
I've played Demolition Ball before, but not in St. Charles. It's a lot of fun!
Pam Schulz July 25, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Take a scenic drive to the Historic Missouri Wine Country along Highway 94 south for wine sampling and live music on the weekends. Explore the quaint town of Augusta. Explore your own city, with a trip to Historic Main Street for shopping and dining -- enjoy a walk along the brick streets and of course, stop for an ice cream along the way or cool drink.
Jordan Lanham July 25, 2012 at 05:39 PM
I used to work at Demolition Ball in St. Charles. It is a lot of fun! You can also play laser tag and get great food from their kitchen!
Dottie Phillips July 25, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Kalen, Again, I have to suggest your local, county and state parks. There are so many different things to do and they are often free of charge. Have you camped in one of the state parks lately? Another great activity would be visiting the Daniel Boone Home and Boonesfield Village? This is a great opportunity to learn some local history! You can visit their website at: http://www.danielboonehome.com/
Kalen Ponche July 25, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Dottie camping is a good idea but I might wait until it cools down a little bit! You know one thing I haven't really done is been on the Missouri or Mississippi Rivers much. I've been on the ferry but not much beyond that. Are there "boat rides?" available that anyone knows about?
Donna Andrews July 25, 2012 at 06:10 PM
You are right Jordan. I took my nieces and nephews and they had a "ball."
Dottie Phillips July 25, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Kalen, I have not personally experienced this, but here is a website for Gateway Arch Riverboat Cruises. http://www.stlouisarch.com/experience/gateway-arch-riverboat-cruises/ I'm sure there are others out there too!
Christen Rains July 25, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Camping outside isn't appealing with this heat, so why not camp inside? Move some furniture around and put the tent up in the living room. Better yet build a fort! Make the experience complete with grilled burgers, corn on the cob, potato salad, s'mores, etc.
Carol Felzien July 25, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Love the idea of camping indoors, Christen...and kids do, too! If your family is like mine, they also like an opportunity to hang out somewhere w/ access to awesome amenities, like a swimming pool, for example. And don't forget room service! After you've run through your itinerary of things to do and see in the region, you can cap off the staycation w/ an overnight at a local hotel (that's sort'of like camping out indoors, right?). There are many options in the area. For accommodations in St. Charles County? Visit online at www.historicstcharles.com.
Pam Schulz July 25, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Kalen... Saint Charles doesn't have a riverboat anymore along the Missouri River, but I have been on the paddle-wheel by the Arch that Dottie mentioned -- a really fun trip!
Pam Schulz July 25, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Visit the St. Charles CVB's website for discounts available at restaurants, shops, lodging, & more. http://www.historicstcharles.com/visitors/coupons/ Great way to find some deals!
Carol Felzien July 25, 2012 at 07:29 PM
We have some awesome destinations in the western reaches of St. Charles County. In fact, why not combine forces and look for a multitude of options in Historic Missouri Wine Country? You can get your history fix at the Daniel Boone Home & Boonefield Village (www.lindenwood.edu.boone), relish the vista views at more than 10 wineries in Defiance and Augusta and while you're there? Did you know you can actually take tours that come complete w/ transportation for a group of any size? Yep, focus areas include, history, shopping and wineries. To schedule a guided tour, call (314) 223-3423 or go to www.historicstcharles.com for more info.
Carol Felzien July 25, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Build a daily itinerary for your staycation just like you would if visiting a location out-of-town. Get everyone in the family to chime in re: "must see and do" activities. I agree with Donna...residents of the region have access to both the St. Louis CVC (www.explorestlouis.com) and the Greater Saint Charles CVB (www.historicstcharles.com); both sites provide not only a wealth of info about the region, but also offer "travel planning" tips that will make it easy for your family to pack as much punch as possible into each and every day!
Carol Felzien July 25, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Great suggestion, Dottie, for the region is blessed with a wide variety of local options for Parks & Recreation. Here are some helpful links your entire family can use to access green space and keep costs to a minimum: . St. Louis County -- http://www.stlouisco.com/ParksandRecreation . St. Louis City -- http://stlouis-mo.gov/by-topics-term.cfm?termID=155&termName=Parks%20and%20Gardens&topTermName=Leisure%20and%20Culture . St. Charles County -- http://parks.sccmo.org/parks/ . St. Charles City -- www.stcharlesparks.com . Franklin County -- http://thebigmuddy.net/franklin_county_map.html . Warren County -- http://warrencountymo.org/ . Lincoln County -- http://www.lcmo.us/
Carol Felzien July 25, 2012 at 08:04 PM
P.S. And, as Dottie mentions above, don't forget to check out our state parks, too! http://mostateparks.com/
Larry July 25, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Tamra, I would recommend a night in, dinner at home and a movie that you already own is a great way to save money. How ever of your looking to get out and about, try your local parks or church's. Alot of them hold free activities and events.
Victoria Love August 08, 2012 at 08:43 PM
This Friday, from 10 until 4pm, we are celebrating Missouri's 191st birthday at the First State Capitol SHS. Costumed interpreters, open house of exhibits, crafts, gunsmithing, wood working and more!! Come and visit before the busy school season! 636-940-3322
KSadie August 20, 2012 at 01:00 PM
Climb to the top of the Weldon Spring Mound an half hour before sunset for a spectacular view. It can be windy so take a jacket and a thermos of hot cocoa for a little treat as you watch the sun set. FREE!!!! and romantic:) Visitors Guide to the Weldon Spring Site & Interpretive Center S7295 Highway 94 South St. Charles County, Missouri 636-329-1438

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