Saturday, November 26, 2011

Lincoln Presidential Museum

We have driven through Springfield, Illinois many times...but finally took a couple of hours to stop at the Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library.  This location is another listing in the book of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die.  The complex was opened in 2005 and has the largest repository of Lincoln artifacts anywhere.  You can easily spend a few hours here to explore the different galleries and view the movies. 

Start you journey through the family log cabin

The only place where you can take photos are in the children's room and  in the central plaza where you  start on the "exhibit journeys".  One side shows Lincoln's youth in Indiana through when he became a lawyer.  The other side of the hall depicts his career as a politician, his troubled presidency, and his assassination.

Enter the White House to view the presidential years

Some of the exhibits include special effects which help to bring history to life.  The presentations of "Ghosts of the Library" and "Lincoln's Eyes" were very interesting and well done (though could be frightening to small children).

Period toys and costumes for the kids to enjoy

Lincoln Logs and a play kitchen area

The Treasures Gallery has artifacts from the life of Lincoln, his wife Mary Todd and their children.  You can see everyday things like his stovepipe hat and shaving mirror, also her music box and jewelry.  We were amazed to view a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Lincoln and also a draft of the Gettysburg Address written in his own hand.

We plan on returning to Springfield and spending more time, maybe a weekend, so we can also visit the other historic sites including Lincoln's home, the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices, Lincoln's Tomb and New Salem. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Babler State Park, just a few minutes from St Louis

Just a short drive from St Louis you can find a wonderful state park where there are hiking trails, equestrian trails, ball fields and campgrounds.  Babler State Park was started in 1934 when Jacob and Henry Babler donated land for the park in memory of their brother, prominent St Louis physician and surgeon, Dr Edmund A Babler.  We enjoyed spending a warm, fall morning here with our grandson.  This park can get crowded in the summer and is a popular camping spot.

Dr Edmund Babler statue

The park now covers more than 888 acres and contains 22 CCC structures that are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Great hiking trails

We stopped at the River Hills Visitor Center where there is a relief map of the park.  The employees are very helpful to explain the different trails and terrain, plus you can spend some time exploring the dioramas of the flora and fauna of the area.  Other exhibits were aquariums and reptiles to view, hands on coloring and crafts for the kids, microscopes to explore natural items 'up close', a bird viewing area with binoculars to use and a small gift shop.

One of the aquariums in the visitor center

Gabe enjoys the fountain at the visitor center

There are many areas for picnics and playgrounds.  A couple of geocaches are available - but cell phone coverage is spotty at best, so download the coordinates before you get there! 

Playground fun

Site of a geocache

Remember - Missouri State Parks are FREE to visit!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Faust Park - a great place to spend a day

The city of Chesterfield has a wonderful park with many different areas you can enjoy.  Faust Park was established in 1968 and covers nearly 200 acres.   This is truly a 'something for everyone' type of park.  There are the usual picnic areas, a fun playground, hiking trail, antique carousel, historical village and the butterfly house! 

The carousel was built in the 1920's, survived a fire, was sold and then donated to the St Louis park department.  After being restored to it's original glory, the carousel was installed in a climate controlled building in the park in 1987.  Rides are offered at the bargain price of $1!  There is a small gift shop and this is a popular place for  birthday parties.

The historic village has 16 buildings from 1840-1888.  These represent different lifestyles, professions and needs of the period.  They are open for historical weekends in the summer - complete with period demonstrations, tours and for guided group tours by appointment only.

The streets and paths make it easy to walk around the buildings

The gardens have vegetables, flax, cotton and flowers

Sachs Butterfly House has an admission fee of $6 for adults, $4 for kids (2 yrs and under are free).  You can stroll through the conservatory and see nearly 2000 butterflies in flight, watch a butterfly emerge from it's chrysalis and see a movie about butterfly behavior and anatomy.  There is an outside garden planted to attract butterflies, an inside exhibit hall where displays of other types of insects and arachnids are housed, a gift shop and more.

Kids love to play on the caterpillar

Thornhill farm is the historic home of Frederick Bates (the second governor of Missouri) and his family.  The site includes his 1820s home, barn, reconstructed summer kitchen, ice and smoke house, orchard and herb garden, and family cemetery.    There are living history weekends at this location also.

Check out the St Louis county parks website for the calendar of events if you want to enjoy one of the special weekends at this park.