That’s right folks, beer, Ice-Cold Beer is just the ticket to making any Sunday Drive that much more enjoyable.
HOLD ON before you call the cops…
I’m not saying hop in your car, crack open a cold one and cruise down the highway at 70 miles an hour. That would be irresponsible and with kids in the car! Unthinkable. No what I’m suggesting is to plan into your drives an opportunity to get out of your car, have a nice picnic, let the kids stretch their legs, and crack open a beer. And I can think of almost no better place to do such a thing than Grant’s Farm. (Which happens to be Clarence’s Favorite Sunday Driving Destination.)
Sure, it may be a bit of a tourist trap.
Read all of the travel magazines, travel blogs, children’s websites, and any other pl ace that publishes lists and Grant’s Farm will be somewhere near the top of the list. So why are we adding to the cacophony of advertisement? Namely because there is so much of a story behind the property, the kids love it, it gets you out of the house, and you get 2 free beers. (Consider that positive reinforcement.)
Drive by History
Every time we drive down MO-30 Gravois Rd through Sunset hills there are centuries of history right there. We covered some of that in Drive by History Ep. 15 and actually we covered more Gravois Rd History a few weeks ago in Drive by History Ep. 13. Now that you have watched those you know that Gravois was the first paved road in Missouri and this is in large part due to Adolphus Busch (we paid him a visit at Bellefontaine Cemetery) who was annoyed how long it took to get to his country estate. By carriage it was a 2 day trip with a stop half way between the brewery and the farm at a place called Bevo Mill. (If you’re from St. Louis, you’ll recognize this it is the old windmill that is quite out of place amidst the sky scrapers.) This was a tavern and restaurant that Mr. Busch built and began to serve his beer for a cheap price to prove the point that classy restaurants could serve beer. (People thought beer was only a drink for the ball game and the dive bar.) The half-way house survived prohibition because he was only serving his “near-beer” with “no-alcohol.” After getting fed up with the long trip, he fought to get the road paved and by 1954 it was opened as a tourist destination.
I’ll Grant you one more…
But the history doesn’t just start at Adolphus Busch, it goes back before the civil war. A man by the name of Dent had built his estate there and called it White Hall. His son was stationed with a young Ulysses S. Grant at Jefferson Barracks. As many of you may know, the bonds you make at boot camp are thicker than blood so Grant and Dent became fast friends. Dent brought his friend home to the country estate and Grant met the lovely Julia. Just like Kezia and I, they hardly waited to start dreaming about the alpaca filled future they would have together and were given 80 acres of what is now Grant’s Farm as a wedding gift. From there, the future president Grant would build what is now the last existing house built by the hands of a US president. They didn’t live there very long because Julia didn’t much appreciate moving from White Hall to what they call “Hardscrabble.” So shortly before the civil war, they moved back to the estate.
Now get to the beer!
Right, the part that makes it a good Sunday Drive destination. Every year we are fortunate enough to receive an annual parking pass which is a huge money saver. $11 to park a single time or $40 to park as many times as you want. I once heard about a couple of ladies that bought a parking pass and would get their two cold beers every morning at 11:00 AM every day of the summer. Now that sounds like our kind of women, they like to get out of the house and talk. But once you park the adventure just begins. There is a constant stream of trams that take you through the deer park where you get to see animals from all over the world including cattle, deer, elk, and ostriches.
The tour guide gives you a drive by history as you travel and tells you about all of the things you can expect to see when you get up to the Tier Garden. These individuals just love working here, you can tell.
If you are willing to spend a couple of bucks (no pun intended) you can get your kids a fun pass which includes milk to feed the baby goats, a ride on the carousel and a snow cone. We of course are cheap and never do, and usually the boys don’t throw too much of a fit. They enjoy simply petting the goats and later going to the animal show to see Eagles, Owls, Porcupines and Parrots! We’ve seen the show about a dozen times now and it never disappoints even though I could probably run the thing myself. From there it is on to see the elephants, monkeys, birds, horses, and of course to get your cold beer.
In the old stables…
The barnhof area, which used to be the old stables for the Busch family is where you finally get your two free beers. There is a biergarten perfect for sitting and relaxing and enjoying your beer and perhaps a bratwurst. (I happen to know the guys who make the bratwurst and DoS will have to pay them a visit soon.) But be sure to go through the stables. They have several horses and donkeys for the kids to see, they have a fantastic display of all the ribbons and trophies won in equestrian competitions, and my personal favorite a huge collection of antique carriages, sleighs, and even fire engines! (Check one off the Scavenger Hunt!)
After you’ve stretched your legs enough, it’s time to get back on the tram for a short ride back to the parking lot. Every time we go, Clarence talks about it for days. And with all that they have to offer, it’s easy to see why we would need to come up with a euphemism for it to avoid any meltdowns at home.
Now that I’ve broken the ice, tell me one of your favorite tourist destinations. We’d love to hear about how you are turning it into a Sunday Drive. Share in the form below. Until next time, thanks for driving with us!