Falling in Love with The Lou

Missouri Botanical Garden

I was sitting on a bench with my kids in the middle of the Children’s Garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden the moment I fell in love with St. Louis.

My husband and I were in the middle of transitioning our family from Scottsdale, Arizona to St. Louis. While I didn’t grow up in the Midwest, it quickly became a part of my identity as I spent five years as a Kansas Jayhawk (sorry not sorry, Tigers!) And when I met my Midwest-loving husband in Arizona, one of the things that bound us together was a desire to one day move back to the Midwest to raise our family.

But St. Louis was never my plan. That was Josh’s place. He had lots of family and connections in the Lou, and I just figured if we ever picked up and moved, it would be to a new city for both of us.

But God had another plan, and we somehow found ourselves in St. Louis. I pretty much turned my nose up at the city. His city. Everything was scrutinized and compared to Scottsdale standards. You name it, I compared it. Arizona was pristine and sophisticated. St. Louis felt old and tired, and I couldn’t find restaurants I thought measured up to my Scottsdale standards. (Now I know, friends – I know)

So there we were, away from our regular routine in the desert, and it became obvious we had to get out and see what St. Louis had to offer.  It just so happened that at the same time, St. Louis was celebrating its 250th birthday and had placed birthday cakes all over the city to commemorate the most iconic and favorite locales. Everything from restaurants to bookstores, to parks and breweries, to schools and libraries. It was like the city provided a map of the best places to see and topped it off with beautifully decorated birthday cakes! My interest was piqued.

Eckert's Farm
Magic House
Crown Candy

I’d pull up an area of town on the app to see what cakes we had yet to explore, and we’d find as many as we could before naptime. We would leave South County and end up downtown, or in Chesterfield, or Dogtown, or Forest Park. We found cakes at The Barn in Crestwood, Left Bank Books in the CWE, Eckert’s Farm in Illinois, the library at Webster University. And the Children’s Garden at MOBOT.

And that’s where I fell in love. I had been posting photos of our adventures on social media mostly to share with family and friends back in Arizona. As I sat on a bench watching my kids play in the outdoor kitchen area of the garden, I read a comment from a friend who lived in St. Louis saying something to the effect of, “Wow, I live here and have forgotten about all the fun things there are to do here with my kids.” And in my head I responded: “Wow, if I got to live here and make this my home, I’d never take this for granted.

Cardinals Fans in Training

That day, I went from being a sojourner with hopes to move back home, to being a settler with a new desire to make this place my home. I saw a place where I could provide my kids a foundation of exploration and love for their community.

Like every good love story, there are times where the magic fades a little. You get caught up in the everyday monotony and lose that spark that made you fall in love in the first place.

Well, this summer we’ve decided to “renew our vows” and help our kids write their own St. Louis love story. We’ve committed to an (almost) camp-free summer and have created our family’s first ever Summer Bucket List. Our kids are now almost 8, 6.5 and 3, and I’d love to hear from you! What are the top three things you would put on your bucket list? Bonus points for including hidden gems! What are the places no one knows about? The mom and pop shops, the local diners, the neighborhood parks. Share your list with us!

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Jessica lives in Glendale, Missouri, with her husband Josh, and three kids Stella (2010), Graham (2012), and Mia (2015). She currently works from home as the Business Director for City Mom Collective. She is originally from Louisville, Kentucky but was raised mostly in Irmo, South Carolina. After earning a BS Degree in Sociology at The University of Kansas she moved to Phoenix, Arizona and during her 15 years there she met her husband and started their family. In 2014, they moved back to her husband’s hometown of St. Louis and have loved exploring all the city has to offer for families. A perfect Midwest day for Jessica is checking out the live music and Walk Away Waffles at the Kirkwood Farmer’s Market, heading to Forest Park to check out the St. Louis Zoo or Art Museum, grabbing dinner and ice cream in the Central West End, and heading back home to watch her kids play in the backyard and chase fireflies.


  1. Definitely visit the Wolf Sanctuary! It’s a hidden gem – my girls were fascinated when we went years ago!

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