Hola! It’s safe to say that we could have written a few more blogs to capture all the fun, and in many cases, new things we did during 2014. That being said, we now have a great topic for our first blog of 2015: a review of the latter half of last year!
To begin, in June we took a small extended weekend vacation to Kentucky where we traveled our own version of the “Bourbon Trail.” While Dan is a fan of bourbon, Denise at the time did not have a taste for it. Therefore, we ventured off the official Bourbon Trail path to visit a few wineries. We stopped at a handful of distilleries including Buffalo Trace, Maker’s Mark, Woodford Reserve, Four Roses, and a couple local craft distilleries. Denise actually found a taste for bourbon along the way, particularly enjoying the Woodford Double Oaked Single Barrel and the Four Roses Single Barrel. Winery wise we tried Wild Rose Winery, White Moon Winery (where Denise got to bottle her own bottle of wine!) and Forest Edge Winery. Each one was unique and fun to visit. As far as lodging is concerned, our recommendation is to stay at Talbott Tavern, a bed and breakfast that is not only extremely affordable but also rich in history. It is located in Bardstown, KY named the “Most Beautiful Small Town in America” which it completely lives up to its claim to fame. If you enjoy bourbon, wine, history, and good food we highly recommend checking out Kentucky!
Fortunately, two of Denise’s sisters and their families were able to travel and visit us in St. Louis where we got to show them some of the city. Visiting various iconic St. Louis features and restaurants was the themes of both trips. City Museum was a huge hit with both of the families as it is an adult size jungle gym made out of recycled materials. The Saint Louis Zoo was also on the agenda which of course wows the kids and adults alike. Having never visited the Butterfly House, we were excited to visit with one family; everyone seemed to be impressed as it was beautiful. With the other family we tried the St. Louis Science Center in which the kiddos got to build their own program to operate a robot. We also saw Madagascar Island of the Lemurs, which was really funny and educational (anything that Morgan Freeman narrates has to be fantastic!). Several restaurants were also on the agenda. These included Fitz’s on the Delmar Loop, Bailey’s Range (a burger bar which is TO DIE FOR!) and Charlie Gitto’s on The Hill (Denise’s brother-in-law had been waiting two years to go back!). Overall both families were impressed with the city and had a great time!
Moving on to Fall 2014, we went a festival that began with us waiting in bumper-to-bumper traffic on Hwy 55. What festival, you ask? It’s the annual Apple Butter Festival in historic Kimmswick, MO. Having been our first time attending, we did not know we needed to arrive early to avoid all the traffic. After parking in a nearby field, we walked a 1/4 mile or so to the main gate. The number of vendors was unbelievable! Not to mention the continuous smell of tasty food that filled the air. From funnel cakes to burgers, it would be impossible to leave hungry. Not only did vendors line the streets with all sorts of handmade crafts, but all the local shops in Kimmswick showcased their merchandise with great sales. We managed to walk away with gifts for family and friends, some new decorations for the house, and a new appreciation for country festivals. Next year we’ll remember to leave early!
Last but not least, in November Denise bought Dan an absolutely fantastic birthday present – VIP tickets to the Whiskey in the Winter festival at the Hyatt Regency in downtown St. Louis. The night began with us navigating the hectic downtown streets amidst all the construction on the Arch Riverfront before finally arriving at the Hyatt. After a short visit to our room to change, we headed up to the President’s Suite to attend the VIP Jim Beam Suntory event prior to the actual festival. To be honest, this was one of our favorite parts of the night. The limited attendance, combined with delicious drinks, rare bourbon tastings, and a sushi bar made it hard to leave; let’s say the hour certainly flew by. VIP tickets meant we could arrive 30 minutes early to the actual festival. This gave us time to survey the various booths as well as try some of our favorite bourbons. Begin a festival centered around sampling bourbon, the organizers were very smart to include a wide array of unlimited food prepared by the Hyatt kitchen staff. From prime rib to salmon, and appetizers to dessert, the menu was stacked with delicious options. We regret only going through the line twice. Now don’t think we ate and drank the entire night (though with 300 whiskies available, it’s hard not to sample). The event included a wide array of education seminars with topics ranging from the history of bourbon to crafting classic bourbon cocktails with a twist. By 9 o’clock, the festival commenced, and we were ready for some rest. If you’re even remotely a fan of bourbon, this festival is sure to impress.
Overall, we had a great 2014 (see pictures below for some highlights). Besides doing many different activities we also tried a variety of amazing restaurants throughout the St. Louis area. One of our goals for 2015 is to not only write blogs about these fabulous establishments, but also to write more blogs in general. We hope you enjoy reading and continue to check in with us in 2015.
Denise and Dan
Denise bottling her own bottle of wine First ever green seat game!
Science Center Fun!