Spring Break finally arrived for our family. I spent the 1st part of the holiday traveling with my daughter to visit colleges in St. Louis, Ann Arbor, and Evanston. It was a pretty aggressive trip, I know, but we had a blast eating our way around each campus. We decided to start in St. Louis, Missouri and then drive straight to Ann Arbor, Michigan which was the longest and hardest part of the trip…an eight-hour drive. Here are some of the highlights:
St. Louis, Missouri:
Washington University’s campus is located across from Forest Park. The park is 500 acres larger than Central Park, in New York City, and attracts approximately 12,000,000 visitors a year. We did not have the time to explore the city which was a mistake. I would have loved to go for a long walk in the park, visit the St. Louis Zoo (inside Forest Park), take in a baseball game at Busch Stadium and visit the Gateway Arch. St. Louis is a great city to explore if you are dragging younger siblings around on college tours.
Right around campus the Delmar Loop is a fun area to shop and eat. Prior to our college tour we grabbed a muffin and cup of tea at Blueprint Coffee. My turmeric and ginger tea was the perfect way to start off the day after a night of flying. For lunch, we were craving tacos and the shrimp habanero taco at Mission Tacos Joint hit the spot. I wish I did not agree to share it with my daughter! Lastly, no trip to St. Louis is complete without a “concrete”. I had no idea what it was either but go to Ted Drewes for ice cream and order it. It is a rich creamy custard with toppings mixed in! If you flip it upside down, it won’t even spill out!
Ann Arbor, Michigan:
The 8-hour drive from St. Louis to Ann Arbor could have been worse. We beat the snowstorm that was heading our way and at night, there was no traffic so things went pretty smoothly. We carefully planned out our time in Ann Arbor to ensure we were able to explore the bakery and restaurant scene in town. I have always wanted to go to Zingerman’s Bakehouse and Bakeshop and it did not disappoint. They also have a creamery and gelato shop and they offer baking and cooking classes too (pizza, hot cross buns, cupcake and pasta making). We picked up some treats to bring home for the boys (a hot cocoa cake that was moist and not too rich).
Next up was a late brunch at Sava’s. The tomato soup with cheese curds was perfect for the cold snowy day. The place was packed with families of all ages, couples, and students. After lunch, we walked and window shopped around South State Street. The next morning we ventured out early for our college tour after a quick cup of coffee at the Lab Cafe. Lastly, on our way out of town, we stopped at Frita Batidos for a “frita” (a Cuban hamburger). We are still dreaming about our tropical slaw and sunny-side up egg topped burger!
We left Ann Arbor in the midst of a full-fledged snow storm for Chicago. We were about one hour away when I saw signs on the highway for “The Chocolate Garden”. Not one to pass up chocolate, we made a quick detour one mile off the highway. Featured on The Food Network, The Travel Channel, and Midwest Living, The Chocolate Garden is known for its handmade chocolate truffles. There is a retail shop, outdoor patio and tasting bar. Since they have quite a selection of white, dark, and milk chocolate falvored truffles, we had to sample all of them so we could narrow down our choices to take home.
Once we arrived in Chicago, we headed to Pequod’s Pizza for Chicago-style deep dish pizza with a caramelized crust. The next morning we woke up to the blizzard of 2017. Our tour at Northwestern was in the early afternoon so to get our energy for the day, we ventured off to find the Donut Vault, a very cool, cube-like shop with absolutely incredible tasting donuts.
Evanston is a short drive from Chicago (12 miles north of downtown Chicago) and home to Northwestern University. While visiting Evanston take a short drive to Wilmette, the home of the Bahá’í House of Worship for North America. It is a beautiful structure and the oldest surviving Bahá’í House of Worship in the world. While walking around Evanston we made our way to Hoosier Mama Pie Company. The founder, Paula Haney, was a former Pastry Chef at Trio. This is a really nice place to grab breakfast and read the paper or catch up on some work.
Before our campus tour, we relaxed for lunch at Farmhouse Evanston for a cup of tomato soup and mac’n’cheese.
Our flight was not until the following day at 3:00 pm so we called it a day and mapped out our itinerary for the next morning. We stopped by Fabcakes for a quick cup of coffee before exploring the Chicago French Market, Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain. Last stop before we headed to the airport was lunch at Au Cheval. We had heard it was impossible to get into and to be prepared for a 1-2 hour wait. However we got lucky as it was a slow Wednesday. We arrived at 10:30 am and there were already 10 people in line waiting for the doors to open at 11:00 am. Once seated in a booth, we ordered their famous hamburger and the foie gras scrambled eggs…both to die for. This was one of the culinary highlights of our trip. Check out our College Scoops section for students favorite places to eat in and around campus.