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I pretty much ate my way through 2020, so figured I would hop on-trend and focus this next post on living a healthier lifestyle. Despite the lazy habits I developed this past year, I’m getting back on the horse and hope to motivate you to get out there and breathe in some fresh air. If you’re looking to explore some parks in the area, this should help you along.

My other blogs have touched on my running career and generally active lifestyle. To give you a clearer picture, I was the kid that asked the coach to run more laps at soccer practice. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good Netflix session with extra-large ice cream. Nowadays, I find that I can fit in more food if I do a little exercise before.

I will not go into my favorite local ice cream today… but I will happily reply to anyone that wants to dive into that, as I have some strong opinions on the matter ;).

I love to run. I am upset when I don’t get to run. I also completely understand I am the “crazy” minority. I spent my entire childhood running from my four brothers and/or a never-ending collection of cousins in the neighborhood. There’s a chance I’ll annoy you with my enthusiasm for parks, but don’t worry. I already know I poses this quality and will do my best to keep it under wraps.


Our Favorite Park

Edwardsville Township Park (Airplane Park)

6368 Center Grove Road, Edwardsville, Illinois 62025

 

Airplane Park has its nickname because of the life-size airplane floating at the entrance. Easy enough to remember, and you can’t miss it if you’re visiting for the first time.

I say “Our” favorite park, because everyone in my family loves this park for a different reason. It has a lot of areas to attract every age. As a mom of two toddlers, I think my favorite part is the versatility of the play areas. I love that my two year old can run wild in the same area that my one year old has learned to walk.

There is a large handicap accessible playground that’s inclusive to all children, and it makes chasing the little ones a lot easier. The educational play areas and a music section are great for little kiddos to explore their environment and musical interest. I’ve definitely embarrassed my family a time or two performing my congo solo. The kids aren’t old enough to know it yet, and my husband quickly walks away.

That brings me to my main man. My husband would say the roller hockey rink is his favorite part of the park. Lucky for me, I get to watch all our 30-year-old friends realize they are no longer in their 20’s about ten minutes into a game. One afternoon of hockey and they were walking away like they rode a horse all day. You Yellowstone watchers know what I mean.

If these areas don’t attract you, the park also has tennis courts, a wooded walking trail, large fields for kicking the soccer ball around, and many BBQ/ picnic areas. Another bonus is the location right off the bike path. If your a better planner than me you can go for a ride and have a picnic lunch.

If you’re like me and it’s a win just getting out the door to a park with everyone’s shoes on, Global Brew, Chicken Salad Chick, and Sugarfire Smoke House are just around the corner. It’s an easy bike ride from the park to grab food and/or a drink. If you’re really feisty, you can do a little biking bar hop and head over to Peel and Mike Shannons a little further down the trail.

Like I said earlier, this is a fun local outing that is sure to keep everyone happy.

Global Brew- https://edwardsville.globalbrew.com/

Chicken Salad Chick- https://www.chickensaladchick.com/edwardsville/?L=true

Sugarfire- https://sugarfiresmokehouse.com/locations/il-edwardsville/

Peel Woodfire Pizza- https://www.peelpizza.com/

Mike Shannons- https://www.mikeshannonsgrill.com/#/2


Raw Nature

Watershed Nature Center

1591 Tower Avenue, Edwardsville, Illinois 62025

http://www.watershednaturecenter.org

I cannot say enough about the Watershed Nature Center. This park is truly a hidden gem. If you are looking for an adventure, I highly recommend this stop. As the website points out, it consists of “40 acres of wetlands, woodlands, and grassland habitats.” The nature trail provides an extremely peaceful walk through the natural habitat.

 

The first time I came to this park I had no clue what I was walking into. I thought it would be a nice quick loop I could add to my parks visited list. I was blown away by how well it was maintained, the cleanliness of the paths, and the educational opportunity it presented to me and my kids. There are paved paths for the clean shoed adventures, or you can walk the dirt path and explore the creek for a slightly messier experience.

There are benches and lookout points throughout the park. There are even educational boards to educate you about the snakes and plants native to our neighborhood.

Check the website for special events that will be posted throughout the year. The Visitor Center is currently closed due to covid, but they will post updates as things become safe.

Just outside the park, there are sand volleyball courts, picnic tables, restrooms, and playgrounds. They are all accessible through the same parking lot, and sure to make everyone with you happy you made the trip.


Ice Cream and Coffee Date???

Woodland Park

Pine Lake Rd, Collinsville, IL 62234

I mentioned my love for ice cream earlier, and I have to say I became a big Bobby’s fan now that I live in the Metro East. I’m bringing this up because the next park I want to cover is down the road from Bobby’s Frozen Custard. If you are in need of some energy, you can also swing through The Coffee Box drive-through right next door. Right as my little man, Niko, hits his sugar rush, I hit my caffeine boost, and I might actually stand a chance to keep up with him.

Bobby’s Frozen Custard Website- https://www.bobbysfrozencustard.com/

The Coffee Box Website- https://www.the-coffee-box.com

We first discovered Woodland Park when going to my nephew’s baseball game. We pulled in I knew immediately Niko and I had to go explore. To our surprise, this park was big and beautiful as we walked the rolling hills. It was full of kids running around and adults playing basketball and disc golf. The Playgrounds were new and Niko would like to add that they were a blast.


We first discovered Woodland Park when going to my nephew’s baseball game. We pulled in I knew immediately Niko and I had to go explore. To our surprise, this park was big and beautiful as we walked the rolling hills. It was full of kids running around and adults playing basketball and disc golf. The Playgrounds were new and Niko would like to add that they were a blast.

It was such a treat to walk the ponds looking at ducks and geese. The wooden bridge made for a perfect picture, but I was too busy taking in the scenery to remember to snap a quick photo. The park was well kept and made it easy to explore.

There is a large disc golf course running throughout the park. I’m not a disk golfer, but it’s always interested me despite my inability to toss a disk straight. Many players were out playing, so I will take that as a sign of a good course.


BONUS PARK-

St. Louis County

Suson Park- 6073 Wells Rd, St. Louis, MO 63128

I happened to be in St. Louis County, near Arnold, MO, when Niko and I stumbled upon Suson Park. I randomly typed parks near me in my GPS and I was blown away by what we found.

First, we went to the FARM tucked away in the back of the park. I am not kidding. They have a farm in the middle of this park that you can walk right up to the animals. We fed the sheep and goats, then took a picture with the biggest pig I have ever seen. Check him out in the picture below.

Off we went through the farm and ended up at the cows and horse. We were lucky enough to see the new calf hanging out in the sun with its Mama in the stall. Also pictured below.

Next, we took a stroll around the pond to watch everyone fishing and chase the ducks. That lasted about a minute until Little Man saw the playground, and the animals were quickly forgotten.

The playground was a good size and had a fun rock wall we practiced climbing. That is where we discovered a surprise from the Kindness Rock Project to add to our collection. It was the perfect sunny day and we just had the best time checking it all out.

CONCLUSION

There are so many many parks in the St. Louis area that I am not even close to representing a fraction in this blog. That to me is a blessing and one of the reasons I love living in the St. Louis area.

Keep getting out there and staying active even in these cold winter months. We are living through extraordinary times and it’s important to take care of yourself. If you are not in this area or don’t want to travel outside your area, I urge you to just punch “parks near me” into your phone. You might be surprised what you stumble upon.

This is just part one, so keep your eyes peeled for the parks we head to next.

LOVE YA ST. LOUIS

-Mary

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