About a 15-minute drive from Suson Park, McArthur's Bakery is well-known for its wedding cakes and special occasion baked goods. But it also features a cafe and deli. Michael and I visited at about 9:30 a.m. on a Monday. We found incredibly friendly staff and just what we were looking for -- a wide variety of delicious pastries. Of course there were the traditional muffins and donuts, but the éclairs, fruit tarts, chocolate-covered strawberries and cannoli looked perfect as well.
After cruising along the pastry case, Michael planted himself in front of a double cinnamon roll, which was bigger than his own face. We ordered the mammoth cinnamon roll, and I added a cup of Seattle's Best Coffee (for me) and water (for Michael). Our total bill: a bank-busting $2.09.
We found a booth, and Michael devoured his half of the cinnamon roll.
With bellies full of simple carbs and cinnamon, we arrived at Suson Park at 10:30 a.m., just as the animal farm was opening. It was a cold morning, and the farm was deserted, but that didn't slow Michael down. He roamed right into the first barn, and in it we found a pot-bellied pig named Lola with at least a half-dozen piglets. The next enclosure was home to roosters, bunnies, a peacock and a very curious turkey. Gobbling, purring and shaking its fleshy red wattle, the turkey put on a show for Michael. We continued along our journey to the goat area and found several kids in the goat herd.
The cattle barn was closed; it's only open on weekends. We did see cattle, including a Texas Longhorn, and horses in the pasture.
Although our hands were freezing, we made a quick stop at the Suson Park playground, where Michael insisted on climbing -- and nearly falling off -- equipment designed for a much older child. With several slides, a climbing rock, percussion area, swings and other features, this playground is typically packed on the weekends. Today, thanks to colder than forecast weather, we had it to ourselves, and Michael swung happily until it was time to hit the road for home.
As we roamed back to the car, we noticed we weren't the only visitors in the park after all. Several fishermen had made camp along the paved edges of a large lake. I later learned that Suson Park is a popular fishing hole. In addition to stocking the lake with trout in the colder months, the Missouri Department of Conservation also offers its Go Fish! program at Suson Park April through September. Go Fish! is a free program for kids age 8-15. "This is a special intro to fishing program that uses seven progressive lessons, called hooks, to teach kids all the basics of fishing," said Dan Zarlenga with the Conservation Department. "At the completion of each 90-minute session, the kids get a free piece of fishing gear. Upon finishing all seven hooks, they have all the gear and knowledge they need to fish." Perhaps in 6 years, Michael will meander back into the park for a little casting and reeling.
McArthur's Bakery, 3055 Lemay Ferry Road, St. Louis, 314-894-0900
Suson Park, 6059 Wells Road, St. Louis
About Meandering with Michael
Let me introduce you to Michael, the unofficial ambassador of St. Louis Sprout. Like most toddlers, Michael meanders. He roams about until something catches his eye, and then, he's off to explore. In "Meandering with Michael" I follow Michael through the region to learn more about the things that catch his attention. We start with a map or pictures of different things or places. He points to something, and we're off to explore. Let's meander...
Caricature by Share Faerber.
* Michael is not our unofficial ambassador's real first name.