We learned the best time to see bald eagles in Missouri is the winter time. So, we bundled up on a windy, cold day where the highs were in the 30s and headed up to West Alton Missouri. We learned about this area of Missouri because of one of the families at our children’s elementary school. He grew up in St. Louis and told me they go eagle watching every winter and they will see 20-30 a day. He said they go to the confluence of the river. I learned that’s where the mighty Mississippi and Missouri rivers merge.
We missed the Eagle Sundays and Eagle Ice Festival that the Audubon Center at Riverlands hosts but we were still able to see eagles. We had no idea what to expect and were a little skeptical that we would see an eagle. The Audubon Center had spotting scopes (with step stools for the kids) that were free to use.
Those that worked in the center were so friendly and eager to show us where the eagles were. We saw about 6-8 Eagles (and Bald Eagles that day). We were thrilled. Matt and I are both confident that if we spent more time at the Audubon Center we would have seen more. We were grateful the Audubon Center is indoors and heated. Matt used his phone’s camera to take a picture of the eagles through the spotting scope. He has some skills because I tried doing that with my phone and got zero usable photos.
The employees said they see about 30-60 a day flying up and down the Mississippi River. As with most wildlife early mornings and evenings are the best time to view the most number of animals. We meandered outside a little bit to walk on the board walk to look for more Eagles. Another positive was West Alton was only 30 minutes from St. Louis.
After we visited the Audubon Center we went to Alton, Illinois and and visited the National Great River’s Museum. This museum is free and if you time your visit well you can take a free walking tour on top of the lock/dam system over the Mississippi River. Again the guide was so kind and enthusiastic about what he did it made the tour so enjoyable. It was neat to watch a boat go through the locks and go further north. We could see an eagle’s nest from the museum. The guide told us that every year some of the same patron’s come to visit in the winter time to view eagles flying and fishing in the River. He said one of the patrons the day before we came was able to photograph an eagle swooping into the water to catch a fish.
We went on President’s Day (it seemed like a perfect thing to do for the Holiday). The best times of the year to see them is late December to early March. All of the events put on by the Audubon Center, Alton Visitor Center and National Great Rivers Museum were in January and early February. It’s great to get outdoors even in the winter time in St Louis.
We had never seen bald eagles before in the wild and it was truly spectacular.
The Jelly Belly Factory is only 75-90 minutes from Chicago so it’s a perfect day trip. It is located in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin- right across the border from Illinois. I have never been to Wisconsin before so I wanted to check it off my state list and this factory fulfilled that. We were in Chicago for a few days and while I was hunting for things to do I found this. I always thought my trip to Wisconsin would include a cheese factory tour but this was enjoyable.
I felt like I was in the candy store of Willy Wonka during this photo-session. This family comes up with such a variety of photo locations. Last year they did pictures at their neighborhood playground. This year they did them at Sweet Pete’s Candy Store. A family friend had gotten their photos done at Sweet Pete’s as well. So their photos were our inspiration.
We did some of the same spots as their friend and then found some of our own places. We had to ask an employee for help to find one of the spots. All of the employees are so kind at Sweet Pete’s. You’ve heard me rave about Sweet Pete’s before from the three different candy classes I’ve taken there. We did this photo session on a Wednesday with the hope that we wouldn’t have any crowds. A tip an employee gave us was not to come during the first Wednesday of the month because of the crowds from the art walk. We were so lucky not to have a lot of people at the store the same time as us.
After we took photos, the parents had the kids fill up a container with candy to take home. They had so much fun picking out candy. Not only did this family get beautiful family photos they had a fun night together creating family memories. In fact, it was so fun I took my kids to take photos the next day.
Continue after the jump to see the rest of this fun candy store photo session.