Time spent with grandparents is a treasure that many kids carry with them for the rest of their lives. And the feeling is mutual, as some local grandmas tell us. Here, we ask them about their favorite ways to spend a day with their grandkids—in St. Louis and beyond.

Nanci Bobrow

Number of grandchildren: 3

Ages: 10 months to 9

Nanci and Dr. James Bobrow’s two granddaughters live in the Washington, D.C., area, so when they visit St. Louis, they want to hit the highlights. On their most recent trip this February, that meant a trip to the Saint Louis Zoo. “We lucked out and had a 64-degree day in February,” Nanci Bobrow says. “The train was even running.” The girls, ages 9 and 7, were visiting on their own for the first time, and were set to lead the way. “They loved the new sea lion tunnel, the Endangered Species Carousel, the butterflies and the Insectarium, everything!”

Another highlight of the visit was a girls’ day out, where Bobrow took the girls to a ‘Ladies’ Lunch’ at Neiman Marcus. “They had things to cater to the children, we had the little consommé in a cup and popovers with strawberry butter, and they gave us a coloring book with the story of the popovers and mazes and fill-in puzzles. We got compliments on how nicely they behaved, so we all enjoyed it.” The girls’ afternoon was rounded out with special manicures.

The family also visited The Magic House, where the girls enjoyed climbing the Magic Bean Stalk and taking the slide back to the bottom, among other attractions. “It helps me remember when my children were young and I took them to all those things,” Bobrow says. They also visited Fountain on Locust, where they sampled the world’s smallest ice cream cone, and Crown Candy Kitchen, where the sandwiches were a big hit.

All in all, Bobrow can’t wait for their next visit, when a return trip to the Arch is on the agenda. “It’s wonderful as a grandparent to watch the children and experience the world through their eyes.”

Alice Handelman

Number of Grandchildren: 4

Ages: 11 to 15

Affectionately known as ‘grammy’ and ‘saba’ by their grandkids, Alice and Howard Handelman are pleased to have all four grandchildren living in St. Louis. “We’re blessed that they’re all healthy, they do well in school and they’re affectionate kids,” Alice Handelman says.

The family visits all of St. Louis’ big draws—from the Saint Louis Zoo to the Missouri Botanical Garden, Saint Louis Art Museum and more. Handelman also raves about the area’s many multi-cultural neighborhoods, such as a recent trip to The Hill, which she visited with Cande, an exchange student from Argentina who became part of the family this past semester. “I tried to explain the Italian culture to her,” Handelman says. “St. Louis offers so many opportunities for grandparents to enjoy their grandchildren.”

She adds that the family’s special together-time, apart from weekly Sunday dinners, is an annual family trip. “Children today are so busy, whether it’s dancing, or going to Craft Alliance for glass-blowing or making ceramics, or playing soccer or tennis. Fitting grandparents in is kind of hard.” Past trips have included a cruise in Alaska, where the kids hunted for King crabs; white-water rafting and hiking in Breckenridge, Colo.; a trip to Morro Bay, Calif., where they visited Pismo Beach to see the migrating monarch butterflies; and a spring break trip this year to Destin, Fla.

The Destin trip happened to fall during Passover, Handelman says. “We went to the grocery store and bought everything we needed to have a Seder in the home we were renting. That was very meaningful, and it was nice that Cande got to be part of it, too.”

Fran Zamler

Number of grandchildren: 13

Ages: 3 to 17

From their 3-year-old twin girls to the senior at Ladue, Fran Zamler considers her grandchildren “the most precious jewels in life. Nothing in the world makes me happier than being with them.”

With such a big family, there’s a wide range of interests, she says, but one thing everyone agrees on—especially the girls—is a love of musicals. Whether it’s at The Muny, Peabody, the Fox or STAGES, every trip is a treat. “We saw The Rockettes at the Peabody last year, and it was fabulous,” Zamler says. “I had never seen it before and I took four or five of the girls, and they loved it. It was one of the highlights of our theatrical experiences.” The girls’ other favorite pastime is shopping, Zamler notes, especially Sweet & Sassy, a salon and spa at West County Mall geared toward kids.

When the whole family is coming along, they often enjoy fishing at Creve Coeur Lake, or boating, Zamler says. They also enjoy going to Fairmount Park for the horses, especially with grandpa Steve. “My kids and grandkids have grown up around horses, so they get a kick out of that.” Other favorite spots include BounceU, which features giant inflatables and bounce rooms; and Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park in Chesterfield.

When the family gets together at home, the highlight is often fashion shows that the kids put on with clothes from the basement. “My background has been in fashion and I’ve kept everything,” Zamler says. “So the boys will come up in hats and the girls in lace skirts.”

Zamler says one of her favorite things is being with her ‘angel babies.’ “I always tell them, I love you to the moon and stars and sky and all around the world. There’s an old quote I read, and it’s true: A grandchild fills a space in your heart that you never knew was empty.”

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