Thursday June 16, 2005

The Bell Family's St. Jude Survival Guide

  • Rent a car. Avis has a rate of $25/day or $600/month for St. Jude patients. The owner's name is Cedric, if you go there please tell him hi from Steven Bell and his mom Kathy. Cedric will pick you up at either Ronald McDonald House or the hospital and return you when you turn in the car.

    To save money, and because we didn't really need a car during the week, we rented a car on the weekends only, Cedric would pick me up on Friday and I'd turn the car back in Monday. Do your grocery shopping while you have the car and skip using the shuttle.

  • Take the trolley. It picks up about 3 blocks from the Grizzlies house, also from in front of the Marriott. St. Jude patients and their families ride the trolley for free and this is the way to get downtown without a car, it drops off about a block from Peabody Place.

  • Go to the Peabody Place mall downtown. Make sure to get your parking vaidated if you drive. Following are several things you can do once you are at the mall.

  • Ride in a carriage. There are carriages which pick up in front of the Peabody Hotel, immediately adjacent to the mall. One of the companies provides carriage rides for free Sunday - Thursday for St. Jude patients, get the name of the company from the check-in area at St. Jude.

  • Go see the Peabody Ducks. They march into the hotel every day at 11 am and march out at 5 pm. If you're lucky, your child may be invited to be the duck master and get to escort the ducks into the elevator.

    Go see where ducks live. Take the elevator and push the "S" button (for Skyway) and go to the roof. Enjoy the view of the river and walk to the house on the roof to see where the ducks live.

  • Stuff yourself. Chez Phillipe on the roof of the Peabody serves a lavish (and pricey) Sunday brunch.

  • Have a psychedelic golf experience. At the Putting Edge in the mall, you play miniature golf under black lights while you listen to rock-n-roll music. St. Jude patients play for free, my kids love this place and we go just about every time we return to Memphis.

  • See a movie. There are 22 theatres at the Peabody mall and if you see a movie, your parking cost goes down to $1.

  • Take a riverboat ride. St. Jude patients ride for free, the ride is about 2 1/2 hours, but my recommendation is bring a game or something to do for part of the trip. It was fun, but long and a little boring, a game helps with that.

  • Eat some of that famous Memphis barbeque. If you don't have a car, you can walk to Rendezvous from the trolley stop for Peabody Place or Beale Street. It's across the street from the Peabody hotel in the alley.

  • If you've got a car, go to Corky's Barbeque. This was our personal favorite spot, you can eat there or drive through and get your barbeque to go. It's about 10 miles away from St. Jude on surface streets, but well worth the drive in our opinion.

  • Eat pizza, spaghetti and salads downtown without breaking your budget. The Spaghetti Warehouse downtown is very inexpensive and good.

  • Drive to the Cooper-Young District and eat at the best breakfast spot in town, Buns On The Run. Homemade biscuits, fresh bread, delicious omelets prepared with care. The restaurant is in an old house and we love it there. Click here for driving directions from St. Jude.

  • On a nice day, take a walk along the river and bring some toys for the kids to play in the grass in Harbortown, a very short distance from the hospital. There's a pizza place, ice cream parlor, and a place to get your hair cut there in the little shopping center. To get there from the hospital, Take Jackson toward the river and the Pyramid, turn right on 2nd street, then left on Auction to go over the bridge, right next to the pyramid. After you cross the bridge, turn right. The shopping center is on the right, the river is on the left and there are lots of places to park along the river.

  • Go to the zoo. Our kids like reptiles and they've got a 22-foot reticulated python there. You might want to call and verify this, but they feed the reptiles at 1 pm on Saturdays and the Komodo dragons at 3 pm on Sunday. They feed the python about once a month, it eats pigs that have been frozen and then thawed.

  • Go shopping at the Wolfchase Galleria, a huge mall. Surrounding the mall is a huge variety of stores, Home Depot, Costco or just about anything else you could want. Click here for driving directions from St. Jude.

  • If you've got a car, for an improved grocery shopping experience over the Kroger near St. Jude, go to the Kroger at Poplar and Highland, in a better area of town and with a better selection of food. There's a nearby store with a great selection of meat and seafood and much better produce called Schnuck's. If it's organic vegetables and a healthier selection of food you're craving, there's a Wild Oats Market on Poplar.

  • Check out the Children's Museum, it's free to St. Jude patients and parents. There's a maze in there called The Skyscraper, it's many levels and involves lots of climbing, our kids loved this and wanted to return many times. Click here for driving directions.

  • Go to the Pink Palace Museum. The museum gives free admission to St. Jude patients and their family. There is an IMAX theatre there too, but the IMAX movies aren't free. Click here for directions.

  • Enjoy the gardens and the animals at the Lichterman Nature Center. Click here for directions.

  • Ride the rollercoasters at Liberty Land. Free admission for St. Jude patients, click here for directions.

  • Play miniature golf, ride the go-karts, and play in the arcade at Putt-Putt in Memphis. Miniature golf is free to St. Jude patients, there is a fee for other activities.

  • Get away from the hospital environment and try a real weekend getaway. Natchez Trace State Park is beautiful and can be done as a day trip or overnight, it's about 110 miles from St. Jude and the drive takes about 2 hours each way. The rates to stay there are very reasonable. Reservations to stay in the cabins or at the inn can be made online. Fishing and horseback riding are available. Click here for directions.

  • Go to Graceland and see where Elvis lived. It wasn't as interesting to us as most of the other activities we listed, but I suppose it's impossible to leave Memphis without visiting at least once. Graceland is free to St. Jude patients and their families. Click here for directions.

  • Learn to navigate Memphis using Switchboard's Search-By-Distance functionality. Enter your address, the name of a business, and Switchboard will find the location closest to you. You can map your trip from there as well. To print your directions, you can use the printers in the computer room at Ronald McDonald House or the hospital on the second floor.