When the gasman posts "LOL" instead of actual prices outside the Shell Station at Ballas and Clayton roads, the days of being impervious to the cost of fuel have long since passed. However, there's no need to call off the yearly family vacation. That annual trek across no man's land for the sake of togetherness can still be salvaged. In lieu of a seventeen-hour car ride, take a much more cost-effective approach: Make a pit stop at the Magic House (516 South Kirkwood Road, Kirkwood; 314-822-8900 or www.magichouse.org
), where Sandcastle Beach
awaits. Stroll along the boardwalk, collect seashells, feel the pseudo ocean mist, relax underneath a beach umbrella, construct your dream sandcastle — the possibilities are truly endless! These sandy environs can be accessed for free from 5:30 to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays (limited to two adults and four children per group). Or go any other day of the week through Sunday, August 3, and pay $7.50 for regular admission.
July 9-Aug. 3, 2008