City Museum in St. Louis: A One of a Kind Experience
If you think museums are musty, stuffy, and boring... think again!
701 North 15th Street
St. Louis, MO 63103
City Museum of St. Louis
On vacation, my favorite things are the things I can’t do at home. I'm always on the prowl for something unique and one of a kind. If there was ever an Olympics for Unique Attractions, the City Museum would definitely take Gold!
On our recent trip to St. Louis, the City Museum was our first stop. We had such an incredible time, my daughters were begging to return every day… even if that meant sacrificing other favorite things like seeing horses, butterflies, and unraveling a mystery (all of which we did as well, and all of which were fantastic too). In a nutshell, if you can only do one thing on a trip to St. Louis, our family's top pick is the City Museum.
The City Museum is spectacular for many reasons, but one of the most remarkable things is that I can honestly say my husband and I had just as much fun as the kids… and I don’t mean, “Parents having fun watching their kids have fun,” … I mean we had a BLAST!
However, after our trip, I was left with one incredible challenge... trying to describe the City Museum to readers and adequately warn parents of what to expect, because I do feel that in the case of the City Museum, warnings are definitely in order. The City Museum is a "play at your own risk" facility, with many risks presented. Please read our tips (below) carefully and check out the photos and videos before going to determine if this is something your family will enjoy.
First, my weak attempt to adequately describe this out of the world experience....
Try to imagine what would happen if Willy Wonka raided the local junkyard and selected the best pieces for his interior decorating. In this case, the Willy Wonka of St. Louis is not a candy man, but an internationally acclaimed artist, Bob Cassilly, who used his skills as a classically trained sculptor and serial entrepreneur, to transform junkyard collections into gigantic labyrinths, jungle gyms, and people-sized gerbil cages and mazes, as a fantasy world meant for exploration and discovery all housed inside, around, and atop a 600,000 square foot downtown St. Louis shoe factory… now known as the City Museum.
After our recent visit, our family has come to an agreement… City Museum is our “must see” attraction every time we visit St. Louis from now on. This is the most interactive museum you will ever experience with every nook and cranny waiting to be explored. Look closely because hidden tunnels and surprise are waiting where you’d least expect them.
Admission to the museum grants you access to 11 stories of fun and for an additional fee, you can explore the rooftop as well. A few of our favorite attractions included a giant ball pit with big balls for jumping and playing, the Enchanted Caves, more slides than we could possibly count, including an eleven story spiral slide, Monstro City with two Saber 40 aircraft fuselages, a fire engine, a castle turret, a 25' tall cupola and several 4' wide wrought-iron slinkies, the Museum of Mirth, Mystery, and Mayhem with carnival attractions, a tiny tot railroad, the world's largest pencil, toddler town, renovated architecture, and more more more... in fact, this is the only museum I've ever visited where I am confident I didn't discover everything there was to behold in even one room of the facility. What's more.. the fire engine, castle turret, giant pencil, human sized slinkies, EVERYTHING.... it is not there for "looking and admiring" it is there for climbing, crawling, exploring and play!
The rooftop features more slides and tunnels and a ferris wheel atop the eleven story shoe factory, where my girls and I enjoyed a nighttime ride and view of St. Louis we will never forget. And that is probably the very best way to describe City Museum... an experience you will never forget.
Tips to Make the Most of Your Experience at The City Museum:
- If your children are not old enough to explore on their own, 1/1 adult child ratio would be ideal with every adult equipped with a cell phone. The fun of City Museum is getting lost discovering new secrets in the maze… the more freedom you have to explore, the more fun you’ll have. And getting lost is inevitable.
- You will be climbing, crawling, sliding, and sometimes slithering through the giant labyrinth. Dress for the part. Wear closed toed shoes (tennis shoes are best), jeans or long pants (my knees were grateful), and appropriate clothes. Dress for full on play at the playground.
- Come well fed and well rested, you'll get a workout! Food is available for purchase at the museum.
- Leave the loot. Bring only what you need. If you have a purse or bag, it’ll get in the way of exploring. It’s ideal if you can have all you need in your pockets… and check them often that you don’t drop, lose, or damage anything as you’re crawling and climbing.
- You can bring a stroller, but it’s ideal if you don’t.
- City Museum is fun for ALL ages. Older kids, teens, and adults LOVE it and they have a special toddler section for little ones as well. My children were all 5 and under and they love it, but my sister has been visiting since she was a teen and in her early twenties still loves it. It is truly a place for all ages, as long as you're agile and up for exploring.
- Don’t forget the camera!
- Parents…. Let go of inhibitions and be a kid for a day too!
- We were there for 5 hours… this wasn’t long enough. There is so much to see and explore, and it’s so interactive and engaging, that I’d recommend spending an entire day there if possible.
- Most Important: This is a "play at your own risk" facility and there are many risks. Be aware of this as much as possible before going and assess if this is the best outing for your family. If you are claustrophobic, afraid of heights, pregnant, etc, you will not be able to participate in many of the attractions. I strongly advise you to check out photos and videos in advance to try to determine if this is something your family will enjoy. The City Museum is an "acquired taste" and as much as my family loved it, there are many families that may not enjoy it because it is so interactive and there are risks.
If you're up for an adventure, there is no place like the City Museum!