City Museum St. Louis: 10 Floors of Imagination and Adventure
I imagine when most people think of what to see in St. Louis, Missouri (my hometown! go Cards!) they think of the Gateway Arch. It’s an architectural marvel, and something everyone should experience if they’re in the area. So what if my mom thinks it’s ugly. You take a bumpy ride to the top in a little egg-shaped contraption that seats a few people, look out the windows to the east, then the west, sway a little (it moves!), then take a bumpy ride back down. It’s pretty cool. But this post is not about the Arch.
What’s infinitely cooler is a place lots of visitors DON’T know of called City Museum. Now, before you zone out at the word ‘musuem,’ keep reading; I promise it is unlike any museum you’ve experienced. It’s an architectural marvel of a salvaged kind – one that keeps evolving, growing, and fascinating youngsters and adults with dreamlike creativity and endless structures. It’s one of our family’s very, very favorites.
The City Museum is 10 floors of repurposed architectural and industrial objects that simultaneously twist and turn into the depths and soar out of the top and sides of a Depression-area building in STL’s “Loft District.” The entire experience is sensory wonderment – take the most creative person you know, put their brain on steroids, then bring their brain to life. That’s City Museum.
It’s totally interactive – you climb, crawl, explore, touch, and play on all of it. This isn’t a museum for “shhhhhh”-ing or staying behind velvet ropes. There’s a 10-story spiral slide, rooftop ferris wheel, caves that seem to go on forever, crawl-able metal caging that extends four stories above the ground, and “Art City” where you can make your own pottery or snowflakes or whatever your imagination dreams up. And that’s just a fraction of it. (There’s an entire aquarium we’ve yet to explore. Next time.)
If you’re there to oversee or maybe you have bad knees, no worries – food and drink is plentiful. There’s an 1800s log cabin on the first floor that’s been converted to a bar with live music, a restaurant on the second floor called Samwiches (they serve….sandwiches. CRAZY), and a rooftop bar. I highly recommend drinking an IPA on the rooftop. I can never go back to ground level IPAs. …that’s a lie, I’m drinking one right now.
But enough of my yakking, take a look at my favorites:
Enchanted Caves/Shoe Shaft: Our first stop always includes cave exploring. The labyrinth of tunnels – some so small you have to ‘shimmy’ through praying you don’t get stuck (!) – takes you deep into the belly of the building, and when you think you’re completely lost, you look up to see 10 floors of exploration waiting for you in what was once the International Shoe building. It. Is. Fantastic. At the top is a 10 story spiral slide to take you back down. If that’s a little much, there’s a 5 story slide that I did several times with my son Sammy, who is still 2 inches too short for the big slide.
Rooftop: For a few dollars extra, you get access to the rooftop, which was perfect for a mild summer night. There are steep slides, a giant metal praying mantis, working 4-story ferris wheel, old bus to explore that extends over the edge of the roof, and lots more. Watching the sun set while riding a ferris wheel 10 stories up – well, it’s pretty awesome.
MonstroCity: This outdoor playground is four stories of wrought iron “slinkies” to crawl through, old WWII airplane fuselages perched in the sky, and slides and bridges and ballpits everywhere.
Honestly, compared to City Museum, I can’t imagine taking the kids to a regular ol’ amusement park. It seems so passive to just ride a ride when they could be navigating through 10 stories of dark twists and turns or literally crawling through the sky!
If you’re visiting St. Louis, just GO. It’s hours of creativity and adventure you’ll never forget. There is so much I didn’t even cover; I recommend going with plenty of time to wander and discover.
City Museum – St. Louis
750 North 15th Street
St. Louis, MO 63103