Jan 04 2011
If your idea of a museum is a calm, quiet place with historical exhibits at which people stare, you’ve never been to City Museum in St. Louis.
Calm? No way! Quiet? Not a chance. Historical? Well, yeah, in a way.
My best description of City Museum is “House on the Rock meets Chutes and Ladders.” My friend calls it a McDonald’s playland on steroids.
We entered City Museum soon after it opened on a Tuesday morning during Christmas break. The first thing our kids spotted was a big slide, and I think they would have been happy to stay there all day if we hadn’t pulled them into other areas to explore.
Next stop–a ride on a small train for the little girls, while the boys found a crawling tunnel that would let them peek out from inside the model railroad display.
A few minutes watching circus performers practice. Time spent building with sponge blocks. Walking on the world’s largest pencil, and sliding down skateboard ramps. A wall of post office boxes next to a bank vault.
Playing on old-time pinball machines in the arcade.
That’s when the real fun started.
The kids found another slide while I explored the wall made of old printer’s plates next to one of the concession areas.
That’s when we discovered the caves and tunnels. Almost everywhere we looked, there was an opening. Some big, some small. All of them a mystery as to whether we’d be walking, crawling, scooting, or climbing our way out.
After a lot of time finding new nooks and crannies, our eight-year-old wasn’t satisfied. He wanted to find the 10-story slide. So he and my husband went off again, through more caves, until they found the really big slide. I stayed behind to look at some of the exhibits. There’s something for everyone at City Museum.
Our kids are already begging to go back in the summertime, when the outside area and rooftop are open.
It isn’t exactly cheap to visit City Museum; everyone aged 3 and up costs $12 for basic admission, and extras such as the aquarium and rooftop will incur an additional charge. Parking in the museum lot is $5. Restrooms are tucked into corners throughout the museum, as are various shops and concession areas.
While I saw families with strollers at City Museum, this place will be best enjoyed by kids 5 and up who can walk, crawl, and slide independently. The tweens and teens there appeared to be enjoying themselves immensely, and it’s one of those museums that would work really well for families with kids in different age groups. Parents can play as much as they want–my husband did all the slides and tunnels with the kids, while I counted heads from the main paths. Staff are plentiful and not afraid to enforce the few rules in place, especially “no running.” They seemed to enjoy their work and were friendly and helpful.
If you’re heading to St. Louis, you’ll likely be going to see the Arch, but put City Museum at the top of your list if you have an extra half-day or more. You won’t find anything else quite like it on your travels, and your kids will thank you for taking them there.
City Museum is located in downtown St. Louis at 701 N 15th Street.
Have you been to City Museum? What did you think of it? Have you seen something similar in other cities? If so, let me know so we can check it out.
Read reviews about City Museum at Uptake.