City Museum in St. Louis is a nod to playgrounds of the past

You aren’t likely to find a “no running” or a “no climbing” sign anywhere at the City Museum, and despite having ‘museum’ in its name, this St. Louis institution is more similar to a transplanted playground from the late ‘70s than an actual museum. Built by renowned architect, Bob Cassilly, the former shoe factory currently offers 600,000 square feet of fun. 

With four floors, a rooftop of excitement and Monstrocity, an outdoor fun town, there is so much to do and you’ll definitely be back. Usually by the third visit, you’ll remember to bring knee pads. (They are sold in the gift shop in case you forget.) Once you enter on the first floor, you may be inclined to run up the stairs and immediately slide down the “roller” slide. But here is our quick guide to slow you down and show you the best that each floor of the City Museum has to offer. 

First floor

When you enter, bank right and take that bathroom break before the hyper stimulation starts. From there you can climb right up into the refrigeration coil, acquired from Anheuser Busch. If you don’t fit in the coil yourself, this will likely be the first time you lose sight of you child. Yes, they are safe, but get used to it; it may happen often during your visit. If you do fit in the coil, be prepared to be climbing through the ceiling for a while. This is where knee pads are helpful. 

If the ceiling isn’t quite your speed, or you didn’t fit, you may just need to sit down and wait for the kiddos to appear. You can enjoy the aquarium while keeping your eyes peeled. As a precaution, the museum website encourages you to write your phone number on your child’s wristband. Typically they just pop back up, but you may consider a pair of walkie talkies.  

There are a number of fun slides on the first floor, one which leads into the basement then to a tunnel which leads to the bottom of the tree house. You then crawl back up through the tree house. You also access the caves from the first floor, which lead to the most magnificent winding 10-foot slide. Be prepared to laugh hysterically, the slide is epic.   

Second floor

Get photos on the hamster wheel and near the vault door, slide back down to the first floor and just keep exploring. Remember that closed toe shoes are highly recommended for everyone. 

Third floor

With a circus, a no-skate skate park, a mini train, a bar and an art studio; there is something for everyone to enjoy on the third floor of City Museum. You’ll also find giant building blocks and fun spaces for toddlers to crawl around in, plus the much loved ball pit. 

The circus is included in your price of admission and is highly recommended. The no-skate skate park will have you testing your physical strength and even conquering some fears. You can run up and down ramps, swing on the rope swings and take a slide down the funnel, if you dare. 

Fourth floor

The Spinning Top chairs are absolutely worth the wait. There is also an additional cafe on the fourth floor, but really, the spinning tops are what you came to see, so focus on the dizzying laughter. 

Rooftop fun

There is an additional fee to access the rooftop but on a hot St. Louis day, you’ll absolutely want to splash through the pond. You also get access to the school bus which hangs over the building, the Ferris Wheel and yet another rope swing. Don’t miss the praying mantis!

Monstrocity

This outdoor fun town gets hot in the summer months, but if you’re in St. Louis you’re probably prepared for the heat. Bring water because you’ll definitely want to experience the outdoor slide, walking through the planes and the outdoor ball pits. It will be a workout, but well worth it. 

This is only the CliffsNotes version of all that City Museum has to offer. As with any great attraction, you should avoid holiday weekends if you can, but know that if you’re coming from Chicago, the crowds won’t compare to any free day at Museum Campus. Have fun!


If you go

City Museum

750 N. 16th St., St. Louis

$16 (plus tax) for people ages 3 and up (children age 2 and under are free), and $13 (plus tax) after 5 pm on Friday and Saturday nights. The rooftop is still an additional $5 (plus tax).

Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 am to midnight on Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday.

Find more information at citymuseum.org


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