There is a giant family wonderland in downtown St. Louis made mostly of scrap and discarded material; an engineering marvel filled with lost, forgotten, unwanted treasures transformed into the most imaginative play world a young child (or any young “at heart” individual) could imagine.
The place is the City Museum in St. Louis, and it’s a far cry from the traditional and familiar, “keep quiet and do not touch” museums. The City Museum, housed in an old 10-story shoe factory, is a collection of junkyard scrap materials from the city of St. Louis — tiles, stones, tubes, rebars, airplanes — that have been transformed into the ultimate urban playground. Children can climb, play and explore the structures by crawling through underground tunnels and climbing up to pathways in the ceiling (imagine Mission Impossible for kids). The first area is called a giant treehouse and gives kids plenty of opportunities to immerse themselves in fiberglass leaves, old tree trunks, and tubes. There are aquarium tanks throughout the area; whatever direction you turn, there is something new and exciting to see.
A series of elaborate and colorfully lit passages through caves lead to a 10-story slide with a 3-story pipe organ. Spelunking the caverns might be your child’s preferred mode of exploration, but the hand-sculpted caves are big enough for adults to walk through and well worth a look as the rooms are designed to feel completely realistic.
On another floor is a skateless skatepark, a chance for children to run, slide and even swing from ledge to ledge. The ramps are plenty and kids will want to spend an hour just in this section alone.
But wait, there is more! Outside is a 7-story jungle gym called MonstroCity — all safely engineered for children’s exploration. While rails and metal walkways are secured, it feels as if you truly are a daredevil as you climb up through aircraft fuselages suspended in the air, a fire engine, multiple slides, and crisscrossing tubes. The repurposed industrial objects create more than just a playground — the City Museum is a place of wonder and imagination, an experience not to be missed!
Other attractions in the City Museum:
- An amazing gift shop with wonderful science gadgets and trinkets. Find the pencils that change color when you hold them.
- Coffee shops and cafes which are mini-museums in and of themselves
- Magic shows
- Outdoor ball pit
- Oversized lego building blocks (fun for younger kids)
- 2-story roller slide (safe for the little ones actually!)
- The Roof houses a Ferris wheel and other climbable objects, open weather-permitting
- Covered-toe shoes are required. No sandals. The shoes should have good treads and be grippy, especially if it has recently rained.
- Have your kids wear pants that can get dirty because they will!
- Ages: appropriate from 3-years to adult.
- Rain: In cold weather or rain, the MonstroCity (the outdoor section of the museum) is closed. However, if the rain stops, they will open this area, so be prepared to see wet bottoms on your kids as staff will not wipe down slides or seating areas outside.
- Food: there is a food court in the building. We sometimes pack a lunch and will head to the car to eat.
- Timing: get to the museum early and plan to stay the entire day. The museum is open early and will stay open until late at night. On weekends, the museum is open much later for adults only!
- Adults can relax and have an adult beverage or a strong cup of coffee in one of the several areas to eat and relax.
- A sign outside reads: “The City Museum is full of creativity, adventure, and learning … and is fraught with DANGER. Enter at your own risk!” Be prepared for a sore kiddo at the end of the day. There’s lots of climbing to be had!
City Museum is ever evolving, building new features yearly. Check out this cool video!