Did you know City Museum in St. Louis, MO is a place where families can crawl through a cavern, climb a treehouse, swing on a rope and ride a Ferris wheel? City Museum is completely packed with amazing things for kids and families to do. Kidding Around Owner, Bethany, was in St. Louis with her family and they visited City Museum. She’s sharing their experience and everything they loved about the museum. We’re pretty sure you’ll want to plan your own trip to St. Louis after seeing what they got to do.
At a driveable 10 hours from Greenville, St. Louis, Missouri is definitely a city to put on your family vacation bucket list. While it might seem like the Arch and its history is the most obvious reason to visit St. Louis, we discovered that St. Louis is also home to City Museum, a museum so brilliantly unique and fun that your kids will beg you to return just to play again. Billed as a “city within a city”, City Museum offers play and exploration like no other place.
What is City Museum?
Two artists Bob and Gail Cassily purchased an old shoe warehouse in St. Louis in the 1990s with the goal of creating it into a “city within a city”. This city has grown and developed over the past decades to include multiple floors and outdoor spaces open for exploration. The spaces include numerous tunnel systems, slides, and recycled city items such as planes, vehicles, and even items such as a giant pipe organ that still plays and a bank vault.
Some of our Favorite Spots in City Museum
City Museum is massive with 4 explorable floors, a cave system (yes, you read that right), an outdoor city, and a rooftop. We aren’t even sure if we saw everything on our visit and some features such as the famous ball pits were still closed due to Covid, but these were our favorite spots during our visit.
Caves and Shoe Shafts
The basement area of City Museum features a complete cave system including small shafts that you can crawl (belly wiggle) through. Just like a cave, don’t expect lights in the tunnels and expect it to feel a little tight if you are an adult. Needless to say, kids find this cave system delightful. We even saw kids hiding in little dark caves so that they could scare unsuspecting adults.
This outdoor city featured tunnels and climbing structures as well as several iconic structures including castle towers, a couple of real planes in the air, trams (mostly for exhausted adults to rest in), and slides. As an adult, I was able to follow my kids around, but that did involve climbing into quite a few very small structures and even some crawling to get through tunnels. There are some heights in this area but they are easy to avoid if your child prefers to stay closer to the ground.
Think parkour at its finest, this area of City Museum has ramps, rope swings, and more for kids that want to jump and run.
This giant indoor treehouse contains tunnels, an overhead exploration area, slides, and climbing areas.
Find a collection of antique pinball and arcade machines that all still take a quarter. One thing that surprised me was that all of the games seemed to be in working order.
I did not personally go down the 10-story slide, but my kids did. Word of mouth is that you should wear slippery pants if you want to enjoy the slides to their fullest. The 10-story slide is just the longest slide too, there are also shorter slides and fast slides throughout the museum.
Currently, you have to purchase an additional ticket for a time slot to access the roof. The roof features a couple of fun slides, a real bus, and a working Ferris wheel. It was fairly hot on the roof and the line for the Ferris wheel was long, but I’m glad we got tickets because it was a special experience to see the city from that view.
There is also:
- A massive bug collection
- An art collection
- An aquarium
- Toddler Town
- A Circus (not currently open due to Covid but may reopen soon)
- A mirror hall
- A puking pig installation
- And much more
Tips for Visiting City Museum
We only visited once but we did learn a couple of things from our first visit.
- City Museum suggests writing your phone number on your kids. The museum is very large and there are a lot of places for children to quickly end up out of view.
- The outdoor areas can be very warm. Bring water or plan on purchasing water while you are there.
- This is not the museum to assume that you can just sit on a bench and watch your kids. It’s a large area and if you want to have any idea where your kids are you probably should plan on spending a good bit of your day crawling and climbing around like a kid. Of course, the older your kids are the easier it is to just let them go have fun. I would not recommend this museum to parents of children young enough to completely wander off unless you are nimble enough to keep up or know that your kid will be okay sticking to the areas within sight.
- Due to the tunnels, etc. I would also recommend keeping your personal possessions light. This is not a great space to even have a backpack on if you want to have fun. I had a light cross-over purse that held my phone and wallet that was perfect.
- You will want to wear closed toed shoes and clothes to climb in. My child that had pants on was hot but I do think if the weather was a bit cooler that pants would protect your legs much better than shorts. Pants would also work on the slides better.
- Bring quarters for the arcade games.
- Purchase your tickets ahead of time online. Right now they are limiting entrances and we were not able to secure the earliest tickets the day of. The rooftop tickets are also limited and must be purchased onsite. If weather cancels your turn on the roof, you will not get a refund so earlier times would be best in the summer to avoid afternoon thunderstorms.
- Parking is $10 near the museum.
- We ate at Medina Grill near the museum after our visit and highly recommend it as a great place to eat!
750 North 16th Street
St. Louis, MO. 63103