It’s easy to be a tourist in your our own town, especially since you just got there!
This weekend, I planned our Saturday outing at the City Museum located in downtown St. Louis, Missouri. The City Museum isn’t your typical museum; It’s more like an art gallery, fun house and obstacle course wrapped into one crazy experience.
The late artist Bob Cassilly and his wife Gail founded the The City Museum in the old International Shoe Company building. The interior exhibits span four stories, and, as the City Museum website states, the artists are “always building.” Visitors can explore the outdoor exhibits, too, including a 10-story slide and elevated obstacle course.
Museum admission costs $10-12 dollars per adult (2 & under free), plus extra for access to the rooftop and aquarium. Visitors can park in the museum’s parking lot for $5 or find plenty of metered parking around the museum (though I’m unsure if there are time limits). The museum website mentions that there are usually lines in the mornings and recommends visiting after five p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
When we arrived at 4:30 p.m. on a Saturday, the museum was packed, but the lines to purchase wristbands were very short. We had heard that although many of the museum exhibits are geared towards children, it’s intended for adults, too. On this visit, we didn’t notice many other adults who attended without children.
There are signs at each admission window informing guests that the museum does not offer maps. Getting lost is highly encouraged.
We tried to escape the crowd in the lobby by exploring the second floor. I loved that we had no idea where we were going or what to expect. The first exhibit we saw featured examples of local architecture.
There were examples of tiles and doorknobs and keys. We were especially fascinated by the sneering gargoyles.
This same floor featured a St. Louis resident’s extensive insect collection. Jake studied a frame of pinned cicadas and I curiously poked a wasp’s nest. On the next floor (or at least I think it was. Who knows where we were?) a confident, gold hotdog man greeted us.
The art piece below features little figurines of people holding up a plane of glass. We took turns standing on it since it could support five people at a time.
Another part of the museum took us into a cavern maze complete with secret doorways, crawl spaces and spiral staircases. The cavern entrances are located all over the museum. You never know where you’ll see legs dangling from the ceilings. For tall men like Jake, crawl spaces and tunnels might not be options.
I nervously walked across this wire-covered board walk suspended high in the air.
And you never know what will greet you around each corner. It could be this weird devil head or stone torso lady.
Or this spinning wheel.
The most mind-blowing part of the museum is an outdoor obstacle course that’s suspended stories-up in the air. Temperatures reached past 95 degrees so we were more than content to watch the brave obstacle-course goers. I might also be afraid of heights. . .
After an hour and a half, we were hot and sweaty and ready to head somewhere cooler. Between all of the people and the 90 degree weather, the museum felt toasty and we were too hot to visit the outdoor features. We grabbed a beer at the Alpha Brewing Company across the street.
Overall, we’ll always remember our date at City Museum as one of our most unique experiences. The 30-year old me was hesitant to crawl into dark holes and mid-air wire tunnels, but I smile as I imagine the 10-year old me zipping through them with wild abandon. Some of my fondest childhood memories occurred at a giant Twin Cities park called Shoots and Ladders. This reminded me of Shoots and Ladders on Surge.
The museum did seem mostly geared for children who could easily be entertained for a whole day here. There’s also a special children’s ball pit and crafting area where we saw supervised paper snowflake, cardboard sculpture, and painting stations. Parents will find plenty of entertainment, too, but may have to work to keep up with their kids who will want to zip in and out of the passageways.
Finally, guests can not bring food and beverages into the museum. There are several concession stands and cafes sprinkled the museum, including the Roof Top Cantina. I never had trouble finding a bathroom or drinking fountain when I needed one. Keep in mind that rooftop access costs an extra $5 per person with general admission, only.
When our family and friends with kids visit, we’ll highly recommend they check out the museum. At some point, we really do need to visit on a cooler day so we can experience the outdoor features. Maybe I’ll be brave enough to slide down the 10 story slide by then.