When you mention that you’re going to St. Louis to pretty much anyone who knows anything about St. Louis, the first thing they do is make sure that you are aware of and planning to visit the City Museum.
And who are we to argue with everyone?
So of course it was at the top of our list for this trip, right up there with the Gateway Arch.
The City Museum is more giant indoor (and outdoor) playground than museum. Only really beautiful. And kind of insane. So like a giant, beautiful, insane playground. Make sense? Also there are dismembered dolls:
A terrible thing happened when we got to the City Museum, and that terrible thing was that I realized my camera battery was dead and that I had forgotten to bring along the spare. So I have exactly one photo of the City Museum taken with the real camera:
Everything else is crappy iphone photos.
The museum’s a little outside of downtown St. Louis, so parking was easy here; they have their own lot, but we ended up parking a couple of blocks away in a privately owned lot; I think we paid something like $2-3 for parking. Admission to the museum is $12 for ages 3 and up, plus another $5 for the roof (which was closed when we were there).
The museum is in an old shoe factory, and it takes full advantage of the industrial architecture, so that inside it, by turns, looks a lot like and absolutely nothing like an old factory. There are no maps available, which I guess is supposed to give you, like, a sense of wonder and discovery or whatever, but it’s a little hard on the compulsive planners among us. Still, we survived, and we eventually sort of got our bearings, and we had an amazing time.
We spent some time exploring the ocean-y part of the first floor:
And then wandered into the caves. I had heard about the caves, but until I saw them I didn’t really grasp how….cave-like they are. Like, really, they’re like caves. And we had just been to Mammoth Cave, if you’ll recall, so we know what caves look like. Many parts of the caves looked very claustrophobia-inducing (crawling on hands and knees is involved), but, fortunately, Ari was happy to follow Abe around and let him go in those parts while I stayed in the places where I could stand up:
Meanwhile, Dave stayed with Milo and Gus, and soon I got a text that they were heading for the ten story slide. You can access the slide by climbing up through the caves (and also other places. It’s a labyrinthine kind of place). Ari and I went back later with Milo and Gus for another trip down the ten story slide, so I can report that it’s pretty much exactly as fun as it sounds. Which is to say very.
When the kids and Dave went up there earlier in the day, they were able to hop right on. But when I went back with them in the afternoon, there was a substantial (20-30 minutes?) wait. No one under 48 inches is allowed, and I don’t know that you’d want to put a young kid on this slide anyway (no lap riders allowed); it’s not especially wild or scary, but you are in an enclosed space where you can’t see where you’re going, and if a kid freaked out in here it wouldn’t be pleasant. I was a little nervous myself, because, you know, heights and all:
….and also because I noticed a distinct lack of old people like myself in the line. But it was fine! I made it!
Although I will say that at the end I was kind of dizzy and disoriented (having just spun around in circles while descending ten stories on a metal slide) and it took me a few seconds to stand up, and it seemed like there were about a dozen teenagers standing there staring at me, and I didn’t see my own kids (who’d gone down ahead of me) anywhere. So then it briefly felt like a weird nightmare I might have had in high school or something. But that part was over quickly.
Dave and I did a lot of splitting up so that Abe and the big kids could go their separate ways. I had read some warnings about being careful not to lose your toddler or young kid here, but I’ll say that, either because of Abe’s relatively young age or his relatively cautious personality, I never really worried about him wandering off (it also helped that I gave Ari the chasing him through the cave job). And the older kids are old enough that I wasn’t worried when we lost sight of them for a few minutes. But there’s definitely more here for older kids to do than younger ones. There is a toddler area, but Abe wasn’t terribly interested in it. He did like the train:
All the kids enjoyed the skateless skate park area:
And these rolly chairs (tucked away on one of the upper floors somewhere; I couldn’t tell you exactly where) were a surprisingly big hit with all. I think Abe might have played with them for a good 45 minutes:
When we first got there, I felt like we’d never see half of it, but, in the end, I do think we covered most areas. BUT this is only because it was a cold, rainy day and all the outside areas were closed (I believe the roof area wasn’t open for the season yet, but that there was another outside area that was closed because of the rain). More slides! A ferris wheel! A school bus dangling frighteningly off the edge of the roof! So we will definitely need to return. Also, Abe hasn’t even gotten to go on a ten story slide yet, and that’s really not fair to him.
One thing we weren’t super impressed with was the food options. I kind of expected them to be a little more quirky and creative since everything else here was, but it was pretty standard fast food kid museum stuff. I think we had chicken fingers. To make up for the lackluster City Museum food, we stopped on the way back to the campground at Serendipity Ice Cream:
Where you can try out three different flavors and get golf ball sized scoops of each. We make it a point to try out a new ice cream place in as many cities as possible. Because ice cream is an important part of our lives.
Next up: will Milo finally get up in that arch?! Will we make to any of those amazing FREE museums?! Will I remember to charge the camera battery?!