City Museum: Endless Fun

Tuesday January 3, 2017

Visitors have dubbed St. Louis’ City Museum many things—a warehouse of fun, a jungle gym of exploration, a playground for all ages.

No matter what you call it, one thing’s certain: City Museum can be described in two words — “Endless fun.”

This is a “museum” like none other. Don’t ask for a map—there aren’t any. That just enhances the sense of adventure as visitors explore and experience surprises around virtually every corner.

With several stories in the massive former International Shoe Company; an outdoor, mega-story playground and rooftop full of the unexpected, plan to spend a day—or days—exploring and having fun.

Climb, skip, slide, crawl, jump, swing and sweat your way through the museum as you:

  • Slide down 24 (count ‘em—24!) slides including two that whisks visitors 10 stories down to the bottom
  • Swoop down ramps in the skate-less skate park
  • Spin around on a human hamster wheel

  • Climb your way to new heights through slinky-like metal coils
  • Get lost in a five-story outdoor maze of metal called MonstroCity with corkscrew climbers, two Sabre 40 airplanes, castle tower, treehouse and more
  • Explore a labyrinth of other-wordly caves, tunnels and chutes
  • Gaze in awe as the “Puking Pig” dumps 88 gallons to a stream below every 90 seconds.
  • Stroll through a life-sized kaleidoscope
  • Watch in awe as kids fly in all directions at Everyday Circus performances.

Those wanting a less physical visit can marvel at the millions of mosaics on the museum’s floors, enjoy the St. Louis Art Centre, watch a vintage machine make shoelaces and gape the recycled and repurposed items of some of the museum’s walls. Or they can scrutinize griffins, gargoyles and grotesques and facades of vintage buildings, then kick back and enjoy an alcoholic beverage at a museum cafes.

At Beatnik Bob’s Museum of Mirth, Mystery and Mayham, visitors can gawk at an oddities including a trailer owned by Elvis, the world’s largest pair of underpants, robots and vintage pinball machines.

Young visitors get their own kicks in Toddler Town designed for kids six and under and a mini train for kids 48 inches tall and under.

When the body screams for a break from climbing through coils, stop by Art City where you can tap into your creative side. Add a room to the castle-in-progress, fashion an origami Pikachu or engineer a creation of your imagination. Stop by Miss Marion’s to make intricate snow flakes and hear ghost stories. Miss Marion also gives free classes in rag-doll making and copper tooling.

Come early, stay late at City Museum and you still probably won’t have time to see and do everything.

One visitor commented as he left the building at closing recently, “That was (dramatic pause) exhuasting!”

“And,” his companion added enthusiastically, “amazing.”

If you go, here’s the lowdown:

City Museum

701 N. 15th Street is the official address but the entrance is on the 16th Street side.

Admission: $12 per person plus tax; kids two and under, free; $10 plus tax after 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday

Parking: $5

Hours: The museum observes “build season hours” in winter when it’s closed Monday and Tuesday. Open 9 a.m-5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursdays; 9 a.m.-midnight, Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday. Architectural Museum is temporarily closed.

Check the website, citymuseum.org for holiday hours. MonstroCity is closed during precipitation; the rooftop (additional admission) is open May-mid-November.

Advice from past visitors: Dress as if you’re going to the gym, wear kneepads if you have them and bring as little as possible to leave your hands and body free to climb. A flashlight comes in handy in the caves and tunnels. Some people find gloves helpful when climbing the coils.

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