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inside city museum
Sliding around the third-floor playground at the City Museum in St. Louis.

City Museum: Lose yourself at the most unique place in St. Louis

What is this crazy City Museum?

With two airplanes intertwined into a 5-story treehouse maze, we knew the City Museum in St. Louis was going to be awesome as we walked up. After grabbing our wristbands and marveling at the entryway, we headed for the mouth of the whale. As usual, I told the kids to stay together and where they could see us. One of several teenage staff employed to locate lost children let me know they would soon be on another floor, so I tightened up my drawstring and headed in!

kids at city museum in st. louis
Kids taking in the entry to the City Museum.

First Floor: Climb into a whale, tree and caves

As the kids zoomed around the inside of the whale, I quickly came to the realization that I should have worn pants and taken the desk up on those knee pads. Opting out of the whale experience, my husband and father scoped out the winding sculpted caves and took us there next. Supposedly, there is a 10-story slide through the caves, but many attractions were closed during our visit in 2021. We couldn’t leave the first floor without climbing around the treehouse, which took us to the second floor anyway!

kids in treehouse of city museum
Taking a pause from climbing and sliding in the treehouse inside the City Museum.

Second floor: Check out your full belly in the mirror maze

I can’t fully describe how wild it was to be in a place with something completely unexpected around every corner. Having been enthralled by the bank vault at the St. Louis Hilton the day before, the kids were instantly drawn to the huge vault door, which we realized led to a mirror maze.

mirror room city museum
Mirror mazes are always a good time for silly faces.

Adjacent to the food court, we needed an adventure refuel, and were pretty impressed by the quality of the pizza and view of the older warehouses as we ate. Sadly, the aquarium room is pretty lack luster as the animals have been moved to Laclede’s Landing, but there were a few fun photo ops. The kids were pretty pumped to design some laces at the Shoelace Factory, but sadly, it was closed that day too.

city museum aquarium
Now void of fish, this portal still feels like being under the sea.

3rd Floor: Slide around with the World’s Largest Pencil

By the time we got up here I should have known better than to question the “Skate-less Skatepark”. With ropes to swing and tons of ramps to slide down, the kids had a ball. I can’t suggest enough to make sure and wear pants to this place. All the climbing and sliding just isn’t as much fun on leg skin.

skateless skatepark City Museum
Swinging good time in the Skate-less Skatepark at the City Museum.

After admiring the World’s Largest Pencil at 73ft long and 21,500lbs, we took Bo to play in the Toddler Town slides. Then we passed through an 18th century Naturalist’s dream room full of uncountable taxidermized specimens.

world's largest pencil
Another member of our “World’s Largest” club… The Pencil!

One of my favorite sections was the Architecture Museum. Filled with pieces salvaged from demolished buildings, it felt like a portal back 100 years when every building was ornamented with cornices, moldings or gargoyles. The entire face of St. Louis’ famed Avalon theater is in here!

face of avalon theater st. louis
Stunning salvaged face of the Avalon Theater in City Museum.

Don’t miss a trip down the shoe slides

Of course, we couldn’t leave the inside without taking a ride down the shoe slides. Originally, these crazy spirals transported shoes from the production floors to the loading docks at ground level. But the amazing engineers here reimagined them into slides that are 5, 7 and 10 stories tall. Accessed by stairs that are more narrow, dark and windy than the slides themselves, these slides are best for older kids and well-balanced adults.

city museum shoe slides
Epic 5, 7 & 10 story shoe slides in the City Museum.

Climb in the sky at Monstrocity

Being a huge highlight of the museum, we decided to save it for last, when other guests were ready to move into the AC for the afternoon. Most of the patio area was actually well shaded for my dad to chill while we checked out the treehouse, which quickly dissolved into a maze of wire climbing tubes connected to the previously mentioned planes.

Monstrocity treehouse
The treehouse is just the beginning of the of the fun in Monstrocity.

Full confession… I’m not a super big fan of heights. I tried to keep up with the kids but decided that my anxiety wasn’t helping anyone. So, I decided to put my faith in the people who constructed the other amazing exhibits we’d enjoyed that day and let them go. I was almost in tears watching how they both fearlessly clamored around in the sky while I had a mini aneurism. I didn’t realize until we were leaving, but there’s a bar at the bottom of Monstrocity, probably for anxious parents like me:)

monstrocity city museum
Suspended 25ft above the ground, the kids spent hours climbing the mazes of “slinky” tubes.

Missed Opportunities

About half of the 3rd floor and the entire roof were closed since we were there during the “Covid years”. Supposedly there’s a Ferris wheel, several more giant slides, a huge praying mantis on top of a planetarium and a school bus on the roof. We’ve enjoyed our visits to St. Louis so much and we definitely look forward to returning here during our next visit to get the full experience. What else did we miss? Tell us about your adventures at the City Museum in St. Louis.

selfie sculpture at city museum
Grabbing a quick selfie with a silly sculpture in the Architecture Hall.

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