AAA Editor Notes
City Museum is at 750 N. 16th St. between Delmar and Washington aves. Here's a museum that truly will delight everyone from 8 to 80, not to mention those on either side of this age range. While the multitude of contraptions that invite climbing, crawling, sliding, stepping, jumping and rope climbing are geared toward kids, there are plenty of diversions for adults, too—whether it's watching their children or grandchildren have a blast or perusing exhibits about St. Louis' history and architectural heritage.
Perhaps the most fascinating thing about City Museum is that it is built entirely from recycled and found materials. Everywhere you look—the floor, the walls, columns—there are whimsical mosaics and decorated tiles. Stairways are painted bright colors. The museum's three mazelike floors resemble an urban phantasmagoria of tunnels, chutes and labyrinths of twisted metal.
Tables allow children to draw, paint, practice kirigami (Japanese paper cutting) or engage in interactive activities. The rooms with mounted butterflies, insects, stuffed owls and other natural history specimens are like stumbling into a taxidermist's workroom. A piano sits in another room, waiting to be played—and soon enough someone will.
Atop the Roof is a hybrid playground/jungle gym 11 stories above the street. Here are such incongruous sights as a school bus perched halfway over the edge (yes, you can go inside it), a climbing cage that looks like an airborne Slinky, a pond crisscrossed with stepping stones, a giant praying mantis and Big Eli, a working Ferris wheel. You also get a 360-degree view of downtown St. Louis.
The World Aquarium features interactive touch tanks where children can pet sharks and stingrays, pick up a turtle or touch a starfish. Aquatic-themed displays and play spaces are filled with giant seashell columns and spraying jets of water. City Museum also has such oddities as the “world's largest pencil,” equivalent to 1,900 regular No. 2 pencils and tipped with a 250-pound rubber eraser that really works. A troupe of magicians, clowns and acrobats provide additional entertainment.
Food is available. Time: Allow 2 hours minimum.