City Museum in St. Louis isn’t your typical museum — it’s a playground packaged as a museum with all kinds of family fun
Editor’s Note: Because of COVID-19, many public attractions may be closed or operating under restrictions. Please check the website or social media for City Museum before planning your trip, and be aware of any safety protocols or travel restrictions currently in effect. City Museum reopened on June 17, 2020. It is restricting attendance through a timed reservation system, and asking visitors over age 9 to wear cloth face coverings. Read about it here.
Get ready to explore
City Museum sets itself apart from your traditional museums by touting itself as a museum meant to be explored. It is very up front on its website that some areas may be difficult to maneuver, so wear comfortable clothes and be prepared to part ways with your kids if need be while they navigate certain areas. With all the things we love about City Museum coupled with this nugget (that areas can be difficult to maneuver), City Museum gets a wholehearted recommendation for families with older kids and teens … and not the best fit for young kids and toddlers.
Inside, outside and everywhere in between!
City Museum may seem “museum-y” on the inside but if you add on passes to the rooftop as part of your visit, this museum quickly rockets into “next level” status. Your kids will probably never forget climbing through the climbing structure that is perched atop a downtown city building.
A little history
City Museum is an absolutely unbelievable collection of reclaimed urban buildings and recycled materials morphed into a magical playground for kids and grown-ups. Founded by artist Bob Cassilly and opened to the public in 2007, the 600,000-square-foot facility is housed in what was once a shoe factory and warehouse. Since its opening, the museum has expanded to include four floors of insanely good fun.
Planning your day
Admission to the City Museum isn’t cheap; as of spring 2020 kids 2 and under are free, everyone else is $16 and entrance to the roof is additional. We highly recommend you purchase admission to the roof, which includes a ferris wheel that offers gorgeous views of the city, a reclaimed school bus cantilevered off the roof (with doors that open, behind a cage, to a dizzying drop), climbing structures created out of reclaimed materials and so much more. Known as MonstroCity, you’ll realize why when you approach.
Inside there is a circus performance every hour, a miniature train kids can ride, a special area for toddlers, and lots of creative spaces throughout. There’s also a huge area where kids and their grown-ups can create art projects, stocked with every imaginable paint, pen, chalk and paper you could ever want.
Got a climber? That kid will love the City Museum. There are warrens of tunnels, strange meandering climbing structures made out of metal and wood and even a turtle pond smack in the middle of the museum. Be careful, though — parents can follow their kids along and find themselves in a tight squeeze without much notice.
Reiterating our top piece of advice: Let your child explore or wait a few more years before heading here
One thing you absolutely need to know before visiting this museum is that you must be willing to let your child explore. If you’re not, consider visiting the Saint Louis Science Center, Saint Louis Zoo or Magic House on your trip. There is too much temptation to run, jump, slide and scale large structures to keep your child contained. It’s probably worthwhile to skip it for a bit longer if you’re not yet comfortable with your child having that much freedom. A trip with toddlers or young kids IS possible but you will have challenges throughout your visit, especially if you’re juggling older kids, too.