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506 votes

St. Louis City Museum

750 N 16th St, St. Louis, Missouri 63103 USA

Open Now
Sat 9a-12a
  • Independent
  • Credit Cards Accepted
  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • Public Restrooms
  • Outdoor Seating
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“A museum with a terrifying slide, giant ball pit, and even a ghost or two..”

City Museum is a museum, consisting largely of repurposed architectural and industrial objects, housed in the former International Shoe building in the Washington Avenue Loft District of St. Louis, Missouri. Popular among residents and tourists, the museum bills itself as an "eclectic mixture of children's playground, funhouse, surrealistic pavilion, and architectural marvel." Visitors are encouraged to feel, touch, climb on, and play in the various exhibits. The museum attracted over 300,000 visitors in 1999 and over 600,000 in 2007. It has been named one of the "great public spaces" by the Project for Public Spaces, and has won other local and international awards as a must-see destination..

The original part of the museum, the first floor is home to a life-size Bowhead Whale that guests can walk through and view a large fish tank from the mezzanine or the always popular "Puking Pig." Also on the first floor, are a number of tunnels that run across the ceiling, hiding above a sea of fiberglass insulation cut to give the impression of icicles. To get into these one can climb up a Slinky, which is an old refrigerating coil (donated by Anhueser-Busch), or through a tree house which leads into a giant hollowed out tree that leads to a cabin on the other side of the floor. The floor itself is covered with the largest continuous mosaic piece in the US, which then morph their way up columns, consuming every section of this floor. In one area is a tunnel known as the "Underground Whaleway" which runs beneath the floor and into the "Original Caves." New areas are currently being built.

One of the most popular attractions, besides the outdoor MonstroCity, the Enchanted Caves and Shoe Shafts run through the center of the Museum, and go all the way to the 10th floor. In the Enchanted Caves, guests will find an elaborate cave system hand-sculpted by Bob Cassilly and his crew. From every direction, a different creature is staring back. The Shoe Shafts were left over from when the building was the International Shoe distribution building. To get the shoes from floor to floor, staff would place the shoes on the spiral shafts that would lead down to the loading dock. When the caves originally opened up in 2003, there was only one spiral shoe slide that was three stories tall, but in 2008 a second was opened, a ten-story spiral slide that starts at the roof and goes down to caves' entrance.

The World Aquarium is an interactive animal exhibition and rehabilitation center. It houses a variety of animals such as sharks, rays, sea turtles, parrots, tortoises, terrapins, otters, snakes, alligators and sloths as well as the expected freshwater and saltwater fish. The World Aquarium includes a shark tank with a glass tunnel running through it, big enough to crawl through, but too small to walk. This aquarium has stingray petting. They also allow stingray feeding for a fee at certain times.

The 3rd Floor is home to a number of attractions. In one area is Skateless Park, which is a collection of skateboard ramps, without the skateboards, in place having rope swings tied in front of the ramps and mats to land on. There is also the Everyday Circus, a circus school with students from 6 to 80+.[citation needed] The Everyday Circus performs daily at the museum and does private parties. Just around the corner from the Circus, is Art City where guests can try their hand at a number of different art techniques, as well as Toddler Town; A section dedicated only to those 6 and under. Beatnik Bob's is directly across from the Circus, which features the "World's Largest Underwear", a collection of vintage video/pinball games, and a concessions stand. Right outside Beatnik's is a 1/8 scale model of an Alco Train that children who are 48 inches high under can ride around the tracks.

Past Architectural Hall, the Museum's largest rental space, is the Architectural Museum. Located here is the cross from the "Exorcist," a collection of antique door knobs, and the Museum's current exhibit of Elmslie and Sullivan. Off Architectural Hall, the Museum recently started to add a Natural History Section. On display are a number of insects and taxidermy items.
Finally, on the 3rd Floor, the entrance to the three story slide that leads back to the first floor. 

The 3rd Floor is also home to a small number of hauntings. There have been reports of a piano playing on its own and small children being seen near the Alco Train and various other people talking or crying.

The roof has a small old fashioned Ferris wheel. It also has a slide that goes under a small pond. The pond has stepping stones that go from one side to the other. The roof also has a school bus that had actually worked once, extending past the edge of the building. Visitors can walk in the school bus and open the door from the driver's seat. Also found on the roof are a giant rope swing contained in a free-standing aluminum dome underneath the roof's centerpiece; a giant metal praying mantis. It is possible to climb a series of enclosed metal ladders inside the dome to an exit at the top.

Located in front of the building, MonstroCity features two Sabreliner 40 aircraft fuselages suspended high in the air, a fire engine, a castle turret, a 25-foot (7.6 m) cupola, four-foot-wide Slinkies that can be crawled through, and two ball pits, one for young children and one for older ones, each pit being filled with large, rubber dodge balls. The Cabin Inn is an early-19th-century log cabin located beneath MonstroCity. Originally the home of the son of Daniel Boone, it was owned by the Hezel family for more than a century and is now a bar and entertainment venue.

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Reviewed by

  • Tour Guide
  • 15 Reviews
  • 32 Helpful
July 28, 2014
Rated 5.0

GO HERE NOW. I first encountered the City Museum over the weekend and said to my spouse, "This looks like a place lawyers don't know about." I went late in the evening, as suggested, to avoid smaller children. It was still pretty busy, but I wouldn't call it crowded. My wife and I spent at least two hours in this gem and I feel like I have just scratched the surface. There is so much to see and so much to do. We started at the roof. The sights are nice, but I had more fun in the lower sections of the museum. If you're an active person and up for climbing around the many nooks and crannies awaiting discovery, you will enjoy this place infinitely more. Give yourself plenty of time to see all this place has to offer. I just can't express how much fun I had as a 28 year old. I haven't had that much carefree fun since I was a younger child.

13 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 6 Reviews
  • 10 Helpful
August 12, 2014

This place is AMAZING! We have yet to find anything that even semi compares to the unique fun found here. The kids have a BLAST in a semi dangerous environment that usually they would not be allow to go near. Some of the openings in the structures made me nervous as an adult to try to fit through but we never did get stuck...yet! We have been a few times and have not hit all the areas this place as to offer. Tree houses, underground, caves, metal sturctures---someone with a lot of imagination came up with this! If you are near it try it out and bring your sense of adventure with you.

8 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 2 Reviews
  • 7 Helpful
July 28, 2014

Excellent! We've been there multiple times - It is my "go-to" time killer if we have huge gaps in our schedule while in St. Louis! Kids love it - 5 or 6 story slide, tunnels through floors, walls, and ceiling, and many many other things. There is real educational things to do and see - it's not all play, but kids don't even realize they're learning. :-)

7 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 1 Review
  • 8 Helpful
December 12, 2013

So much fun! You can stay late into the night there and have a blast...don't be surprised if you have a ton of scrapes and bruises with all the climbing and slipping in-between tight spaces.

8 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Anna Hider

  • Blogger
  • 1,275 Reviews
  • 413 Helpful
April 07, 2014

It's an adult-friendly playground for kids that serves beer. I have nothing bad to say about this place!

7 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 2 Reviews
  • 7 Helpful
July 14, 2014

This was awesome!!! There are tons of tunnels and caves on the first floor and a 10 story slide and a ferris wheel on the roof!

6 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 2 Reviews
  • 4 Helpful
July 04, 2014

Very fun day! It's a workout in there. Adults, bring knee pads if you want to keep up with the kids!

4 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 1 Review
  • 3 Helpful
July 07, 2014

This was very cool, cost 12.00 to climb around but don't judge the outside.inside awaits really neat stuff z

3 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 2 Reviews
  • 4 Helpful
May 10, 2014

This is one of the most unique attractions in the country. I have never seen anything like it anywhere else. You have to stop by on the way through St. Louis.

3 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 2 Reviews
  • 3 Helpful
December 13, 2013

Love this place it is so much fun!! People of all ages will have a good time!

3 people found this review helpful

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St. Louis City Museum

750 N 16th St
St. Louis, Missouri
63103 USA


Open now until 12:00 am
  • Fri, Sat: 9:00 am - 12:00 am
  • Sun: 11:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Wed, Thu: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

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  • Independent
  • Credit Cards Accepted
  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • Public Restrooms
  • Outdoor Seating
  • Street Parking
  • Private Parking

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