Rather than stashing priceless relics behind glass, the museum curators have found engaging uses for materials that might otherwise have ended up in the city's landfills -- uses such as climbing, sliding, crawling, touching and jumping. With almost every inch of the museum covered with stuff, it's easy to find yourself visually intrigued and a bit overwhelmed.
If you have preschoolers, be sure to check out Skateless Park, the train at Tiny Train Town and Toddler Town. If the kids need a breather, there's a quiet area behind Toddler Town with some comfy chairs, books and quiet toys. Artsy kids of all ages will enjoy bellying up to a craft table at Art City. Bigger kids can have the run of the museum, scurrying through tunnels in the Enchanted Caves and exploring the wrought iron nooks and crannies of MonstroCity. Older kids might also enjoy going on a scavenger hunt throughout the museum.
Tips to maximize your visit:
• Speed through the museum's tunnels and tight crawl spaces with knee pads and slippery athletic pants (these wardrobe enhancers also provide the added thrill of embarrassing your kids).
• Admission isn't cheap ($12 per person for ages 3 and up, additional charges for the World Aquarium and Atop the City), so plan to stay all day to enjoy as many of the attractions as you can pack in.
• The entire museum is riddled with tunnels and crawl spaces. You'll want to follow younger kids through the tunnels because before you know it, your child could be halfway across the museum, exiting the tunnel through a whale's behind. For older kids, set up a rendezvous location at one of the museum's many landmarks.
What would make visits even better:
• Certain areas of the museum should have safe play surfaces. For example, the outdoor ball pit was built directly on top of asphalt. The flooring in Toddler Town is concrete. There have been several accidents at the City Museum (in the news lately: a child fell in MonstroCity), so you'll want to use your best judgment when determining what is safe for your kids. Clearly, a fall in the City Museum could be disastrous, and City Museum management need to revisit their safety standards.
• When the museum is busy, it's hard to keep tabs on the younger set. Each day between Christmas and New Years is notoriously packed. Throughout the year, Wednesdays and Thursdays are usually slower.
• On busy days, it can also be difficult to find a bathroom and a table for eating. When the cafe in the mezzanine is full and if bathrooms are closed for cleaning, museum staff should direct visitors to other options.
701 N. 15th St.
St. Louis, MO 63103