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City Museum: A Playground for All Ages

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Two Saber 40 aircraft fuselages, a fire engine, a castle turret, a 25-foot-tall cupola and several large wrought-iron slinkies make up this awesome jungle gym. Kids (and adults who feel like reverting to childhood) can crawl, climb, jump and bounce their way through this interactive sculpture.
Ball Pit
This isn’t your average arcade-style ball pit. Forget the small, hard plastic balls. Here, they fill the pits with a sea of large bouncing balls. Older children create mayhem in the Thunderdome while the little ones enjoy the gentler Baby Bob pit.
Enchanted Caves
Built below the hold shoe shafts, the Enchanted Caves came straight from Bab Cassily’s imagination. Filled with sculptures, petrified dragons, twisty stairways and fun lighting, the caves are mysterious and cool.
Architecture Museum
Curator Bruce Gerrie works to keep this museum within the museum from being typical. Along with a permanent exhibit called “Elmsie and Sullivan,” the collection includes the cross from the Alexian Brothers Hospital (the original locale of The Exorcist), gargoyles, ornamental terra cotta and brass doorknobs.
Pipe Organ
As you explore the museum, the sound of the Wurlitzer Pipe Organ resonates throughout. Built in 1924, the organ was originally housed in the Rivoli Theater in New York. It was moved to the museum, and after years in storage, was restored in 2006.
Shoelace Factory
Once used to make bootstraps for U.S. soldiers during World War II, these machines from the Alox Manufacturing Company now make brightly colored shoelaces, necklaces and other items for City Museum visitors. Watch the machines in action or pick a shoestring to take home from Missouri’s largest shoelace factory.
Shoe Shaft Slides
What museum would be complete without giant slides? The shoe shafts of this one-time factory have been turned into fun five- and 10-story slides.
World’s Largest Pencil
The world’s largest pencil, created by Ashrita Furman, lies inside the museum’s Skateless Park. The pencil contains 4,000 pounds of Pennsylvania graphite and is the equivalent of 1.9 million regular pencils.
Circus Harmony
Care to see a circus show while in town? No worries, the City Museum has you covered. Watch the tumblers flip, fly and juggle in the daily performances.
Museum of Mirth, Mayhem and Mystery
This area of the museum is all about the tawdry charm and cheesiness of carnivals and roadside attractions. Since you’ve already seen the world’s largest pencil, take a peek at the world’s largest pair of men’s briefs.
World Aquarium
Explore the underwater world at the aquarium. Dip your hand into the water to pet a stingray or crawl through an almost-underwater tunnel with sharks swimming above. Hidden pathways lead to other interesting sea creatures. Each day, the aquarium has feedings, classes and interactive programs. Entrance to World Aquarium is $6 in addition to the City Museum admission.
Rooftop Garden
Hang out atop the city at the Rooftop Garden. Ride Big Eli, a restored four-story ferris wheel, hop from stone to stone in the splash pond or go down the ramp slide. You can also view the City Museum’s famous school bus and giant praying mantis. The rooftop is open seasonally and admission is $5 extra.

The City Museum in St. Louis is a must-see attraction for a day of fun. Housed in the 600,000-square-foot former International Shoe Company, the museum is a playground, funhouse and visual stunner. Artist Bob Cassilly and his crew of 20 artisans constructed the museum from materials found around the city. Within the museum you’ll find old chimneys, salvaged bridges, construction cones, miles of tile and two abandoned planes. It may have been built with climbing and crawling children in mind, but visitors of all ages can marvel at the unique and fun activities.

City Museum
701 N. 15th St., St. Louis

Hours: M-Th. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., F-Sa. 9 a.m.-1 a.m., Su. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Price: General Admission $12, F-Sa. after 5 p.m. $10

Text by Shandi Grimsley
Photos courtesy of the City Museum

Spill It: Tell Us What You Think!

christine bongiovanni
Thanks for some good info on things to do in St. Louis! I know who to pass them on to!
4/13/2011 1:29:55 PM

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