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City Museum

This quirky children’s museum invites visitors to crawl through whales, climb into tree houses and whiz down three-story slides.

The City Museum has playgrounds, aquariums and factories among its many hands-on exhibits. Quirky artifacts, such as “The World’s Largest Underpants,” are found alongside slippery slides and live animals. There’s even a daily circus show. 

These exhibits take up 600,000 square feet (54,500 square meters) of the old International Shoe Company building in downtown St. Louis. Artist Bob Cassilly transformed the space using objects found on the streets, such as chimneys and old car parts. The museum is largely aimed at toddlers to teenagers, although there are art displays and an architecture exhibit to keep all ages occupied.

The first floor includes an underground cave system and an underwater display. Walk through a life-sized model of a whale, then crawl down into the caves, or up into elaborate tree houses. A 5,000-gallon (19,000-liter) fish tank houses aquatic life from local waterways.

A shoelace factory on the second floor is a nod to the building’s heritage. Watch how laces were made in the 1800s, and you can even order a custom-made pair to take home. There’s also an interesting display of vintage opera posters. The biggest attraction, however, is a large aquarium, with stingrays, sharks, alligators, sea snakes and turtles. Get a different view of the ocean’s greatest predators in a small glass tunnel that runs through the shark tank.

The daily circus show, with experienced acrobats and trapeze artists, is on the third floor. (Check the museum’s website for show times.) Next door there’s a small Natural History collection. The Beatnik Bob’s exhibit has memorabilia from the 1950s, including vintage pinball machines. After exploring these exhibits, ride the slide back down to the first. 

In summer the rooftop has a Ferris wheel and playground with splash pond. 

On your way out, stop by MonstroCity, a multilevel jungle gym just outside the main entrance.

City Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday. Opening times vary so check the website before visiting. Wear sturdy shoes with a closed-in toe and heel. Parking is limited, so public transportation is a good option.


Guide to Exploring around City Museum


Map

Best Lodging Options Near City Museum

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Hyatt Regency St. Louis at The Arch $119
Hyatt Regency St. Louis at The Arch

Hyatt Regency St. Louis at The Arch

315 Chestnut St, St. Louis, MO
     
    4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in Downtown St. Louis, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Old Courthouse and Gateway Arch. Dome at America’s Center and Busch Stadium are also within 15 minutes. 8th and Pine Station is 8 minutes by foot and Arch Lacledes Station is 9 minutes.

    Drury Plaza Hotel St. Louis at the Arch $123
    Drury Plaza Hotel St. Louis at the Arch

    Drury Plaza Hotel St. Louis at the Arch

    2 South 4th Street, St. Louis, MO
       
      3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Located in Downtown St. Louis, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Old Courthouse, Gateway Arch, and Busch Stadium. Dome at America’s Center and America's Center Convention Complex are also within 15 minutes. 8th and Pine Station is 7 minutes by foot and Convention Center Station is 9 minutes.

      The Last Hotel $94
      The Last Hotel

      The Last Hotel

      1501 Washington Ave, St. Louis, MO
         
        4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in Downtown St. Louis, this hotel is steps from Washington Avenue Historic District and City Museum. America's Center Convention Complex and Enterprise Center are also within 15 minutes. 8th and Pine Station is 14 minutes by foot and Convention Center Station is 14 minutes.

        Red Lion Hotel St. Louis $104
        Red Lion Hotel St. Louis

        Red Lion Hotel St. Louis

        400 S 14th St, St. Louis, MO
           
          3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

          Located in Downtown St. Louis, this hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Enterprise Center and Busch Stadium. City Museum and America's Center Convention Complex are also within 1 mi (2 km). St. Louis Gateway Station is only a 3-minute walk and Stadium Station is 9 minutes.

          Pear Tree Inn St. Louis Near Union Station $104
          Pear Tree Inn St. Louis Near Union Station

          Pear Tree Inn St. Louis Near Union Station

          2211 Market Street, St. Louis, MO
             
            3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

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            St. Louis Union Station Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton $162
            St. Louis Union Station Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton

            St. Louis Union Station Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton

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              4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in Downtown St. Louis, this historic hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Peabody Opera House, Enterprise Center, and City Museum. America's Center Convention Complex and Busch Stadium are also within 1 mi (2 km). St. Louis Gateway Station is 11 minutes by foot and 8th and Pine Station is 18 minutes.

              Drury Inn St. Louis at Union Station $108
              Drury Inn St. Louis at Union Station

              Drury Inn St. Louis at Union Station

              201 S 20th St, St. Louis, MO
                 
                3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

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                Marriott St. Louis Grand $148
                Marriott St. Louis Grand

                Marriott St. Louis Grand

                800 Washington Ave, St. Louis, MO
                   
                  4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

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