The Magic House, otherwise known as the St. Louis Children's Museum, encourages creativity and fun while teaching children about the world. There are exhibits, games and experiments sure to entertain everyone from babies to those in their early teens. Activities include playing president for a day, servicing a (mock) car and tending an outdoor vegetable garden.
This interactive museum House opened in1979 in a renovated Victorian mansion. More than 10 million children — along with their parents, grandparents and caregivers — have visited since.
Pick up a map at the main entrance to plan your day. One of the most popular exhibits is the Children’s Village, which offers a fully stocked grocery store, garage, restaurant, bank and nursery — all kid-sized.
In the Star-Spangled Center older children can sit behind a president’s desk, read a speech at a podium and see how a voting booth works.
There’s also a play area for babies under two and several aimed specifically at preschoolers. Spend time in the outdoor play area and vegetable garden, kids can take part in outdoor games, play hopscotch, pretend to drive a speedboat and get wet in the stream.
During the school year the museum is closed to the public on weekday mornings. Come in the afternoon during the week, or morning or afternoon on weekends to avoid the crowds. There are extended hours during school breaks. These vary, so check the website for details. Allow two to four hours for a visit.
Stop for a break at the Picnic Basket Café, which serves healthy snacks including salads, sandwiches and soups.
The not-for-profit Magic House is in the outer western St. Louis suburb of Kirkwood. There’s limited free parking at the museum. On busy weekends, it's best to catch a train that takes a half-hour to ride from downtown to the Kirkwood station. The museum is closed on Mondays.