Saturday, May 11, 2013

City Museum, St. Louis City

Location: 701 North 15th Street, St. Louis, MO 63103



The City Museum is a much-loved St. Louis play attraction. There is so much to see and do, you probably can't fit it all into just one day. It's a fun-for-the-whole-family kind of place! 

Some of the more well-known parts of the museum are the caves, big climbing areas and slides. There is a plethora of information available on their website, so spend a little time in the "attractions" pages to learn more about what the museum has to offer. I'll focus here on information you won't necessarily find on the website. 

My kids are 21 months and a few months shy of 4 years old, so we headed for Toddler Town first, and spent most of our time there. It's on the 3rd floor, with a staff member who plays "traffic cop" to ensure the area doesn't get overrun by big kids (defined as over 6 years old). If your child can sit up, even with assistance, you can enjoy playing in Toddler Town. There are soft building blocks, cars and trucks, balls, and large, cushy blocks good for forts and/or walling in your sitting or crawling baby. There are toddler-sized slides and a smaller "MonstroCity"-style climbing structure that can also accommodate adults, so you can play with your kids. The ball pit is filled with soft, larger balls than typical. There is even a hollow dinosaur whose neck serves as a tunnel slide! 

Just outside Toddler Town are Circus Harmony and Tiny Train Railroad. Mini train rides used to be free with museum admission but I think that changed, and there are no seat belts. You will have to decide whether your child is mature enough to remain seated on his/her own. Circus Harmony is also free, though they collect donations since the performers are not paid by City Museum. There are a few shows each day, but the enclosure is glass, so we spent quite a bit of time just watching them practice. Our kids were mesmerized. 

Lunch at the cafe on the Mezzanine level was tasty and reasonably priced. The menu is available online and does include kids' meal options, milk and juice. 

On the way up and down the stairs, take some time to spin the unique railing posts. We practically had to drag our 3-year-old away from them. Since our kids nap in the afternoon, that was all we had time for, but the City Museum does allow you to leave and come back on the same day as long as you keep the wristbands on. 

A few general notes: 
Strollers are welcome, and there is an elevator. However, the large open spaces tend to become crowded with people, making strollers cumbersome. Wearable baby carriers are your best bet here. 

The first floor men's and women's restrooms both have baby changing tables, but on the third floor there is one only in the women's room. We didn't check any others.  

The website says this, but it's worth repeating: come dressed for active play! Wear closed-toe shoes and clothes that will accommodate movement. 

The official policy does not allow outside food or drinks, but they didn't search our diaper bag on the way in. 

Maps of the museum's layout are available on their website. There are also staff members posted throughout the museum to provide directions to lost patrons and ensure everyone is playing safely. The City Museum is a popular attraction and can get very crowded, especially in unfavorable weather. It can also be extraordinarily loud in certain areas. We were there on a rainy day, and as one staff member put it, "half the museum is outside," making it more crowded inside. Weekdays are generally less busy than weekends, but it's also a common field trip destination. Employees advised Mondays through Wednesdays are typically the least crowded days, but visitors are welcome to call in advance to inquire how many groups are expected on any particular day.

Also it can be overwhelming if you have more than one child because there are so many places a child can go in and you can't see them come out. It's best for a one on one ratio of parents to kids! Losing kids here is very common and I was stressed out during much of my visit with my toddlers because they kept taking off. 

Thank you Joan for this review and pictures!

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