St. Louis is an easy drive for us, just fine for an occasional overnight get-away or day trip. With the kids out of school for spring break, we decided to head down for a few days. We split time between the Zoo, the Magic House, and the City Museum.
The St. Louis City Museum – weird, imaginative, cool – was our pick for the trip. Many friends had recommended before, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Had heard it wasn’t so much a museum as a kind of artistic jungle gym, and this is an apt description. The City Museum is like this great maze of a playground, with subtle (and not so subtle) animal, cavern, jungle, and urban themes. It begs exploration and imagination from kids, and ours were more than happy to partake.
A couple of exhibits weren’t yet open for the summer season, and we really didn’t see everything – including the aquarium. That’s OK – we’ll be back. For kids four and above, this is a great, great imaginative site. There are tunnels and climbing everywhere. Little kids could get confused, lost, and upset – so bear that in mind. Also, adults who don’t want to crawl and wriggle through the mazes and passages will have a hard time keeping up with their kids. The wife and me both had bruises and soreness to show for our efforts. This place gets the official Beemsville on Tour recommendation.
A gentleman named Bob Cassilly purchased an old shoe factory and converted it into the museum. Cassilly was a sculptor and welder and entrepreneur, and according to Wikipedia once subdued a man trying to attack a work by Michelangelo in the Vatican. Sounds like quite an interesting fellow. What vision and commitment to create something like the City Museum.
We also visited the Magic House (aka the St. Louis Childrens’ Museum), which was also a lot of fun. This museum has numerous learning-focused activities and a lot of good stuff for early elementary kids. Highlights here included the investigator’s exhibit, where your older kids read through and collect clues and evidence to solve a crime. We also appreciated their government wing – three rooms that provide some tactile-physical interface with the three main branches of government.
The St. Louis Zoo is an old family standby. We’ve been going there for generations. Don’t really know where it stands in the whole zoo pecking order, but I can appreciate the layout, habitats, and variety. Since the kids wanted to see everything, we pretty much spent the day walking around and looking (and still missed out on a few attractions that weren’t yet open for the season or we just decided to skip). The St. Louis Zoo is also pretty cheap – especially if you bring your lunch; you really only have to pay for parking and the extras.