St. Louis seems to have perfected the art of creating kid-friendly activities that are equally exciting for parents. In addition to having one of the most beautiful and largest urban parks in the country, St. Louis is home to museums and cultural centers that spark wonder and imagination in youngsters while reminding parents that seeing the world through the eyes of a child is simply way more fun.
Tap into Your Inner Child
Sure, on the surface, this museum may seem like it’s made for kids, but the reality is, it’s perfect for the kid in all of us.
Housed in the 600,000-square-foot former International Shoe Company manufacturing factory and warehouse, the City Museum uses repurposed and recycled architectural and industrial objects to create a larger-than-life playground of salvaged bridges, abandoned planes, tunnels, man-made caves and other things you can climb, slide down, swing from and dive into.
Artist Bob Cassilly and his team of 20 artisans built the museum with items sourced from no farther than municipal borders, crafting an authentic museum of the city.
The Treasure of St. Louis
There’s no better place to spend a warm and sunny day in St. Louis than Forest Park. The 1300-acre urban park has been a premier attraction since its opening in 1876 and has hosted significant events, including the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (also known as the St. Louis World’s Fair) and the 1904 Summer Olympics.
Visit the Jewel Box greenhouse filled with floral displays; the Muny, the country’s largest outdoor theater; and the Missouri History Museum. Burn off energy with a paddleboat ride across Pagoda Lake or on a long walk through the John F. Kennedy Memorial Forest.
Explore the Best Free Attraction in the Nation
Located within Forest Park and devoid of entry fees since its opening in 1910, the St. Louis Zoo was named the top free attraction in the nation by a USA Today poll.
The 90-acre zoo is home to more than 16,000 animals representing every continent and is renowned for its innovative approach to animal management, wildlife conservation, research and education.
Little ones will love traversing the zoo’s six distinct zones: River’s Edge, the Wild, Historic Hill, Red Rocks, Lakeside Crossing and especially Discovery Corner, where they can enjoy a hands-on experience with both fuzzy and amphibious creatures.
Let Imaginations Run Wild
Just outside of St. Louis in Kirkwood is The Magic House, St. Louis Children’s Museum, an interactive museum created to spark imagination, curiosity and wonder among both children and parents.
Little ones can practice adulting skills in the Children’s Village by sampling different professions such as doctor, restaurant owner or mechanic; voting at an electronic voting booth; signing the Declaration of Independence; and sitting behind the president’s desk in an Oval Office replica. There’s also the Art Studio and Make-It Workshop for future crafters, oversize instruments for budding musicians and the three-story beanstalk for climbing.
Budding scientists should not miss a trip to the St. Louis Science Center. The galleries feature more than 700 hands-on exhibits that include digging for fossils, working with computers and analyzing materials under a microscope.
Staff members test the laws of physics in live demonstrations, and kiddos can try their best to sneak past a life-sized animatronic Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops. Also a part of the Science Center is the four-story Omnimax Theater, which hosts films that journey underwater, through the wild, and high above the earth and is also home to a planetarium and flight simulators.
Need for Speed
Just 15-minutes from downtown St. Louis, kids (and parents) can pretend to be Formula One racers at Pole Position Raceway, an indoor electric go-kart racing track. A briefing video filled with instructional go-kart tips helps prepare drivers to have a safe yet adrenaline filled race; then they hit the track for up to three races.
The Junior Race track is great for kids aged six and older (50-inch minimum height), with go-kart speeds up to 25 mph on a quarter-mile track.