The finest immersive experience that we encountered in St. Louis wasn’t an escape room; it was City Museum.
I’m as shocked as I am thrilled that this place exists… and I can’t wait to tell you about it.
What is City Museum?
City Museum is an adventure playground for all ages.
City Museum was immersive entertainment unlike any other. Built in, around, and on top of a former 10-story shoe factory that spanned a city block, it was a playground, a museum, a collection of curiosities, an architectural marvel, and a memorable adventure. The place was 600,000 square feet. It was the brainchild of the artist Bob Cassilly, a classically trained sculptor.
What do you do in City Museum?
It was filled with slides, things to climb, stuff to traverse, and all sorts of beautiful oddities.
Some of the obstacles were elevated high up. Some of the spaces were confined and required crawling through narrow caves. Some of it was simply beautiful or interesting to look at.
Everything – and I mean everything – was delightfully strange.
What did I do at City Museum?
After we went down the 10-story slide, I saw an interesting cavernous space. I wondered where it led. I slithered inside… down… around… and into a dimly lit sort of climbing area. In doing so, I completely lost track of David and our other travel companions.
Sometime later, I found my friends near a fish tank, near these bouncy-twirly things that you could bop around on forever without moving at all… because oddities.
We visited on a beautiful March day when we could climb outside without jackets. We shimmied our way through meshed crawling spaces reaching off the building like giant tentacles. We climbed through an airplane (yes, a plane, suspended outside the building, just so) and out the other side. We looked down on crowds of people maneuvering through the spaces.
We happened upon a bar/ restaurant in the middle of the place and stopped for a quick refreshment.
We uncovered different habitats to climb through, exhibits with unlikely artifacts, and slides of every shape and size. We got lost. We found ourselves in a place we’d already been, unsure exactly how that had happened.
City Museum gives the gift of uninhibited exploration. It was a giant maze to get lost in and not really care where we ended up.
It was life-sized chutes and ladders… except without the moral overtones.
At one point David overheard a mother tell her children to “go have fun and take risks.”
The thing that’s so remarkable about City Museum is that it doesn’t feel like any other amusement or playground that I’ve encountered in the United States.
It’s the kind of place that gives you the freedom to chose what spaces you want to climb or crawl into. It allows you to get a bit banged up… and that’s ok because each individual is in the driver’s seat of their own experience.
It never felt like a dangerous place… but it did invite me to take risks… and I loved that. I wish that there were more experiences like this.
Who is this for?
- Children… who aren’t afraid to challenge themselves.
- Parents… who are able to give their children the freedom to explore and pick up a couple of bumps and bruises.
- Adults… with a childlike glee and a bit of flexibility and stamina.
- Friends… who like to explore together, but don’t mind getting separated here and there until divergent paths cross again.
- Solos… who are looking for an individual adventure in a sea of people.
Tips For Visiting
- If you visit on a weekend, it will be crowded. Get there before it opens.
- Wear athletic clothes and shoes. You will want unrestricted movement.
- You will get sweaty and dirty.
- Bring as little with you as possible. You’ll want to check your belongings and you pay by the item.
- Keep your phone in a zippered pocket/ pouch.
- Kneepads… bring kneepads or buy them in the gift shop.
If you visit City Museum, mail us a postcard. Even that mailbox is… well, it fits right in.