On Monday night my oldest son said “You know where I’d really like to go again? City Museum.” City Museum is in St. Louis, Brad just happened to be working in St. Louis this week. So, I called Brad, we did some juggling. He changed hotels to one that allows pets, I started packing, and we told our son that we could go to City Museum. It is about a 6 hour drive from home, we got started late afternoon Tuesday and drove.
Wednesday morning I decided we probably couldn’t spend the whole day at City Museum. I remembered passing some signs on the highway for Cahokia Mounds, Historic Site. We decided to go there first thing in the morning.
There is an interpretive center on the grounds, that gives the history of the mounds. There is a short, 15 minute video that you can watch. (The people that work there are all very happy to tell you that it is an award winning video.) It is really interesting. The rest of the building is a museum. There is a LOT of information there too. Toward the end of the museum they talk about how they excavate the area without damaging things.
From November to April the center is closed Monday and Tuesday. The rest of the year is is open 7 days a week. 8am to dusk. The center is free to enter, but has a suggested donation of $7 for adults and $2 for children, or $15 for families. I think it is worth it, they really try to make it a nice experience, with guided tours if you like groups, or iPod tours if you prefer to do your own thing.
Around the Center are a lot of hills, in various sizes. Theses are the Mounds. I’ll write another post about the history (those have become my favorite to write.) The mounds were build around 1100A.D., using stone tools to dig the dirt out of the ground, and woven baskets to haul it to the site of the mounds. Some mounds were the town’s barriers. Some were to build houses on top of. And, most were burial mounds.
Monks Mound is the largest one, that is the one in the picture above. The Chief’s home was built on top of it. Monks Mound is the largest prehistoric earth work in North America. There are a couple hundred steps to the top, and the view from the top is pretty cool.
Weaving in and out of the mounds are several trails. Some, just a mile or so, up to 10 miles long. There is a play ground and a picnic area as well. There is also a spot named Woodhenge. It is a large circle made from pillars. They believe it was a sort of calendar.
I don’t think small children would be very interested in going here. My kids are 9 and 11, and they only pretended to be interested because I told them I knew where a Barnes and Noble was, and I was more than happy to go buy them a history book instead. But, once we got into the museum area, I had a hard time getting them out! I thought it was really interesting too.
After the Cahokia Mounds, we headed to City Museum. We’d been here once before. When you pull up, odds are good you will consider leaving right away again. It looks very strange. I sent my husband some photos last time and he replied with “Are you playing in a construction zone or a junk yard?”
The best way I can describe City Museum is an Art Museum/Play ground. It is $5 to park, and $12/person to get in. Right now, they are closed Monday and Tuesday, they go back to open 7 days a week on March 14. They have a coat check inside, $1/coat. Or you can leave your coat in your car.
Wear real shoes, not flip flops, not ballet flats, wear gym shoes and make sure they are tied on tight. Wear pants. Jeans. I will have to take a picture of what my jeans looked like when we got done yesterday, I got caught, somewhere, and my back pocket is destroyed. Next time, I will use a carabiner and hook my camera to my belt loop. I learned that the hard way, after my camera fell 20 feet.
There is a small snack station down stairs and a pizza/deli type place upstairs. It’s really expensive, that is why we went after lunch. Down stairs by the snack station in a pool. Filled with turtles. Off the side of the eating area is a bathroom. The door doesn’t lock, and the water is iffy.
Yes, the bathroom gets it’s own photo, because it amuses me that this is considered perfectly fine. There are more modern bathrooms, like you’d expect to find in a museum as well, but, that isn’t interesting.
This is a 3 story slide, right by the entrance. There are SO many slides here. There are random stairs, and ramps. Take them. There are holes in the floor, that lead to tunnels, that take you to different areas. Some stairs take you to a slide. Some take you to the ceiling, where you can slither your way around the first floor, above the other guests. There are wire cages that make their way up around fake trees, climb through the cages. There is a giant hamster wheel to run on. There is a stateless park to run on. It looks like a skate park, but you can’t skate. There is a fish tank with piranhas and a 35 pound catfish. The gift shop sells knee pads, if that tells you anything about this place.
They are laying on the floor, under a giant whale. Behind them is a hole in the floor, that leads to a pitch black tunnel, that leads you to a set of stairs, that will then take you to the ceiling tunnels.
This is me, in one of the ceiling tunnels. I’m laying flat on my stomach, my head is touching the top of the tunnel. So, it does get a bit tight in some spots.
But, most of the tight areas aren’t much worse than this. I’m still in the ceiling. There was enough room for me and two boys to move around each other.
This is the view up, from the bottom, of the 10-Story slide.
When you are done inside you can head out to MonstoCity. It is the outdoor area. There is also a rooftop play area, with a ferris wheel, but we are never there when that is open. It is only open in the warmer months. MonstroCity has a giant ball pit.
I took the photo with my son for scale. If you get bored in the ball pit, you can climb it.
I would just like to say, that child is afraid of heights. That is a real fire truck on the ground behind him. But, the rest of the play area was too irresistible.
I’m pretty sure, almost everything in that picture can be climbed or walked across. That blue, cone-shaped thing? It has rebar steps to the top, where you can squeeze out a small opening, then down a crane boom, to another slide.
We spent about 4 hours there. The last hour I just sat and stared at the ceiling to watch my kids climb across. I don’t have a lot of pictures of my oldest, because he has no fear and runs off before I can even give him a warning of what to be afraid of. My younger son is in the pictures, because he stays near me most the time.
I had grand plans for today, and woke up to an 11 yr old, puking and crying. He’s napping, and I’m writing.
Maybe we just enjoy the nice hotel room today, before heading home tomorrow.