citymuseumThe first thing to do when you get to St. Louis is go up in the Arch. The second thing is to visit the City Museum. Or so Stephen, our waiter at Charlie Gitto’s, said. Smart folks that we are, my daughter and I managed to get it right.

We did both on our first full day in town and even managed to squeeze in lunch at Citygarden on a picture perfect spring day.

First, the Arch. It’s 63 stories tall and you get to the top via small, round claustrophic tram cars that hold five people in cozy confines. Both Tess, 14, and I were a little nervous about the whole idea of heading to the top of the Arch. I’m not crazy about heights and, I learned today, Tess isn’t either. Frankly, the ride up was a little nerve wracking, but the whole looking-out-the-window-at-the-ground thing wasn’t all that bad. The windows are a teeny 7 inches by about two feet, so there’s no real feeling of vertigo at the top. You lay down across the ledge and peek out the window. Not a big deal at all. And once you’ve looked out both sides, you’re pretty much done. Time to get in line to climb back into the tram for the ride back down.

archGlad we did it. Always good to check things off the bucket list.

What I didn’t expect, though, was the fascinating — and free — below-ground Museum of Westward Expansion. It showcases the Lewis and Clark Expedition that mapped the Louisana Territory.  

City Museum

After a picnic lunch sitting among the sculptures at the two-block-long uban oasid called Citygarden, we headed to City Museum. It is, without a doubt, the coolest place I have ever seen. It’s made completely of recycled material–spiraling metal staircases that take you up, up, and up some more until, somewhere about the seventh floor, you find yourself at the entrance of the mutli-story slide made out of what looked like ductwork. Tess jumped on and screamed all the way down the spiraling slide. I sat down gingerly and kept one foot firmly along the slide wall to slow the descent. Screamed anyway. Again, glad to have done it.

We had just an hour at the City Museum before it closed at 5, but I’m sure we could have spent several. Tess, who suddenly overcame her fear of heights, was climbing the three-story outdoor play space as though she’s been doing it her whole life. There are some things there for younger kids, but this is definitely the place for tweens, teens and adults who never grew up.