Take off your winter coats and gloves and enjoy some of St. Louis’ coolest indoor attractions this side of the North Pole.
Escape the cold snap downtown
Gateway Arch National Park Museum: And while you might not be able to see that infamous northern sight of the North Pole firsthand, you can experience another jaw-dropping view for miles and miles in either direction — 630 feet up — at the top of the Gateway Arch. Its16 viewing windows, exactly 63 stories above the newly renovated Gateway Arch National Park, provide some pretty unparalleled photo ops. Plus, as part of the new tram experience, riders now journey through the decade in which the Arch was constructed, complete with 1960s highlight reels and interactive trivia.
For those who prefer to stay grounded, visit the keystone exhibit in the Arch Museum below where a replica of the iconic structure’s final steel piece provides an uncannily similar tippy-top experience, complete with authentic windows and even the FAA aviation safety light. The museum’s entrance, located at the base of the Arch and facing Fourth Street and the Old Courthouse, is flooded with bright light and a massively open floor plan.
Chuck the winter doldrums here as you meander through the six themed exhibit areas and interactive multimedia displays that highlight the city’s diverse history through inclusive narratives: “Jefferson’s Vision,” “Colonial St. Louis,” “Riverfront Era,” “Manifest Destiny,” “Building the Arch,” and “New Frontiers.” View a scale model of the 1852 Mississippi Riverfront levee and replicas of a traditional French Colonial log cabin and the infamous Old Rock House. The hands-on, touchable exhibits even include a replica of a pirogue – a dugout canoe – just like those used for transportation between St. Louis and the Osage villages in the late 1700s.
Enjoy the free, daily ranger-led tours offered by the National Park Service — kids ages 5-15 can even become a Junior Ranger. Check out the tons of seasonal and ongoing events — everything from stargazing to storytelling festivals. If it’s movies you like, make sure to see the Arch star as the lead in the award-winning 28-minute documentary, “Monument to the Dream.” Stop by the info desk in the Visitor Center for more information.
Union Station: St. Louis’ newest and coolest Gateway to Fun. The massive steel frame train shed now plays host to a 120,000-square-foot St. Louis Aquarium filled with thousands of aquatic species from all over the world; an amazing Mirror Maze with a labyrinth of mirrors to entertain the entire family; a three-story Ropes Course with more than 90,000 cubic feet of climbing space and 30 obstacles that take you sky-high. Or, glide along the 100-foot rigid SkyRailTM zip line 50 feet above the Union Station lobby; a miniature version of the course, Sky Tykes, is perfect for those kiddos under 48” tall. Kick back at one of the six restaurants and bars, including the Soda Fountain and the Train Shed. Relax in the Grand Hall and watch the 3D light show.
Stay warm indoors at Forest Park
Go figure. Leave the bike paths and fields behind and re-acquaint yourself with St. Louis’ finest world-class institutions – all inside the park.
The Saint Louis Art Museum: You’ve got the time; we’ve got the art – 34,000 objects to be exact, spanning 5,000 years of history and culture. Beyond Matisse, Van Gogh and Dali, make sure to visit the Egyptian mummies up close – real close — and the head-to-toe field armor and weapons – yes, there is even a cool crossbow — that date to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
Saint Louis Science Center: “Feed” the dinosaurs on the lower level and be glad we’re not in their food chain. They’re huge. But they’re also only part of more than 700 other interactive experiences. The four-story OMNIMAX Theater is just the beginning.
James S. McDonnell Planetarium: You’ll think you’re outside when sitting beneath the Planetarium’s 80-foot artificial sky dome, the largest in the Western Hemisphere. Kids will have a blast experiencing what it’s like to live and work on the International Space Station. See the stars twinkle and hear the sounds of nature at the Planetarium’s Campfire Star Stories events.
Missouri History Museum: Founded in 1866 “for the purpose of saving from oblivion the early history of the city and state,” as they tout, this is one cool space to immerse yourself in riverfront history and photographs of what life was like back in the days without cell phones and tablets. Special exhibitions scheduled year-round.
Keep Calm and Stay Warm in St. Louis County
The Magic House St. Louis Children’s Museum: In Kirkwood, kids can make a mess, a mud pie – or, both — in the “mud kitchen”; explore a shallow stream and creek bed, make stick castles alongside native Missouri plants all inside at The Magic House. In the Children’s Village, they can climb a ladder into a treehouse, serve pizza in a restaurant, catch a fish in a pretend pond and use some tools to service a car. Make sure to stop by the museum’s new sensory play space, which gives the little ones a chance to explore, sort, classify and organize all kinds of objects.
Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House: Experience a brief flutter of spring with the Blue Morphos butterflies at the Butterfly House located in Chesterfield. Think fun summer thoughts as more than 1,500 of these sea blue creatures entertain you in their tropical conservatory. And while you’re at it, learn how the Butterfly House is involved with butterfly conservation efforts in Costa Rica.
At Myseum in Town & Country, kids will play all day with Interactive science activities such as archaeological digging & making music from random objects. Myseum has exhibits for all age ranges, as well as a dedicated toddler area.
Move – It’s only cold if you’re standing still
Topgolf: Indoor sports enthusiasts can practice their outdoor golf game at the more than 100 climate-controlled hitting bays at Topgolf Chesterfield. The micro-chipped balls keep track of every shot and the accuracy and distance of each one hit is relayed back to the bay screen. The giant targets make it especially fun. Enjoy the trappings of the full-service onsite restaurants and bars, all while watching a favorite game on one of the more than 200 TVs located throughout the facility. The rooftop terrace even has a fire pit. Best part ever? No golf experience required.
Break a sweat at these other indoor energy-boosting, calorie-burning and unequivocally challenging adventure locations – Climb So iLL with its climbing area design for varying levels of experience and ability or Victory Raceway where kart racing is the thing. Get amped up at – you guessed it – Amp Up Action Park. Here you can participate in channeling your inner lumberjack with axe throwing, three-level laser tag, high ropes, indoor kart racing, skeeball, virtual reality and new games such as Jurassic Park motion and Walking Dead. At Adrenaline Zone, players compete in super-charged bumper car games that require shooting a whiffle ball through a circular goal with a trackball scoop. Referees provided.
But this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to indoor adventure in St. Louis.
By the end of the day, you’ll wonder – do I even need a coat and pair of gloves?