Best Place to Take Out-of-Town Guests - 2009
There's no shortage of splendid, tourist-ready fun to be had in St. Louis, but the hands-down best place for mind-blowing, open-jawed joy is the City Museum. The place is prime for both the kid-having and the kid-shunning, a weird and blissfully eclectic concoction of found art, archeological artifacts, a circus, caves and an aquarium full of sloths and crocodiles and a coati — yeah, but what is it? It's a museum in the sense that one floor houses old building façades and doorknobs (you're thinking, "a doorknob display? How is that fun?" but then you stare at the intricate detail and craftsmanship of our earlier centuries and realize that they're quite pretty), gargoyles and photography. For an extra six bucks you can visit the indoor aquarium and see a host of aquatic, semi-aquatic and straight-ahead landlubbing animals in close proximity. The exterior of the building — well, if you've already been there, you know. It's a fantastic miasma of twisted metal, abandoned planes, a crane, slides, stone towers and other architectural curiosities connected by an ingenious system of catwalks and staircases. If that's not enough, you can drive a school bus off a building. No, seriously: For an extra five bucks, take the elevator to the roof and check out the giant mantis, the rope swing, the ten-story slide, the school bus that (very securely) teeters off the corner of the twelve-story former St. Louis Title Company and Big Eli: a four-stories-high Ferris wheel.