A big thanks to Bi-State Development and Explore St. Louis for sponsoring this trip. All suggestions and opinions are 100% my own.
Ready for another adventurous day in St. Louis?
Hopefully, you’ve planned your trip to the Arch and a fun day of Blues and BBQ in St. Louis. Don’t let your adventures end there, spend another day in the city exploring St. Louis’s newest attraction along with one of the most unusual.
Personally I love a beautiful old train station, but unfortunately in many cities, as train travel has dramatically decreased, the old stations start to deteriorate from lack of interest and use. Instead of letting this happen to Union Station in St. Louis, the city has decided to completely revitalize the entire area with a new 100,00+ square foot aquarium and several other fun activities. Once completed, visitors will easily be able to spend a day enjoying it all.
The aquarium is set to open later this year (2019) and I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek of the construction. With multiple touch tanks (stingrays!), and 43 other exhibits including otters and a super cool shark tank, this aquarium will be entertaining for visitors of all ages. After talking to the folks immersed in creating this new experience, I learned a few things that will set the St. Louis aquarium apart from aquariums of similar size.
First, the aquarium is housed inside a historic building – tell me that wasn’t a challenge? So it’s automatically going to have a very different vibe than a standard aquarium. Secondly, the focus is on customer experience – there will be plenty of interactive displays, and twice as many as normal very knowledgeable staff members and unique creatures. In fact, the plan is to have a wider variety of unique sea life than you would see at a typical aquarium. Finally, in addition to a fantastic time at the aquarium, you’ll have the opportunity to check out a variety of other fun things to do.
Outside the aquarium underneath the old train shed (the largest one in the US), will be a mini-golf course, mirror maze, carousel, and a few train cars converted into food and drink carts (think a next level food truck). There are also plans to build a 200-foot Observation Wheel which will offer amazing views of St. Louis.
Looking for a great place to eat? You won’t have to go far. There will be two restaurants located right on site. Soda Fountain will be a casual but creative hamburger joint (with ice cream sundaes and boozy shakes) and The Train Shed for innovative dining and cocktails. Cap off your Union Station adventure with the Fire and Light Show – a light and water show set to music on the outside lake.
From the proposed designs and pictures I saw this is going to be a super cool experience. I can’t wait to get back and check it out myself once it opens!
Insider tip: While waiting for the updates to be completed, you can still walk into the Grand Hall and enjoy the amazingly beautiful design. It is really over the top and something unique that you can experience now is the nightly free Grand Hall light show. There are 18 different light shows available inside the station every night starting at 5:00. I checked out the Queen show and if you love music by Queen, then you’ll love this. Grab a drink at the lovely bar in the lobby and sit down on a comfy couch to enjoy it.
The other place you absolutely can’t miss when visiting St. Louis is the City Museum. Talk about an adventure. I have been a few times and can confidently state I have never experienced anything like it anywhere else.
The City Museum is housed in an old shoe factory and instead of demolishing it and creating your typical exhibits, the museum built itself around what remained. Imagine an indoor playground gone wild. There are multiple floors of unusual, interesting areas found in this museum. Both inside and out. You really have to explore it for yourself to understand it, but a few examples …
A bus on the roof. An airplane connected to the building outside with a variety of tunnels and slides. A 10-story slide from the top of the building to the bottom. Crazy chairs to “rock” in, indoor ramps to run up and slide down. Rope swings. An indoor cave. I could go on and on, but from these few examples, I’m sure you can see why this place is so unique.
The creation of Bob and Gail Cassilly, local artists, the museum appears to be a junk yard turned into a child’s fantasy. Everywhere you look you’ll find unusual details and objects created out of junk or everyday items. Crazy is really the only way to describe it.
Insider tip: Wear comfortable shoes and clothing when you visit and be willing to really play with your kids at City Museum. You’ll enjoy it so much more and create a truly memorable experience for your family. If your children are small, be prepared – there are many entrances and exits and it can be very hard and stressful to keep track of them.
Thanks for coming along on my recent St. Louis trip – I hope you’ve found some inspiration to plan a trip of your own to this fantastic city. What I love about St. Louis is that there is so much to do – these posts haven’t even begun to highlight all the interesting ways to spend your vacation. However, it’s a good place to start!
Additional St. Louis posts:
Union Station, 1820 Market Street, (314) 621-5262
St. Louis Aquarium, 201 S. 18th Street, (314) 923-3900
The City Museum, 750 N. 16th Street, (314) 231-2489
Pin for help planning your next St. Louis trip: