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Surprising Things to Do in Saint Louis, MO – [2021 Tips]

| Updated Jun 19, 2023

We love hearing about our fellow RV Traveler's adventures! Here's an off the beaten path report on things to do and see in Saint Louis, MO.

By Tom and Patti Burkett

For years we’ve had the City Museum of Saint Louis on our list of travel stops, so the last time we went to visit our park ranger daughter in the Ozarks, we piled into the vehicle and drove the two hours north.  We were advised to arrive early because the museum is a popular destination for school groups.  We’d echo that advice for anyone attending.  

The museum is in downtown St. Louis, just a few blocks from the Gateway Arch. The adjacent parking lot will suit a class B or smallish class C RV. Anything bigger, and you’d better look for parking elsewhere.

Surprising Things to Do in Saint Louis, MO - [2021 Tips] 1
Patti and Tom Burkett 

Bob and Gail Cassilly built the museum in 1997.  It’s housed in an old warehouse, and the structures inside are made from reclaimed parts of buildings, factories, and industrial demolition.  Everywhere you look is art, too, mostly sculptures by the Cassillys and other local talents.  

Fanciful animals, objects morphing into other objects, tiny landscapes, and greatly magnified everyday things appear around every corner or above your head or below your feet as you move through the museum.  The walls and floor are riddled with holes that lead to ladders and slides connecting one level to another or providing a way to get in between levels to special little surprises.

Surprises Galore

Surprising Things to Do in Saint Louis, MO - [2021 Tips] 2One section features large pieces of architectural facades—the ones you usually see ten stories above you from the street.  Here you can look at them close up and see how they’re constructed and applied.  Nearby is an exhibit of the work of Louis Sullivan, whose distinctive buildings can be found across the country.  He is a St. Louis hometown boy.  

The central core of the building contains a ten-story slide, and there are several others that will whisk you down two or three levels in a moment.  Visitors of any size can enjoy the sliding and climbing features, but knee pads are a distinct plus, and they’re for sale in the gift shop. 


MonstroCity, a multi-story climbing apparatus including an airplane runs up the side of the building, and the roof features an amusement park.  There are ball pits, blacklight caves, giant pieces of industrial equipment you can operate, tubes that travel through waterscapes, a miniature railroad, and countless other things to discover among the levels.  

And it’s always changing, with new things being added and connections between one place and another appearing and disappearing from one visit to the next.

Don't Miss the Gateway Arch

Surprising Things to Do in Saint Louis, MO - [2021 Tips] 3When you come to visit, don’t miss the Gateway Arch if you haven’t already seen it.  The visitor center movie describing the construction process is fascinating.  A few miles east of the museum is the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, a stunning edifice built a hundred years ago.  

Like the City Museum, it has been added to steadily since its original construction and features many chapels, intricate mosaics, striking stained glass, and soaring architecture.

The city of Saint Louis is at the crossroads of North America and sits on many roads heavily traveled.  It was the starting point for Oregon Trail journeys, as well as Lewis & Clark’s expedition, and continues to be a continental hub for river, rail, and communication systems.  

In all likelihood, you’ve been through it or driven past it many times.  Even so, this historic and hardworking city will yield up some undiscovered gems to the traveler willing to poke around just a bit off the beaten path.



You can listen to Tom and Patti Burkett as they deliver a weekly Off-the-Beaten-Path report each week on the RV Podcast. Subscribe to the podcast to discover all sorts of helpful RV Lifestyle info via Apple Podcasts, or Android Podcasts, or your favorite app.

And read all the Off the Beaten Path Reports right here on our blog 


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Planning an RV Trip has never been easier than with RV TripWizard. It is a comprehensive tool that Jennifer and I use whenever we are planning a trip. It works seamlessly with all our devices and gives us access to the info we need on where to stop, what camping is nearby, and what we should do in an area.

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Mike Wendland

Published on 2021-01-31

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

2 Responses to “Surprising Things to Do in Saint Louis, MO – [2021 Tips]”

March 28, 2021at8:33 pm, terry rule said:

you can also add the cahokia mounds in collinsville Ill,Grants cabin and park,toy museum,Lewis and Clark site in st charles mo.

February 02, 2021at2:37 pm, Bonnie Joyce said:

The City Museum and the Arch are indeed unique places to visit! We enjoyed our day there. Just a word of warning, though. We were warned by museum staff not to leave our van in an unmonitored lot, so we moved it. The next day, as we picnicked in the beautiful Palmer Park, we watched as our van ( parked along the street near the zoo) was breached by a robber, and he escaped with both our computers. We never recovered them. After we got back to Tennessee we told our story to some friends, only to find out that their computer was stolen from their car trunk while they were visiting the zoo in the same park. So be careful in St. Louis. I believe it is the #1 crime city in the US.

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