The Museum of Transportation sprawls across 129 acres, presenting its vast collection of automobiles, boats, planes, and trains dating from the mid-1800s to the present day. More than 70 massive locomotives reside in the museum, including the largest successful steam locomotive, the Union Pacific Big Boy—though later examinations revealed that the train is actually female. Explore rare autos—including a motor carriage dating back to 1901 and rides owned by Dean Martin and W.C. Fields—and a fleet of military aircraft that constantly snubs visitors by pointing their nose cones skyward. A miniature locomotive leads a following of bright-red cars around the museum grounds, and the hands-on Creation Station gives tots aged 5 and under the opportunity to familiarize themselves with modes of transportation outside of diesel-powered strollers.
Fred M. Kemp, Sr. fell in love with the first Mercedes-Benz he ever bought. So he bought 40 more. Over the course of 30 years, his obsession created a collection of some of the rarest and most groundbreaking cars ever made. Upon his passing in 2004, he deeded his cars to the public for exhibition and education, founding the Kemp Auto Museum born to house his extensive collection.
Kemp's legacy includes one of Karl Benz's patent Motorwagens, which captivated the public's imagination when Mrs. Benz drove the device 112 miles to visit her mother in 1888. At the other end of the spectrum sits the 1960 Mercedes 220SE Cabriolet, whose 134-horsepower fuel-injected engine could have ferried Mrs. Benz to her mother's house in about an hour. Visitors can take either docent-led or audio tours to see the standing exhibit, or catch one of the touring special exhibits, featuring classic cars such as department-store Crosleys and classic engines such as Fred Flintstone's feet.
Though built as a private home in 1901, the Victorian mansion stood vacant for years—until its first children's hands-on exhibits opened to the public more than 30 years ago. Since then, The Magic House's curators have worked to engage children of all ages in learning and creative thought through a range of interactive multimedia exhibits. Their exhibits enable visitors to service cars, climb treehouse ladders, and go fishing in a child-centric community, or play with pumps and pipes in a waterworks playground. They can also climb a three-story fairy-tale beanstalk or use detective skills, fingerprint analyses, and secret passageways to solve mysteries.
Museum staffers also organize a range of themed birthday parties, during which attendees play and complete special tasks as time travelers, scientists, or fairy-tale nobility. Family programs encompass monthly visits from outside professional artists, and educational sessions on car and bike safety. Visitors can refuel for exploration at the on-site Picnic Basket Cafe, whose menu highlights whole grains and healthy ingredients.
The editors of 10Best named the Lewis and Clark Boat House and Nature Center one of the top 10 historic sites in St. Louis. Lewis and Clark Road Trips: Exploring the Trail Across America featured the Lewis and Clark Boat House and Nature Center.
Where can you learn the stories of Civil War soldiers, discover little-known facts about famous figures such as Chuck Berry, and see St. Louis Cardinals artifacts from the 1960's Busch Stadium all in one place? The Missouri History Museum boasts an expansive collection of photographs, artifacts, and maps that reveal some of the nation's and state's most intimate stories. Originally built as the first national monument to Thomas Jefferson, the site now offers exhibits that include items such as the sister plane to Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis and images of the buildings and grand palaces that were erected for the 1904 World's Fair.
In addition to rotating exhibits, events such as lectures, genealogical workshops, theatrical performances, and movie screenings offer guests a bridge to the past and a new perspective on the future. The museum is also planning a 2014 exhibit to commemorate St. Louis's 250th anniversary, which will unfold via 50 people, 50 places, 50 moments, 50 images, and 50 objects representing the city's richness and diversity.
Something new is always happening at Saint Louis Science Center, where hundreds of staff members and volunteers ignite visitors’ passion for science and technology with educational exhibitions and special events. The center houses a four-story Omnimax Theater, a hands-on life-science lab and atrium, and a variety of constantly changing exhibitions that draw 1.2 million visitors every year. More than 9,000 stars revolve around the 80-foot domed ceiling of the James S. McDonnell Planetarium, whose two levels of exhibits explore the future of space travel, life on the international space station, or Pluto’s bureaucratic search to regain planetary status.
Though the Miniature Museum of Greater St. Louis is itself quite large, it houses a collection of artistic miniatures that encapsulate life inside a mansion or a replica of Bevo Mill in a few square inches. The museum's staff collect, preserve, and even sell some of the most impressive miniature works to be found, from dolls and their houses to re-creations of the St. Louis IX Basilica. They put together bustling displays featuring tiny, elegant domiciles completely outfitted with to-scale furniture, made period appropriate to match the house's design. Miniatures, dolls, and figurines with clothes to match wander the hallways, staring at their surroundings in a perpetual wide-eyed wonder that's shared by their visitors.