Laclede's Landing Wax Museum has been scaring and astonishing sightseers since 1983. Behind its 1885 cast-iron façade, the museum harbors more than 200 life-size figures across five levels and 10,000 square feet of museum space. The display of doppelgangers includes presidents, superheroes, historic figures, and movie stars, allowing visitors to gaze upon scores of famous faces without taking the rigorous paparazzi entrance exam. In the Chamber of Horrors, fictional villains old and new, including Freddy Krueger and the Phantom of the Opera, test the mettle of onlookers. Patrons can stop by the museum's gift shop before leaving or replenish the energy spent arguing with the statues with the help of ice cream, hot dogs, and other snacks at the ice-cream parlor.
In a modern world where historic buildings are demolished daily to make room for hip new watergun stores, museums are more important than ever. Today’s Groupon gets tenacious time-travelers and dedicated diorama builders a $3 admission to the historic Campbell House Museum, a $6 value. The first house in the elegant Lucas Place neighborhood, Campbell House was the home of influential fur trader and entrepreneur Robert Campbell. After a recent five-year-long restoration to the tune of $3 million Earth dollars, Campbell House is one of the most accurately restored 19th-century buildings in America and home to the period paintings, furniture, light fixtures, clothing, old-fashioned LaserDisc player, and the correspondence of its previous tenants. Residue: Haunted houses, especially those that have been neglected for a long time, tend to accumulate a powdery "ghost residue," which compounds in layers on shelves, the tops of books, furniture and pottery, and even floats freely in the air, illuminated by an afternoon sunbeam. While many write this off as dust, this explanation does not account for its preternatural taste.
Between AD 700 and 1400, the city of Cahokia gradually rose from the floodplain of the Mississippi River to become the largest city north of Mexico. Across 6 square miles, its population of 20,000 people worked together to create a thriving community grounded in astronomy, agriculture, and economics. To this end, they erected large, lasting structures such as an enormous wooden calendar that notified citizens about the changes of the seasons. Giant earthen mounds served as the foundation of the city and the site of the big mud fight that decided the mayoral election each year.
Through careful excavation, research, and reconstruction, the Cahokia Mounds Museum Society aims to preserve the site and educate visitors about its importance. During visits, guests on self-guided tours can explore 800 acres of the city, including the 100-foot-tall Monks Mound and Woodhenge, the giant calendar.
CAM St. Louis’s sleek structure houses a dynamic forum for innovative, boundary-pushing contemporary art. Members gain free access to the museum’s ever-changing exhibitions by both well-known and emerging creatives such as the Cyprus-based Christodoulos Panayiotou, whose works examining the construction of national identity and history have made him one of the most compelling young European artists working today. Four guest passes enable members and their friends and family to share the provocative intrigue of Robert Breer’s 1957 and comment on the films' lack of a cowbell-heavy soundtrack. Because CAM St. Louis is a non-collecting institution, exhibitions in the Main Gallery and Front Room rotate regularly to afford a new experience with each visit and keep room corners free from provoked-thought buildup.
Before hosting moviegoers, the 111,000-square-foot Moolah Temple was home to a colony of pigeons. According to Amy Gill, co-head of the 1913-built temple's restoration team in 2003, the birds were "living in every crack and crevice" among debris, peeling paint, and cracked floors. Thanks to the team's refurbishing, leather couches and love seats, as well as balcony and stadium seating, now adorn the bird-free theater. Moolah Theatre only boasts a single screen, but what it lacks in quantity is made up for in size: its 20-by-45-foot screen showcases everything from the latest Hollywood releases to midnight movie staples such as The Big Lebowski.
Like "The Dude," Moolah Theatre celebrates bowling with eight lanes at its in-house retro alley. Post-flick fun can also include playing billiards, blasting tunes on the StarLink Internet Jukebox, or burping arcade games that ate too many quarters. Some lucky residents even call these amenities home—besides the theater and bowling alley, Moolah Temple makes room upstairs for 40 luxury lofts.
Gateway Fun Park delights visitors year-round with a range of entertainment attractions for all ages—from group outings and birthday parties to packs of friends wiling away the afternoon. Mini golfers aim for the green amid two 18-hole courses' babbling brooks, stone partitions, and miniature buildings. Drivers safely let loose their suppressed road rage by bouncing into each other in bumper cars. A full-scale go-cart track gives lead feet of any age a taste of the open road, and the kiddie track lets kids ages 4–9 finally take the wheel their parents normally refuse to let them eat.
STL Cinemas' quartet of movie houses mingles the vibrant pageantry of the early film industry with the technological sophistication of modern studio projects. Chase Park Plaza exudes the essence of this retro-contempo coupling, earning it the Riverfront Times 2010 Best Movie Theater award. With five intimate auditoriums, an all-digital sound system, and state-of-the-art projection, Chase Park Plaza coaxes movie-goers deep into the film's plot lines, characters, and 3-D effects easier than an underseat package containing a plaid dress, a little dog, and a magical Kansas twister. Before one of Chase’s shows, bask in the sights of the lifelike trompe l'eoil murals, and soak in the sounds of a live organist who serenades the crowds with show-tune favorites such as "Phantom of the Opera," "Goldfinger," and "I’m a Little Tea Pot (The Remix)."