Shoe Factory Playground in St. Louis
Credit: Courtesy of City Museum

A rooftop Ferris Wheel, 10-story slides and jungle gyms crafted out of former airplanes barely scratch the surface when it comes to why the City Museum in St. Louis is the ultimate playground.

Other heart-skipping features such as a circus ring for live performances, aquarium, underground caves and above-ground tunnels (not to mention a restaurant and bar) make the wonderland an easy rabbit hole to fall into—and a can’t-miss stop for anyone heading to the Gateway to the West. Even better: it’s not just for kids, and it stays open until midnight.

Sprawling across 600,000 square feet in a former shoe factory, it was started by artist and sculptor Bob Cassilly and is continually updated by an artists’ collective. They’ve used locally salvaged materials from cranes, chimneys, bridges and other urban markers, and unlike most museums, you can climb, touch and play on most exhibits with abandon (these works of art can handle it).

Corina Quinn is the digital travel editor at T+L. Follow her on Twitter at @corinaquinn.