20 St. Louis spots where you can play like a six-year-old on a sugar high


It's perfectly normal to be jealous of elementary students and their responsible-free lifestyle. Those lucky bastards don't spend their days with irritating bosses all up in their faces or student loan collectors blowing up their phones.

Now's the time to stop wishing you were a kid again and start acting like one! With endless opportunities for fun in St. Louis, you can run, scream and splash alongside 10-year-olds fueled by Sour Patch Kids and Kool-Aid, and for a day, kick all your grown-up problems to the curb.

1. Go demo ballin'.
Bumper cars are more than a way to ram into your best friends at the county fair. At DB-AZ, they're your vessel for demolition ball domination. This game combines hockey and polo with bumper car action where the object is to shoot a whiffle ball through your opponent's goal. An added benefit? DB-AZ also features The Heist, a timed laser maze where your goal is to steal the Mona Lisa.

2. Slip and slide.

this video turned out really cool...it's just me going down a slide 😊

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At City Museum, adults and kids alike can navigate through a floor of ocean-inspired caves, glide down a 10-story slide, and climb through the high-rise, heart-stopping outdoor maze (complete with ball pit). There's also a slide park and Ferris wheel on the roof. Best of all, alcohol is served at the indoor Cabin Inn and the Roof Top Cantina.

3. Feed the goats.
While historic Grant's Farm tends to appeal to little ones with its carousel, elephant show and camel rides, no adult with a heart can resist grabbing baby bottles full of milk and feeding its herd of kids (of the goat variety). A visit to this landmark includes a tram ride through its animal park and free, generous samples of Anheuser-Busch products in the Oktoberfest-themed Bauernhof beer garden.

4. Find your inner John Rambo.
The geniuses at 18 North Central have transformed a warehouse in O'Fallon into the ultimate tactical laser gun adventure. With the iCombat Experience, you can run, duck and cover in an indoor city to escape an assault from your competitors while fulfilling your mission. It's the laser gun escapade 14-year-old you always imagined, especially since there's a full bar on site.

5. Go on a scavenger hunt.
Turn a tour of St. Louis into a friendly competition. Watson Adventures offers visiting Sherlock Holmeses and Nancy Drews a variety of scavenger hunts to choose from, whether it's exploring the city's neighborhoods, the Saint Louis Art Museum or the Saint Louis Zoo. You can see the city and brag to your friends about your superior sleuthing.

6. Be a pinball wizard.

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When you need to burn off a little steam, head to Start Bar downtown and hit up the pinball games, arcade classics or Nintendo 64 at this new game-filled hot spot. And because teen you always had a Slushie in hand while battling foes on your PlayStation, Start Bar pays homage to the drink of your youth with booze-infused slushes.

7. Shoot off into space.
If you always fantasied about going to Space Camp as a kid and you're bringing a group to St. Louis, consider booking a day of teambuilding at Challenger Learning Center. This space-centered attraction offers simulated space missions for grown-ups who want to fulfill their out-of-this-world dreams. Step it up a notch by adding a rocket design challenge workshop.

8. Get your science on.
OK, the Saint Louis Science Center is geared more to kids, but there's plenty of activities to keep even the most cynical Millennials and Gen-Xers intrigued. The Planetarium reintroduces you to the wonders of space while the OMNIMAX Theater screens incredible IMAX documentaries. On the first Friday of every month, geek out with science fiction movies and activities, and in Summer 2017, discover the treasures of King Tut at a special traveling exhibit.

9. Bounce. C'mon bounce.
Your trampoline days aren't over now that you're old enough to vote. Sky Zone in Chesterfield lets you bounce, flip and spin at this massive indoor trampoline park. Show off your dunk skills at the Skyslam, knock out your friends at Ultimate Dodgeball, or fly into the giant pit at the Foam Zone. Even if you wake up sore the next day, it's worth the visit back to your childhood.

10. Swing through the trees.
If you loved outdoor adventures as a kid, experience the thills at Go Ape at Creve Coeur Park. Treetop Adventure tour guides will take you through the forest canopy where you can master the suspended obstacles, fly through the air on the Tarzan swings, and sail across the park on its heart-pounding zip lines.

11. Splash to your delight.

St. Louis is packed with splash pads for little water lovers. But at Citygarden, the outdoor sculptures and fountains make splashing a little more sophisticated. In this urban oasis downtown, you can take off your shoes, roll up your pants legs, and kick through the mini geysers to escape the St. Louis heat. Plus, there are plenty of food trucks when you need a cupcake to replenish your electrolytes.

12. Take yourself out to the ballgame.
The St. Louis Cardinals really run the city, but young baseball fans and baseball fans young at art get closer to the action at River City Rascals and Gateway Grizzlies minor league games. Not only are the tickets, food and beer cheap, but fans are often pulled from the stands to participate in dance contests and on-field races.

13. Hit the farm.
One of my favorite kid-oriented places to visit in St. Louis, even without the spawn in tow, is Willoughby Heritage Farm in Collinsville, Ill. This pseudo farm recreates life in the 1950's where you can hang out with pigs, cows, goats, and donkeys before reliving your childhood in a tire swing. A wooden playground, historic home and barn, and hiking trails round out the fun.

14. Bust out the sprinkles.
Treat yourself to a cupcake and show off your skills at Sweetology. This renowned bakery offers ready-to-decorate cakes, cupcakes and cookies so you can put your creative spin on your favorite childhood treat. Guests are seated on a first-come, first-served basis so get in early to get your buttercream on.

15. Spin around on a carousel.
Even when age throws off your equilibrium, it's hard to pass up a spin on a historic merry-go-round. The St. Louis Carousel in Faust Park was originally installed at St. Louis Highlands Amusement Park in 1929, but now resides in its permanent home. Plus, it's located right next to the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House where you can stroll through an indoor garden, home to more than 1,000 tropical butterflies.

16. Take go-karting to the max.
The Gateway Kartplex is the go-kart track you dreamed of as a 10-year-old,. Located inside the oval track of Gateway Motorsports Park, an NHRA and NASCAR speedway, this tricky track offers tight turns and a long back straight, the perfect combination for the blow-your-socks off speed. Even more exciting, the Kartplex runs even when there's a professional race going on around you.

17. Hit the waves.
For the ultimate summer cool-down, take a drive to Raging Rivers waterpark in Grafton, Ill. Get your fill of thrills on their handful of slides or in the giant wave pool. Once you've exhausted yourself, laze the rest of the day away in a lounge chair with a frozen daiquiri in hand while you take in the sights of the Illinois River.

18. Hang with your furry friends.
No matter how old you are, you'll still discover a little bit of magic around every corner at the Saint Louis Zoo. Get up close and personal with the elephants at the River's Edge, laugh at the shenanigans at Sea Lion Sound, and practice your penguin impersonation at the Penguin & Puffin Coast. Even the kid-sized Zooline Railroad is worth a ride no matter how cool you think you are.

19. Get a sugar rush.

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You're a grown-up now. No one's telling you that you can't have candy for breakfast. At Crown Candy Kitchen, fill your pockets and your mouth with a variety of sugary, gummy and chocolatey treats from their historic candy counter. If ice cream's more your speed, dive into a World's Fair Sundae or a so-thick-your-eyes-will-bulge chocolate shake.

20. Go for a climb.
When you have extra energy to burn, Upper Limits rock climbing gym offers muscle-throbbing adventure in the heart of downtown. Built for both seasoned climbers and first-time thrill seekers, Upper Limits pushes you past your comfort level. For an unforgettable climb, make the drive to Bloomington, Ill. two hours away, where you can climb in their set of abandoned silos.


Nicole Plegge is a freelance writer and pop culture aficionado based in St. Louis. While she's busy writing for a variety of websites, magazines and blogs, she still can't get over never being able to attend the Eastland School for Girls.