The Adult Visitor’s Guide to Exploring the Science Center without Children

For some adults visiting as part of an adult group, exploring the Science Center amidst a sea of enthusiastic kids can be a bit overwhelming. Fortunately, we truly do having something for all ages to enjoy. Next time you load up the car for a trip to the Science Center with your more seasoned friends, consider checking out my top 5 recommendations for adults.

Fisheye view of James S. McDonnell Planetarium StarBay at the Saint Louis Science Center
Inside the StarBay of the James S. McDonnell Planetarium

1)      Live Sky Tonight Show: Planetarium Shows make for a very memorable experience and Live Sky Tonight happens to be my favorite show and my favorite choice for adults! The show features what is currently visible in the night sky over St. Louis including constellations, planets, the current Moon phase and any other special astronomical events taking place. If you have never experienced a true dark sky, you MUST see this show. The “ahs” are audible when the show presenter transforms the dome from what would be visible from the city to what would be visible in a perfect dark night sky. Planetarium Shows are $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and FREE for Members.

2)      Life Science Lab Activity Benches: The activity benches in the Life Science Lab sounded like a great idea…for kids…when I first learned about them. You are required to don a lab coat, safety glasses and gloves in order to complete various experiments that range from DNA extraction to determining blood types. Fortunately, my colleagues urged me to check out the activity benches for myself and it turns out that I really enjoyed the experience! I was able to take part in experiments that I never even had the opportunity to do way back when in my school days. Still not sure about the Life Science Lab activity benches? There may be kids around, but you don’t have to share your bench with kids. No fear of interference here! The Life Science Lab is one of our FREE attractions.

Inside the OMNIMAX Theater at the Saint Louis Science Center
Pictures don't even do the OMNIMAX Theater experience justice.

3)      OMNIMAX® Theater: Our OMNIMAX Theater features a 5 story domed screen. If you have never taken in a beautiful IMAX® film in a domed theater, this recommendation will be well worth your time. The picture consumes the entire screen which appears to wrap around you. I haven’t seen a film come through the Science Center that I haven’t liked yet, so you are sure to enjoy whichever you choose! This summer we are screening Flight of the Butterflies, Air Racers and Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs. Tip: Try to sit closer to the back and toward the middle of the theater! OMNIMAX Shows are $9 for adults, $8 for seniors and FREE with vouchers for Members.

4)      Human Adventure: Human Adventure is one of those time-tested and proven attractions for us. The entire area is dedicated to your senses and memory and it is highly interactive. This is quite possibly the gallery most enjoyed by adult visitors (at least that is my opinion based on personal observations of the space). When the exhibits went away during the construction of Boeing Hall, there was an outpouring of visitors asking us to bring their beloved Human Adventure gallery back. And we did! Visitors continue to spend a lot of time in this area. Human Adventure is one of our FREE attractions.

Live Science Demonstration at the Saint Louis Science Center
Playing with liquid nitrogen during an Ira & Judy Gall Amazing Science Demonstration at CenterStage.

5)      Amazing Science Demonstrations: Ira & Judy Gall Amazing Science Demonstrations are live shows that take place at CenterStage. Science Center staff members mesmerize you with simple yet high impact science experiments that often involve fire, electricity and even liquid nitrogen. So…kiddos are usually in attendance at these demonstrations, but adults tend to enjoy them too and as an adult you will definitely walk away having learned something new. Tip: If being amongst the kids is too much to handle, you can take in a show from the overlook on the First Floor! Amazing Science Demonstrations are FREE for the public.

Still not comfortable with the idea of braving the Science Center amongst packs of rabid children? Try visiting the Science Center for special adult programming after hours! The atmosphere of the Science Center completely changes at night, so it will definitely be a new experience for you and your adult crew.

On the first Friday of every month we stay open late for an event called First Friday (…I know). The night usually entails programming that dives deeper into the science behind favorite science fiction topics. In addition to the special programming, nearly the entire Science Center is open, so you can explore our various attractions sans kids during our First Friday extended hours. In full disclosure, First Fridays are designed for adults, but families are welcome. You can expect the number of kids to be drastically reduced compared to daytime numbers. First Fridays are FREE and you can take advantage of special First Friday pricing for our paid venues.

If you are looking for no kids whatsoever, you may want to check out Cheap Date Night. Several times a year, we turn the James S. McDonnell Planetarium over for adults to rule the roost! A kid free experience is guaranteed at Cheap Date Night because you must be 21 or older to get in on the fun. Cheap Date Night usually consists of a special Live Sky Tonight show designed around a major astronomical event followed by a classic scifi movie. At our next Cheap Date Night on August 10th, we will simulate the Perseid Meteor Shower! Tip: Cheap Date Night’s sell out in advance! Purchase your tickets before the big day if you want to make sure you have a seat. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door.

I want to part with some final tips for you to make the most of your experience. Try visiting later in the day. Usually 2 p.m. or later is a safe bet for missing the high traffic “kid time.” If you are visiting in the morning, try perking up your outlook with a good strong latte from our café. Stroll by the Dana Brown Fossil Prep Lab to see if any of the workers or volunteers are preparing real dinosaur fossils. Discussing how they go about preparing the fossils can be fascinating! Also, check out the return of the LASERIUM® laser shows while we still have them during the 50th anniversary year of the James S. McDonnell Planetarium. Finally, do consider joining us for our after hour events. The availability of alcohol is guaranteed for First Fridays and Cheap Date Nights, so make a deal with your designated driver in advance.

Don’t see your favorite activity listed here? Share your favorite Science Center must-dos for adults in the comment section below!

Written by Staci, Communications

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