Freezing Missouri winter winds howl outside Tropical Liqueurs' fogged-up windows, but inside, the atmosphere is decidedly beach-like. Palm trees and nautical knickknacks decorate the lively interior, but the true stars of this tropically themed watering hole are the frozen-drink dispensers, which churn with colorful, fruity potations. Bartenders load large styrofoam cups with potent slushies made from creative combinations of juices, liqueurs, and fruit purées. They rotate drink selections regularly, spotlighting a toasted-almond concoction one week—packed with coffee liquor, amaretto, and vanilla ice cream—and a daiquiri with fresh strawberries the next. Icy potations in hand, visitors turn their attention to games of pool or flat-screen televisions, which broadcast local sports games or horror movies where local sports games come to a temporary halt when the mascot turns out to be an actual tiger. During warmer months, visitors loll in the sun out on the wooden patio and enjoy the beverages that Inside Columbia hailed as a "Columbia staple" when it dubbed Tropical Liqueurs the Best Place for a Girls' Night Out in 2012.
The course at Perche Creek Golf Club is comprised of 18 par-3 holes that gently introduce beginners to the game while still challenging veterans with ample opportunities for short-game improvement. Nine ponds delineate the holes and loom large as players line up their attacks from the tee, ready to gulp down errant shots. The flat layout allows players to nail down their iron distances, a crucial ingredient for proper course management. On nice evenings, course superintendents turn on the front nine's area lights, making for easier night play without having to give an alien a Walkman in exchange for plutonium golf balls. Perche Creek's driving range gives players a variety of targets to attack from 50 hitting stations and 20 synthetic-grass mats, earning it a spot on Golf Range Magazine's list of the top 100 ranges in the nation. The club also encompasses an 18-hole miniature-golf course, which challenges players with curvy putting corridors flanked by rocks and water hazards.
Access Arts, a community-focused nonprofit, welcomes children and adults of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds to discover the joy of artistic creation with 200 annual classes, earning attention from the Missourian for its work with students with special needs. During six-week sessions, experienced, compassionate instructors guide learning hands through pottery building, weaving, writing stories, and drawing, and help budding Michelangelos discover if their muses call out to them via telephone or semaphore. Classes for pupils with special needs support both children and adults with extra assistance as they knead clay or dabble in mixed media, and Access Arts’ fee waivers and scholarships enable learners from all income levels to tap into inspiration. Founded in 1971 to widen opportunities for the disabled, Access Arts is now in its fifth decade of enriching the Columbia area with classes and outreach programs that remind people that paintbrushes can be used for more than coloring dead plants a lively shade of green at the end of housesitting stints.
Jones and Norene Gann first imagined transforming their property into a golf course 18 years ago, and constructed an 18-hole course and golf facility now managed by the Rapp family. Open seven days a week, the course challenges golfers with outstretched trees, formidable bunkers and mounds, and hazardous waters. Designated cart paths wind around and through the course, guiding drivers to the next hole on their route or through a wormhole leading to the twenty-third century. Nestled atop the sprawling property, practice facilities help golfers warm up swinging arms, and a pro shop lets athletes restock balls and read up on instructional guides to high-level golfsmanship.
In regular golf instruction, owners Bill and Philip Rapp help students fine-tune their swing and boost their game with new skills. On Tuesday evenings, young putters can hone their swinging skills in free lessons.
The Bouldering Garden presents a thriving, indoor oasis of climbing apparatuses, including a pair of copious caves, a 45-degree wall, and a large stalactite. Designed primarily for bouldering, the facility brims with training opportunities for advanced climbers, as well as learning opportunities for students of the sport. Professional instructors consistently roam the grounds to maintain a safe environment, and soft landing pads strewn across the floors absorb falls in a cushy manner that justifies their annual spot atop the Christmas lists of crash-test dummies. In addition to its rocky endeavors, The Bouldering Garden also leads zip-lining adventures, and its onsite shop stocks visitors with the latest in climbing gear. The center also promotes the sport as a healthy family activity and offers discounts for parent-child memberships.
At One On One, clients workout in a state-of-the-art facility with access to certified trainers, a collegiate diver, a martial artist, and trainers who have competed in figure- and bodybuilding competitions. The fitness gurus can design customized plans tailored to each client’s skills as they monitor, motivate, and encourage them to reach their goals. In the gym—which is open 24 hours a day—TVs suspended from the ceilings occupy athletes as they work up a sweat on Precor and Life Fitness treadmills and elliptical machines. Strength-training machines populate the gym floor, as do free weights, an adjacent pool, and medicine balls for clients who grow sick of standard workouts. An in-house massage therapist is available to ease tense muscles and knead away stress with Swedish, deep-tissue, and hot-stone massages.
Midway One Stop Diner's staff takes its homestyle comfort cuisine seriously, especially when it comes to the Big 70 challenge. This platter of seven biscuits, four slices of bacon, two servings of hash browns, and 70 ounces of
creamy sausage gravy is so hearty that it has only been finished by three people. Not to worry, though—the majority of visitors who aren't up to the task have a range of diner classics to choose from, all of which are served 24 hours a day. Three-egg omelets and hot cakes are crafted fresh throughout the day and night alongside platters of grilled or fried pork, steak, or chicken. Another signature dish is the monster burger, a 1-pound patty smothered in cheese and other toppings.
As they enter the training circuit at Curves, female guests come face-to-face with the smiles of other women. And just as points on a circle share a common distance from the circle's center, workout participants share the experiences of those nearby by trading stations throughout the 30-minute training session. Thirty seconds is spent on a piece of strength-training equipment built for feminine frames and designed to work two opposing muscle groups with a single movement. Exercisers then move on to a recovery station, where they run, jog, or dance to maintain heart rates and keep platforms in place during momentary losses of gravity.
Throughout the week, Empire Roller Rink owners Willie and Lisa Trent connect with members of their community by hosting skating lessons, hockey games, and public skating sessions. Willie's father opened the rink in 1938, now Lisa teaches artistic and basic skating lessons, and Willie often disc jockeys skating sessions, pulling tracks from a digital library, which includes a selection of worship songs he breaks out for Friday Christian skate nights. Empire Roller Rink is also home to the Artistic Skate Club, a team that practices creative and competitive skating and travels to competitions across the country in a giant 15-passenger motorized rollerskate.
There's always something happening this eclectic bar, from standup to trivia to karaoke. Theme nights run Monday–Saturday and draw a diverse and friendly crowd that sips microbrews while playing board games, swigs PBR while dancing the night away, or quaffs other adult libations out of the bar's rentable drinking horns. Two dartboards, a pinball machine, and a jukebox add a vintage element to the spot, and free WiFi keeps patrons connected to the present. Eastside Tavern does not serve food, but folks are encouraged to take advantage of the BYO eats policy.
At Valley Speedway, locals gather around the racetrack to watch ULMA late models, Show Me Vintage racers, A-mod cars, and street-stock vehicles compete in open-wheel racing. Races take place on Friday and Saturday evenings and, unlike most parent-teacher conferences, welcome family members of all ages. After gates open, fans can nab eats and drinks before they settle into their seats. Those who prefer a more hands-on approach to high velocities can also register as a driver or take classes at the speedway.
Get Lost Bookshop stocks its many shelves with used tomes and new magazines. The independently owned shop specializes in literary fiction, history, religion, and cultural studies, and also has a selection of elusive art magazines and graphic novels. A cozy space for like-minded literati, Get Lost Bookshop often hosts readings, live music, and funerals for dead e-reader batteries.
At The Penguin Dueling Piano Bar, there's two jukeboxes—human ones, seated at two baby grand pianos. Based on the crowd's request, the ivory-ticklers play from a mental catalog of thousands of hits, spanning more than five decades. The crowd sings along, fueled by pours from the full bar, which range from pitchers of beer to tart apple martinis.
Horsin' Around Natural Horsemanship’s horse whisperer equips horse-riding adventure seekers of all types for equestrian success via in-depth riding lessons. Over the course of three one-hour classes, roan riders learn a host of horseback-riding skills, including tips on grooming and mounting, how to use riding equipment, and methods to care for horses and coax them into speaking. After teaching caballeros about mare care, Horsin’ Around imbues participants with techniques for controlled riding and bridling their steeds. Upon winning over prized ponies through strong eye contact and equine mind control, students can saddle up and explore the grounds' 13 acres of verdant pastures, ride around the 1.5-acre pond, or practice horse high jumps in the sand and grass riding arenas.
With a plethora of frame and mat samples, Deck The Walls can satisfy any and all framing fantasies. The expert framespeople can make diplomas radiate (most diplomas can be framed for around $100), dorm-room movie posters sparkle (many 24"x36" pieces are well under $100), and sports jerseys shine (most for under $350). The design wizards can also find a home for any prized possession, such as shoebox photos, baby booties, ticket stubs, medals, and really good pot roasts. Deck The Walls' lifetime guarantee and assurance that all work is done on-site means your frameables won't be subject to mistreatment at underground commercial framing facilities.