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.
Skyview Drive-In Theater, opened in 1949, has weathered the ravages of multiple tornados, enduring as a two-screen throwback to old-school cinema. When the sun sets, the twin screens display double features of recent Hollywood releases in clear digital format, while FM radio simulcasts the soundtracks. The viewing area—organized so taller cars never cut off smaller cars' sightlines—borders a playground for youngsters and a concession stand with classic movie snacks. Celebrating its roots, the theater occasionally hosts class classic car (defined as 1987 or older) night where the driver is admitted free. For first-timers, Skyview Drive-In offers thorough responses to FAQs.
UMP Late Models, UMP modifieds, and three other racing models hurtle past spectators on laps around Belle-Clair Speedway's 1/5–mile dirt oval track during the two- or three-wide races held from mid-March to October. During a smattering of special events throughout the season, fans cheer on the diminutive POWRi Midgets, POWRi Micro Sprints, and pogo sticks hitched to Lamborghini engines as they whip around the track. Belle-Clair Speedway hosts promotional activities at every race, ranging from cash and T-shirt giveaways for adults to bike races for kids.
With a combined 82 lanes, the St. Clair and Bel-Air Bowling Centers send pins toppling through open bowling, leagues, and other events. St. Clair's pro shop, first opened in 1977, doles out high-quality equipment, service, and enforced timeouts for rebellious pins, and the Beer Frame Lounge allows bowlers to stop for a pint while gazing down at the lanes. Pizzas, adorned with unlimited toppings, sail from the oven onto the plates of waiting guests of St. Clair Bowl, and a homestyle soup bar fills bowls and bellies in Bel Air Bowl's restaurant.
Lotus Arts Studio's classes are a medley of swinging hips, frolicking feet, and flittering fingers. Owner Lauren Haas, a professional belly dancer, shares her Egyptian-style training with students who are interested in belly dancing and possess their own bellies. Highly skilled yoga instructors help yogis and neophyte benders pose, stretch, and sweat while Zumba, the Latin-inspired cardio dance class, spicies up stale workout routines and Bollywood classes fuse classical Indian dance styles with popular Western styles. At Lotus, wallflowers learn to gleefully waltz, tango, cha-cha, and bunny hop onto dance floors, as classes are ideal for individuals with no dance experience or more than one left foot. Registration is required and classes convene once a week. Check out the class schedule for a full list of classes and times.
The trainers at The Boxing Gym help clients use their natural assets to get into shape: namely, two fists and a little bit of stress to take out on a punching bag. They splice their boxing and kickboxing lessons with calisthenics, push-ups, and jump roping, keeping the workout fast and varied, and always returning to combative techniques. Beyond the realm of fitness, they also help prepare fighters for the ring with MMA training in the form of submission-grappling lessons and full-speed, pad-assisted kickboxing.