Filled with millions of dazzling lights, the 35-acre drive-through fantasyland at Santa's Magical Kingdom brings the North Pole to children, along with a chance to whisper wishes into Father Christmas's ear as cameras flash. The 4-story-tall doors to Santa's kingdom sweep open to admit slow-moving cars or turtle-drawn racing chariots into the holiday fantasyland. Eyes widen in wonder while taking in a 300-foot waterfall flowing from the clouds, Santa's reindeer soaring overhead, the fancy footwork of the bulbs in the Tunnel of Dancing Lights, and the giant gingerbread bulldozers of Candyland. Kids are welcome to drop off letters to Santa in his North Pole mailbox before stepping out of cars and into Kringle's General Store.
Youthful believers outfitted in bright smiles climb onto Santa's lap as photographers snap vivid, waterproof memories that are copyright-free and ready to be reproduced for holiday-card mailings or magazine-cover submissions. Before and after pictures, little ones and adults can let imaginations run wild through shelves brimming with unique holiday toys, gifts, and d?cor. Every evening, Santa's elves bake fresh chocolate chip cookies and their special recipe hot chocolate along with other goodies available at the snack bar, made from a secret recipe that's as coveted as the gold medal in the reindeer-games Olympics. Santa's Magical Kingdom opens every night at 5:30 p.m., from November 15, 2013, to January 5, 2014.
There are dartboards and pool tables aplenty inside J.P's, a down-to-earth sports bar with a model pub menu. Chase your game with a sourdough BLT or a thin-crust pizza with five kinds of meat. Or, pig out on pork wings and a big plate of nachos supreme. Chicken sandwiches get their own category here; you'll find six varieties, including grilled chicken, grilled blackened chicken, and you know what, I could really go for some grilled chicken. If the weather's fair, head outside to the beer garden for the alfresco version of J.P's.
For 12 years, Tapestry of Community Offerings (TOCO) has delighted children, parents, and passing wildlife with its music festivals, all while raising money and awareness for important community organizations. Profits raised by the family festivals helps TOCO with its direct-service programs, such as providing free clothing to families in need and sponsoring youth summer camps. TOCO also supports several other community organizations, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Helping Hands Food Pantry, and the Violence Prevention Center of Southwestern Illinois.
Sugar Creek Golf Course connects 18 holes of elevated tees, tree-lined fairways, and tricky greens across 6,097 yards for a player-friendly, par 70 layout. Ponds come into play on three holes, adding variety to the scenic terrain and challenging golfers as they traverse the course while playing from one of three tee options. Sugar Creek also offers indoor par-hunting fun in the form of TruGolf golf simulators, which let golfers play on digital replicas of 60 famous courses, including Pinehurst No. 2 and Pebble Beach.
Just a short drive from the metropolitan tangle of St. Louis, Twin Rivers Canoe Rentals releases urbanites into the gentle, spring-fed waters of the Meramec River. Adventurers may choose which vessel will best cut through the water’s rippled pane that flickers with shadows from the canopies of trees lining the shore. In a kayak, a single boatman may ply past largemouth bass and flathead catfish or spy a whitetail deer sneaking a drink on the banks while its doe is at church bunco. Canoes can comfortably seat two people and a cooler, whereas rafts transform five to seven passengers into an inflatable party. The leisurely pace and tranquil environs encourage groups to stop and swim or to tether to shore for a picnic.:m]]
A 30,000-square-foot clubhouse overlooks the course as it cleaves through more than 200 acres of dense forest, undulating fairways, and a meandering stream that comes into play on multiple holes. Players' skills are immediately put to the test as they try to keep snorkeling gear in their bag on the fourth hole, where a stream runs along the entire right side of the fairway. As the front nine’s only par 5, the fourth hole still presents a birdie opportunity due to its sub-500-yard length, wide fairway, and lack of quicksand bunkers. The water continues flow on the back nine, which, at a full 400 yards longer than the front, makes players earn their postround beers back at the clubhouse, where they can survey the course's expanse through the structure’s massive windows.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 71 course * Total length of 6,443 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 72.4 from the back tees * Course slope of 138 from the back tees * Four sets of tees per hole * Scorecard