Chris and Pam Schmick had spent six months cleaning out the scrap metal from their abandoned silos and just finished drilling thousands of holes in its walls. With little time to spare, they prepared for their climbing gym's grand opening on September 2, 1995—a date on which they had already agreed to hold a regional JCCA competition. The effort they've expended in the nearly 20 intervening years shows: today, climbers scramble on top ropes, lead ropes, and more than 20,000 square feet of lava-free climbing surface.
Instructors prepare visitors to surmount the gym's features in a range of classes, such as Rock Gym 101, which is an introduction to top-rope climbing that covers climbing safety, basic technique, and equipment. Once climbers are equipped with gear from the pro-shop, staff shows them around a multi-level bouldering cave, a main climbing area with 30-foot walls shaped by arêtes, cracks, and waves, and the building's five original silos. Elsewhere inside the gym, six auto-belays safely cradle visitors who wish to climb without taking a class.
After setting its wheels to the pavement in the early 1930s, South Side Cyclery today operates three stores in the St. Louis area that cater to cycling enthusiasts, with two-wheeled steeds, tools, and accessories by brands such as Giant, Specialized, and Schwinn. The ride-wise staff at each location guides riders to new mountain, road, or children’s bikes suited to any size, skill level, or fear of unicyclists. Visitors peruse more than 800 bikes in stock, enjoying free on-site assembly before wheeling their new toy off the lot. New rides include complimentary adjustments for one year, whereas all services—including tune-ups, flat-tire fixes, and chest bumps on the way out the door—also carry a 90-day warranty.
Founded in 1973, Backwoods carries the latest collections of outdoor clothing and survival supplies for amateur earth explorers. Ascend summits in style with polyurethane-padded North Face gloves ($25), heavyweight fleece finger cocoons that keep digits dexterous in colder climates. The honeycomb construction of Patagonia Capilene 3 long-sleeve shirts ($32) draws swarms of sweat away from human hives, keeping men and women warmer, drier, and significantly less slippery than their perspiration-coated companions. Eagle Creek’s ultimate packing solution set ($29.99) gives adventure-seekers three ways to safely stow wrinkle-free wearables during their travels, none of which involves mounting an armoire on roller skates. Turn a walk in the park with Fido into a trip along the trails with a roamer leash ($24) to keep him close and a bivy bowl ($19) to satisfy his thirst for canine champagne.
The cycling enthusiasts at Big Shark Bicycle Company cultivate a collection of bike-related products, events, and classes to cater to cyclists of all levels. They host a variety of races and events including 15K races and group rides every Saturday. And, to help bikers train for such events, Big Shark Bicycle Company also offers classes covering topics such as cycling 101, how to dress for winter biking, and basic training for racing.
Stonebridge Golf Club challenges and entertains beginners and old pros alike with its picturesque rolling hills, changes in elevation, and tree-lined fairways. Before embarking on their 18-hole journey, players may practice on the expansive practice and chipping greens to perfect their wedgework, putts, and celebratory shimmies. Meticulously manicured bent-grass tees serve as launch pads for sky-bound balls, and verdant bermuda grass clings to the fairways. The par 72 course ensures golfers have a chance to employ every club in their arsenal, from the pitching wedge to the 3-wood to the rarely used Gatling driver. A golf cart helps players zoom from hole to hole with motorized grace and efficiency, rather than wasting precious minutes saddling, mounting, and cajoling surly bactrian golf camels. Although food and equipment are not covered by today's Groupon, Stonebridge is also home to a pro shop and Putter's Bar and Grill, making it easy for golfers and their bags to stay well-fed.
With dozens of lanes that boast auto-scoring capabilities and plenty of on-site amenities, the St. Clair and Bel-Air bowling centers set the standard for high-tech bowling. With feet comfortably ensnared inside a pair of bowling shoes, bowlers will be able to topple phalanxes of uppity pins with the perfect fusion of style, power, and grace—dazzling onlookers with the flashy footwork and skillful tosses of ice-skating pizza makers. To prevent premature conclusions to a night of merrymaking, 10 arcade tokens will extend the entertainment past your double bout of ball-hurling. At St. Clair, bowlers can select from 50 different lanes, and the Bel-Air facility is permeated with free Internet beams that can only be perceived by WiFi-enabled computers and tinfoil-hat-enabled heads. Food and beverages are available at both locations.