The rolling thunderclaps of scattering pins fill the air at Imperial Bowl, where sphere flingers hunt strikes and spares across 30 lanes set in an ultraclean, modern facility. As bowlers attempt to stay out of the gutter like a renegade raindrop, automated scorekeeping charts the current pin count, displaying all scores on a digital screen. Imperial Bowl complements its slick lanes with entertaining extras, including arcade games, pool tables, and cosmic bowling. The alleyway also hosts leagues for casual and serious competitors alike, and a full-service bar and concession area ensures ball-free hands remain filled with beers, sodas, and snacks.
Towering alongside Clayton Road, the Tropicana Lanes sign has a vintage, weather-beaten look acquired after more than 50 years of welcoming visitors. Three generations of Richmond Heights bowlers have ventured into the facility during this time, scattering pins across the same 52 lanes that have hosted the nationally televised Professional Bowlers Tour. Owner and PBA Hall of Fame inductee Ray Bluth oversees the day-to-day operations of the alley—which, despite its retro disposition, sports modern extras such as automatic scoring and singing shoelaces. Between frames, bowlers can kick back inside the cocktail lounge, play pool in the game room, or munch on wings, nachos, and hot dogs from the snack bar.
A kid ricochets down a spiral waterslide, hugging each curve as a smile stretches across his face when he hits the water with a splash. Already having made a safe landing, his sister raises her fists in victory, having proven the speed slide is faster. Elsewhere in the sprawling waterpark, toddlers splash safely on a padded playground, away from their nosy older siblings. After recovering from swimming laps in the six-lane pool or sunning on the deck, parents meet up with their kids to refuel at the full-service Cannonball Café with burgers, chicken strips, and snow cones.
Like the CGI monster-filled remake of How Green Was My Valley, STL Cinemas combine state-of-the-art technology with classic Hollywood aesthetics. Mainstream blockbusters and independent films happily rub silver-screen shoulders on each theater's marquee, while the retro lounges and concession stands serve enough beer, wine, and classy sweets to keep movie-goers sugar-buzzing—or just plain buzzing—through any double-feature. Voted Readers' Pick Movie Theatre by St. Louis Magazine readers, the Moolah Theatre's single screen is one of the biggest in town, and cinephiles can take their pick of 400 stadium seats, plush leather couches, or balcony seating. Chase Park Plaza Cinemas—nestled inside the Chase Park Plaza Hotel building—boasts five auditoriums with luxury seating. Granite City Cinemas is brand-new with all digital projection. And exposed beams and stage lighting add a vintage touch to Galleria 6's lobby, while its bar provides a lovely backdrop for post-film discussions, screenplay pitches, or outbursts of hard-boiled dialogue and artfully lit cigarette smoke.
Hazelwood Bowl boasts 24 retro renovated bowling lanes and redesigned restaurant and bar areas for sporty entertainment and family fun. After wrangling a pair of bowling shoes, duos of 10-pin enthusiasts can perfect their arm swings with two hours on the lanes, complete with bumper bowling for youngsters and automatic scoring to keep abacuses fresh and ready for tallying UFO sightings (up to a $12 value/person). Then customers can head over to The Wood Bar & Grill to conquer worked up appetites with a St. Louis–style pizza with one topping, including Italian sausage, jalapeños, mushrooms, and more (an $8.95 value), all washed down with a pitcher of soda (a $4 value). Families of four and barbershop quartets can combine two Groupons for larger group frivolity.
Where can you learn the stories of Civil War soldiers, discover little-known facts about famous figures such as Chuck Berry, and see St. Louis Cardinals artifacts from the 1960's Busch Stadium all in one place? The Missouri History Museum boasts an expansive collection of photographs, artifacts, and maps that reveal some of the nation's and state's most intimate stories. Originally built as the first national monument to Thomas Jefferson, the site now offers exhibits that include items such as the sister plane to Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis and images of the buildings and grand palaces that were erected for the 1904 World's Fair.
In addition to rotating exhibits, events such as lectures, genealogical workshops, theatrical performances, and movie screenings offer guests a bridge to the past and a new perspective on the future. The museum is also planning a 2014 exhibit to commemorate St. Louis's 250th anniversary, which will unfold via 50 people, 50 places, 50 moments, 50 images, and 50 objects representing the city's richness and diversity.