The Museum of Transportation sprawls across 129 acres, presenting its vast collection of automobiles, boats, planes, and trains dating from the mid-1800s to the present day. More than 70 massive locomotives reside in the museum, including the largest successful steam locomotive, the Union Pacific Big Boy—though later examinations revealed that the train is actually female. Explore rare autos—including a motor carriage dating back to 1901 and rides owned by Dean Martin and W.C. Fields—and a fleet of military aircraft that constantly snubs visitors by pointing their nose cones skyward. A miniature locomotive leads a following of bright-red cars around the museum grounds, and the hands-on Creation Station gives tots aged 5 and under the opportunity to familiarize themselves with modes of transportation outside of diesel-powered strollers.
Bowling is the great social equalizer—a common ground where grizzled undercover clowns, blue-collar English lords, LARPer librarians, big and tall lingerie models, hordes of hive-minded hipsters, and the other two social demographics that comprise America can unite in common cause and topple a gaggle of stuck-up, inanimate wooden pins. Brunswick has been a household name in this egalitarian pastime almost since the beginning, with a company history that dates back to the 19th century, providing classic American good times to all manner of patrons across the country. And with today's Groupon tying the room together, you'll get to play two games (up to a $7.98 value) in its hallowed halls wearing a pair of freshly disinfected bowling shoes (up to a $3.69 value).
Open year-round, Kirkwood Ice Skating Rink plays host to public skating sessions, lessons, and hockey games for fledgling wintertime athletes. The rink bathes in natural light, which pours through translucent panels to illuminate and spotlight skaters as they make their elliptical loops. Just beyond the rink's edge, a concession area serves hot eats worthy of consumption in the adjacent, fireplace-equipped warming area. A jam-packed monthly schedule details one-and-a-half and two-hour public skating sessions seven days a week, allowing skaters to get their icy fix regardless of conflicting guitar lessons or power lunches with dapper climatologists.
Though built as a private home in 1901, the Victorian mansion stood vacant for years—until its first children's hands-on exhibits opened to the public more than 30 years ago. Since then, The Magic House's curators have worked to engage children of all ages in learning and creative thought through a range of interactive multimedia exhibits. Their exhibits enable visitors to service cars, climb treehouse ladders, and go fishing in a child-centric community, or play with pumps and pipes in a waterworks playground. They can also climb a three-story fairy-tale beanstalk or use detective skills, fingerprint analyses, and secret passageways to solve mysteries.
Museum staffers also organize a range of themed birthday parties, during which attendees play and complete special tasks as time travelers, scientists, or fairy-tale nobility. Family programs encompass monthly visits from outside professional artists, and educational sessions on car and bike safety. Visitors can refuel for exploration at the on-site Picnic Basket Cafe, whose menu highlights whole grains and healthy ingredients.
Laumeier Sculpture Park transports contemporary sculpture and its attendant acolytes from the traditional confines of the museum gallery to an outdoor art sanctuary. Casting Circle members traipse through 105 acres of sculpture by artists such as Tony Tasset, Ernest Trova, and Mark di Suvero before wielding their 10% discount during celebratory sprees at the museum shop. Members also enjoy discounts on iPod-guided audio tours, which fill noggins with tidbits of information during strolls through the park or confuse burglars when played through roof-mounted loudspeakers. Educational events, workshops, and classes dot the park’s schedule, and art camp nurtures the artistic pursuits of children as old as 15 during summertime sessions.
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.
Since 1965, bowling buffs have decimated the pins at West County Lanes. Slip into a pair of piebald loafers ($2.75 for a rental) and practice perfect follow-throughs as you hurl sporty spheroids down any of the 24 lanes ($3.25 per person each game, $3.75 weekends and holidays; $15 per lane each hour, $18 weekends and holidays). Powered by a savvy system, hanging monitors display scores as well as embarrassing childhood photos of any player who rolls a gutter ball. On Fridays from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. and Saturdays after 10 p.m., the futuristic lights and glow-in-the-dark lanes of cosmic bowling ($19 per lane each hour) comfort homesick time-travelers trapped in the ancient present.