At Shrewsbury Lanes, 10 white appendages await punishment from careening spheres at the end of 24 polished alleys. Automatic scoring screens keep count at every lane so that rollers can concentrate on picking up seven-ten splits, savoring hot eats from the snack counter, and grabbing cold beers or daily happy hour cocktails from No Bul's Bar. During birthday packages, revelers can bounce between bowling alleys and party rooms, which are stocked with hot dogs, drinks, and chips. Shrewsbury Lanes also hosts leagues for bowlers who enjoy more serious competition or nostalgic adults who were raised inside trophy cases. The roar of ransacked pins echoes throughout the facility until 11 p.m. on weekdays and 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Both eight-lane alleys come from the old school and serve up "bowling the way it used to be," when film was more filmy and carpet designs were mesmerizingly carpety. Take a virtual tour of Moolah or Saratoga. At Saratoga, you'll keep track of your score on paper, just like President James Monroe, so Wii-cosseted bowlers may have to bone up on their strike and spare calculations. There are no laser lights, smoke machines, or thumping discojock jams to sully the moment when ball perfectly hooks into one-pin.
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.
STL Cinemas' quartet of movie houses mingles the vibrant pageantry of the early film industry with the technological sophistication of modern studio projects. Chase Park Plaza exudes the essence of this retro-contempo coupling, earning it the Riverfront Times 2010 Best Movie Theater award. With five intimate auditoriums, an all-digital sound system, and state-of-the-art projection, Chase Park Plaza coaxes movie-goers deep into the film's plot lines, characters, and 3-D effects easier than an underseat package containing a plaid dress, a little dog, and a magical Kansas twister. Before one of Chase’s shows, bask in the sights of the lifelike trompe l'eoil murals, and soak in the sounds of a live organist who serenades the crowds with show-tune favorites such as "Phantom of the Opera," "Goldfinger," and "I’m a Little Tea Pot (The Remix)."
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.
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 kids need to frolic and play, they must also learn financial responsibility if they're ever to grow up and pay for their parents' dinner. At Hammer's Food & Fun, an electronic game card opens the door to Hammer’s array of indoor rides and arcade games, teaching kids the mystical power—and responsibility—contained within a magnetic stripe. Indeed, after games such as Big Bass Wheel and Space Balls dispense points redeemable for prizes, kids can retain the balance on the card for future visits—an educational precursor to saving money in a grownup bank's vault filled with 50/50 raffle tickets. Before exploring the indoor attractions—which range from go-karts and mini golf to inflatable bounce houses and a checkered dance floor—families fill their bellies at Hammer’s extensive buffet. Made fresh daily using local beef from Twin Hills Farm, slices of pizza in more than 20 varieties sit on circular trays, and elsewhere, a line of sweet desserts taunts the salad bar filled with crispy vegetables trying desperately to sprout ice-cream-flavored leaves.