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Sports & Recreation

  • Best Sports Bargain

    Gateway Grizzlies

    “The young man steps up to the Gateway Grizzlies ticket counter...” “What a great family that guy’s got, Joe. You can tell just by looking at ’em. Beautiful wife, two smiling kids.” “He steps up to the counter and — wait a minute. Can you believe this, Dave? He’s asking for four seats on the first-base line just a … More >>
  • Best Sports Bar

    Lester's Sports Bar & Grill

    You feel powerful sitting in a place like Lester's Sports Bar & Grill. It's not so much that you're invariably sitting next to a few seven-figure-salaried Claytonians. That's a given. The joint's owned by Busch's Grove proprietor Lester Miller, after all, and even rainmakers get a burger yen. No, what gives you that fearsome dose of megalomania is the acre… More >>
  • Best Sports Broadcast Personality

    Mike Shannon

    A list of the quotes, malapropisms and non sequiturs that have made Mike Shannon both the most maddening and the most endearing radio play-by-play guy in baseball would be too long for even this supersize edition of the RFT to publish. (We swear we heard him opining about the 1970s TV miniseries Roots at some point last year.) Shannon has… More >>
  • Best Cardinals Player

    Rick Ankiel

    Few Cardinals fans will forget that hot night of August 9, when Rick Ankiel, who hadn't appeared in a major-league game for nearly three years, strode to the plate in the seventh inning against San Diego and uncorked a three-run blast to seal the game for the Redbirds. A goose bump-inducing curtain call from a delirious crowd ensued. It was… More >>
  • Best Smile

    So Taguchi

    It's not the widest smile on the team. That belongs to Yadier Molina, who's had a lot to smile about lately. But So Taguchi's smile reflects two qualities that are rare in professional baseball today: silence and innocence. Because he speaks so little, watching So play ball is like watching a silent movie. He's Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp to Tony… More >>
  • Best Coach

    Dave Duncan

    Baseball's a game of revered statistics. Home runs. Batting average. Hit-by-pitches. The higher the numbers are, the better your player is — unless we're talking about ERA. Pitchers fear the high earned-run average, and rightly so. If the other team's scoring that many runs off you, you "suck" — to use a term we heard the other day at the… More >>
  • Best Sports Figure Not Named Pujols

    Jamal Mayers

    Do we have a certain fondness for the man known as "Jammer?" You might say so. He's been a St. Louis Blue his entire professional career, and every time he puts on that sweater, he represents the city proudly. Mayers is never going to lead the team in points, but he's got some moves on the ice and is good… More >>
  • Best Rams Player

    Marc Bulger

    You still see a lot of Kurt Warner jerseys around town. Way too many. OK, sure, the guy won a Super Bowl, but what's he doing these days? Riding the pine for the freakin' Arizona Cardinals. Meanwhile, Marc Bulger puts up good season after good season. In 2006, he threw for 4,301 yards and 24 touchdowns. He limited his interceptions… More >>
  • Best Blues Player

    Lee Stempniak

    All right, so he's a career minus-12 — that's not so good. But, he was only minus-2 last season, which means he's improving the defensive aspect of his game. Either that or he scored goals in bunches last year, helping to offset his defensive lapses. And look at that: 27 goals, 25 assists, second on the team in total points,… More >>
  • Best Move

    Dave Checketts buys the St. Louis Blues

    Yes, if you go by the book the Laurie family's sale of the St. Louis Blues to Dave Checketts is a 2006 maneuver. But while its relevance as a business transaction is old news, the sale's impact on the "product" St. Louisans can expect to see on the ice is a current event. (Speaking of current events, it was also… More >>
  • Best College Athlete

    Randal Falker

    An all-state hoopster during his days at Gateway Tech, Randal Falker has continued his dominant play for the Salukis of Southern Illinois University Carbondale. As a sophomore Falker's explosive rebounding and shot-blocking won him MVP honors at the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. Then as a junior last season, the 6-foot-7-inch forward averaged 12.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game for… More >>
  • Best Wheelchair Athlete

    Kerri Morgan

    It's amazing that Balance Bar is the only corporate do-gooder to date to sponsor Kerri Morgan. A triathlete, a track star and the mainstay of the St. Louis Rugby Rams, Kerri "kicks it" like no other quadriplegic. By day the 32-year-old St. Joseph's Academy graduate teaches occupational therapy at Washington University. Nights and weekends she's pushing her chair all over… More >>
  • Best High School Athlete

    Liz Smith

    Parkway South High School lost its big fish this past spring: Standout swimmer Liz Smith is now lapping her peers out in Palo Alto, California, at Stanford University, competing on the top-ranked team in NCAA Division I swimming. Smith, who specializes in breaststroke and individual medley, was swimmer-of-the-meet at the 2007 Missouri State High School Activities Association finals and broke… More >>
  • Best Place to Bird Watch

    Robert and Martha Gaddy Wild Bird Garden Tower Grove Park

    Spring and fall bring large numbers of migrating birds — and bird watchers — to Tower Grove Park. The park, which has a long history as a migratory-bird "trap," offers several prime locations for viewing, but local birders say the Robert and Martha Gaddy Wild Bird Garden in the northwest corner tops the list. A mulch-covered path runs from the… More >>
  • Best Place to Hike

    Castlewood State Park

    Hiking is generally not an activity for instant-gratification types. Except at Castlewood State Park. Less than ten minutes past the trailhead, you're atop a ridge overlooking the Meramec River Valley — nothing but treetops and river for miles. Separate trails keep bikers from interrupting the view along the high ridge (peppered with benches on scenic overlooks), and a massive wooden… More >>
  • Best Public Park

    Madison County Transit bike trails

    The mass-transit agency that serves Madison County, Illinois, began converting rail beds to bike trails in the early 1990s. Madison County Transit now has 85 miles of trails, and it's still building. You can travel from the Missouri side of the Mississippi River to Grafton to Edwardsville and on down toward Horseshoe Lake. The gravel or asphalt trails cover many… More >>
  • Best Picnic Spot

    Laumeier Sculpture Park

    St. Louis has more than its share of charming places in which to throw down a blanket and enjoy lunch. But for our wine and cheese, none compares to Laumeier Sculpture Park. Nestled off Watson Road in the wedge between Interstates 44 and 270, this bucolic cultural gem is the perfect place to set down your basket and chow down… More >>
  • Best Urban Bike Ride

    Russell Boulevard from Grand Boulevard east to Lafayette Square and Soulard

    Wheeling through St. Louis on a bike gets easier every year thanks to Bike St. Louis (www.bikestlouis.org) and its partners. Clean and clear routes take you from the south side to downtown, from the Chain of Rocks Bridge to Forest Park to the University City Loop. Whether you're rocking the bike lane down Olive or crunching past traffic on Clayton… More >>
  • Best Bowling Lanes

    Tropicana Lanes

    Sure, there's a lounge. There's also a game room, a small snack shop — hell, there's even a banquet room. But make no mistake about it: Step into Tropicana Lanes, and you'd better be ready to bowl. Opened in 1959 — the same year Hawaii entered the United States — the place is iconic, its soaring blue-and-orange neon sign beckoning… More >>
  • Best Place to Rollerblade

    Grant's Trail

    Grant's Trail takes the things in life you take for granted, like the invention of the wheel, the wind in your hair and semi-picturesque wildlife scences with cattails and creeks, and distributes them along six paved miles. Trailnet (www.trailnet.org) paved the way for the two-lane foot-friendly path in 1994, having purchased the route three years earlier under the "Rails to… More >>
  • Best Place to Jog

    Queeny Park

    Most serious runners would not consider a place where the longest loop is four miles a good place to jog, but they would, and do, make an exception for Queeny Park. If you live in West St. Louis County, Queeny Park could easily become your default jogging place. If not, it's a worthwhile getaway. Big, old trees shade most of… More >>
  • Best 5K

    Kirkwood/Webster Turkey Day Run

    Arch rivals Kirkwood (63122) and Webster Groves (63119) high schools, which claim to maintain the longest-running football rivalry west of the Mississippi River, have squared off on Thanksgiving for 100 years. For a quarter-century the spirit week leading up to the event has included an early-morning 5K "race": the Kirkwood/Webster Turkey Day Run. It begins at the Kirkwood Farmers' Market… More >>
  • Best Triathlon

    Lake Saint Louis Triathlon

    "The Lake Saint Louis Triathlon has a very happy feel to it," says a regular competitor in the metro area's longest-running triathlon. "The people that live there are out in their front yards giving you water and cheering you on, and the folks who run it are extremely organized. They have everything completely figured out in terms of telling you… More >>
  • Best Hash

    Big Hump's Green Dress Run

    It's the Ides of March, and the thought of running the gauntlet through yet another St. Paddy's Day parade seems rather pathetic — until you notice a case of beer in the fridge and a green dress in the closet. Why not run a few miles, say, drinking the beer and wearing the dress? You proceed to roll into downtown… More >>
  • Best Workout

    Sunrise Fitness Camp

    More cheerleader than drill sergeant, Nicole Nester has a motto that goes: "Do it big or stay in bed!" Her running-intensive Sunrise Fitness Camp meets four days a week from 5:45 a.m. to 6:45 a.m. Equal parts fun and tough, Nester manages to draw 30 to 40 people to each workout, a regimen she started five years ago out of… More >>
  • Best Public Pool

    Springdale Park and Pool

    The peeling wooden signs and rustic shelters harken back to a simpler time in swimming-pool history, back when anyone could go to any pool for a reasonable price, and every pool was a neighborhood one. At Springdale, honest-to-goodness smiling people in money aprons and floppy hats collect your admission fee ($7 per person) as you pull onto the park grounds.… More >>
  • Best Sand Volleyball Courts

    Stratford Bar & Grill

    Just off Interstate 44 opposite the Chrysler plant in Fenton, you'll see the decades-old marquee with mismatched letters announcing some band you've never heard of playing at the Stratford Bar & Grill — a dark, dank place that's also hosted WWE events. The low, shabby cluster of buildings complete with air-conditioning window units held in place by blocks is nothing… More >>
  • Best Fishing Hole

    South Lake

    Sunken amid the rolling hills of Willmore Park, the manmade South Lake proves that public parks are good for more than just public drunkenness and public sex (though examples of both activities might occasionally be encountered here). Anglers of all stripes set up on the shore or the concrete dock, catching and releasing bass, catfish and the errant crappie. To… More >>
  • Best Meat Shoot

    American Legion Memorial Post 439

    Six or seven years ago, Valley Park's American Legion Post 439 had run out of funds to host its Sunday meat shoots (a 30- or 60-year-old tradition, depending on whom you ask). Three years later the post was back in the black and able to resume the shoots, but it was only this past winter that, as organizer Lionel Hall… More >>
  • Best Gun Range

    St. Louis Skeet and Trap Club

    There is skeet shooting, there is trap shooting, and then, bless us, there's sporting clays. For the first two, you stand in a fixed position and shoot clay pigeons launched across your field of vision (skeet) or away from you (trap). Sporting clays offers the best of both worlds: The shooter moves from station to station, each of which offers… More >>
  • Best Place to Parkour

    Six Flags

    French foot soldiers are said to have developed the art of parkour while running, jumping and launching their bodies through the jungle canopies of Vietnam. Four decades later the acrobatic "sport" is all the rage among junior-high boys the world over. There are two things any pubescent thrill seeker requires for serious parkouring: 1) a sprawling venue with lots of… More >>
  • Best Place to Play Bocce

    Milo's Tavern

    You might think the regular bocce players at a neighborhood joint in a staunchly ethnic section of town would look askance at outsiders. Not so at Alderman Joe Vollmer's Milo's Tavern on the Hill. "People have been doing it for years, yes, but if you and three of your friends wanted to make a team, you could," confirms a waitress.… More >>
  • Best Rugby Club

    St. Louis Bombers

    St. Louis has a slew of rugby clubs, but only one — the St. Louis Bombers — claims bragging rights to membership in the USA Rugby Super League, the national circuit for club teams. And though it took four and a half decades to get there, Bombers coach Ron Laszewski couldn't be more pleased entering his squad's third year in… More >>
  • Best Float Trip

    Courtois Creek

    This past spring the National Park Service imposed new rules banning Jell-O shots, beer bongs and kegs from the dozens of rivers and tributaries that crisscross southern Missouri. The regulations, it is hoped, will put an end to the public drunkenness, noise and litter that have turned these state treasures into backwater Gomorrahs. Until such a time, there remains Courtois… More >>
  • Best High

    Upper Limits Rock Gym

    We know the word gym strikes fear and confusion into your being. Seriously, what is that, aside from the three-credit blow-off class you were forced to complete in high school? Heck, climbing the stairs to our office is a grueling enough workout to meet our daily quota; and hell, three out of five days we take the frickin' elevator. So… More >>
  • Best Basketball Court

    A.B. Green Athletic Complex

    They may be located in very suburban Richmond Heights, but the basketball courts at the A.B. Green Athletic Complex have a decidedly urban feel. If you've got game, this is the place to go to get in on some serious ballin'. And if you ain't got game, this is the place to sit and watch some serious ballin'. (Not sure… More >>
  • Best Tennis Courts

    Tower Grove Park

    While TV viewers flock to golf, NASCAR and (c'mon!) poker, tennis gets very little respect in the U.S. Still, people actually do play tennis in St. Louis. A few more in west county than in south city, to be sure — all the more reason to get your racquet on at Tower Grove Park. With day passes available for $4… More >>
  • Best Batting Cage

    Tower Tee

    Possibly the single most difficult challenge in sports, one that leads many to call Tiger Woods the world's greatest athlete — greater than any basketball, baseball, football, tennis or soccer player, greater than Lance Armstrong (who, in seven consecutive years, won a race equivalent to running a marathon every day for three weeks) — entails hitting a stationary ball, standing… More >>
  • Best Boxing Gym

    Marquette Recreation Center

    Cory Spinks works out here regularly, and his trainer-manager Kevin Cunningham spends his time only on pros. So why does the Marquette Rec Center have such a big rep? Veteran trainer Joe Dunlap, his newer coaching protégé Danny McGinnist, and a collection of hard-working young men and boys who continue to win a lot of fights. While other kids splash… More >>
  • Best Public Golf Course

    Gateway National Golf Links

    Quick! What's the only public golf course within 100 miles of St. Louis that boasts bentgrass? Here's a hint: It's a links-style course that meanders east of the Mississippi River, with wooden bridges, quaint lakes, wood-tie bunkers and the occasional giant cottonwood. Yep, with handsome views of the Gateway Arch, Gateway National Golf Links is the sort of course you'd… More >>
  • Best Hole at a Golf Course

    No. 15, Missouri Bluffs Golf Course

    Renowned for his course designs (the ne plus ultra being Shadow Creek in Las Vegas — you can't afford to play it), Tom Fazio has left his imprimatur on only one course in the St. Louis region: Missouri Bluffs. "Tree Tops," the 235-acre course's signature hole, offers golfers the best vantage point to view Fazio's symphony in green, from 120… More >>
  • Best Driving Range

    Family Golf Center

    The driving range at Family Golf Center is everything a driving range should be: well tended, with new turf and clearly labeled distance markers. But the Family Golf Center's driving range has something more: a second story. That's right. Hitting your nine-iron is always more fun when you're pitching balls from twenty feet up. Sure, you may tack on a… More >>
  • Best Miniature Golf

    Putting Edge

    Pardon me if I sound grumpy, but life ain't easy for your average putt-putt windmill. Every day I spin and spin and spin, and if I do my job well, some sugar-addled, snot-nosed brat is gonna smack a golf ball off one of my blades. And for who knows how long, that was all anyone asked from a putt-putt course.… More >>
  • Best Midnight Golf

    Tour-3 Golf Course

    We know how it is: You've been meaning to take that monthlong golfing tour of Augusta National, Winged Foot and Bellerive Country Club before hopping the pond and playing St. Andrews — but you've just been too busy. In fact, your schedule's hectic enough that you're lucky to squeeze in nine holes after work at Forest Park, to say nothing… More >>
  • Best Yoga Studio

    Solar Yoga Center of St. Louis

    Step into the Solar Yoga Center and you get the feeling you're entering a parallel universe. The year is 1971. Yoga — thanks to the Beatles, Mia Farrow and countless hippie disciples — is all the rage in America. The 5th Dimension's "Age of Aquarius" is burning up the charts. And on a quiet, tree-lined street in St. Louis' DeBaliviere… More >>
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