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Sports & Recreation

  • Best Blues Player

    David Backes

    It's clear why David Backes is the captain of the St. Louis Blues. Dude's always there, ready to perform. Last season he suited up for all 82 regular-season games — just as he did the season before. Last season he also scored the most goals for the club (24) and tied T.J. Oshie for the most points (54). But Backes… More >>
  • Best Athlete's Butt

    Jon Jay

    Jon Jay is the Jennifer Lopez of St. Louis sports, at least in one very important way. You look at the rest of him, and he's an OK looking cat. Not bad, not drop-dead handsome. An average-ish sort of guy. But there's one part of Jon Jay that's nowhere near average. The man has a trunk so superbly stuffed, so… More >>
  • Best College Athlete

    Kwamain Mitchell

    Go back to this time a year ago, and Kwamain Mitchell was in a much different place. He had been suspended from the Saint Louis University men's basketball team for the 2010-2011 season following allegations of sexual assault and was just trying to get his life back on track. The early fall of 2011 was not a great time to… More >>
  • Best High School Athlete

    Mikala McGhee

    It isn't often you see an athlete capable of doing virtually anything on the field, but that's exactly what Mikala McGhee did again this past year at Pattonville High School. In softball, McGhee led the team with a .444 batting average, earning her first-team all-Suburban North Conference honors for the fourth straight year. On the hardwood, the 5-foot-11 senior had… More >>
  • Best Local Boxer

    Stephon Young

    Stephon Young's name is already well known to local boxing enthusiasts. To the rest of the general population, not so much. There's reason to believe all that may change in the relatively near future, though. After years of having "celebrated amateur" permanently affixed to his name, Young turned pro in August of 2011. Less than a month earlier he had… More >>
  • Best Public Park

    Weldon Spring Conservation Area

    While trekking through the varying topography of the Weldon Spring Conservation Area (off Highway 94 along the north bank of the Missouri River, it's easy to forget that this tract of forests, grasslands and bluffs was once dedicated to destruction: During World War II an army contractor made TNT here. Then in the 1950s and '60s, the Atomic Energy Commission… More >>
  • Best Place to Ride a Motorcycle

    Wildwood to Defiance, via Washington

    In Wildwood Highway T drops off Manchester Road and heads west into serious hill country. Rev up your steel horse and buckle down. Although the pavement along this stretch is smooth, the grades are steep and the curves tight — perfect for an adrenaline rush and the picturesque views. Turning northwest onto Highway 100, you get a break from the… More >>
  • Best Place to Go for a Stroll

    Compton Heights

    When you're lost and running late, the city's grid of streets provides order. But if you want to just stroll — that is, walk off a hearty dinner, reflect, relax — then repair to the curvaceous and leafy roads of Compton Heights, an elegant old subdivision nestled under the juncture of Grand Boulevard and I-44. The neighborhood's two main streets,… More >>
  • Best Picnic Spot

    Citygarden

    Whether it's during the hectic, weekday lunch hour or a leisurely Saturday afternoon, Citygarden offers the perfect spot for spreading out a blanket and dining alfresco. Adults will enjoy watching the tourists, office workers and families that populate this 2.9-acre urban oasis in the center of downtown. Kids (and kids at heart) will scream in joy while playing in Citygarden's… More >>
  • Best Place to Jog

    Tower Grove Park

    Hard to believe that when Henry Shaw donated the 277 acres that is now Tower Grove Park to St. Louis, the land was mostly treeless prairie. Shaw himself set about planting thousands of trees in the park and several of them still stand amid the thousands (7,500 at last count) that have sprouted up in the ensuing 150 years. Those… More >>
  • Best Place to Hike

    Wilderness Trail

    There are closer escapes to nature and ones that offer better views of the giant rivers that define so much of the landscape around St. Louis, but there is no better place to find solitude than the Wilderness Trail at Meramec State Park. Located in the northern part of a park riddled with caves and clear streams, the Wilderness Trail… More >>
  • Best Place to Skate

    Kingshighway Skateboarding KHVT

    Located beneath the bridge at the intersection of Kingshighway and Bischoff Avenue is a guerilla skate park known to locals as the Kingshighway Vigilante Transitions — KHVT for short. Construction began surreptitiously when local skaters, itching for a suitable place to skate, began pouring concrete by the bag-full and constructing their own ramps and jumps, sans permission of any kind.… More >>
  • Best Bowling Lanes

    Hazelwood Bowl

    Hazelwood Bowl needn't rely on the cover of darkness and the flash of strobes. While other lanes have little more to offer than such "cosmic" bowling, showing their age in crumbling, dated motifs and elderly rental footwear, this ten-pin alley boasts a vintage style that is as classy and well-maintained as a Mad Men set on Botox. The prices are… More >>
  • Best Local MMA Fighter

    Matt Ricehouse

    Last month Matt Ricehouse earned his first loss since turning pro in a bout with Bobby Green in San Diego. Though it tarnished his till-then-undefeated professional record, the six wins he currently claims surely outweigh that recent setback — especially considering that his most notable victory came at the expense of fighter Ryan Couture, son of mixed-martial arts all-star Randy… More >>
  • Best MMA Gym

    Team Rodrigo Vaghi

    Last year Riverfront Times named Festus native Lance Benoist "Best Local MMA Fighter" for his 16-0 amateur record and his 2010 signing with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Before going pro, Benoist earned a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ), training at Team Rodrigo Vaghi in Fenton. Owner Rodrigo Vaghi trained in BJJ at the flagship Gracie Academy in Rio… More >>
  • Best Sports Broadcast Personality

    Chris Duncan

    As a ballplayer, Chris Duncan peaked early. After a cup of coffee with the Cardinals in 2005, he hit 22 homers in 90 games during the team's 2006 championship season. (He also made a certain local alternative newsweekly giddy with the PhotoShop possibilities after he posed for a photo pretending to hump the World Series trophy.) He followed this with… More >>
  • Best Sports Bargain

    Friendly's Sports Bar and Grill

    Pity the cities that don't have MLB, NFL, NHL and NBA teams, or a bar like Friendly's — one that offers food and drink specials whenever any home team plays (thanks, Mizzou and Saint Louis University, for filling in that missing NBA slot for St. Louis). And it's true, the Rams might not be long for this city. But before… More >>
  • Best Tennis Courts

    Heman Park

    If you think professional tennis champion Arthur Ashe is the only black man in St. Louis to ever pick up a racket, head on over to University City's Heman Park. Known to attract some of the most diverse players in town, these eight free courts (four of them lighted) also play host to some of the most competitive tennis in… More >>
  • Best Urban Bike Ride

    Tower Grove Park to the Chain of Rocks Bridge

    Now that the blistering heat of summer is dwindling into fall, more pleasant opportunities to spend outside are presenting themselves. For cyclists looking to spend an afternoon riding through the city, Tower Grove Park to the Chain of Rocks Bridge shows St. Louis for what it is. The approximately 30-mile round-trip trail may not be the prettiest, but it's a… More >>
  • Best Coach

    Ken Hitchcock

    This past hockey season started in familiar fashion for Blues fans. Promises made on the backs of young players with untapped potential, a new energy, an end to the rock-bottom phase of the rebuilding plan and a return to winning ways, or at least the playoffs. Of course, the team lurched out of the gate and scudded along aimlessly, same… More >>
  • Best Reason to Look Forward to Summer

    Mortality

    Summer in St. Louis is always a crapshoot, emphasis on "crap." It's either too hot or too goddamn hot, too humid or too goddamn humid, and no one is happy. This year was the exception even to that, as the weather smashed the life out of the region with merciless intent. This summer was war, and the problem is that… More >>
  • Best Reason to Look Forward to Winter

    TV Weather Forecasts

    It doesn't matter if we have a mild, practically snowless winter as we did this year, or if we have a season of big dumps (as we did in 2010): You can count on at least one mass panic of our local weathercasters the first time inklings of snow appear on their Doppler radars. These people appear to have no… More >>
  • Best Public Golf Course

    Tower Tee

    The word "public" is often followed by unsavory words like "enemy" or "bathroom." Rarely is it something that's as fun as "golf course." And rarer still is that public golf course one that's both fun to play and appealing to golfers of all skill levels. For the proficient golfer, Tower Tee's eighteen-hole, par-three course in Affton is an opportunity to… More >>
  • Best Move

    St. Louis Blues' acquisition of Ken Hitchcock

    On November 6, 2011, the St. Louis Blues were treading away with a 6-7-0 record, playing a similar version of uninspired hockey that St. Louisans had been watching for the last several seasons. From 2006 to 2010 the team managed to scrape together a respectable record under then-coach Andy "Skeletor" Murray, but the talent level never owned up to its… More >>
  • Best Yoga Studio

    Bikram Yoga St. Louis

    Hot yoga is all the rage. But true adherents of the practice know that the style invented by Bikram Choudhury is the original. And here at Bikram Yoga St. Louis, instructors carry on the mission of their guru with challenging workouts guaranteed to limber you up, improve your overall strength and leave you feeling mentally restored. How do they accomplish… More >>
  • Best Public Pool

    The Lodge

    St. Louis may be hundreds and hundreds of miles from the nearest ocean, but all it takes is a short trip to west county to ride the break. It's ski chateau meets Cancún at the Lodge in Des Peres, where exposed wood rafters and huge picture windows rise above the indoor wave pool that sloshes about at a balmy 84… More >>
  • Best Basketball Court

    O'Fallon Park

    Looking for some competitive basketball in St. Louis? Stop by Chaifetz Arena when the Saint Louis University Billikens are playing or get yourself to O'Fallon Park. After a decade or so of neglect, these five full outdoor courts were recently resurfaced and dressed up with new nets. For those feeling plucky, pickup games abound here. For the rest of us,… More >>
  • Best Cardinals Player

    Yadier Molina

    Kyle Lohse's 2012 win-loss record is impressive — at 15-3 as of this writing, he leads all major-league starters with an .833 win percentage. But as is always the case in baseball, beneath the numbers there are...more numbers. Of the 31 games Lohse has started so far this season, the Cardinals have won 20 and lost 11. Eight of those… More >>
  • Best Place to Play Pinball

    Orbit Pinball Lounge

    Pinball works best under the cover of night. Imagine playing in the clear, cold light of day — it would be counter-intuitive, right? You'd miss the subtle (and not-so-subtle) flashing lights and the tiny gleam off those round silver balls. More than anything, you need the dark to cover your frustration at lost balls and the cruel, game-ending tricks of… More >>
  • Best Place to Play Pool

    The Famous Bar

    There's no denying that the minute you grab the pool cue, a certain feeling of utter coolness comes over you. You are slick and smooth, your moves are calculated and your face serious, with a snarled lip and one keen, squinting eye to intimidate your opponents. Why not play on a table that matches? The Famous Bar offers just that… More >>
  • Best Place to Play Darts

    Black Derby Saloon

    One of three places left in the city where steel tip darts are the norm, Black Derby Saloon is the place to throw arrows regardless of your skill level. The bar has regular league play, sure, but it also has free house darts for those hoping to pass the time with a few domestics. The nine boards have been given… More >>
  • Best 2011 World Series MVP Other Than David Freese

    Jake Westbrook

    When the St. Louis Cardinals acquired sinkerballer Jake Westbrook from Cleveland in 2010, fans were vocal in their dismay over the price tag: popular right fielder Ryan Ludwick, who went to San Diego in the three-team swap. The soft-spoken Georgian went about the business of inducing ground balls, but sometimes he couldn't help but call attention to himself. Like on… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar

    John P. Fields

    A tavern need not be a glaring mass of flat-screen television sets and cleavage-popping waitresses to qualify as a "sports bar." It can be a civilized kind of place, where friends gather for conversation and, you know, the game. John P. Fields in Clayton is that kind of place. Think of it as St. Louis' version of Cheers. Like the… More >>
  • Best Batting Cage

    Tower Tee

    Sometimes, when we're all tuckered out from newspapering, we allow our finely honed journalistic mind to wander to What We Want to Be When We Grow Up. Near the top of our list: Batting Cage Proprietor. And we know precisely the sort of batting cage we want to propriet. It will exude a laid-back vibe. It will be conscientiously tended… More >>
  • Best Miniature Golf

    Family Golf and; Learning Center

    As someone pithily observed long ago, the sport of golf is "a good walk spoiled." Anyone who has spent a few hours chasing a Titleist around various sand traps can attest to that. Miniature golf, however, offers such compact satisfaction that even the most errant putts can't spoil this little stroll. And so it's fitting that the Family Golf &… More >>
  • Best Rams Player

    Chris Long

    Only a couple of years ago, the notion that the Rams — not exactly known for brilliant personnel decisions over the past decade — would award defensive end Chris Long a four-year, $50 million contract extension (with more than half of that guaranteed) would have seemed absurd. The team's first-round pick in 2008 (and the second player taken overall), Long… More >>
  • Best Fishing Hole

    Meramec State Park

    An hour west of St. Louis along Interstate 44 lies Meramec State Park, a public reserve perhaps best known for its underground caverns. (The park is said to have more caves than any other state park in the nation.) Outdoorsmen also know the park as a great spot for fishing. The 461-acre park straddles the Meramec River, providing miles of… More >>
  • Best Place to Bird Watch

    Blackburn Park

    Can you name a famous birder other than John James Audubon? Probably not, considering that these days bird watching falls somewhere between button collecting and denture polishing on the list of America's most popular hobbies. Yet when delving into the history of this pastime, it is discovered that one of the world's most influential birders got her start right here… More >>
  • Best River for a Float Trip

    Eleven Point River

    All right, so the Eleven Point River isn't all that close to St. Louis. But we feel the benefits of this Ozark waterway warrant the four-hour drive. Beginning near the southern Missouri hamlet of Thomasville (about 80 miles west of Poplar Bluff off Highway 160) and meandering southeastward, ultimately into Arkansas, this spring-fed river is one of the most pristine… More >>
  • Best View of Someplace Other Than Downtown

    World's Fair Pavilion

    Some people will tell you the 1904 World's Fair was the last great thing to happen to St. Louis. But it was the profits from that international expo that built the World's Fair Pavilion — in 1909. Perched high atop Government Hill, the World's Fair Pavilion offers a bird's-eye view of the northern half of Forest Park. But it's at… More >>
  • Best Place to People-Watch

    Ellen S. Clark Hope Plaza

    Hope is the thing with feathers/That perches in the soul/And sings the tune — without the words/And never stops at all. Amid the towering buildings of the Barnes–Jewish Hospital complex, these words (emblazoned across an infinity pond) have never felt more fitting. There is no better place to sit back with a notebook or a sketchpad and bear witness to… More >>
  • Best Place to Meet Single Men

    Climb So iLL

    Looking for a great belay? You can find that and maybe a little more at Climb So iLL, the trendy new climbing gym just off of Lafayette Square. Founded in March by brothers and long-time climbers David and Daniel Chancellor, and their friend Ian Anderson, this unique climbing gym boasts more than 10,000 vertical feet of climbing terrain, custom climbing… More >>
  • Best Thing to Happen to St. Louis This Year

    World Series Game 6

    Baseball is a lot like evolution, in that both are a slow, steady march of known variables regressing to the mean until one plucky outlier suddenly stands up on its hind flippers and runs across the beach in a blaze of mutation and recessive genes, changing everything from that point forward. The Texas Rangers were the long arc of life… More >>
  • Best Place to Take Out-of-Town Guests

    Saint Louis Zoo

    The San Diego Zoo may be the best-known zoo in America, but you're also going to pay $42 a head for the privilege of enjoying it. Not only is the Saint Louis Zoo as impressive as San Diego's facility, admission to our zoo is completely free. F-R-E-E. Yet despite the free-ness, the Saint Louis Zoo is constantly reinventing itself, such… More >>
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