Hiking

Best Hiking Trail 2022 | Castlewood State Park | Sports and leisures

Kathy Schrenk

Castlewood State Park.

1401 Kiefer Creek Road, Ballwin; 636-227-4433

Finalist: Elephant Rocks
7406 Highway 21, Belleview; 573-546-3454

Sports and leisures

Local comedian Kathleen Madigan once described St. Louis as a “town that drinks beer, smokes cigarettes, and eats meat. We’re so unhealthy that my youngest sister moved to Seattle and when she got there she saw everyone on their bikes, and she just assumed they all had DUIs. OK, we’re not known for being the healthiest city in the country, but we’re passionate about our outdoor activities. How else to explain all the parks, miles of bike paths and recreation areas out of state where people flock every summer? Plus, we’re a city that loves our sports. The Cardinals and Blues are part of the beating heart of the city, and we’re sure to add the returning Battlehawks (or whatever our XFL team is called) and St. Louis City SC to the mix. And while some of us are more outdoorsy than others, you can still have fun indoors, with options ranging from bowling to pinball to darts. So for those of you who ride bikes even without impaired driving, this list is for you. —Rosalind Early

Robert Thomas.

Scott Rovak/Getty Images/Courtesy of the St. Louis Blues

Robert Thomas.

Hokey is often a blur of blue and white on the Enterprise Center ice, but if you see a flash of skates as the puck sinks into the net, chances are they belong to Robert. Thomas. A breakout star last year, Thomas scored 20 goals throughout his time on the ice, securing his place as the Blues’ best hope for the future. Newly signed to an eight-year contract, the Canadian-born forward has excellent shooting on goal and an eye for the puck, proving he plays a vital role both defensively and offensively. General manager Doug Armstrong compared his signing to a long-term contract to previous commitments he got from Alex Pietrangelo and Vladimir Tarasenko. Hopefully Thomas, too, will lead the team to the Stanley Cup. —Jenna Jones

Centene Stadium.

Monica Obradovic

Centene Stadium.

This one was hard to choose. I mean, where can we find a new stadium in St. Louis? Like, a new stadium that could eventually transform St. Louis, revitalize a neglected part of downtown, and host a world-class sports team? We had to dig in, but, in the end, we picked the $457.8 million, 22,500 seat stadium being built in Downtown West and already reshaping the neighborhood. You know, the one that will host St. Louis’ newest professional sports team — the St. Louis City SC. Opening scheduled for 2023, Centene Stadium (2100 Market Street) will host Major League Soccer’s 28th franchise and St. Louis’ first in America’s top soccer league. It will also be a badass stadium, with no fans more than 120 feet from the pitch. Local artist Muhammad “Mvstermind” Austin is in charge of game day music and sources a fan-curated playlist. All of these things suggest one of the most intimate, rowdy and fun football experiences in the country. Centene Stadium is going to be loud, it will be all ours – and we can’t wait. —Benjamin Simon

St. Louis Surge

Christopher Mikals Photography/STLSurge Marketing

St. Louis surge.

St. Louisians who crave the soft swish of the net or the heart-accelerating tap of fast dribble should turn off the NBA and head to the St. Louis Surge — St. Louis’ only professional basketball team. Founded in 2011, the highly successful Surge has won two national championships and six regional championships in just over a decade. The team recently joined the Global Women’s Basketball Association after dominating the Women’s Blue-Chip Basketball League for seven seasons. The Surge is owned by Khalia Collier, who also happens to be the vice president of community relations for St. Louis City SC. As with SC, Collier aims to bring more sports to the city and also increase interest in women’s ball. —Jessica Rogen

Albert Pujols swings a bat.

Courtesy of Ben Munson/St. Cardinals Louis

Albert Pujols.

It’s no secret that this baseball season will be the last time three big Cardinals players hit the field. Yadier Molina, Albert Pujols and Adam Wainwright have been Holy Trinity of Cardinals baseball for years. Although Pujols left to play for the Los Angeles Angels and Dodgers, the three have become synonymous with St. Louis baseball. (Some fans have never even seen a Cardinals team without Molina or Wainwright.) Now that’s coming to an end, with all three set to retire at the end of the season. It’s been a bittersweet goodbye, sure, but this year has offered plenty of highlights, from seeing Molina and Pujols pitch for the first time to watching Pujols continually circle the bases and even double-high-five Nelly . This is St. Louis magic at its finest, unfolding in the shadow of the Busch Stadium arch. —Jenna Jones

Coach Roger Follmer swings a tennis racket at a ball.

Courtesy of the University of Washington

Coach Roger Follmer.

University of Washington men’s tennis coach Roger Follmer is probably the most successful Division III varsity coach you’ve never heard of. Let’s review the list – a 361-125 career record, 51 All-American players, a two-time National Coach of the Year and the 2008 NCAA DIII National Champions. He reached the NCAA Tournament 20 times in 21 seasons . The year he missed? COVID-19 canceled this season. It’s fair to say that Follmer built a tennis dynasty at the University of Washington. This year, his team, ranked seventh in the nation, reached the University Athletic Association championship and won two NCAA tournament games. For many coaches, this would be the brightest achievement on their resume. For Follmer, it was just a normal season. —Benjamin Simon

Ha Ha Tonka State Park

Health Cajandig Via Flickr

Ha Ha Tonka State Park

An abandoned castle, sparkling blue waters, acres of trees – these are things you have to travel thousands of miles to see, aren’t they? No. Instead, take a simple day trip to Ha Ha Tonka State Park (1491 Missouri D, Camdenton; 573-346-2986). Just a three-hour drive away, you’ll be among the park’s trees, ruins, sinkholes, caves, and sheer cliffs. Kayak, swim, fish or boat on the lake, cross the huge natural bridge, hike the trails and admire the Lake of the Ozarks from any perch in the park. Yes, there are also castle ruins here, the remnants of the lavish retreat that wealthy Kansas businessman Robert M. Snyder began building in 1905. Snyder died in a car accident, but his son completed the property in 1922 and it eventually became a hotel. It caught fire in 1942 and only ruins remain. Proceed with caution: in 2016 some of the ruins were deemed unsafe, closing them to the public. —Jenna Jones

Jon Hamm.

Actor and versatile St. Louis civic propeller Jon Hamm doesn’t hide his love of St. Louis Blues hockey. And the Blues seem to love him back. This spring, the team led 2-0 against the Anaheim Ducks at the end of the first period. Then Hamm, who previously did color commentary for Bally Sports Midwest, joined announcers John Kelly and Darren Pang – and the Blues scored. “Am I lucky or what?” the Mad Men the star asked with a laugh. The last time he entered the cabin, Ivan Barbashev scored a goal, so Hamm thought he had struck gold twice. But the Blues were just getting started. In the space of about five minutes, the team scored two more goals. Barbashev scored as Hamm complimented him. “You can’t write that,” Hamm said. “If you wrote it, people would be like, ‘No, that doesn’t make sense. Blues fans have been asking Hamm to call more games, but we urge caution: Jon Hamm is magic, and we need to use this secret weapon wisely and carefully. —Rosalind Tôt

Nolan Gorman

Courtesy of Billy Hurst/St. Cardinals Louis

Nolan Gorman.

Baseball these days is all about home runs. But Nolan Gorman doesn’t just hit home runs – he smashes them. Erase them. Send baseballs screaming into the bleachers. When Gorman hits the ball, it flies off his bat, flying through the air, no doubt where it’s going. At just 22, Gorman is still learning. He struggles to make consistent contact and could use some tweaking on the pitch. But there’s a thrill every time he steps into the batting box. Our eyes are glued, knowing that with just one pitch, he could very well blow the ball over the left field wall and send the entire crowd to their feet. The Cardinals can’t seem to shake the mediocrity, but Gorman, baseball’s 58th-best prospect, offers hope for the future and a burst of energy in the meantime. He’s young, he’s got talent, and he’s the prototypical version of the new home run-centric MLB — the kind of guy who can wake up the whole stadium with the boom of his bat. —Benjamin Simon

Jayson Tatum

Depending on who you ask, Jayson Tatum may have been the best basketball player in the world this past NBA season. He made the All-NBA First Team, averaged nearly 27 points per game, and led the Boston Celtics to the Finals. Despite the success, Tatum never let people forget where he came from. No, he’s not from Boston. He’s from St. Louis, Missouri. He loves Imo’s and represents the Cardinals. He has a tattoo that reads “St. Louis until the world blows. At his childhood recreation center, Wohl Recreation Center in Sherman Park, he paid for a new hardwood basketball floor and a computer lab and handed out free book bags.St. Louis hasn’t had an NBA team in nearly 60 years, but this year’s NBA playoffs were a little different with Jayson Tatum competing on the greatest basketball scene in the world, taking this city with it. —Benjamin Simon