Fans break into a cheer as the South Carolina Gamecocks score a touchdown, then groan and bite angrily into an old-fashioned Reuben or beef-laden nachos for delicious consolation as the team fumbles the ball. This is game night at The Pub at Old Carolina, when black- and garnet-clad players hustle across the flat screens that flank the bottles of Bacardi, Baileys, and Maker’s Mark whiskey at the bar. But the pub gives plenty of reasons to visit even when the Gamecocks aren’t hitting the field: they craft their signature burger using 100% certified Black Angus beef and blend aged Wisconsin cheddar and smoked provolone with American-brewed lager for their beer-cheese soup. When rain isn’t falling from the sky or exploding from volcanoes, diners can lounge under red umbrellas next to a large fire pit on an outdoor brick patio nestled alongside a field with deciduous trees.
Ezron Daley may have left Jamaica years ago, but he brought a little piece of his native island with him—the cuisine. He and his wife, Lakesha, who is from Daufuskie Island, opened Redstripes Caribbean Cuisine & Lounge, where Ezron crafts traditional Jamaican dishes such as the generously spiced, tender jerk chicken. He also pays homage to his Cuban grandmother by using her recipe for saltfish and tomato salad, which packs a flavorful punch alongside deviled crabs or deep-fried boxing gloves. Lakesha, meanwhile, rustles up Southern-influenced dishes that her mother taught her to make, having spent the majority of her childhood in the kitchen.
International flavors and 17 vibrant cocktails color 9 Promenade's creative menu of gourmet tapas, pizzas, and salads. Chefs dexterously craft bite-size plates under high-powered microscopes, braising chorizo in red wine ($8) and coupling slivers of blackened ahi tuna with a made-to-order version of tartare drizzled in cilantro-soy sauce ($12). The Rock Lobster ($9), a martini blended from whiskey, black-raspberry liqueur, and cranberry juice, blushes against the bar's gray walls like an embarrassed bride, and listless stomachs perk up with the Breakfast salad ($9), a bed of spinach piled to the leafy heavens with bacon, garlic toast, and an over-easy egg. The restaurant's doughsmiths also engineer a selection of gourmet pizzas ($12–$15) mounded with eclectic toppings such as tequila-marinated tomatoes, crab, and shaved steak.
Former Chicago mainstays, the Hinchey family crowds their American-fueled menu with palate-pleasing entrees (available after 4 p.m.) and sandwiches, many of which pay tribute to the culinary styles and landmarks of the Windy City. The 1-pound, Chicago-style pork tenderloin tranquilly arrives on the dinner table, relaxed from its Jamaican jerk rubdown and served with mango chutney sauce ($19.95). A patron favorite, the grouper sandwich dips local grouper in beer batter before it is fried and dressed in tartar sauce ($9.95). Meat and noodle layers build lasagna ($15.95) empires, and turkey, ham, cheese, and bacon construct an edible Sears Tower ($8.95), which can be enjoyed without routine security checks and back-and-forth strolls through faulty metal detectors.
Clad in hard hats and construction vests, kids in the Builders of Tomorrow exhibit load wheelbarrows with giant Lego dacta blocks, which they then use to fill in the wooden frame of a small house. Whether they realize it or not, these budding builders are learning—working with the Legos stimulates gross and fine motor skills, and tools such as a pulley system encourage creative problem solving. This interactive, play-based style of learning extends through all 10 exhibits at The Sandbox, which keep young brains on track to one day develop advanced adult skills, such as singing all the deductions on your tax return. In addition to overseeing exhibits that cater to infants through 8-year-olds, the museum's staff organizes programming such as Parents Night Out, Kids Night In, field trips, and facility rentals for celebrations such as birthday parties.