Audiences often arrive an hour early to Laugh Out Loud’s comedy shows, lured in by the comedy club’s amiable staff, frequent visits by nationally renowned comics, and full dinner menu. Before the live acts step into the spotlight at 8 p.m., patrons can converse and watch scattered flat-screen TVs while dining on panini sandwiches, fresh-made Punchline Pizzas, and other casual fare. After dinner, audience members stay at their tables as the lights dim and the Laugh Out Loud stage is swarmed by daring and original joke tellers. Recent headliners have included Shaun Jones, known for his outrageous personal anecdotes, and Ron Feingold, whose musical comedy routine has recently slayed the club's audiences. Laugh Out Loud regularly schedules shows four nights a week, including the popular Wednesday night open mic, which showcases the fresh talent of amateur comedians and the soundman's admittedly unoriginal microphone check.
Shrouded in groves of leafless trees, Darkside Haunted Estates looms ominously. Dilapidated black shutters hang from the two-story house's white, weather-beaten siding, and behind its black door, nightmares have stirred to life for more than two decades. Throughout its eerie grounds, the staff has installed dynamic special effects on a collection of attractions that has ballooned to more than a dozen, including a quarter-mile haunted trail and a backwoods zombie hayride. During the hayride, passengers wind through haunted trails, armed with 75 paintballs to shoot the undead. Unsettling sites tell the estate's sordid story through the Darkside Mortuary, Rottenkorr Cemetery, and The Manor. They?ve also installed a "Fame of Shame" board, which keeps track of visitors who bail early and of monsters who faint at the sight of their own fake blood.
Owner and vintner Dr. Lane Gregory and his staff of merry winemakers harvest their wine grapes from the fertile muscadine vines that flourish on Gregory Vineyards' 120 acres of lush farmland. The winery's Old-World tasting room and wood furniture lend a rustic atmosphere to samplings of cleverly named wines such as Sly Fox, Ruth Walton, or the dry white known as Bald Eagle. Like North Carolina's banana trees, the regional muscadine grape thrives from late August until early October, giving Dr. Gregory and company only a matter of weeks to harvest the tough-skinned fruit.
In addition to tastings, the handsome property plays host to weddings and other special events. And, on an average day, visitors may be spotted in the vineyard with Dr. Gregory, or exploring the vineyards.
Course architect David Postlethwait designed the dramatic fairways of the course at Riverwood Golf Club to reward both distance and accuracy. Nestled alongside the Neuse River, the course’s Bermuda grass fairways lead to newly renovated bentgrass greens, and golfers aim away from two ponds, a smattering of water hazards, and the ball-hungry salamanders that lurk in sand bunkers. The 27-hole complex has served as the host course for a handful of tournaments, including the 1999 National Junior Golf Championship and the Annual Riverwood Amateur. Before hitting the fairways, players can warm up at one of the driving range’s 36 hitting stations.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Length of 7,012 yards * Course rating of 73.2 * Slope rating of 129
Pine Hollow Golf Club's 18-hole, par 71 course winds through 6,503 yards of Bermuda fairways hemmed by proximate waters and tucked in the shadows of mature arbors. Though players may be intimidated by the course's tight, tree-lined fairways, the round's real test awaits at each green, where Crenshaw bentgrass surfaces coalesce with subtle undulations to form breaks more difficult to negotiate than a peace treaty between long-competing golf carts and caddies. Water comes into play on six different holes, including the signature 17th hole, a 473-yard par 5 that doglegs gently to the left, setting up a treacherous forced-carry into a green guarded by water on the right and front and flanked by a left-side bunker. Four tee options temper the difficulty of this moderately challenging course, providing an enjoyable outing for players of all abilities and those attempting to complete a round with modified mannequin legs instead of clubs.