Riverbanks Zoo and Garden garnered a best-day-trip award from Charlotte magazine in 2009 for its copious collection of exotic and endangered animals that captures the majesty and variety of the wild. Explorers of all ages journey through nine locales that artfully re-create natural habitats, encountering ring-tailed lemurs, slender-tailed meerkats, and tale-spinning birds that sing of their raucous college days. When it's time to smell the roses, adventurers may cool their heels in one of five botanical gardens, each representative of a different plant group. Budding zoologists and their families may engage in animal demonstrations and discover the keys to keeping rattlesnakes or learn that giraffes, unlike their animal-cookie cousins, love being fed.
An all-female, flat-track roller-derby team, the Columbia QuadSquad Rollergirls aim to defend their state title with a vengeance each night they blaze in eight-wheeled fury through Jamil Temple. In each night's lineup of matches, the Miss B-Havers, CQS's secondary squad, will take the rink first, followed by the Allstars, so named because of their cosmological egalitarianism. During each jam, CQS attempts to send its star-helmeted jammer through the crowd to gain control, where she can score points by lapping opponents. Meanwhile, four blockers assist the jammer's cause by escorting adversaries to a date with linoleum. The hits are real, and referees see to it that they are legal, or else players will be sent to the penalty box where they must endure two minutes of wearing nose plugs made of Vegemite.
A lengthy lineup of traditional game-day fare and a sports atmosphere captivate fans at Fox and Hound - Bailey's, where the kitchen remains open as late as its neighboring fully stocked bar. Chefs cook until the wee hours of the morning and always until the bar closes, baking Bavarian pretzel starters, crafting towers of onion rings, and preparing hand-battered chicken tenders that are cooked until they are golden brown. They blend their own seasonings to sprinkle over grilled-to-order burgers, and draw from a diverse roster of cheeses and toppings to crown their wood-oven-inspired flatbreads.
While manning the bars, bartenders tap into a stash of libations, such as UV Whipped vodka and Patron Silver tequila, to mix their specialty cocktails. To further foster a sporting ambiance, high-definition TVs glow with sports games and custom music-video playlists, and guests partake in pastimes of ump bashing, billiards, or competitive people watching.
Using hand-finished and hand-carved frames from all over the world, the crafty staff at Havens Framemakers & Gallery prepares artwork and memorabilia for perching stylishly on walls. While specialists stand by for free consultations, clients peruse more than 5,000 moulding samples and matting options of varying colors, textures, and scratch-‘n’-sniff scents. Diplomas can be framed for around $100, and small items such as cross-stitches and children’s drawings can be framed for $100 or less. From portraits and needlework to mirrors, framesmiths delicately handle all items in their large workspace and employ high-quality equipment for making accurate cuts on mats and frames. Also, Havens’ shadowbox-framing services help preserve three-dimensional prized possessions such as soccer trophies and medals from Law and Order: SVU marathon watching contests.
Color Me Rad stages 5K races that transform runners into mobile rainbows by launching cheerful barrages of colored cornstarch. Each color station along the racetrack flings a new, nontoxic pigment at passersby, who wear white shirts to enhance the chromatic onslaught's costuming effects. Brilliant neon-blue, green, purple, and yellow clouds dapple participants along the way, and the race concludes with a prismatic finish-line finale as sprinters chuck colors at each other in celebration. The race's noncompetitive credo shifts the emphasis from speed to silliness, and a portion of its proceeds go to local charities.
Upon registration, each runner collects a Color Me Rad T-shirt, sunglasses, sponsor gifts, and a race bib. Though they don't receive a gift packet, runners younger than 8 years old can sprint for free, provided they have a waiver signed by a guardian and won't give in to demands for gold from confused leprechauns.