Kybecca Wine Bar, a slow-food restaurant set within a converted 1860s general store, freshens up palates with a gourmet menu of small plates and entrees crafted from locally grown ingredients. Parties start the gustatory revelry with a cheese platter, festooned with three or four artisan offerings such as Cherry Glen chipotle chevre and fromage d’affinois brie. Guests pass around tapas-style bites of pistachio-pesto gnocchi ($9) or four bison blue-cheese sliders ($12) made from humanely raised meat. Spend quality time with full-plate entrees, including the brace of lamb ribs ($21/full) accompanied by pesto gnocchi and roasted tomatoes or the truffle-buttered beef tenderloin ($17), which rests, like a spectacularly successful and eccentric truffle trader, on a bed of wild-mushroom risotto.
Before acting as co-owner and artistic director at Artistry Dance Center, Melissa Cook worked alongside Mandy Moore of So You Think You Can Dance, danced on Gilmore Girls, and sashayed through Disneyland parades. At the studio, she and her staff of equally talented instructors teach a new generation of dancers, aged 2 and older. Dance classes cover ballet, tap, hip-hop, and even Scottish Highland dance.
To get a sense of The Greene Turtle's commitment to the neighborhood, one need only sit at the bar and look up. Dozens of mugs hang above the counter, emblazoned with the pub's logo and a unique number—each one belongs to a recurring patron. The Mug Club awards its members with draft-beer discounts and other specials, but more importantly, it allows loyal patrons to feel as though they own small slices of the venue without tattooing their names on the bartender's arm. This sense of shared familiarity is what fuels the entire franchise, which refrains from calling its locations "restaurants" in favor of friendlier terms: gathering places, communities, havens.
Many of the locations contribute more than mugs to their districts. Staff members who participate in the annual Tips for Tots program donate the entirety of one day's tips to a nearby Toys for Tots initiative, and Tuesday Funds for Friends events benefit local organizations. These efforts have been chronicled by press sources such as Food and Drink magazine, with features that liken The Greene Turtles' philanthropic generosity to the generous portions of comfort food that leave the kitchens.
From cheeseburger sliders and flatbread pizzas to handmade lump-crab cakes, the offerings on the menu embrace barroom traditions along with ingenuity. The steak and chicken entrees arrive with classic sides of green beans and yukon gold mashed potatoes, whereas the eastern shore mac ‘n’ cheese updates a comfort staple with chopped bacon, lump crab, scallions, and Old Bay seasoning. Diners can enjoy their meals by the glow of private flat-screen TVs—there's one in every booth—or beneath one of many larger televisions broadcasting sports games throughout the venue.
Park Lane Tavern mimics the feel of European taverns inside and out, from an exterior that pays homage to London taverns to interior furnishings directly imported from Europe. Like a hot dog curtseying to the queen, the menu blends American staples with traditions from across the pond, juxtaposing steaks and club sandwiches with shepherd's pie and fish 'n' chips. Behind a gleaming handcrafted bar, bartenders dole out pints of the tavern's more than 24 beers on tap and pour glasses of wine, single-malt scotches, and small-batch bourbons.
Originally built in the 1760s, the 645-acre Belvedere Plantation hosts the yearly Harvest Festival each October, filling weekends with family-fun attractions ranging from pumpkin patches to hayrides. Eight acres of cornfield are sculpted into a NASA-themed maze, inspiring brave farmstronauts to venture into uncharted territory. Adrenaline pumps through the veins of onlookers observing pig races, while turbo-charged pedal tractors thrill speed seekers. A double slide stretches out to 100 feet, whisking human missiles through space and time, as amiable goats, chickens, pigs, and turkeys look on with a been-there, done-that nonchalance.