The Benton Family Farm has come a long way from its 1941 founding, when its only assets were two mules. Four generations of Bentons have flourished along with the farm, which, at its height, sustained more than 100 head apiece of cattle and sheep. Now the plot hosts students and families, the rumble of an austere John Deere tractor hearkening to the golden age of farming. Hay-filled wagons full of visitors trundle around the land year-round, dropping them off to learn how to shear a sheep, milk a cow, or belittle a pig. In the fall, the farm comes alive with brisk-weather activities, including pumpkin picking, corn-maze ventures, and tours through a circa-1901 haunted house.
Cici’s Pizza fills bellies with a sprawling buffet filled with more than 28 varieties of pizza, as well as pastas, salads, and dessert. Their eclectic offerings include Cheeseburger pizza with crumbled beef, crisp dill pickle slices, and mac ‘n’ cheese sauce; Hog Fest pizza with bacon, italian sausage, ham, and pepperoni; and Zesty Veggie pizza with seasoned parmesan-ranch sauce. Pizza pies rest on a made-from-scratch crust, which cooks lovingly adorn with a variety of sauces, including homemade marinara. After filling plates with all-you-can-eat portions, eaters can settle into an environment more family friendly than an animated movie that shows viewers how to clean a house. The eatery’s carry-out menu allows on-the-go diners to top their pizzas with pineapple, onions, jalapeños, and more.
On the shelves and display racks at Tala's, handbags from Brazil stand a few feet from mandala earrings and ornate hookahs. Around the shop, curated selections of handmade products stand ready to be inspected and taken home. Tala's also follows fair-trade practices, aiming to benefit the far-flung makers of its clothing and accessories.
Referencing the tasty time-honored recipes of his grandmother, J. Gumbo's founder, Billy Fox Jr., designed a comforting menu of home-style sustenance. All dishes are prepared using only the freshest ingredients and zestiest spices available, as well as enough love to turn a wooden puppet into a real boy and a sock puppet into a foot. Dive fork first into a hearty bowl of jambalaya, bursting with tender chicken, sausage, and the ubiquitous "trinity" of Cajun cuisine: bell pepper, onion, and celery ($5.66). To deliciously deny the impending mitten season, wrap your hands around a voodoo-chicken po' boy sandwich, a belly-warming feast of spicy chicken and green onions atop french bread ($6.37). The menu is friendly to mild-mannered and thrill-seeking diners alike, with each menu item labeled according to heat––one hot-sauce bottle denotes mild, whereas three signifies a concentration of capsaicin powerful enough to send tongues rocketing to the sub-zero climes of Pluto in search of relief. Cool your palate while staying seated with an ice-cold sweet tea ($1.89 each).
Invented by microbiologist Curt Jones in 1988, Dippin Dots now satisfies sweets-lovers across the world with unique and cryogenically frozen confections. Dive into spherical servings of 10 different flavors, including Oreo, orange sherbet, or mint-chocolate-chip dots, all of which have been flash frozen using liquid nitrogen and an evil eye from Old Man Winter. With two area locations, Dippin Dots silences cross-state stomach rivalries with small ($3.25), medium, ($4.25), and large ($5.25) servings, as well as dot sundaes swimming in caramel and chocolate sauces and buried under a fluffy feather pillow of whipped cream ($4.50). Satisfying eyes and ears with the ping of each pellet scooped into your cup, Dippin Dots’ nontraditional treats signal the next wave in frozen sweets, and will inspire you to start cryogenically freezing other childhood flavors such as ginger snaps and tire swing.