Guests who pull up to the Summer Picnic Concert Series might find themselves torn between lounging and dancing. On the one hand, there's the lush, picnic-ready lawn of Cypress Bend Vineyards' pastoral grounds; on the other, there are the shuffling native sounds of Carolina beach music boogying from the stage. The three-piece team of Joyner, Young & Marie seamlessly shifts gears from power ballads such as "Frozen in Time" to twangy, up-tempo numbers such as "Live the Blues." The Sand Band plays up their dance, blues, and classic-rock influences, combining soulful melodies with eminently danceable beats.
The tree-topped slopes of the Uwharrie Mountains lead to the observation decks of Stony Mountain Vineyards, where the Furr family produces traditional European red and white wines. In addition to popular varietals such as cabernet sauvignon, syrah, sangiovese, chardonnay, and riesling, the winery produces spirited libations made from raspberries, strawberries, peaches, blackberries, and muscadines. Visitors intrigued by the fruity wines can visit the winery for wine tastings, informative tours, and a panoramic view of the Uwharrie Mountains.
Pritchard Dennis and his son, Sandon, began making wine together as a hobby. Eventually, the duo planted 200 vines of muscadine grapes, and in 1996, they opened Dennis Vineyards. Their first wine sold out, spawning a waitlist longer than a slow-motion recap of a filibuster on C-SPAN. The wines they've developed since range from the dry Midnight Merlot to the sweet Harvest Gold, whose taste mimics that of a fresh muscadine grape. For curious enophiles, tour guides lead groups on explorations of the vineyard or to the winery for tastings.
At an hour when many bars and restaurants are busy closing up shop, Dream Nightclub lights up as a beacon to nocturnal wanderers from across the city. Custom-designed graffiti murals, pulsing LED lights, and energetic dance beats greet patrons as soon as they enter the after-dark dancehall and performance venue. The 5,000-square-foot club features ample lounge seating for bottle service or dramatically lit staring contests, as well as two bars and a full-service kitchen that churns out plates laden with chicken wings and french fries as late as 2:30 a.m. on most nights. A QSC sound system floods the dance floor with Latin, techno, or hip-hop tunes depending on the day, although the club also hosts occasional DJ sets and regular jazz-band performances.
On the open-air rooftop at Pavilion at EpiCentre, event guests take in views of the Charlotte skyline and the stars as they mill about. More than 25,000 square feet of seating and dancing space accommodates large groups of revelers or conferences of 25,000 sentient floor tiles. With its convertible’s roof, the Penthouse Bar and Lounge can be opened or closed based on the event, and an expansive sound stage often plays host to live bands and emcees.
Conveniently located at the bustling nexus of College, Trade, and Fourth Streets, Epicentre acts as a hub of entertainment, shopping, and dining adventures at the heart of the Queen City. There, guests find everything they need to make trips memorable, whether they're grabbing a bite at one of two dozen bars and restaurants, taking in a quick movie, or simply working in a game of bowling before heading off to nearby Time Warner Cable Arena, and Bank of America Stadium. In total, more than 40 venues beckon for attention, including everything from a karaoke bar to an enthralling rooftop terrace.
Head chef Jon Martinson and owner-sommelier David Soper incorporate fresh local ingredients into a menu brimming with unique tapas, flatbread pizzas, and other seasonal bites. Warm up with an order of rosemary-brown-butter roasted nuts ($5), or submerge tooth divers in the Cajun sweet corn and crab dip ($6). For the main course, shareable small-portion tapas entice diners with a spectrum of unique tastes. Mussels perform tableside feats of strength with a topping of red curry dashi, coconut milk, and miso butter ($8), and grilled flank steak teams up with a locavore-pleasing Clover Farm mushroom and spring-onion bread pudding ($12). At lunch, Nanny’s margherita flatbread tut-tuts unruly hunger ($6), and a mouthwatering pulled-pork sandwich served on a soft bolillo roll dives playfully into tomatillo-ancho chili sauce ($10).