Challenge Nation pioneered the urban-adventure race with a race season that includes visits to more than 35 cities across the country. Each scavenger hunt is personalized to the hosting city, exploring its many diverse neighborhoods with a series of clues that would test even the most skilled children's-book detective. The teams?composed of at least two people?vie for a $300 first-place prize. The Amazing Race?style competition rewards quick wits and wise planning over physical fitness, so the best way to prepare is by doing logic puzzles while eating Funyuns and lounging in a La-Z-Boy. The top 25 teams qualify, the top five receiving free entry, to compete in the national championship, which rewards winning teams with a $5,000 cash prize.
To keep the spirit of its musical roots ever near, House of Blues Houston keeps a metal box of mud from the Delta Mississippi beneath its stage and proudly displays the traditional crazy quilt. As the only venue in the revered chain to be built vertically rather than free floating, House of Blues Houston stands as a pillar of entertainment in the Houston Pavilions complex. The hot spot’s Bronze Peacock Room commemorates Houston's rich history and the blues clubs where Lightnin' Hopkins and Big Mama Thornton held sway, and features an enormous hand-painted mural depicting other local legends such as Albert Collins and Johnny "Guitar" Watson.
The Cincinnati Film Festival showcases moving pictures from all over the globe from October 8 to October 16. Your all-day pass (a $20 value) gets you access to a full day of screenings and workshops. Start your cineday with the Shorts Block 9, a collection of short films playing at the Esquire Theater, and then hop over to Main St. Cinema to catch "Runaways: Producing In Ohio," as a panel of local industry insiders discuss the past, present, and future of Ohio film production. Locavores can cheer on hometown heroes at the Esquire during 48 Hour Film Project: Take 2, a mash-up of mini-movies produced by Cincinnati filmmakers, before indulging in behind-the-scenes voyeurism with a screening of Saturday Night, a 90-minute Saturday Night Live documentary directed by actor James Franco. The weeklong film fest's Awards Gala will be held on Friday, October 15 at Memorial Hall, where a special award will be presented to musician/TV personality/producer Nick Lachey for his contributions to the local production community. A ticket to the gala (a $25 value) gives formal-loving filmophiles an excuse to break out tuxes and ball gowns, as this gala is black-tie optional with a required tweed-based business-dress minimum. Check the program guide for a complete list of screenings. Organizers recommend you arrive at all events 30 minutes ahead of time to procure the best seats in the house, away from the permanent front-row installations of 10-gallon hats and actual honey-filled beehives.
Dayton Lane Historic Area creates a portal in time to the early 1900s. On the tours, visitors can ride horse-drawn carriages and see inside the grand homes of Dayton Lane and Campbell Avenue, built by industrial barons in the mid 1800s through 1920. The neighborhood contains a total of 210 historic structures in a variety of architectural styles including Georgian Revival, Italianate, and Queen Anne. Amid the picturesque homes, high wheelers ride their old-fashioned bicycles, the Ft. Hamilton Jazz Band plays, demonstrators in period dress walk the street, and craftspeople showcase their wares.
For three days in June, the Ohio Celtic Fest transports Midwesterners to the Emerald Isle with authentic music, dance, and merriment. Intended for Irish-Americans and non-Irish alike, the festival cultivates a connection with the old country through multiple performance stages filled with Irish musicians from the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Merchants offer an array of Celtic-themed gifts, jewelry, and embroidered goods, and a children’s area offers entertainment for the little ones, which can include puppet and magic shows, and a petting zoo.
During warmer months, the rooftop patio at @the Square overlooks the grassy knoll where crowds gather for live music. Seated at one of the sun-drenched tables, visitors can enjoy a variety of casual American dishes, served up alongside cold beer and drinks. When the weather grows cooler, the interior of @the Square is a welcome refuge—a cozy, low-lit interior surrounds diners and drinkers.