South Main Speedway lets customers mix and match rounds of mini golf and go-kart racing to fashion a full day of family-friendly recreation. Clamber into a one- or two-seater speed machine to race friends, loved ones, and renegade Mario Kart characters for 15 ferocious laps around the Speedway’s sinuous track (a $6 value/race). Then, head to the outdoor putt-putt course (a $6 value/game) to send dimpled balls skittering past squat shrubs, plashing waterfalls, and nostalgic windmill operators into 18 waiting holes. The Groupon's eight games or races can be parceled out to multiple people on a single day, facilitating bonding within families or semipro hide-and-seek teams. Afterward, venture outside to browse The Factory's complex of shops, restaurants, and sports facilities.
Laugh Out Loud hosts well-established laugh conjurers and undiscovered comedic masterminds capable of leaving the audience doubled over in harmonized chuckles. Past Laugh Out Loud audience-slayers have graced the stages of HBO, Showtime, and Comedy Central, and upcoming performers include musical comedian Ron Feingold, who produces a cappella backup, lead, and percussive vocals with his three separate mouths (July 28–30). Lyndel Pleasant, a former stagemate of Chris Rock, weaves anecdotes of marriage and fatherhood into his act (August 4–6), and Ward Anderson, author of The Ultimate Bachelor’s Guide, tackles audiences with his physical comedy (August 11–13). All shows last approximately two hours and showcase three comedians or one mythical hydra that wants to know what the deal is with airplane peanuts.
Owner and vintner Dr. Lane Gregory and his staff of merry winemakers harvest their wine grapes from the fertile muscadine vines that flourish on Gregory Vineyards' 120 acres of lush farmland. The winery's Old World tasting room and wood furniture lend a rustic atmosphere to samplings of cleverly named wines such as Sly Fox, Ruth Walton, or the dry white known as Bald Eagle. Like North Carolina's banana trees, the regional muscadine grape thrives from late August until early October, giving Dr. Gregory and company only a matter of weeks to harvest the tough-skinned fruit. In addition to tastings, the handsome property plays host to weddings and other special events. And, on an average day, visitors may be spotted taking wine tours with Dr. Gregory or exploring the vineyard's lake on romantic two-person pedal boats.
In movie theaters the show begins when the lights go down. That’s true at Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre too, only the “lights” there are the sun. The drive-in theater specializes in first run double features of the latest Hollywood blockbusters. Radios tuned to 90.3 FM pipe in each flick's audio as moviegoers and well-behaved pets recline in their rides, or relax atop blankets or lawn chairs underneath the stars. A playground entertains youngsters before the first movie begins, while concessions such as popcorn, burgers, and corn dogs keep visitors satiated throughout showtime. The theater is open Friday and Saturday from early March through December, and hosts extended hours during the spring, summer, and early autumn months.
According to a 2009 Newsobserver.com profile, Backyard Bistro knows a thing or two about ribs. To create this St. Louis–style specialty, the Bistro encrusts the pork in a dry spice rub and leaves it to bask in heat and hickory smoke for three hours. They then wrap each rack in aluminum foil with a splash of apple juice, returning them to the smoker for another four hours before charring them on the grill under a glaze of tangy or sweet barbecue sauce. The Bistro also stokes up the smoker to tenderize the dry-rubbed pork shoulder––another specialty––for 12 whole hours, while slices of juicy beef brisket await to be smothered between hefty slabs of white bread and saddled next to sides such as crisp coleslaw, Mama T's potato salad, and baked beans.
The menu of barbecue and American comfort food represent the efforts of several local businesses. Brioche rolls for burgers and english muffins for benedicts are sourced from La Farm Bakery, then crowned with organic, hydroponic bibb lettuce and beef from Angus Barn or poached eggs and canadian bacon. The bar's 16 taps pour Bud Light and Belgian-style Backyard Brew, the locally brewed house draft, to cool meals taken out on the patio or into a neighbor's hot tub, while inside it's all about sports. Five big-screen TVs broadcast every play in high definition, and speakers at each table give diners the option of turning down the volume if they'd rather tune out
The building has been there for generations, beneath a neon "Restaurant" sign that used to serve as a beacon of sustenance for WWII-era soldiers stationed nearby. Decades later, under that same sign, people still show up in search of food, and more importantly, in search of drink. This historic spot is now the home of Brewmasters Bar & Grill, a taproom that celebrates North Carolina brewers with its selection of nearly 100 craft brews. "Beer geeks," as Brewmasters likes to call them, can discover local suds from Big Boss and Crank Arm mixed in with nationally renowned beers such as Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro.
Of course, beer is also integral to the food menu. On it, guests will find pork belly braised in brown ale and beer-battered onion rings. The kitchen makes many of their ingredients in-house, including spinach dip forged from a family recipe and Brewmasters' signature candied bacon with jalapeño-apple jelly. As guests tackle their meals, they can study a state map that pinpoints North Carolina's best-loved breweries and least-invisible rivers.