A Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, the Charlotte Knights develop budding professional ballplayers and earn devout Knights fans in their home—the 10,002-seat Knights Stadium. The Knights have a storied history and an impressive list of orb-striking alumni, including Cal Ripken Jr., Manny Ramirez, and Jon Garland. Visitors take home free giveaways during Friday-night promotions, and mascot Homer the Dragon roams the stadium on his four-wheeler, tossing T-shirts, bopping people with his tail, and advocating for anthropomorphized-dragon civil liberties.
The 7th Annual Charleston Cinco De Mayo Festival turns the Charleston Visitor's Center Bus Shed Terminal into an energetic spectacle of Mexican culture that brings people together with food, dancing, and live music. Revelers sip salt-rimmed margaritas and bite into authentic cuisine from vendors such as Pollo Tropical, Vallarta Grill, and El Dorado as the brassy strains of live salsa music leap from Orquesta Mayor's 15-piece band. DJ Luigi, DJ Leo, DJ E1, and DJ Antrax mix up jams throughout the night as a trio of dance troupes exhibit their skilled undulations.
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.
To see more than 22 simultaneous screenings of a football game, you'd either have to be a housefly in the stadium or a Monday-night guest at Suede Supper Club. Its collection of 28 HD televisions broadcasts every NFL match in the season, encouraging groups to gather beneath the bar's tulip-shaped lights for beer and wings. These offerings are where the traditional bar foods end, however, as the menu compiles more sophisticated takes on countertop classics. Small plates of Southern egg rolls wrap collards, black-eyed peas, and bacon in a crispy shell, whereas hearty entrees of country-fried chicken—served with sausage gravy—and grilled pork chops act as robust dinners, complete with sides of house-cut fries.
The rustic fare seems to have inspired the club's surroundings, which evoke those of a small Victorian home. Doric columns line the wooden dance floor, where DJs host parties and electronica retellings of Julius Caesar every Friday and Saturday night. An upper deck allows for two tiers of porch relaxation, and the private VIP area sections off its luxurious couches with curtains and fencing. Special events dot the space's calendar: trivia nights, rounds of Name That Tune followed by karaoke, and charity fundraisers that gather proceeds through occasions such as cornhole tournaments and costume parties.
A visit to Habiba Mediterranean Restaurant begins with a puff of smoke. Seated on the patio, groups of friends share conversation and hookahs bubbling with a variety of flavors. Inside, these aromatic fumes give way to the appetizing aromas of traditional Moroccan, Lebanese, and Indian cuisine. Here, chefs slide ground lamb onto skewers and blend chickpeas into hummus using nothing but a stern gaze. Lamb shanks are slow roasted in a spice mix, and their refreshing tabouli salad combines bulghur wheat, parsley, tomato, mint, lemon, & olive oil. Bartenders pour wine and beer at a full bar paneled in glossy wood, which reflects walls awash with rich reds and greens.
For more than a decade, the Guns N' Roses tribute band Appetite for Destruction has been on the road, satiating rock 'n' roll cravings with its raucous, authentic act. Looking, sounding, and forging signatures just like its idols, the band evokes the famed original lineup of Guns N’ Roses. Drawing from GNR's most popular albums, including the epochal Use Your Illusion, singer Chad Atkins accurately apes Axl Rose's signature pipes, stage banter, and enflamed microphone while Mike "Junior" Edington reincarnates Slash's Les Paul fret-mongering and rabbit-filled Abe Lincoln hat. For its last show in Charleston, the band blasts through hits such as "Welcome to the Jungle" and "Paradise City" with Jagermeister-fueled intensity, taking fans back to simpler times when rock had muscles and cigarettes were still a food group.
Guests perched on plush couches at Torch Velvet Lounge sip creative martinis and other mixed drinks in the glow of flickering candles. Like fruit salads served at midnight study sessions, the vodka-based Grapes of Wrath cocktail mixes the sweet flavors of grape and watermelon with a healthy dose of Red Bull ($11). Bartenders breathe life into the Captain's Choice, a spicy-sweet mélange of rum, orange curaçao, cinnamon, sugar, and a spritz of Bacardi 151 ($11), and meld Rumple Minze and Bailey's Irish Cream to mix the Mint Chocolate Chip ($11). During live music sets throughout the week, saxophone and keyboard melodies mingle with thumping dance beats and the splashing of cocktails being mixed on the turntables.