To navigate Regal Corn Maze’s 7-acre labyrinth, families must work together to answer trivia questions whose answers unlock the route to freedom. Farm owner Brian Bell and his wife Catherine hope the questions not only add a strategy component to the maze but also encourage families to collaborate. “We want people to make this an annual event," Catherine says. "Our maze isn’t just about the maze—it’s about the whole experience."
The collaboration of the Bell family on the farm is evident: Their 7-year-old daughter, Reagan, helps sell ducks for the duck races each year, and Allison, 13, helps out at the concession booth, selling homemade s’more brownies, apple cider caramel cookies, and mini pumpkin cakes.
The Bell family strives to create an atmosphere that’s safe and welcoming for visitors and their little ones. For instance, corn cops rove the maze to ensure participants’ safety, and there are a dozen games for young kids. They can clamber up a mountain of hay, shoot corn out of a cannon to a distance of 500 feet, and hop aboard the tractor-driven cow train. “The cow train rocks,” Catherine says. “I don’t care how old you are. Everybody rides in it at some point or another.”
Behind the security gates at Pomolas Ranch & Equestrian Center, visitors find a small, quiet barn surrounded by 13 acres of lush pasture and leafy trees. It's here, amid these sylvan surroundings, that they can polish their horseback-riding technique or take up the activity for the very first time. Both English- and Western-style riding lessons occur out on the grassy fields on clear days or, if it's stormy or after dusk, inside the lighted arena—large enough at 120'x160' for a full barrel or jumping course. The center hosts guests for individual lessons and equestrian-club members for regular riding, as well as the young guests who arrive for day and overnight riding camps during the summer.
Like many women and retired manikins, Salice Boutique owner Kristen adored fashion, but wanted affordable, flattering styles she could really wear. She began selling apparel by indie designers out of her spare bedroom, but the business became so popular she decided to open up a true storefront. Her airy boutique, nested inside a white clapboard house, stocks feminine fashions in hard-to-find brands such as Miss Me Jeans, Tulle, Karlie Clothing, and Joyous & Free. Dresses in bold, vibrant prints can go from casual to glamorous with the change of a Lindsay Phillips sandal strap, and handmade jewelry by Lori Snyder brightens outfits with colorful beads, stones, and petrified rainbows.
Dave and Ester DeFehr founded Daveste' Vineyards in 2003, and, after several years preparing the land, turned their first harvest into 500 cases in 2006. Today, alongside winemaker Sara Wooten, Dave and Ester continue to take a minimalist approach to winemaking, limiting their production to some 1,500 cases per year. Despite its size, the DeFehr's output has resulted in award-winning varietals, as well as both dry and semisweet whites and reds. Visitors to the vineyard may test some of that selection inside the property's rustic, timber-frame tasting room, which doubles as a gallery for local artists.
If a hunter closed his or her eyes and imagined the ideal store, it could easily look like Sportsmans Hangout. The shop brims with hunting gear?from rifles and shotguns to compound bows to camouflaged clothing. Sportsmans Hangout is owned by a family of sportsmen, who personally select every product that they carry. The store also hosts archery lessons taught by a Team USA archery coach.
A treadmill might not be the first thing you?d picture in an athletic store, but for the skilled staff of Charlotte Running Co., it?s a key step in the art of finding the perfect fit. After lacing up or sweet-talking on a pair of shoes from Adidas, Nike, or Saucony, patrons hop aboard the treadmill, and the ?gait analysis? begins. Aided by a video feedback system, the specialists analyze each both the customer?s strides and the performance of the shoes to identify the ideal levels of support and cushioning, as well as the perfect fit?a process made much more precise by seeing the fancy footwear in action.
In addition to running shoes that can help increase speed and safety, Charlotte Running Co. can outfit its patrons in other jog-friendly gear. The FuelBelt keeps much-needed fluids at the ready on long runs, while shirts from Nike help to keep bodies cool, reducing runners' need to jog in the penguin habitat at their local zoo.