For Jody—the namesake of Jody's Gourmet Popcorn—a kernel of popcorn is far more romantic than a red rose. In college, she would walk the streets of Chicago with her future husband, Alan, while they both nibbled caramel corn. The treat even played a role in their marriage: Alan hid Jody's engagement ring inside the prize envelope of a Cracker Jack box, which usually only contain platonic watchbands. So it was only natural that, upon moving to Virginia Beach and discovering a dearth of good caramel corn, Jody took matters into her own hands—or more specifically, her own garage. There, she and Alan started popping corn in pursuit of the ideal snack. On the 53rd attempt, they finally perfected the sweet recipe that would transform Jody's Gourmet Popcorn from a part-time hobby into a thriving business.
Their "Recipe 53 Caramel Popcorn" remains the shop's signature offering, though the duo has gone on to create dozens of sweet and savory popcorn varieties. The store scoops up everything from movie-style corn to kernels spiced with jalapeño or drizzled in white and dark chocolate. Jody and her team also create colorful popcorn in holiday colors or the hues of a favorite sports team, which customers can take home in a decorative tin. And for those unsure about this whole popcorn thing, the specialists also slice rich fudge in flavors such as chocolate chip cookie dough.
Edible Arrangements offers up more than 50 fresh, artful fruit baskets that combine the aesthetic elements and emotive properties of floral arrangements with the juicy edibility of fruit. The sweetery's designers stud the Delicious Daisy, a bouquet of sliced honeydew, pineapple, and cantaloupe, with strawberries and strings of grapes ($35) that double as a 25th-anniversary gift for a Smucker's jam heiress. Decadent, gluten-free layers of white and semisweet chocolate coat fruit in a 12-piece box of hand-dipped strawberries and bananas ($25). Customers can also put today's Groupon toward a larger centerpiece, such as the Melon Delight, a decorative spray of watermelon wedges, pineapple daisies, cantaloupe, honeydew, grapes, and double-dipped bananas sprouting from a watering can ($76). The preservative-free treats are all handcrafted at the apex of freshness, readying hand-dipped dainties to be hand-shoved into eagerly awaiting mouths.
A tree that thrives in desert areas, the terebinth has historically represented refuge and shade for weary travelers–and Terebinth Patisserie & Bistro hopes to provide a similar service. Only here, unlike for travelers in the desert, visitors to the bistro are greeted with a spread of fresh food and accompanying drinks. Handcrafted soups, salads, and five different paninis pair perfectly with espresso, or pots of specially selected tea. After main courses, French macaroons, cakes, and tarts claim any empty real estate that remains in bellies.
A 30-foot rock-climbing wall soars up through The Energy Fitness Club's two floors, towering over the 17,000 square feet of fitness facilities. Certified guides lead students up the custom-built routes during official climbing-certification classes. The presence of credentialed experts extends to private training studios, where nationally certified instructors lead a variety of innovative group fitness classes, along with boot camp, personal-training sessions, and nutrition consultations.
Below the climbing apparatus, rows of advanced cardio and strength-training equipment challenge guests. Once they retire from the club’s exercise arena, clients can revel in the elegant hardwood lockers that wrap the walls of the full-service changing rooms. Childcare facilities are also available. Throughout the month, the club hosts social events—from group hikes to happy hours with complimentary wine tastings—providing clients a chance to mingle and politely request permission to poke the bulging muscles of the buffest members.
Carytown Cupcakes' team of bakers, affectionately known as "Team Buttercream," handcrafts the shop's preservative-free treats from scratch daily. Proprietor Dawn Schick harnessed the epicurean skills she gained as a personal chef and caterer to open her own cupcake shop in 2009 and has been baking alongside her expert team ever since. Her permanent menu of classic cupcakes woos sweet teeth with the familiar, comforting flavors of red velvet, vanilla, and baby blanket. Meanwhile, her seasonal menus rotate weekly to include vegan and gluten-free selections that fit into themes ranging from wine country to candy bars.
3rd Base Sports Deli and Pub plays televised sports for fans seeking a streamlined menu of sandwiches and other classic pub fare. Revel in the primal pleasure of meat on the bone with 12-piece sauce-spun chicken wings ($8.99) or split a serving of cheesy bacon fries or tater tots ($3.99). Ring the liberty bell of deliciousness with a large steak and cheese sandwich ($7.99) or savor a tangy large buffalo chicken sandwich ($7.99). Between bites, guests engage in geometrically elegant games of pool or watch their favored franchise fight for victory on the venue's flat-screen TV.