Dead Broke Farm's name derives not only from the cost of owning horses, but also from the terminology for teaching a horse to wear a saddle—known in the industry as “breaking a horse to ride.” Trainers stable “dead broke,” or thoroughly saddle-trained, horses, alongside more spirited animals on the 110-acre farm. They also house steeds saved through their horse-rescue program, with more than 70 of their mounts avoiding fates in slaughterhouses and other undesirable ends since 2004.
Horses show off their trotting chops during farm trail rides, carrying riders on explorations of the rolling hills and whispering creeks scattered across more than 10 miles of bridle trails cut through woods populated by deer, cranes, and other wildlife. Private rides allow for more personalized routes and can incorporate stops at scenic ponds for proposals or more challenging terrain for advanced riders. Instructors also schedule horseback-riding lessons, teaching balance through rides over undulating terrain rather than through exercises such as riding a horse that is riding a seesaw.
Deep in the Umstead Industrial Park, something stirs. Amid the clank of modern machinery, a group of workers busy themselves with one of the world's oldest crafts: brewing. At Gizmo Brew Works, this meeting of contemporary technology and ancient know-how produces a tempting slate of small-batch beers. Inside tanks that hold the equivalent of 1,000 pints each, brewers prep favorites including the smooth and sweet Black Stiletto Stout and the complex Palisade Wasp India Pale Ale with the same care that has earned many of their past beers medals at the Carolina Championship of Beer. They also save room for seasonals, carefully adding a sweet caramel flavor and spicy Noble hops to their altbier, which they serve in a traditional stange glass or a large mug in celebration of Oktoberfest. These beers and more make frequent appearances in the brewery's taproom, gracing pint glasses for impromptu toasts or filling up growlers for at-home sips. Never ones to shy away from curious guests, brewers also open up their facility for Saturday tours, walking groups through the beer-making process during 30-minute explorations.
Sparians Bowling Boutique & Bistro aims to elevate the traditional alley experience by creating a lounge-like environment suitable for a daytime family outing as well as a night out on the town. Comfortable, plush couches replace the hard plastic seats normally stationed behind lanes, giving visitors places to more easily kick back and relax in between frames. Black lights lend a midnight-worthy glow to the bowling areas, transforming each ball into a neon streak as it hurtles toward the pins. A perfect score is rarely the primary goal, though. Instead, Sparians encourages visitors of all skill levels to come and enjoy themselves in an environment determined to bring bowling alleys into the 21st century.
Beyond the lanes, the entertainment center features numerous opportunities for guests looking to pass a few hours. A separate upscale-sports-bar area helps quench thirsts with frosty beers or potent cocktails and serves hearty comfort foods such as crispy chicken wings, burgers, and stone-baked pizzas.
The artists at Wine and Canvas awaken their students’ inner Rembrandts and van Goghs with classes that pair a featured painting with specialty cocktails and wines. The mobile studio’s monthly calendar includes themed classes in which instructors expound on the nuances of painting Parisian street lamps, Japanese flowers, or Venetian cityscapes. The master painters—many of them local artists—provide step-by-step instructions, and students mimic each stroke and periodically dip their brushes into glasses filled with crimson cabernet. Each of the studio’s various drink-friendly venues boasts a specialty libation selected to incite creativity or conversations with fellow painters. When the artistic frenzy concludes, students return home with a finished masterpiece large enough to conceal any wall safe or mirror portal.
Kidz-N-Play's indoor-play facility enthralls youngsters with its plethora of educational and recreational toys, structures, and activities. The masterminds behind the playground flank their moon bounce with two slides and a spacious jumping area, and crowd a large table with a wooden-train set. Their lego table gives kids a chance to practice building skills or explore a policy of aggressive economic expansion. A dance area equipped with Just Dance Kids for Xbox Kinect eliminates calories during lengthy boogying sessions, and a toddler play area sets tots on a foam-cushioned floor awash in age-appropriate toys. When designing the indoor playground, the owners didn't forget about parent and guardian visitors and equipped a seating area overlooking the playrooms with free WiFi and televisions.
Together, the community of Triangle Rock Club's state-of-the-art facilities in Morrisville and Raleigh house a combined 39,000 square feet of expertly-crafted indoor climbing fun. In addition to North Carolina's first 55-foot climbing wall built during Morrisville's recent expansion, TRC now boasts the highest climbing gym in a five-state radius. During small-size classes, drop-in sessions, and rock-climbing camps, novice and seasoned climbers alike scale freestanding boulders and rope-in to ascend over slanted surfaces to the top of premier climbing walls. Founded by two former Marines, Triangle Rock Club was also awarded the Pinnacle Business Award in both 2013 and 2014.