41. Go bird-watching at Carolina Raptor Center.
You'll see hawks, owls, eagles, falcons, vultures and other birds of prey who are in captivity for rehabilitation and special care. Though injured, these fascinating creatures don't show it. Many have even fully recovered and are ready to spread their wings and fly. Visit during feeding times and watch them do aerial tricks. 6000 Sample Road. 704-875-6521. www.carolinaraptorcenter.org.
42. Shamelessly devour a giant turkey leg at Carolina Renaissance Festival.
Donning Renaissance-era clothing, armor, or fairy/freaky gear is up to you, but this annual fest puts a piece of history in perspective with a cute little outdoor marketplace and live entertainment. Don't miss the medieval savagery of a jousting tourney. Also, try your hardest to catch a performance by Hey Nunnie Nunnie, a two-woman improv troupe that's more corny than holy. 16445 Poplar Tent Road. 704-896-5555. www.royalfaires.com/carolina.
43. Find your way out of a maze at Rural Hill.
Test your navigational skills in the Amazing Maize Maze, held at Rural Hill every fall. It's a seven-acre corn maze with more than two miles of interconnecting pathways. Take the experience up a notch by loading David Bowie tracks from the '80s kids flick Labyrinth onto your iPod and rock out. 4431 Neck Road. 704-875-3113. www.ruralhill.net.
44. Test how healthy your heart really is by eating at Lupie's Café.
Chow down on the chili (you pick your level of heat), which comes with a side of cornbread or other greasy selections at Lake Norman's version — opened in 2002 — of the grub-worthy Monroe Road eatery of the same name. Why travel all the way to Charlotte for this local staple when you can warm your belly right here? 101 Statesville Road. 704-948-3959. www.lupiescafe.net.
45. Try a food you swore you'd never eat, like McLaughlin's Farmhouse liver mush at the Bradford Store.
For a taste of the South, try the famous liver mush from McLaughlin's Farmhouse. The quintessentially Carolina dish is better eaten without knowing what discarded pig parts were processed with the cornmeal. Vegetarians can substitute some locally made pimento and cheese, another Southern must-try. 15915 Davidson Concord Road. 704-439-4303. www.thebradfordstore.com.
46. Pay tribute to times past by visiting the Historic Latta Plantation.
Tour the 1800s-era home and cotton plantation, then take a horseback ride around the nature preserve. The plantation, first owned by James Latta (an immigrant from Northern Ireland), featured 742 acres that were tended by 34 enslaved African Americans, who worked the fields, kept the house and provided skilled trades. Following Latta's death in 1837, the property changed hands several times before being abandoned in 1950. It was rediscovered by a group of folks who recognized its historical importance and established the nonprofit entity, Latta Place, Inc. Check the calendar for Civil War reenactments. 5225 Sample Road. 704-875-2312. www.lattaplantation.org.
Putting together this year's neighborhood guide has really made me appreciate how cool this city is.