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Sweet Suburbia has some international options

Five things to do in Steele Creek before you die.



91. Have a hot night at A Piece of Havana.

Its exterior may resemble a nondescript building, but inside A Piece of Havana, a bright island world of flavor and charm awaits. Hot Havana Nights mean mojitos in every flavor, rich sangria and varied martinis, flamenco music and a live band every Friday and Saturday. Try the Havana Sampler if you're a beginner — a combo of Cuban turnovers, tamales, plantains, fried pork chunks, meat balls and fried yuca — and a seafood paella for an entrée. Dive into the moist tres leches cake after the savory fare or drool over the whole dessert menu. Friday nights a DJ rocks sets until 2 a.m., playing international favorites. And if you're brave enough, there's always a chance for an impromptu dance partner to sweep you off your feet. 11126 S. Tryon St. 704-588-7883. www.apieceofhavana.com.

92. Go unicorn and seagull spotting at McDowell Nature Preserve.

Like man-made Lake Norman up the road, Lake Wylie is a reservoir from the Catawba River chain (and up until 1960, was named Lake Catawba) and spans the border of North and South Carolina. McDowell Nature Preserve belongs to Charlotte-Mecklenburg's Parks and Rec department, and is the oldest preserve in Mecklenburg County, with 90 percent of the 1,000-plus acre ground left just as Mother Nature intended. Also there? A flock of seagulls, waiting for your Sunday afternoon bread crumbs. Now, CL can't promise that there will be seagulls upon your arrival, no more than we can promise a unicorn roaming the trails. But pack a lunch, visit the preserve, and see what you find. Most likely? A perfect spring afternoon. 15222 York Road.

93. Become an international jetsetter at The Wine Shop at Rivergate.

Look, here's all that needs to be said: free drop-in wine tastings. "Free" and "wine" is always a winning combo. If you're in the mood for a cozy bistro, a plate of cheese, live jazz music and a selection of over 1,000 family-owned wines to choose from, say bon oui, s'il vous plaît to Steele Creek's Wine Shop at Rivergate. It's easy to be an international jetsetter on a budget and take a taste from every corner of the world before you die right here in Steele Creek. The expansive menu includes a chef's fresh catch, made up of fish from North Carolina to North Alaska, and a cheese plate (try the Irish Cahill's Porter, a cheddar made with ­­— you guessed it — Irish porter) that pairs with any fine vino, from France to Spain to South Africa. The menu is always changing, so ask for recommendations. Cheers, mes amis! 14142 Rivergate Parkway. 704-831-9000. www.thewineshopatrivergate.com.

94. Master yourself through Shaolin kung-fu at The Peaceful Dragon.

Store-front martial arts schools are a dime a dozen. While it seems every neighborhood has a resident Bruce Leroy, finding the right place to get your inner dragon roaring isn't like finding a Mickey D's. The Peaceful Dragon hails itself as Charlotte's premier Chinese martial arts and cultural center, and its stately gray-brick studio on a 12-acre wooded lot, tucked away off Steele Creek Road, is the perfect, peaceful spot. Offering classes for both adults and children, the school trains future warriors in Shaolin kung-fu and shuai chiao (Chinese grappling), as well as tai chi and yoga. And of course, with a name like that, inner peace and meditation are also highlights on the agenda. Where are my dragons? In Steele Creek, training for the future. 12610 Steele Creek Road. 704-504-8866. www.thepeacefuldragon.com.

95. Dance in the aisles to a Bollywood Musical at Ayrsley Grand Cinemas 14.

On a moonlit night at Ayrsley Grand Cinemas 14, just off of 485 and North Tryon, something magical happens. You're no longer simply sitting in a theater. You're in the lavish, dancing, colorful, musical world of Bollywood, the Mumbai-based film industry machine (though, in fact, just a part of the large Indian film industry). Complex melodramas and swooning songs are hallmarks of Bollywood, and carry over into most Hindi cinema, which is shown weekly at Ayrsley. Ayrsley also plays the latest American blockbusters, so take your pick for date night. 9110 Kings Parade Blvd. 980-297-7539. www.ayrsleycinemas.com.