Best of Jackson 2013: Urban Living

The Mississippi Children's Museum in Jackson, MS.

The Mississippi Children's Museum in Jackson, MS.

Best Locally Owned Business; Best Salon: LaCru Salon 5352 Lakeland Drive, Suite 600, Flowood, 601-992-7980, lacrusalon.com

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Walt Disney said, "Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends." Stephanie Barnes, owner of LaCru Salon, knows this to be true. The 8-year-old business has seen great success, even in the midst of the current recession. Barnes says she owes this to her patrons. "I am thankful for our loyal clientele," she says, adding that her clients are priceless.

LaCru Salon's stylists have 28 years of combined experience, and all 10 designers are Redken-certified colorists. They provide services for women, men and children in a comfortable boutique-esque atmosphere. They also sell Liz Henry jewelry and recently hosted an open house to show appreciation to existing clients, to foster relationships with new clients, and to introduce new products and trends for the new year. One year they even did complimentary ornaments during Christmas. If you've ever wondered where the name came from, Barnes inherited it when she bought the business in 2004. LaCru is a mash-up of the previous owners' children's first names. In 2013, LaCru will expand to the suite next door and open a smoothing bar in February, which will offer keratin treatments and Brazilian blowouts.--ShaWanda and Michael Jacome

Best Beauty Shop or Salon Second: Ritz Salon (574 Highway 51, Suite H, Ridgeland, 601-856-4330) / Third (tie): Barnette's Salon (4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 201, 601-362-9550; 1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 8001, Ridgeland, 601-898-9123); Molecules (794 Highway 51 N., Suite A, Madison, 601-605-4511) / Good Showing: Lacey's Salon and Accessories (1935 Lakeland Drive, Suite C, 601-397-6389); Smoak Salon (622 Duling Ave., Suite 206, 601-982-5313); William Wallace Salon (2939 Old Canton Road, 601-982-8300)

Best Locally Owned Business Second: Mangia Bene (3317 N. State St., 601-982-4443) / Third: Sneaky Beans (2914 N. State St., 601-487-6349) / Good Showing: circa. URBAN ARTISAN LIVING (2771 Old Canton Road, 601-362-8484); Morningbell Records & Studios (622 Duling Ave., Suite 205A, 769-233-7468); Tempstaff (962 North St., 601-353-4200; 955 Jefferson St., 601-353-3777; 3091 S. Liberty St., Suite A, Canton, 601-859-8860)

Best Annual Event: Mal's St. Paddy's Parade Downtown 601-948-0888, malsstpaddysparade.com

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The Mal's St. Paddy's Parade is the gleeful brain-child of Malcolm White, co-owner of Hal & Mal's. He started the parade in 1983 with just a few of his buddies dressed like Tennessee Williams characters walking down Capitol Street. These days, the merriment includes a parade race, the Trustmark's Children Festival and a pet parade. The main event, a Mardi Gras-style parade, begins in the afternoon and ends with several downtown block parties sponsored by various groups, bars and eateries. The parade has attracted more than 60,000 revelers and has funneled more than $7 million into the local economy, including proceeds from various activities benefitting the Blair E. Batson Children's Hospital. Always on the third Saturday in March, this year's parade will be on March 16 with the theme of "Waters, Waters Everywhere," honoring this year's Grand Marshal, local artist Wyatt Waters.--ShaWanda Jacome

Second: Mistletoe Marketplace (1200 Mississippi St., 601-948-2357, mistletoemarketplace.com) / Third: Wellsfest (wellschurch.org) / Good Showing: CelticFest (celticfestms.org); Fondren Unwrapped (fondren.org, 601-981-9606); Mississippi State Fair (mdac.state.ms.us)

Best Museum; Best Tourist Attraction: Mississippi Children's Museum 2145 Highland Drive, 601-981-5469, mississippichildrensmuseum.com

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From the first day it opened in December 2010, the Mississippi Children's Museum has been a magical and vibrant addition to the Jackson metro landscape. Patrons of all ages will find something to enjoy at the museum with weekday classes, professional development workshops for educators, special guests and various weekend activities--there is always something going on at the museum. The 40,000-square-foot facility is available to rent for weddings, receptions, parties, meetings, conferences and other celebrations. There are 20,000 square feet of exhibits reflecting five themes: Mississippi heritage, health and nutrition, literacy, cultural arts, and science and technology. All the exhibits give children the opportunity to touch, play, explore and learn. Families can buy annual memberships that give full access to the museum, and other discounts.

To support the exhibits, programs and community outreach, each year the museum holds its annual Ignite the Nite fundraising event. This year, the adults-only party is on Feb. 9, from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. The theme is "Saddle Up, Southern Style" and the host is once again MCM Partners, a statewide group of volunteers and donors who support and contribute to the museum.--ShaWanda Jacome

Best Tourist Attraction Second: Old Capitol Museum (100 N. State St., 601-576-6920) / Third: Mississippi Museum of Natural Science (2148 Riverside Drive, 601-354-7303) / Good Showing: Jackson Zoo (2918 W. Capitol St., 601-352-2580); Mississippi Museum of Art (380 S. Lamar St., 601-960-1515); Ross Barnett Reservoir (therez.ms)

Best Museum Second: Mississippi Museum of Natural Science (2148 Riverside Drive, 601-354-7303) / Third: Mississippi Museum of Art (380 S. Lamar St., 601-960-1515) / Good Showing: Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Museum (1150 Lakeland Drive, 601-432-4500); Old Capitol Museum (100 S. State St., 601-576-6920); Smith Robertson Museum and Cultural Center (528 Bloom St., 601-960-1457)

Best Place to Book a Party or Shower; Best Place to Get Married: The South Warehouse 627 E. Silas Brown St., 601-939-4518

The South is essentially a blank slate. A spacious warehouse with barn-esque detailing, the event space can be endlessly customized through furnishings, lighting and decor, which makes it a popular locale for weddings and parties. Most brides tend to play up The South's more rustic elements, taking full advantage of the worn wood and vintage furniture. Burlap, branches and wood elements, glass and candlelight complement the exposed brick. But The South can go modern just as easily; all-white couches and steel or glass elements look at home in the space as well. Up to 2,000 people can mingle comfortably, and the in-house catering, and floral design by Fresh Cut rarely disappoints.--Kathleen M. Mitchell

Best Place to Get Married Second: Fairview Inn (734 Fairview St., 601-948-3429) / Third: Mynelle Gardens (4736 Clinton Blvd., 601-960-1894) / Good Showing: Art Garden at the Mississippi Museum of Art (380 S. Lamar St., 601-960-1515); The Cedars (4145 Old Canton Road, 601-366-5552); Luckett Lodge (214 Clark Creek Road, 601-829-2567)

Best Place to Book a Party or Shower Second: Table 100 (100 Ridge Way, 601-420-4202) / Third: Fairview Inn (734 Fairview St., 601-948-3429) / Good Showing: Burgers & Blues (1060 E. County Line Road, Suite 22, Ridgeland, 601-899-0038); The Cedars (4145 Old Canton Road, 601-366-5552); King Edward Hotel (235 W. Capitol St., 601-353-5464)

Best Art Gallery: Fischer Galleries 3100 N. State St., Suite 101, 601-291-9115, fischergalleries.com

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Pablo Picasso said, "The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls." It took me many years to be able to appreciate that sentiment. I have Jackson to thank for finally showing me the meaning. The art that originates in our great city is truly outstanding. One of the hippest and swankiest places to view and purchase local art is Fischer Galleries. Located in the heart of Fondren, the gallery's owner is Jackson native Marcy Nessel, and it has been open since 2008. In the bright and airy space, you'll find art by Ginger Williams-Cook, Sandra Murchison, Rod Moorhead, Paul Fayard and James Patterson--to name just a few. Fischer Galleries also hosts monthly art shows. The next show is on March 7 and features the art of Tony Saladino with Stacey Johnson.--ShaWanda Jacome

Second: Fondren Art Gallery (3030 N. State St., 601-981-9222) / Third: Southern Breeze Gallery (1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 5005, Ridgeland, 601-607-4147) / Good Showing: Brown's Fine Art & Framing (630 Fondren Place, 601-982-4844); Gallery1 (1100 John R. Lynch St., Suite 4, 601-979-9250); Gallery 119 (119 S. President St., 601-969-4091)

Best Boutique: Material Girls 182 Promenade Blvd., Flowood, 601-992-4533; 1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 7005, Ridgeland, 601-605-1605, shopmaterialgirls.com

Many girls instinctively have a sense of fashion. Others, like me, rely on boutiques and shops like Material Girls to keep them looking trendy year-round. Whitney Giordano, owner of Material Girls, opened the first location in 2004 at the Dogwood Promenade. By 2011, she had expanded her business to four locations around Mississippi (two in Jackson) and an online store. The store's goal of keeping current and unique brands paired with hard-working employees that ensure each customer is satisfied is why Jackson gave it the Best Boutique award once again. Material Girls sells designer brands such as Ronaldo, and soon it will offer style cards with which customers earn points and money on the items they buy. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter, or sign up for texts to stay updated on the latest fashions.--LaShanda Phillips

Second: Royal Bleau Boutique (1100 J.R. Lynch St., Suite 8, 601-321-9564) / Third (tie): Libby Story (1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 5003, 662-323-1427); Treehouse Boutique (3000 N. State St., 601-982-3433) / Good Showing: High Cotton (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 188, 601-982-3280); Migi's Boutique (131 Market St., Flowood, 601-919-8203); Posh Boutique (4312 N. State St., Suite 2, 601-364-2244)

Best Category We Left Off: Best Zumba Instructor

Best of Jackson season always brings out a few grumbles. Most are good-natured, "Aw, shucks!" kind of commentary. Others aren't so nice, leaning toward some definite sour-grapes attitudes. Some who haven't won have even accused the JFP of rigging votes. But whether it comes from someone who thought they should win, or someone who didn't quite play by the rules, we always get a handful of complaints. Regardless, this is one category where we solicit opinions on our list. This year's winners are an interesting mix, but they all have one thing in common: They're all services. And with the ever-increasing popularity of the dance-workout hybrid Zumba, it's no surprise to see Best Zumba Instructor topping the list. Look for some new categories next year and monthly at bestofjackson.com.--Ronni Mott

Second: Best Photographer / Third: Best Doula / Good showing: Best Nail Salon/Technician; Best Personal Trainer; Best Travel Agent

Best Barber Shop: Maurice's Barber Shop 1200 E. Northside Drive, 601-362-2343; 1060 Highway 51, Madison, 601-856-0015; 398 Highway 51, Suite 60, Ridgeland, 601-856-2856; 622 Grants Ferry Road, Flowood, 601-992-9031

Einstein, one of the smartest people to have ever lived, was well known for his wild hair. Then again, maybe he was not a big fan of haircuts because no one ever took him to Maurice's Barber Shop. As a long-standing part of the Jackson landscape, Maurice's is an important part of the city's history. Of course, history is not going to keep you from looking shabby, but that is why Maurice's is there. You might not get the girl of your dreams or have a six-figure salary because of a shave and a haircut, but it can't hurt.--Michael Jacome

Second: Custom Cuts and Styles (2445 Terry Road, 601-321-9292) / Third: Family Barber Shop (211 Hoy Road, Madison, 601-853-8084) / Good Showing: Headgames Hair Studio (5731 Old Canton Road, Suite 104, 601-956-5052); ACEY Custom Hair Designs (3015 North State Street, 601-937-7754); Lil' Dave's Barber Shop (3013 J.R. Lynch St., 601-354-1010)

Best Bridal/Formalwear Store: The Bridal Path 4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 104, 601-982-8267, bridalpathinc.com

Whether they dream of a full-on princess ball gown or long to be an icy white column of silk, most women consider their wedding dress the most important item of clothing they purchase in a lifetime. It's likely the most expensive one, anyway. With that much money and emotion tied up in one garment, it's best to turn to the professionals. For more than 40 years, stylists at The Bridal Path in Banner Hall have helped brides find the best gown to flaunt their assets. The store carries upscale brands hitting a wide range of price points, including Monique Lhuilier, Vera Wang, Jim Hjelm, Watters, Wtoo and Pronovias. Bring the entire wedding party along--Bridal Path also offers dresses for bridesmaids, flower girls and the mother of the bride or groom, as well as accessories such as shoes, veils and jewelry.--Kathleen M. Mitchell

Second: Lace (109 Grants Ferry Road,  Brandon, 601-665-4860) / Third: Imaginations (119 W. Cherokee St., Brookhaven, 601-833-6280); Good Showing: Alfred Angelo (1230 E. County Line Road,  Ridgeland, 601-956-1806); David's Bridal (1039 E. County Line Road, Suite 105, 601-957-0505); A Southern Affair (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 160, 601-487-6218)

Best Caterer: Wendy Putt, Fresh Cut Catering & Floral 108 Cypress Cove, Flowood, 601-939-4518, wendyputt.com

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When I think of Wendy Putt working, I picture the opening scene of the 2001 movie, "The Wedding Planner." In it, wedding planner Mary Fiore perfectly orchestrates an elaborate wedding (including giving a nervous bride a pep-talk and finding the MIA F.O.B.) while immaculately dressed and without breaking a sweat. Similarly, Fresh Cut Catering & Floral can handle all event types--from the intimate backyard wedding or baby shower to a large corporate party with a diverse menu for their clients. Their capabilities are suited to for any event, and they can assist with every aspect including rentals, music, floral design and event coordination. With more than 20 years of experience, Putt and her team have you covered from "soup to nuts."--ShaWanda Jacome

Second: Mangia Bene (4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 101, 601-362-2900) / Third: Cosmopolitan Cafe and Catering (2947 Old Canton Road, 601-983-4450) / Good Showing: Burgers & Blues (1060 E. County Line Road, Suite 22 Ridgeland, 601-899-0038); Cool Water Cafe (1011 Lake Harbour Drive, Ridgeland, 601-919-7622); Julep Restaurant and Bar (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 105, 601-362-1411); Julie Levanway, Fresh From The Flame (5446 River Thames Road, 601-957-6123); Table 100 (100 Ridge Way, Flowood, 601-420-4202)

Best Comic Book Store: Heroes and Dreams: Comics and Collectibles 5352 Highway 25, Flowood, 601-992-3100

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Apparently being a geek is the new cool. With shows like "The Walking Dead" and "The Big Bang Theory" dominating television and movies like "The Avengers" and "The Dark Knight Rises" as the two highest-grossing movies in 2012, it appears that zombie-hunting, Klingon-lovin' fan boys have a new level of social status.

Luckily, Captain Danny and the crew at Heroes and Dreams can supply all the nerdery you can take, from Doctor Who memorabilia to graphic novels to classic comics. Wednesdays are new book days, so come by and check out the freshest items in stock. Stay for dinner club or to watch a classic science fiction or horror film with other aficionados.--Michael Jacome

Second: Van's Comics and Cards (558 Highway 51, Suite 202, Ridgeland, 601-898-9950) / Third: Comic Commander (579 Highway 51, Suite D, Ridgeland, 601-856-1789)

Best Day Spa: Aqua the Day Spa 4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 102, 601-362-9550; 1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 8001, Ridgeland, 601-898-9123, aquathedayspa.com

The week of my wedding, my bridesmaids got me a surprise massage at Aqua the Day Spa. Despite the stresses of the week, about halfway through the massage, I managed to relax so completely that I might have dozed off a bit. Never before have I had a massage that so completely took me to a zen place. Best Day Spa since 2003, Aqua the Day Spa has two locations--in Jackson's Banner Hall and Ridgeland's Renaissance--to serve the metro area. The spas offer hand and foot treatments and hair removal services, and it is a certified provider of Xtreme Lashes for eyelash extensions. The nine types of massages offered range from 30 to 90 minutes long, but all are designed to leave clients feeling relaxed and satisfied. Aqua even has sinus relief massages and pre-natal massages. Men should feel free to pamper themselves, too--Aqua has two facial treatments made specifically for dudes.--Kathleen M. Mitchell and Briana Robinson

Second: Body Anew Medical Spa (113 W. Jackson St., Suite 1A, Ridgeland, 601-605-0452) Third: Drench Day Spa (118 W. Jackson St., Suite 2B, Ridgeland, 601-707-5656) / Good Showing: Mon Ami Spa & Laser Center (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 128, 601-366-7721); Sanctuary Body Spa (340 Township Ave., Suite 200, Ridgeland, 601-790-2222); Skin District (2629 Courthouse Circle, Suite B, Flowood, 601-981-7546)

Best Flower Shop: Greenbrook Flowers 705 N. State St., 601-957-1951, greenbrookflowers.com

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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow compared kind words to flowers, Vincent van Gogh painted cheery sunflowers and, according to Mint.com, in 2011 Americans spent an average of $73 per flower arrangement around Valentine's Day. Why do we do this? Because flowers are beautiful, and they make people smile. Since 1917, Greenbrook Flowers has provided flowers and smiles to the people of Jackson. It offers a variety of fresh flowers for all occasions, including birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, sympathy, proms and even the arrival of a new baby. In 1994, Greenbrook initiated Good Neighbor Day to promote "a return to neighborliness in this community." Every September on Good Neighbor Day, Greenbrook gives away a dozen roses to each person who visits the shop. The first year, the store gave out 15,000 flowers. They asked people to keep one rose and give 11 others away to 11 different people.--ShaWanda Jacome

Second: A Daisy a Day Flowers & Gifts (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 194, 601-982-4438) Third: Mostly Martha's (353 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-956-1474) / Good Showing: Drake's Designs (1491 Canton Mart Road, 601-957-6983); Green Oak (5009 Old Canton Road, 601-956-5017); Whitley's Flowers (740 Lakeland Drive, 601-362-8844)

Best Dance Studio: Salsa Mississippi 605 Duling Ave., 601-213-6355, salsamississippi.com

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When it comes to looking for a good time, Salsa Mississippi is where to start. Every Saturday night, it hosts a free, hour-long dance class 9 p.m. and a Latin dance party ($10 cover charge, $5 with student ID) starting promptly after. Owners Sujan and Sarah Ghimire are super enthusiastic and teach some of the classes offered throughout the week. They and the rest of the talented staff offer salsa, bachata, zumba, belly-dancing, and hip-hop lessons in the evenings. Be prepared to learn from truly passionate dancers. Sujan started dancing at age 7 and opened Salsa Mississippi in 2009 with Sarah. The studio has earned Best Dance Studio/Best Dance Lessons each year in Best of Jackson since then.--Briana Robinson

Second: Mississippi Metropolitan Dance Association (110 Homestead Drive, Madison, 601-853-4508) / Third: Ballet Magnificat! (5406 Interstate 55 N., 601-977-1001) / Good Showing: Ballet Mississippi (201 E. Pascagoula St., Suite 106, 601-960-1560); Dance Unlimited (6787 S. Siwell Road, Suite A, Byram, 601-373-6143); Dollhouse Dance Factory (1410 Ellis Ave., 601-969-4000)

Best Fitness Center/Gym: Baptist Healthplex 717 Manship St., 601-968-1766; 102 Clinton Parkway, Clinton, 601-925-7900, mbhs.org

No matter your starting point, Baptist Health Complex can help you stick to your New Year's resolutions. Plan to run the Mississippi Blues Marathon next year? Bike across the South? Or just squeeze into your skinny jeans? Baptist can help, offering 14 different exercise programs, designed to cater to newbies and pros alike. The Baptist Healthplex has a cushioned indoor track, shock-absorbent aerobics floor, 2-meter indoor heated lap pool, whirlpool, strength fitness system, Schwinn Airdyne exercise bicycles, recumbent bicycles, treadmills, stair masters, seated steppers and more. It's is a one-stop shop to assist you into realizing your fitness dreams.--Whitney Menogan

Second: The Club (Multiple Locations, theclubms.com) / Third: YMCA (Multiple Locations, metroymcams.org) / Good Showing: Anytime Fitness (Multiple Locations, anytimefitness.com); The Courthouse Racquet and Fitness (Multiple Locations, mscourthouse.com); Knockout Fitness (205 Belle Meade Pointe, Flowood, 769-233-7901)

Best Garden Supply/Nursery: Lakeland Yard and Garden Center 4210 Lakeland Drive, 601-939-7304, lakelandyardandgarden.com

For all your outdoor supply needs, visit Lakeland Yard and Garden Center. It has been servicing the community since 1980. The store offers top-quality plants from the best growers in the United States as well as furniture, outdoor fountains and garden accessories. It carries seasonal items as well for every season and offers store specials weekly. The friendly and knowledgeable staff is there to help with landscape, agronomy, horticulture and agriculture. You can follow the center on Twitter for updates and special offers @LakelandYG, or find it on Facebook.--Elyane Alexander

Second: Callaway Yard & Garden (839 S. Pear Orchard Road, Ridgeland, 601-957-1731) / Third: Green Oak (5009 Old Canton Road, 601-956-5034) / Good Showing: The Everyday Gardener (2905 Old Canton Road, 601-981-0273); Hutto's Home and Garden Center (1320 Ellis Ave., 601-973-2277); Martinson's Garden Works (650 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-856-3078)

Best Kids Event: Kidfest Ridgeland Freedom Ridge Park, 235 W. School St., Ridgeland, 601-853-2011, kidfestridgeland.com

Question: Where can you go in the Jackson metro area to see live alligator wrestling? Answer: Kidfest Ridgeland. Last year at the annual festival, Gator Boy, aka Jimmy Riffle of Animal Planet's "Gator Boys" TV show, took on a full-grown alligator. The festival offers four days of affordable family fun over two weekends. For one price, kids can run around for hours taking in all the attractions. Whether it's watching the sea lion splash, the Fearless Flores family riding their motorcycles in the Globe of Death or meeting Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob SquarePants--the fun doesn't stop. Check out the Cowboy Monkey Rodeo, an Easter-egg hunt, a backyard circus, pony and train rides and a magic tent with local magician. When April rolls around, I know where I'll be. Hope you join the fun!--Michael Jacome

Second: WellsFest (wellschurch.org) / Third: Mississippi Children's Museum (2145 Highland Drive, 601-981-5469) / Good Showing: Boo at the Zoo (October, 2918 W. Capitol St., 601-352-2580); Mississippi State Fair (October, 1200 Mississippi St., 601-362-6121); Pump It Up (1576 Old Fannin Road, Suite P, 601-992-5866); Zippity Doo Dah (March, zippitydoodahparade.com)

Best Martial Arts Studio: Gracie South Jiu-Jitsu 5352 Lakeland Drive, Suite 1400, Flowood, 601-502-7634, graciesouth.com

As a father, I have taught my son our family motto: It it is not the size of the dog in the fight that counts but the size of the fight in the dog. Martial arts can help you or your child develop the discipline needed to protect yourself. While all of these winning studios promote this idea, it is nowhere more true than at Gracie South, where instructors teach kickboxing, submission wrestling and the world-renowned Jiujitsu. Others studios offer different martial arts such as Kung Fu, Tae Kwon Do and Hapkido. And even though life is not a training montage from "The Karate Kid" or the "Rocky" movies, it doesn't mean you can't watch the movies after you get home.--Michael Jacome

Second: Academy of Kung Fu (626 Ridgewood Road, Suite C, Ridgeland, 601-856-5051) / Third: Jason Griffin's Tae Kwon Do Academy (103 Christian Drive, Suite D, Brandon, 601-824-0058; 125 Dyess Road, Ridgeland, 601-977-9000) / Good Showing: Knockout Fitness and MMA (205 Belle Meade Pointe, Flowood, 769-233-7901); Martial Arts Academy (2160 Main St., Suite F, Madison, 601-898-5555; 1149 Old Fannin Road Suite. 8, Brandon, 601-919-4000); West's Hapkido Academy (291 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-856-8487)

Best Men's Clothes: The Rogue 4450 Interstate 55 N., 601-362-6383, therogue.com

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The Rogue is the leading shopping experience for men in Jackson. The store has something for every man in (nearly) every situation: working in the office, tailgating at a football game, or having dinner with family and friends. The Rogue offers suits, sportswear and casual wear from more than 30 top-name brands to choose from, such as Thomas Dean, Oxxford, Cole Haan, Hush Puppies and Sandro. The experienced staff members at this high-end men's store is sure to find you a stylish look for any event. The Rogue carries boys' clothing as well, including khaki pants, button-down shirts and sweaters.--Elyane Alexander

Second: Kinkade's Fine Clothing (120 W. Jackson St., Suite 2B, 601-898-0513) / Third: Great Scott (4400 Old Canton Road, Suite 100, 601-984-3500)/ Good Showing: Jos. A. Bank (4870 I 55 N., 601-366-9711); Mozingo Clothiers (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 140, 601-713-7848); Red Square Clothing Co. (1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 9004, Ridgeland, 601-853-8960)

Best Liquor/Wine Store: Kats Wine and Spirits 921 E. Fortification St., 601-983-5287, katswine.com

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One of my tried-and-true places for an unparalleled selection of wine and spirit is Kats. With a slogan of "Vintage Character Since 1966," Kats is more than just a place to pick up a bottle of wine. It offers planning services to ensure you don't run out of libations during your special gathering, and you can call ahead to have wine pre-pulled before you arrive. For the wine novice or enthusiast, Kats provides a wealth of information on its website and in-store regarding wine pairings, top wines, best deals, charitable tastings and other educational events. To top it all off, Kats is committed to being green. It recycles all cardboard, paper waste, plastic and aluminum.--ShaWanda Jacome

Second: Fondren Cellars (633 Duling Ave., 769-216-2323) / Third: Briarwood Wine and Spirits (4949 Old Canton Road, 601-956-5108 or 601-956-5916 / Good Showing: Corkscrew (4800 Interstate 55 N. Frontage Road, Suite 32B, 601-981-1333); Joe T's (286 Highway 51 N., Ridgeland, 601-605-7602); McDade's Wine and Spirits (1220 E. Northside Drive, Suite 320, 601-366-5676)

Best Place for a First Date: Babalu Tacos & Tapas 622 Duling Ave., Suite 106, 601-366-5757, babalums.com

A first date can be a high-pressure situation. Take the edge off by taking that special someone to Babalu Tacos and Tapas. With a vibe that's upscale but a price range that is accessible, Babalu is neither underwhelming nor intimidating. The restaurant has a dressy-casual feel that somehow manages to meet all levels of expectation, whether your date shows up in jeans and sneaks or a cocktail dress and heels.

The concept of tapas--ordering several small plates to share--is ideal for dates, and the full bar with signature drinks such as the Pepe O'Malley and Baba-Blue ensures conversation will flow easily. Fresh food, funky decor and friendly staff all add to the experience. All you have to worry about is whether you've got something in your teeth.--Kathleen M. Mitchell

Second: Keifer's (705 Poplar Blvd., 601-355-6825; 120 N. Congress St., 601-353-4976) / Third: Table 100 (100 Ridge Way, Flowood, 601-420-4202) / Good Showing: Char Restaurant (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 142, 601-956-9562 ); Cups: An Espresso Cafe (Multiple Locations, cupsespressocafe.com); Julep Restaurant and Bar (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 105, 601-362-1411); Walker's Drive-In (3016 N. State St., 601-982-2633)

Best Mechanic: Graves and Stoddard Inc. 722 Highway 80 E., Flowood, 601-939-3662

The stereotype of shady mechanics is as popular as the idea of lawyers chasing ambulances. Graves and Stoddard continues to defy this typecasting with its commitment to serving customers. Specializing in Asian imports, Graves and Stoddard has also extended its knowledge base to include domestic vehicles so that just about any customer is in good hands with the experienced mechanics. It's hard enough bumming a ride; at least these guys won't rip you off.--Michael Jacome

Second: Putnam's Automotive Service Inc. (4879 N. State St., 601-366-1886) / Third: Southland Auto Service Center (5448 N State St., 601-362-2253) / Good Showing: Car Care Clinic Jet Lube Tire & Automotive (Multiple Locations); Justin Morgan; Kyle Rigdon (speedproductions.net/)

Best Place to Buy Antiques: Antique Mall of the South 367 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-853-4000

A good antique store is like a trip through history and a treasure hunt all in one. While wandering through the vendors' booths at the Antique Mall of the South--each its own little vignette--I like to imagine the past of all the items, never knowing what piece will become my must-have: a glass pitcher from the '60s, an old door to turn into a tabletop or, once, a mink muff. At Old House Depot, Jim Kopernak's warehouse holds old wood, windows, fireplaces and more--and if you're on the lookout for something specific, he'll source it for you. Flowood Flea Market includes architectural salvage and a traditional antiques mall, while Interiors Market offers unique items as well as special events such as wine tastings.--Julie Skipper

Second (tie): Old House Depot (639 Monroe St. 601-592-6200); Flowood Flea Market (1325 Flowood Drive, Flowood, 601-953-5914) / Third: Interiors Market (659 Duling Ave., 601-981-6020) / Good Showing: Antique Shops of Jackson (4245 Interstate 55 N., 601-982-1881); Belgique (320 Commerce Park Drive, 601-982-6060); Repeat Street (242 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-605-9123)

Best Place to Buy Books: Lemuria Books 4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 202, 601-366-7619, lemuriabooks.com

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John Evans, owner of Lemuria Books, really sought to cater to the avid readers of Jackson. The book shop that started in 1975 is thriving due to its great selection of first edition contemporary and classic books, as well as a solid inventory. Lemuria is known for its First Edition Club for adults, where the bookstore features national and award-winning books from authors such as Charles Frazier, author of "Cold Mountain" and "Nightwoods."

The Oz is the children's first edition club and encourages young people to read. Neither club has membership fees. Just purchase your books and join in on the fun. Lemuria also offers online shopping to buy the signed first editions.--LaShanda Phillips

Second: Book Rack (1491 Canton Mart Square, Suite 7, 601-956-5086; 584 Springridge Road, Suite C, Clinton, 601-924-9020) / Third: JSU Bookstore (Jackson State University, Student Center, 1400 John R. Lynch St., 601-979-2021) / Good Showing: The Bookshelf (637 Highway 51, Suite AA, Ridgeland, 601-853-9225); Choctaw Books (926 North St., 601-352-7281); Lifeway Christian Resources (1057 E. County Line Road, 601-952-1934)

Best Tanning Salon: Solar 51 398 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-898-1003; 727 Clinton Parkway, Clinton, 601-925-9747, solar51tan.com

H.R.H. Jill Conner Browne, Boss Queen of the Sweet Potato Queens, is known for proclaiming, "Brown fat looks better than white fat. Everybody knows that." I'm certainly not calling anyone fat, but seeing as how this is Sweet Potato Queen country, I do know that many a metro-area lady enjoys getting her tan on. This year's winner, Solar 51, offers two locations and carries a range of lotions and products, along with a variety of monthly packages and beds. For those who prefer to go sunless, a number of this year's finalists offer spray or airbrush tanning options in addition to beds.--Julie Skipper

Second: Sun Gallery (6712 Old Canton Road, Ridgeland, 601-957-7502; 2720 N. State St, 601-366-5811) / Third: Reservoir Tan (132 Lakeland Heights Blvd., Flowood, 601-992-3535) / Good Showing: Beach Bodies Tanning Salon (126 Byram Business Center Drive, 601-373-6105); Breeze Airbrush Tanning & Day Spa (1189 Old Fannin Road, Suite E, Brandon, 601-502-7303); Salon 51 (637 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-856-4663)

Best Thrift/Consignment Store: Repeat Street 242 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-605-9123

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As one who never met a theme party she didn't like, I know how important it is to know exactly where you can find a shoulder-padded bejeweled '80s jumpsuit or an early '90s sequined prom dress with ruffled shoulders the size of your head on short notice. Repeat Street is that place. In addition to great vintage pieces, their new location allows even more room for their selection of gently worn, neatly organized contemporary clothing and accessories, as well as furniture. The store's Twitter feed (@RepeatSt) frequently updates with photos of new items so you can stay in the know. Whether you're buying or reselling, consignment is a way to have some fun and go green, so be sure to check out all of this year's finalists.--Julie Skipper

Second: The Orange Peel (422 E. Mitchell Ave., 601-364.9977) / Third: N.U.T.S. (114 Millsaps Ave., 601-355-6276) / Good Showing: Bargain Boutique (5070 Parkway Drive, 601-991-0500); Goodwill (Multiple Locations, goodwill.org); Plato's Closet (1260 E. County Line Road, Ridgeland, 601-487-4207)

Best Place to Buy Kids' Clothes and Toys: Olde Tyme Commissary 4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 122, 601-366-1849, commissarytoys.com

One of the movies we love to watch during Christmas in our home is "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York." In the movie, Kevin asks his limo driver to take him to Duncan's Toy Chest. Duncan's harkens back to the nostalgic way a toy store used to be--warm, inviting and full of charm. Luckily, you don't have to go all the way to New York City to find such a store. Highland Village is the home of one of Jackson's special jewels, Olde Tyme Commissary. Since 1972, the store has been selling children's toys and costumes, fine-tailored baby clothes, and educational toys and games. One of its specialties is hand-painted and personalized gifts, offering an assortment of items including table and chair sets, rocking chairs, step stools, bulletin boards, piggy banks, music boxes, jewelry boxes, toy boxes and buckets that can be decorated for Easter, Christmas, Halloween or with your child's favorite football team.--Michael Jacome

Second: The Children's Place (1200 E. County Line Road, Suite 127, Ridgeland, 601-206-1162 and 122 Dogwood Blvd., Flowood, 601-919-9717) / Third: Leap Frog Children's Consignment and More (104 Village Blvd., Madison, 601-898-0727) / Good Showing: Helen's Young Ages (4750 Interstate 55 N., 601-362-0317); Pop Fizz (1481 Canton Mart Road, Suite E, 601-977-1000); Sweet Dreams Children's Boutique (1888 Main St., Suite A, Madison, 601-856-2080)

Best Unique Gifts: circa. URBAN ARTISAN LIVING 2771 Old Canton Road, 601-362-8484

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When you need something unique, circa. is sure to deliver because most items in the store are unique. Owners Michelle and Craig Escude populate their space with items for the home, garden, and body that are made by local, regional and national artisans. This means you can find everything from scarves and clothing to jewelry, wine racks and art, as well as cute handmade cards for those of us who still enjoy sending snail mail. The store features an artisan scent bar where you can create your own special blend of aromatics for lotions, soaps and fragrance sprays. circa. also offers a selection of artisan food products from Blackberry Farm.--Julie Skipper

Second: Apple Annie's Gift Shop (1896 Main St., Suite D, Madison, 601-853-8911; 152 Grants Ferry Road, 601-992-9925) / Third: Mississippi Craft Center (950 Rice Road, Ridgeland, 601-856-7546) / Good Showing: O How Cute Gift Market (304 E. Government St., Brandon, 601-825-5080); Persnickety Gift Shop (2078 Main St., Madison, 601-853-9595); Pine Cone (1220 E. Northside Drive, 601-713-1421)

Best Best Tattoo/Piercings Parlor: Black Diamond 5015 Interstate 55 N., 601-982-9437

Owner and tattoo artist Jason Thomas and artists Mallory Kay and Michael Richardson make up the dynamic team that is Black Diamond. Formerly known as The Ink Spot in downtown Jackson, the tattoo studio claimed its first first-place award this year. Folks from all over the metro area come to Black Diamond to get their ink fixes. Whether with the Chinese word for water or an "I love mom" tattoo, the artists there will give you the hook up.--Briana Robinson


Second: Pristine Ink (5735 Interstate 55 N., 769-251-0569) / Third: Squench's (3780 Interstate 55 S., 601-372-2800) / Good Showing: Eternal Body Art (3611 Interstate 55 S., 601-346-5963); House of Pain (22 Holiday Rambler Lane, Byram, 601-321-9040); Twiztid Images (557 Highway 49 S., Richland, 601-664-0000)

Best Tailor: Custom Tailoring by Al 1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 4004, Ridgeland, 601-607-3443; 258 Dogwood Blvd., Flowood, 601-992-1373, customtailoringbyalofms.com

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Let's face it: Most of us don't fit into a nice, neat set of measurements. Someone might be a size 6 in the waist, 8 in the hips and something else entirely in the torso. But that's where tailors come in. A great tailor can take a pair of off-the-rack pants or a dress that is nearly great and make it look like it was made for only you. Luckily, Al Guevara isn't a great tailor--he is a master. Guevara says he can handle any garment and any fabric. Lace, leather, silk? No problem. His staff can also take on specialty garments such as wedding gowns and suits, or even design and sew from scratch custom clothing. They work by appointment, to ensure each customer receives personalized attention.--Kathleen M. Mitchell

Second: Michael Armstrong of Tom James Company (1775 Lelia Drive, Suite D, 601-713-2034) / Third: Finishing Touch (4551 Office Park Drive, 601-362-5288) / Good Showing: Golden Touch (5355 Executive Place, 601-362-6790);  Nana's Alterations (975 North St., Suite 107, 601-969-3189); Perfect-Fit Alterations (4954 Old Canton Road, 601-991-0673)

Best Women's Shoes: The Shoe Bar at Pieces 425 Mitchell Ave., 601-939-5203

In "Sex and the City," modern-day everywoman Carrie Bradshaw once said, "The fact is, sometimes it's hard to walk in a single women's shoes. That's why we need really special ones now and then--to make the walk a little more fun." Single or coupled, the fact remains true ... and luckily, locally we can find the perfect pair to make us feel sexy in our own city. Becky "Shoe Pimp" Hicks of The Shoe Bar at Pieces can help you find just the heels you need. Offering a mix of contemporary brands such as L.A.M.B. and Sam Edelman, along with clothing and accessories to complete your look and email updates about sales, this Fondren boutique is definitely worth a stop.--Julie Skipper

Second: Earth Walk Shoes (4500 Interstate 55, Suite 144, 601-981-1975) / Third: Maison Weiss (4450 Interstate 55 N., Suite 109, 601-981-4621) / Good Showing: Cooke & Love Shoes (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 159, 601-362-6088); Material Girls (182 Promenade Blvd., Flowood, 601-992-4533 and Renaissance at Colony Parkway, Suite 5002, Ridgeland, 601-605-1605); Shoe Gallery (820 Wilson Drive, Ridgeland, 601-956-9414)

Best Cleaning Service/Dry Cleaner: Kolb's Grand Cleaners 2933 N. State St., 601-366-1453

Kolb's Grand Cleaners has been serving the Jackson area for more than 50 years since opening in 1920. Open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays, the cleaners prides itself on fast high-quality cleaning. Customers might be surprised by how quickly Kolb's smiling cleaners can return their clothes spot-free, but why question success? Kolb's staff would never question how Maya Rudolph's wedding dress in "Bridesmaids" received such a suspicious stain. Instead, they would simply give the star a smile and the reassurance that her dress would be cleaned and retuned shortly. For cleaning emergencies of all kinds, call Kolb's.--Mo Wilson

Second: Hallmark Cleaners (Multiple Locations, hallmarkcleaners.com) / Third: Wells Cleaners (691 Grants Ferry Road, Suite B, Flowood, 601-992-8855) / Good Showing: Olde Town (220 Key Drive, Madison, 601-856-7474); Summit Cleaners (450 Nakoma Drive, 601-366-9947); Trace Cleaners (398 Highway 51, Suite 100, Ridgeland, 601-853-7007)

Best Veterinarian: Briarwood Animal Hospital 1471 Canton Mart Road, 601-956-5030, briarwoodhospital.com

In business since the 1960s, first-time winner Briarwood Animal Hospital has provided superb veterinary services to generation after generation. Along with veterinarian John Roy, the Briarwood staff consists of veterinarians Leon Dale, David Dale, Michael Meadows and Melanie Jones. "We hope to stay ahead and on the leading edging of veterinary medicine, to provide the best service possible to our clients," Roy says. In business since the 1960s, first-time winner Briarwood Animal Hospital has provided superb veterinary services to generation after generation. Along with veterinarian John Roy, the Briarwood staff consists of veterinarians Leon Dale, David Dale, Michael Meadows and Melanie Jones. Roy says, "We hope to stay ahead and on the leading edging of veterinary medicine, to provide the best service possible to our clients.--Darnell Jackson

Second: North State Animal and Bird Hospital (5208 N. State St., 601-982-8261) / Third: All Creatures Animal Care Center (262 New Mannsdale Road, Madison, 601-856-5333) / Good Showing: Animal Medical Center (995 Interstate 20, 601-354-3622); Brandon Animal Hospital (205 Woodgate Drive, Brandon, 601-825-9077); Canton Road Veterinary Hospital (4960 Canton Road, 601-956-6144); Hometown Veterinary Services (1010 Highway 471, Brandon, 601-825-1697)

Best Yoga Studio: Butterfly Yoga 3025 N. State St., 601-981-6449, butterflyyoga.net

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Butterfly Yoga has been the Best of Jackson's Best Yoga Studio since 2011 when we added the category. Located in Fondren, Butterfly Yoga has classes for all levels of yogis. If you're a beginner, try the Level 1 classes with Katie Cassady or Scotta Brady. For those looking for a more intense workout, Terry Sullivan teaches a tabatas class each week, and the website promises that you'll work up a sweat. Classes start at $15 individually, but the studio is also currently offering a free Yoga Glo class at noon on Mondays.--Briana Robinson

Second: The Courthouse (46 Northtown Drive, 601-956-1300) / Third: JoyFlow Yoga (7048 Old Canton Road, Suite 2F, 601-613-4317) / Good Showing: Studio OM (665 Duling Ave., 601-209-6325); Tara Yoga (200 Park Circle, Suite 4, Flowood, 601-932-7700)

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