Best of Jackson 2014: Urban Living

Photo by Trip Burns.

Best Museum; Best Tourist Attraction: Mississippi Children's Museum

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Courtesy Mississippi Children's Museum

2145 Highland Drive, 601-981-5469, mississippichildrensmuseum.com

One sign of a great tourist attraction is its ability to generate repeat visits—especially from the locals. It doesn't hurt if it is reasonably priced, either. The Mississippi Children's Museum is a great attraction for out-of-town visitors, but it remains first and foremost a wonderful addition to Jackson, for 
Jackson children.

My son and I have been to the museum several times, and yet his enthusiasm has not declined—we even held his birthday party there. Distinctive areas with interactive and playful exhibits to explore mean every child will have a blast, whether they are interested in Mississippi heritage, the cultural arts, sciences, literature or technology.

The museum also hosts regular workshops during the week for preschoolers and on the weekends for those a bit older. With about 40,000 square feet to explore, kids have plenty room to stretch out their minds in an enjoyable, 
productive way. —Michael Jacome

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) / Finalists: Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum (1150 Lakeland Drive, 601-432-4500); Smith Robertson Museum and Culture Center (528 Bloom St., 601-960-1457)

Best Tourist Attraction

Second: Fondren / Third: Mississippi Museum of Art (380 S. Lamar St., 601-960-1515) / Finalists: Jackson Zoo (2918 W. Capitol St., 601-352-2580); Old Capitol Museum (100 S. State St., 601-576-6920)

Best Locally Owned Business, Best Place to Buy Books: Lemuria Books

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4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 202, 601-366-7619, lemuriabooks.com

Since 1975 Lemuria Books has kept the local bookstore alive in Jackson. It's the best place to browse for the perfect book in a cozy and friendly atmosphere, while receiving individualized customer attention from owner John Evans, manager Joe Hickman or the other helpful 
Lemuria staff.

Lemuria offers an array of services, including the First Editions Club, the OZ First Editions Club, Literary Brews, the Eudora Welty-inspired Cereus Readers Book Club and the Lemuria Book Club Registry. Lemuria also hosts book signings and author readings throughout the year.

The name comes from the myth of the lost continent of Lemuria, the store's website explains. The Lemurians were an advanced human civilization with the gift of telepathy. They challenged the gods, who took their gift away. The Lemurians then developed the world's first system of writing and began recording their thoughts in books.

In 2014, Lemuria will publish a photography book, "Jackson: Crossroads of the South," with photos from Ken Murphy, captions by Lisa Newman and commentary from John Evans. —ShaWanda Jacome

Best Locally Owned Business

Second: McDade's Market (Multiple Locations, mcdadesmarkets.com) / Third: Fondren Public (2765 Old Canton Road, 769-216-2589) / Finalists: Capitol Grill (5050 Interstate 55 N., Suite F, 601-899-8845); Custom Cuts and Styles (2445 Terry Road, 601-321-9292); LaCru Salon (5352 Lakeland Drive, Suite 600, Flowood, 601-992-7980); Mangia Bene (3317 N. State St., 601-362-2900); Nathan's Salon (101 W. Washington St., Suite C3, Ridgeland, 601-707-7015); Sneaky Beans (2914 N. State St., 601-487-6349)

Best Place to Buy Books

Second: The Book Rack (1491 Canton Mart Square, Suite 7, 601-956-5086; 584 Springridge Road, Suite C, Clinton, 601-924-9020) / Third: N.U.T.S. (114 Millsaps Ave., 601-355-7458; 3011 N. State St.) / Finalist: The Bookshelf (637 Highway 51, Suite AA, Ridgeland, 601-853-9225)

Best Place to Book a Party or Shower; Best Place to Get Married: Fairview Inn

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Courtesy Fairview Inn

734 Fairview St., 601-948-3429, fairviewinn.com

Location, location, location—besides the wedding dress, the location of your wedding is probably the next most important decision. For more than 30 years, Jacksonians (and out-of-towners) have turned to the Fairview Inn as the venue for their most treasured day. The Fairview is an AAA four-diamond small luxury hotel located in the historic neighborhood of Belhaven. The 1908 Colonial Revival mansion offers several options for indoor and outdoor weddings: in the gazebo, on the great lawn by the rose garden, under a 90-year-old magnolia tree, by the fireplace or in the library. What bride doesn't dream of descending a grand staircase like a fairy tale princess? —ShaWanda Jacome

Best Place to Book a Party or Shower

Second: The South Warehouse (627 E. Silas Brown, 601-939-4518) / Third: The Cedars (4145 Old Canton Road, 601-366-5552) / Finalists: Char Restaurant (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 142, 601-956-9562); Sanctuary Body Spa of St. Dominic's (340 Township Ave., Suite 200, Ridgeland, 601-790-2222)

Best Place to Get Married

Second: St. Andrew's Episcopal Cathedral (305 E. Capitol St., 601-354-1535) / Third: Mississippi Museum of Art (380 S. Lamar St., 601-960-1515) / Finalists: The Cedars (4145 Old Canton Road, 601-366-5552); Cotton Market Venue (2644 S. Pearson Road, 601-906-5499); Mynelle Gardens (4736 Clinton Blvd., 601-960-1894); The South Warehouse (627 E. Silas Brown, 601-939-4518)

Best Place to Buy Antiques: Flowood Flea Market

Climb the steep steps and walk down the long porch to enter the Flowood Flea Market, and you might be a tad turned off. That is, unless you love junk.

I, admittedly, do at least love to pick through junk looking for that perfect retro or mod collectible—better yet, at an amazing price.

That is a commitment at 36,000-square-foot flea market; once inside, you can enjoy poking through just about every kind of kitsch imaginable and wander from vendor booth to booth—some of which seem to look more like grandma's living room—or Elvis'—in search of that antique or collectible that will make your heart sing.

Yes, you can find many valuable collectibles and antiques inside the huge market—the prices some of the 120 vendors charge show that they know what they're selling, so be ready to bargain. And if you're like me, you're always delighted to visit any outlet of N.U.T.S., which is also set up near the back of the flea market. And don't miss the 15,000-square-foot salvage market while there.

Go, spend your $1 to get in, rummage and haggle every Saturday (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and Sunday (noon until 5 p.m.) Just plan to spend some time. And to be surprised. —Donna Ladd

Second: Repeat Street (242 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-605-9123) / Third: Old House Depot (639 Monroe St., 601-592-6200) / Finalists: Antique Mall of the South 
(367 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-853-4000); Belgique Inc. (320 Commerce Park Drive, 601-982-6060); Interior Spaces (5060 Interstate 55 N., Suite B, 601-956-4199); Interiors Market (659 Duling Ave., 601-981-6020)

Best Annual Event: Mal's St. Paddy's Parade

March, malsstpaddysparade.com

It was back in the early 1980s. Disco was dead and buried. Our nation was in the midst of a recession. And the world just seemed a little bit grim. Bringing the spirit of Mardi Gras with him to Jackson, Malcolm White of Hal & Mal's came up with the concept of Mal's St. Paddy's Parade. With a few friends, Malcolm helped forge a Jackson tradition that is not only still going strong but gets bigger and better every year. This Jackson classic now includes a competitive parade, activities for the kids, a pet parade and a 5K fundraiser for Blair E. Batson Children's Hospital. This year's theme is "Drink Local, Think Global," and the parade will be held March 15. —Michael Jacome

Second: Mistletoe Marketplace (November, jljackson.org) / Third: Wellsfest (September, 
wellsfest.org) / Finalists: CelticFest (September, celticfestms.org); Dog Days of Summer 
(August, carams.org); Jacktoberfest (October, jacktoberfest.com)

Best Art Gallery: Southern Breeze Gallery

500 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-607-4147, southernbreeze.net

Mississippi's creative class is one to be proud of, and its visual artists are a big part of that creative tradition. Showcasing a huge roster of local and regional artists, Southern Breeze Gallery has a selection big enough to offer small works and prints for those purchasing their first piece as well as major pieces for aficionados looking to add to a large collection.

Gallery owner Jacqueline Ellens will even come to your home to help determine what art will work best in your space if you're unsure where to start. The gallery strives to make art accessible and affordable for all; including one of the most popular items, Ellens' reasonably priced prints of Jackson landmarks such as the Cherokee, Brent's Drugs and Walker's Drive-In. —Julie Skipper

Second: Brown's Fine Art & Framing (630 Fondren Place, 601-982-4844) / Third: Gallery 1 at Jackson State University (1100 John R. Lynch St., Suite 4, 601-960-9250) / Finalists: Fischer Galleries (736 S. President St., Suite 404, 601-291-9115); Sanaa Gallery & Boutique (5846 Ridgewood Road, Suite C212, 769-218-8289)

Best Liquor/Wine Store: Kats Wine & Spirits

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921 E. Fortification St., 601-983-5287, katswine.com

At first, conventional thinking would suggest that a liquor store would be easy to own and fairly profitable. Most folks like to have a drink, and the stuff should sell 
itself, right?

Wrong. As any liquor-store owner will tell you, the market is competitive, and the markup on liquor ain't much. The separation between success and failure, then, comes in the service—which helps explain why Kats Wine & Spirits in Belhaven has been voted best liquor store in town.

Owners Tasho and Kanello Katsaboulas established a liquor store near the corner of Jefferson and Fortification streets that has become the go-to for wine connoisseurs and whiskey drinkers alike, due to exquisite selection and excellent service from the family atmosphere. You can chalk the latter up to staff continuity—along with the brothers Kats, Jimm Brumley, Robert Anderson, Bob Fowler and Scott Hancock provide some of the best and most personable service around. —Tyler Cleveland

Second: McDade's Wine and Spirits (1220 E. Northside Drive, Suite 320, 601-366-5676) / Third: Fondren Cellars (633 Duling Ave., 769-216-2323) / Finalists: Briarwood Wine and Spirits (4949 Old Canton Road, 601-956-5108); Joe T's (286 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-605-7602); Stanley's Liquor & Wine (1049 S. State St., 601-353-0331); Wine and Spirits in the Quarter (1855 Lakeland Drive, Suite A10, 601-366-6644)

Best Caterer: Wendy Putt, Fresh Cut Catering and Floral

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108 Cypress Cove, Flowood, 601-939-4518, wendyputt.com

Each year since the category has joined the Best of Jackson ranks, Wendy Putt has won Best Caterer, but she and her Fresh Cut company are much more than the title suggests.

Fresh Cut does full catering and floral design for events across the metro area, and Putt is a wedding resource for many brides. A favorite of wedding planners such as Kendall Poole and Shanna Lumpkin, Putt specializes in hyper-custom setups with lots of little details.

And, although she specializes in weddings, Putt has spun her magic for events as small as birthday parties and showers, and as large as the Junior League of Jackson's Mistletoe Marketplace weekend. From canapes to ranunculus, Wendy Putt knows her stuff.—Kathleen M. Mitchell

Second: Mangia Bene Catering (3317 N. State St., 601-362-2900) / Third: Cool Water Catering & Events (1011 Lake Harbour Drive, Ridgeland, 601-919-7622) / Finalists: Cosmopolitan Catering and Cafe (2947 Old Canton Road, 601-983-4450); Julie Levanway (601-506-7454)

Best Tattoo/Piercing Parlor: Squench's Tattoos, Ltd.

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3780 Interstate 55 S., 601-372-2800, squenchstattoos.com

When Squench's Tattoos opened in 1985, it was Jackson's first tattoo shop. It was the only one for quite a while, until tattoo parlors began popping up around the area.

The shop has three tattoo artists: Squench, Curtdog, Mallory (Sweet), Josh and Shelly. Chad, Curtdog's brother, is the shop's piercer. Squench kicked the new year off with two tattoos of infinity symbols on a couple's ring fingers.

Find Squench's on Facebook to see their work or visit squenchstattos.com for more information. —Amber Helsel

Second: Electric Dagger (2906 N. State St., Suite B-6, 601982-9437) / Third: Twiztid Images (557 Highway 49 S., Richland, 601-664-0000) / Finalist: Pristine Ink (5735 Interstate 55 N., Suite C, 769-251-0569)

Best Beauty Shop or Salon: LaCru Salon

5352 Lakeland Drive, Suite 600, Flowood, 601-992-7980, lacrusalon.com

Some salons are known solely for the services they provide. However, LaCru Salon is known for its compassion. "What sets us apart is that we see our clients as family. We're here to listen and to be a friend first," owner Stephanie Barnes says. Barnes bought the salon from its previous owners in 2007 because she always envisioned owning her own salon. Seven years later, LaCru Salon is still thriving and even established Mississippi's first hair smoothing bar last year. "I just thank God because he has really blessed us," Barnes says.

LaCru is a full-service salon that offers extensions, keratin treatments and waxing. The stylists are Redken-certified colorists and have more than 35 years of combined experience. They also sell Emi-Jays and Three Bird Nest hair accessories.—LaShanda Phillips

Second: Nathan's Salon (101 W. Washington St., Suite C3, Ridgeland, 601-707-7015) / Third: Barnette's Salon (4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 201, 601-362-9550; 1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 8001, Ridgeland, 601-898-9123) / Finalists: Ritz Salon (574 Highway 51 N., Suite H, Ridgeland, 601-856-4330); Smoak Salon (622 Duling Ave., Suite 206, 601-982-5313); Trim Salon (419 E. Mitchell Ave., 601-982-5575); William Wallace Salon (2939 Old Canton Road, 601-982-8300)

Best Dance Studio: Salsa Mississippi Studio & Club

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605 Duling Ave., 601-213-6355, salsamississippi.com

Why sit and watch celebrities dance salsa on "Dancing with Stars" when you could be tearing up the floor yourself right here in Jackson? Salsa Mississippi Studio and Club has been going strong since its humble beginnings in 2006. Married couple Sujan and Sarah Ghimire own the 1,400-square-foot gem tucked away on Duling Street in Fondren. The couple met in Sujan's hometown of Kathmandu, Nepal, while Sarah was on a mission 
trip there. The Ghimires have built a dance community here in Jackson that is welcoming and non-threatening. The studio offers salsa, belly dancing, kickboxing, Zumba and Bachata classes weekly. Every Saturday, the heat really turns up with the Latin Dance Party, which is a great time for dancers to practice the moves they've been learning in class. The studio is also available to rent for private functions.

In 2013, Salsa Mississippi paired with the Greater Jackson Arts Council on the Studio 54 Disco dance contest in conjunction with the 8th Annual Storytellers Ball. The contest was open to all dancers, singles or couples, from across the southern region. In August, Salsa Mississippi instructors Shawntell McQuarter and Victoria Walker partnered with local celebrity dancers for the Mississippi Opera Guild's 4th annual Dance with the Stars. —ShaWanda Jacome

Second: Mississippi Metropolitan Dance Association 
(110 Homestead Drive, Madison, 601-853-4508; 106 Autumn Ridge Place, Brandon, 601-992-9016) / Third: Dollhouse Dance Factory (1410 Ellis Ave., 601-969-4000) 
Finalist: The Studio Under the Direction of Sarah Wheat Mann (309 Morrison Drive, Suite B, Clinton, 601-
201-6090)

Best Boutique: Material Girls

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

Far from bland and smothered in style, Material Girls takes the Best of Jackson award for Best Boutique for the sixth time in a row. The four locations of Whitney Giordano's stylish boutique—Flowood, Ridgeland, Oxford and Hattiesburg—are bursting with classy, chic styles.

Fans can also stay connected to what's new online; Material Girls frequently posts about new items or sales on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, and shoppers can reserve or purchase items right from the store's Facebook page or website. Material Girls prides itself on providing the trendiest accessories, clothes and shoes, as well as tailgating ensembles in the colors of all the local teams. —Brittany Sanford

Second: Treehouse Boutique (3000 N. State St., 601-982-3433) / Third: Fondren's Fashion House (310 Mitchell Ave., 601-362-9090) / Finalists: Arco Avenue (1107 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 107, Ridgeland 601-790-9662); Posh Boutique (4312 N. State St., 601-
364-2244); Royal Bleau Boutique (1100 John R. Lynch St., Suite 8, 601-321-9564)

Best Bridal/Formal: David's Bridal

1039 E. County Line Road, Suite 105, 601-957-0505, davidsbridal.com

It had been a stressful week when I finally made the trek to go look for my wedding dress. I didn't really know what I wanted, so I headed to David's Bridal—I figured it was a good place to start. When I arrived, the sales teams greeted me with friendly smiles. My consultant helped me look around the store as we discussed my budget and various details of the wedding.

We eventually picked out a few dresses and headed to the fitting room. I'd be lying if I said it was a magical moment; it was quite the opposite—I cried. All these beautiful dresses I had seen in pictures didn't look good on me. My consultant was very patient and led me to look at some other dresses. We finally found a simple ivory-bronze charmeuse gown with a tulle overlay. I cried again, but with joy this time.

David's Bridal has been around since 1950 and has perfected the art of helping brides find everything they need for their special day. They feel that "every bride should look and feel like a million dollars, regardless of budget." Top designers like Vera Wang, Oleg Cassini, Melissa Sweet and Galina have collaborated with David's Bridal to create fashion-forward dresses for a reasonable price.

Manager Stacey Mitchell runs the Jackson store. David's Bridal carries bridal gowns, bridal party attire, tuxedos, special occasion and prom attire, accessories, invitations, and gifts. It also carries accessories for the ceremony or reception including unity candles, garters, cake toppers, guest books and decorations. —ShaWanda Jacome

Second: The Bridal Path Inc. (4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 104, 601-982-8267) / Third: 
Alfred Angelo Bridal (1230 E. County Line Road, Ridgeland, 601-956-1806) / Finalist: Lace A Bridal Boutique (109 Grants Ferry Road, Brandon, 601-665-4860)

Best Barbershop: Maurice's Barber Shop

1220 E. Northside Drive, Suite 360, 601-362-2343; 398 Highway 51, Suite 60, Ridgeland, 601-856-2856; 1060 Highway 51, Suite D, Madison, 601-856-0015

People love Maurice's Barber Shop not only because it offers has great service, but also because it's a longtime Jackson institution. The Northside Drive location opened in 1952, making it a historic part of Jackson that isn't going anywhere any time soon. The current owner of that location, Mison Wetzel, bought it from Maurice Howard in 1998. Though it was remodeled two years ago, it is the oldest location. Since the '50s, other locations have sprung up in Ridgeland and Madison. The three locations are individually owned. Maurice's provide services for men, women and children, so if you're looking for a new place to get a haircut, highlights, a shave or other barbering services, try one of Maurice's classic shops. —LaShanda Phillips

Second: Custom Cuts and Styles (2445 Terry Road, 601-321-9292) / Third: Nathan's Salon (101 W. Washington St., Suite C3, Ridgeland, 601-707-7015) / Finalists: ACEY Custom Hair Design (3015 N. State St., 601-937-7754); Southside Barber & Beauty Shop (715 McDowell Road, 601-321-9240)

Best Flower Shop: Greenbrook Flowers

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705 N. State St., 601-957-1951, greenbrookflowers.com

Greenbrook Flowers has a long-standing dedication to the Jackson area. The shop has provided a variety of fresh flowers since 1917. Janet Jacobs heads Greenbrook Flowers these days, the fifth generation of a family of florists. The name Greenbrook is a meshing of two maternal figures, Green and Westbrook—Mynelle Westbrook Hayward, of Mynelle Gardens, was one of the founders of Greenbrook Flowers. Her husband, Brook Jacobs Sr., started Good Neighbor Day in 1994 by giving away a dozen roses in hopes that the recipient would keep one and give the remaining away. Good Neighbor Day, which now takes place every September, aims to promote friendship. —LaShanda Phillips

Second: A Daisy A Day (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 194, 601-982-4438) / Third: Green Oak Florist & Garden Center (5009 Old Canton Road, 601-956-5017; 1067 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite E, Ridgeland) / Finalists: Drake's Designs (1491 Canton Mart Road, 601-
957-6983); Mostly Martha's (353 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-956-1474); Mum's the Word (255 Ridge Way, Flowood, 601-992-4900); Tulip Floral (115 N. State St., 601-572-1777); Whitley Flowers (740 Lakeland Drive, 601-362-8844)

Best Garden Supply: Callaway Yard and Garden

839 S. Pear Orchard Road, Ridgeland, 601-957-1731, callawaysonline.com

I first remember visiting Callaway as a child when the store put out its extensive Christmas decoration displays. All the trees, ornaments and lights were magical. That early experience taught me from the start that Callaway's is more than just a garden store. I have since expanded my experience of it to the garden side of things, though, and can attest that whether you need plants, garden supplies or advice, the helpful staff can steer you in the right direction whether or not you have a green thumb. If you have a small space, pick up a houseplant from the greenhouse; for major outdoor projects, it offers landscaping and irrigation services as well. The store has been family-owned since 1954, and that personal touch comes through in every interaction. —Julie Skipper

Second: Lakeland Yard and Garden (4210 Lakeland Drive, Flowood, 601-939-7304) / Third: Green Oak Florist & Garden Center (5009 Old Canton Road, 601-956-5017; 1067 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite E, Ridgeland) / Finalists: Hutto's Home and Garden Center 
(1320 Ellis Ave., 601-973-2277); Martinson's Garden Works (650 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-856-3078)

Best Mechanic: Tony's Tire & Automotive Inc.

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5138 N. State St., 601-981-2414

A community favorite, owner Tony Murphy's 38 years in the automotive business and his commitment to his customers demonstrates why his shop is this year's Best Mechanic. Tony's Tire understands how important the car is no matter the age, income or background. The shop offers free diagnostics for engine problems, a free tire rotation with oil changes, and a 10-percent discount for the military and law enforcement. You never really want to give up your car any longer than you have to, so Tony's makes sure you have a pleasant experience and get back on the road as quickly as possible, all for a fair price. (Pictured: Tony Murphy Sr. on left; Tony Jr. on right) —Michael Jacome

Second: Freeman's Auto Repair Service (847 S. State St., 601-948-3358) / Third: Graves and Stoddard Inc. (722 Highway 80 E., Flowood, 601-939-3662) / Finalists: Michael Bryant; Putnam's Automotive Services Inc. (4879 N. State St., 601-366-1886)

Best Kids Event: Zippity Doo Dah

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Courtesy Dwayne Jones

March, zddparade.com

Zippity Doo Dah is a family-friendly weekend full of music, fun and games for the whole family. Fondren Renaissance presents the weekend each year, which benefits the Friends of Children's Hospital at Blair E. Batson Children's Hospital. Organizers estimated that more than 20,000 people attended the event last year. Some of the highlights from the 2013 events included a visit from the Budweiser Clydesdales, the Color Me Rad 5K run and walk, the Sal & Mookie's children's carnival and the Zippity Doo Dah parade.

The Sweet Potato Queens, who founded Zippity Doo Dah weekend, headline the parade. Jill Conner Brown, the "original Sweet Potato Queen," welcomes SPQs from all over the country to Jackson to join the festivities. Be sure to mark your calendar for this year's dates: March 21-23. —Adriane Louie

Second: Ice Cream Safari at Jackson Zoo (July, jacksonzoo.org) / Third: KidFest (April, kidfestridgeland.com) / Finalists: Once Upon a Fall Festival (September, 
mississippichildrensmuseum.com); Wellsfest (September, wellsfest.org)

Best Place to Buy Kids' Clothes/Toys: The Children's Place

1200 E. County Line Road, Suite 157, Ridgeland, 601-206-1162; 200 Bass Pro Drive, Suite 435, Pearl, 601-939-9879; 122 Dogwood Blvd., Flowood, 601-919-9717, childrensplace.com

Whether you are looking for onesies or monster T-shirts, The Children's Place can supply all your children's clothing needs—including sneakers, sandals and dress shoes. The store offers a total range of sizes, from newborn to size 14 for girls and boys. Don't forget about the accessories, either—pick up pom-pom hair clips, sun hats, tights, ties, socks and belts while you're there. The Children's Place also sells novelty items that make great birthday gifts, such as colorful watches and bracelets, football wallets, baseball caps and, of course, Laffy Taffy lip balm. —Adriane Louie

Second: Leap Frog Children's Consignment & More (104 Village Blvd., Madison, 601-898-0727) / Third: Olde Tyme Commissary (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 174, 601-366-1849) / Finalists: Nursery Rhymes (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 152, 601-368-9997); Popfizz Boutique (1481 Canton Mart Road, 601-977-1000, 1107 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 111, 601-427-5821); Smitten Gift Boutique (207 W. Jackson St., Suite E, Ridgeland, 601-856-1655); Sweet Dreams Children's Boutique (1888 Main St., Suite A, Madison, 601-856-2080)

Best Day Spa: Aqua the Day Spa

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4465 Interstate 55 N., 601-362-9550; 1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 8001, Ridgeland, 601-898-9123, aquathedayspa.com

Voted the Best Day Spa since 2003, Aqua the Day Spa is the perfect place to relax your mind, body and soul. The atmosphere is serene, with a Zen-like quality that puts you at ease the moment you walk through the door. Soft music fills the air while you take a deep breath in the stillness of the relaxation room before your beauty service begins. Aqua uses Skin Authority products and offers an array of services such as massage therapy, manicures and pedicures, aloe and mango facials, bamboo and ginseng hydration body wraps, eyelash extensions, and more.—Adriane Louie

Second: Massage Envy Spa (1220 E. Northside Drive, Suite 280, 601-709-4300) / Third: Sanctuary Body Spa of St. Dominic's (340 Township Ave., Suite 200, Ridgeland, 601-790-2222) / Finalists: Drench Day Spa (118 W. Jackson St., Suite 2-B, Ridgeland, 601-707-5656); Remedy True Health (655 Lake Harbour Drive, Suite 900, Ridgeland, 601-898-0911); The Skin District (2629 Courthouse Circle, Suite B, Flowood, 601-981-7546)

Best Fitness Center/Gym: Baptist Healthplex

717 Manship St., 601-968-1766; 102 Clinton Parkway, Clinton, 601-925-7900, mbhs.org

A new year brings new-year resolutions. I've had my share of gym memberships and have found that Baptist Healthplex has some of the best individual and family gym membership rates. My husband uses Baptist Healthplex of Clinton. He loves both gyms because of the clean facilities and amenities such as the indoor basketball court and steam room at the Clinton location. Both locations offer Zumba and Pilates classes, so if you don't want to go alone, grab a friend and go get your sexy back! Both locations are open seven days a week, so leave the excuses back in 2013.—Tam Curley

Second: Courthouse Raquet & Fitness (Multiple Locations, mscourthouse.com) / Third: YMCA (Multiple Locations, metroymcams.org) / Finalists: Anytime Fitness (Multiple Locations, anytimefitness.com); The Club (Multiple Locations, theclubms.com); Planet Fitness (772 Lake Harbour Drive, Suite 1, Ridgeland, 601-427-5901); Pure Barre (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 235-A, 769-251-0486)

Best Music Festival: Jackson Rhythm and Blues Festival

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August, jacksonrhythmandbluesfestival.com

In the middle of August 2013, the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum hosted the city's very first R&B Festival, which presented performers such as Bettye LaVette and Dr. John alongside longtime local favorites like Bobby Rush and Dorothy Moore. The layout of the festival was perfect. If festival-goers found it too hot outside, they could retreat into one of the air-conditioned buildings on the grounds, each of which housed excellent concerts in addition to the main outdoor stage.

The festival also featured local food vendors such as Penn's and Big Apple Inn, and artists selling blues-inspired works. The party-like atmosphere was made complete with a diverse audience.

If the first year was any indication, this should grow to be our state's biggest music festival.—Tommy Burton

Second: Bright Lights, Belhaven Nights (August, greaterbelhaven.com) / Third: Jacktoberfest (October, jacktoberfest.com) / Finalists: CelticFest (September, celticfestms.org); Wellsfest (September, wellsfest.org)

Best Reason to Live in Jackson: The People

I was born in Jackson, but moved away with my family when I was 2 years old. Yet, after being back here for the past seven years, I'm happy to call Mississippi home, all because of the people that I've been fortunate enough to meet. Whether it's all the fun people I've met while working at the Jackson Free Press, the nurses and doctors who cared for my mom while she was at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, my fellow educators at the Jackson Public Schools, fellow liveRIGHTnow hill runners, or all the delightful servers at some of my favorite Jackson eateries—the intricate network of Jacksonians makes Jackson important to me and makes it a wonderful community to be a part of.

When I think of Jackson, I think of the "The Breakfast Club" and the letter those five students wrote to assistant principal Vernon at the end (but with a Jackson twist): Who do we think we are? Everyone sees Jackson as they want to see it, sometimes negatively and sometimes positively. But Jackson is not defined simply by what it has or does not have; it is defined by the quality of the people who live and work here. In the city of Jackson you will find people that are a little bit of many things, in each of us you will find a brain ... and an athlete ... and an artist ... and a caregiver ... and a foodie ... and a visionary ... and a champion for our city. —ShaWanda Jacome

Second: Fondren / Third: Cost of Living / Finalists: Food; Music

Best Women's Shoes: The Shoe Bar at Pieces

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135 Market St., Flowood, 601-992-9057

Most women cringe at the idea of another woman showing up to an event in the same dress or shoes. To avoid this, you need to go where exclusive, rare or even one-of-a-kind items are available. Try The Shoe Bar at Pieces. It sells name brands such as Jeffrey Campbell, Joie and Coconut, as well as clothes and exclusive pieces of jewelry. The store originally opened in 1993 as Designer's Shoe Palace, but when the economy slumped, Becky Hicks wanted to create something new. She changed the name, and the boutique now has a hippy chic feel to it. The store recently relocated to the Flowood area, where it held its grand 
opening Nov. 1. —LaShanda Phillips

Second: Maison Weiss (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 109, 601-981-4621) / Third: Material Girls (182 Promenade Blvd., Flowood, 601-992-4533; 1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 7005, Ridgeland, 601-605-1605) / Finalists: Arco Avenue (1107 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 107, Ridgeland 601-790-9662); Soma Wilai (2906 N. State St., Suite 103, 601-366-9955); Treehouse Boutique (3000 N. State St., 601-982-3433)

Best Veterinarian or Vet Clinic: Briarwood Animal Hospital

1471 Canton Mart Road, 601-956-5030, briarwoodhospital.com

A visit to see a veterinarian can be scary for a pet—and an owner. But Briarwood Animal Hospital has been easing animal-related worries for more than 50 years. Veterinarian Hugh Ward opened the pet hospital in 1961, and Briarwood has kept a focus on patient care ever since. With five vets leading the staff (each with his or her own area of expertise), Briarwood can take care of pet-related concerns as small as grooming and as large as surgery. The hospital also offers boarding services for your pet.

Turn over a new "leash" this year by visiting the pet store—one more thing that sets Briarwood aside from other vet clinics. —Tam Curley

Second: North State Animal & Bird Hospital (5208 N. State St., 601-982-8261) / Third: All Creatures Animal Care Center 
(262 New Mannsdale Road, Madison, 601-856-5333) / Finalists: Canton Road Veterinary Hospital (4960 Old Canton Road, 601-
956-6144); Hometown Veterinary Services (1010 Highway 471, Brandon, 601-825-1697); Northtown Animal Clinic (38 Northtown Drive, 601-956-4960); Oakdale Animal Hospital (2028 Highway 471, Brandon, 601-829-9949)

Best Men's Clothes: The Rogue and Good Company

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4450 Interstate 55 N., 601-362-6383, therogue.com

In a world where shopping for fine men's clothing often involves trudging to a local department store, The Rogue stands as a beacon of hope for stylish guys who don't like going to mall. Offering suits and sportswear, clothing for men and boys, outerwear and footwear, The Rogue carries such high-end brands as Robert Talbott, Southern Tide, Joseph Abboud, Peter Millar, Eton of Sweden and Robert Graham. The Rogue also sells its own brand of neckwear and slacks that harkens back to an age when clothing was so well made, it lasted you a lifetime. The Rogue team says that years later, their fashions will still look as good as the day you bought them. In terms of prices, let's just say that the Rogue isn't exactly the Sears men's department. However, you can usually find a sale on clothing, shoes or unique accessory items such as sleek tablet sleeves 
and briefcases. —R.L. Nave

Second: Kinkade's Fine Clothing 
(120 W. Jackson St., Ridgeland, 601-898-0513) / Third: Great Scott (4400 Old Canton Road, Suite 100, 601-984-3500) Finalist: Mozingo Clothiers (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 140, 601-713-7848)

Best Place for Unique Gifts: Mississippi Craft Center

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950 Rice Road, Ridgeland, 601-856-7546, mscrafts.org

Nestled in a curve on Rice Road, the Mississippi Craft Center—the concrete building with iron sculptures in the yard—is hard to miss. On most days, visitors can watch iron workers honing their craft in the iron-working shed in the parking lot. Sliding glass doors open into a great open space decorated with fantastic pieces from members of the Mississippi Craftsmen's Guild. Founded in 1973, the Craftsmen's Guild has more than 400 members from 19 states.

The Craft Center's gallery, open every day from 9 a.m. to 
5 p.m., welcomes shoppers and wanderers to explore handcrafted pottery, quilts, jewelry, woodwork, stained glass, sculptures, ironwork, and other artsy items. Browsing the gallery is a gift in itself. Each handcrafted piece embodies the skill and dedication that the artist put into making it, offering the gift of time, experience and love. —Leslie La Cour

Second: The Pine Cone (1220 E. Northside Drive, Suite 220, 601-713-1421) / Third: Apple Annie's Gift Shop (152 Grants Ferry Road, Brandon, 601-992-9925; 1896 Main St., Suite D, Madison, 601-853-8911) / Finalists: circa. Urban Artisan Living (2771 Old Canton Road, 601-362-8484); Interiors Market (659 Duling Ave., 601-981-6020)

Best Category We Left Off: Best Photographer

Everyone's a photographer these days. Anyone with a smartphone is carrying a decent point-and-shoot camera at all times, and photo-sharing apps like Instagram have made pictures of food and sunsets and shoes just as ubiquitous as those nights out on the town. And although this saturation of snapshots has flooded social media with a lot of less-than-impressive photographs, it has also made us appreciate the artistry behind great photography.

It's no surprise, then, that the category most Best of Jackson voters want to see added next year is "Best Photographer." Whether they specialize in weddings, fashion shoots or just capturing everyday Mississippi, some truly great photogs roam our streets. Their work fills galleries, local magazines and, yes, our 
Instagram feeds.—Kathleen M. Mitchell

Second: Best 5K/Running Event / Third: Best Attorney / Finalists: Best Actor; Best Car Detail Shop; Best 
Nail Technician

Best Tailor: Custom Tailoring by Al

1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 4004, Ridgeland, 601-607-3443, customtailoringbyalofms.com

For most people, it is challenging to find clothes that fit perfectly. Something is always a little too tight or too loose or, in my case, too long. Lucky for us, we have people like Al Guevara, who can tailor clothing to fit any individual need. Custom Tailoring by Al has offered tailoring services for more than 20 years. The shop is located in Ridgeland and happily provides services throughout Mississippi. Al Guevara can custom-tailor any fabric and garment. —LaShanda Phillips

Second: Finishing Touch Alterations (4551 Office Park Drive, 601-362-5288) / Third: Tailored to You (258 Dogwood Blvd., Flowood, 601-992-1373) / Finalists: Cathy's Alterations (3010 Lakeland Cove, Suite R, Flowood, 601-
933-0036); Tom James Company (1775 Lelia Drive, 601-713-2034)

Best Thrift/Consignment Shop: Repeat Street

242 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-605-9123, repeatstreet.net

Looking for vintage clothing and furniture or trendy what-nots? It's the unique collectibles, excellent furniture and gently used trendy clothing that bring impulse shoppers to Repeat Street. If Repeat Street's wide variety of merchandise hasn't made you peek inside the store at least once, maybe its community effort will. It accepts donated items and sells them on special racks for various charitable fundraisers. The store also collects both old and new donated bras each October to string across the Mississippi River in Vicksburg, helping raise money for breast-cancer awareness. For each bra collected by Repeat Street and other donors, the American Cancer Society receives $1 from Riverwalk Casino. —Tam Curley

Second: Orange Peel (422 E. Mitchell Ave., 601-364-9977) / Third: N.U.T.S. (114 Millsaps Ave., 601-355-7458; 3011 N. State St.) / Finalists: Bargain Boutique (5070 Parkway Drive, 601-991-0500); Fondren Muse (3413 N. State St., 601-345-1155); Leap Frog Children's Consignment & More (104 Village Blvd., Madison, 601-898-0727); Silly Billy's Consignment Shop (534 E. Mitchell Ave., 601-672-6693)

Best Yoga Studio: Butterfly Yoga

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3025 N. State St., 601-594-2313, butterflyyoga.net

In 2002, seeing the need for a dedicated yoga studio in Jackson, Scotta Brady opened Butterfly Yoga. Though Jackson offers other yoga studios now, Butterfly Yoga still thrives. The studio strives to build a community of health-minded folks and increase local awareness of yoga. It is a balanced exercise that not only strengthens but also teaches relaxation and concentration techniques. Brady believes her background in Anusara yoga has helped her achieve physical accomplishments, including coming in first place in her age group in her first triathlon. They also offer tabatas (a type of high intensity interval training with fast-paced but short sessions that you repeat) and belly-dancing classes. Visit Butterfly Yoga if you want to become more flexible, find a program to accompany your other sport activities or just learn to unwind. —LaShanda Phillips

Second: Courthouse Racquet & Fitness (Multiple Locations, mscourthouse.com) / Third: Joyflow Yoga (7048 Old Canton Road, Suite 2F, Ridgeland, 601-613-4317) / Finalists: StudiOM Yoga 
(665 Duling Ave., 601-209-6325); Tara Yoga (200 Park Circle, Suite 4, Flowood, 601-720-2337)


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