Best Museum; Best Kid's Hangout; Best Tourist Attraction: Mississippi Children's Museum
(2145 Museum Blvd., 601-981-5469, mschildrensmuseum.org)
The human brain never stops learning, and for children, it is especially vital that they begin to learn about the world from an early age. Luckily for parents and kids alike, places like the Mississippi Children's Museum put learning in a playful context.
This year, voters selected MCM as Best Kids' Hangout, Best Museum and Best Tourist Attraction.
The museum's website says MCM's mission is "to provide unparalleled experiences that ignite a thirst for discovery, knowledge and learning in all children." Visitors can learn about a variety of topics, including the state's geography and natural landscape, how a combustion engine works, the way that the human body operates and more, all in one location. The museum also puts a focus on literacy education, with exhibits such as the Literacy Garden and the "Wild About Reading" gallery.
In addition to its ongoing exhibits, MCM also brings in traveling attractions, including the recent "Journey to the North Pole," and hosts special events, such as the Storytelling Festival earlier this month and the upcoming "Ignite the Night" fundraiser, where adults get to take over the museum for a night of music, dancing and drinks.
The museum also features programming such as the monthly "Question It? Discover It!" series, where kids can learn about different healthy habits through fun activities. Each month, the museum also hosts a visiting artist, including dancer Kathryn Wilson for January and writer Robert Chapman for February, to help children learn about and get involved with the arts. —Amber Helsel
Best Museum Finalists: Eudora Welty House and Garden (1119 Pinehurst St., 601-353-7762, eudoraweltyhouse.com) / Mississippi Museum of Art (380 S. Lamar St., 601-960-1515, msmuseumart.org) / Mississippi Museum of Natural Science (2148 Riverside Drive, 601-576-6000, museum.mdwfp.com) / Smith Robertson Museum & Cultural Center (528 Bloom St., 601-960-1457)
Best Kid's Hangout Finalists: High Heaven Trampoline Park (2280 Lakeland Drive, Flowood, 769-208-3008, highheaven.us) / Kids Court at Highland Village (4500 Interstate 55 N., 601-982-5861, highland
villagems.com) / Party Safari (5324 Lakeland Drive, Flowood, 601-992-5111, partysafari.us) / Winner's Circle Park (100 Winners Circle, Flowood, 601-992-4440, cityofflowood.com)
Best Tourist Attraction Finalists: Fondren (fondren.org) / Mississippi State Capitol (400 High St., 601-359-1114, legislature.ms.gov) / Old Capitol Museum (100 S. State St., 601-576-6920, oldcapitolmuseum.com) / The Jackson Zoo (2918 W. Capitol St., 601-352-2580)
Best Day Spa; Best Nail Salon: Aqua the Day Spa
(1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 8001, Ridgeland, 601-898-9123, aquathedayspa.com)
With AQUA the Day Spa's numerous services and products, and knowledgeable staff, it's easy to see why Jacksonians again voted it Best Day Spa. And thanks to its manicure and pedicure services, the business also won Best Nail Salon this year.
The spa offers skin care and facial treatments for both men and women, and anti-aging facial treatments such as the Hydra Facial, which cleanses, exfoliates and hydrates the skin, and extracts dead skin. The spa also offers lip and neck treatments, and a collagen eye mask; Swedish and therapeutic massage therapies; hair removal for the face, legs, arms and more; and manicure and pedicure services.
AQUA is open Monday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Tuesday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, visit aquathedayspa.com. —Amber Helsel
Best Day Spa Finalists: Drench Day Spa and Lash Lounge (118 W. Jackson St., Suite 2-B, Ridgeland, 601-707-5656, drenchdayspa.com) / The Skin District (2629 Courthouse Circle, Suite B, Flowood, 601-981-7546, theskindistrict.com) / Soul Spa (Westin Jackson, 407 S. Congress St., 769-235-8401, soulspajackson.com)
Best Nail Salon Finalists: Cuticles Nail Studio (2947 Old Canton Road, 601-366-6999) / Kevin's Nail Spa (655 Lake Harbour Drive, Suite 600, Ridgeland, 601-427-5211) / Le Nails (1220 E. Northside Drive, Suite 390, 601-366-3069) / Serenity Nail Spa, LLC (101 Lexington Drive, Madison, 601-707-7430)
Best Place to Book a Party or Shower; Best Place to Get Married: Fairview Inn
(734 Fairview St., 601-948-3429, fairviewinn.com)
If someone told you the best place to book a party, host a shower or even tie the knot was inside a 1908 colonial mansion turned boutique hotel, would you believe them? If you're in Jackson, you have the opportunity to see for yourself.
The Fairview Inn in historic Belhaven has developed a reputation for being a central hub for pivotal life events, corporate events and casual hangouts alike, with the restaurant 1908 Provisions and the
Library Lounge also on the grounds. Brides who have married there have praised Fairview for its aesthetic, its food and its staff on the website The Knot.
Even if you're getting hitched or hosting a party in the hot summer months, the outdoor space is enclosed with trees that create a welcome shady space in the Mississippi sun. But even the indoor spaces boast timeless decor that will leave just about patrons happier than when they entered. —Ko Bragg
Best Place to Book a Party or Shower Finalists: CAET Wine Bar (3100 N. State St., Suite 102, 601-321-9169, caetwinebar.com) / Deep South Pops (1800 N. State St., 601-398-2174; 4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 173, 601-398-0623; deepsouthpops.com) / Table 100 (100 Ridge Way, Flowood, 601-420-4202, tableonehundred.com) / The South Warehouse (627 E. Silas Brown St., 601-939-4518)
Best Place to Get Married Finalists: Bridlewood of Madison (3024 Highway 22, Madison, 601-707-4024, thebarnatbridlewood.com) / McClain Lodge (314 Clark Creek Road, Brandon, 601-829-1101, mcclain.ms) / The Cedars (4145 Old Canton Road, 601-366-5552, fondren.org) / The Ivy Venue (1170 Luckney Road, Flowood, 601-906-5499, theivyvenueflowood.com) / The South Warehouse (627 E. Silas Brown St., 601-939-4518)
Best Animal Shelter: Community Animal Rescue & Adoption
(960 N. Flag Chapel Road, 601-922-7575, carams.org)
Community Animal Rescue & Adoption is one of several three-time winners in 2018, but even among these, it is unique. Voters have selected it as the Jackson metro area's "Best Animal Shelter" every year since the Jackson Free Press added the category in 2016.
CARA is a no-kill shelter that relies on volunteers workers, volunteer board members and part-time employees, along with money from fundraising events and private donations, to care for an average of 300 dogs and 120 cats.
The shelter's main focus may be helping critters find caring families, but CARA also provides resources for current pet owners and those looking to adopt, including and online booklets filled with helpful training tips and Bree's Bark Park, a 1.68-acre off-leash dog park located next to CARA on Flag Chapel Road. —Micah Smith
Finalists: Animal Rescue Fund of Mississippi (395 W. Mayes St., 769-216-3414) / Cheshire Abbey (firstname.lastname@example.org) / The Madison Ark (madisonark.org) / Webster Animal Shelter (525 Post Oak Road, Madison, 601-605-4729)
Best Annual Event: Hal's St. Paddy's Parade & Festival
If you have lived in Jackson for awhile, chances are good that you've heard of or attended the annual Hal's St. Paddy's Parade & Festival.
In the early 1980s, Hal & Mal's co-owner and current Mississippi Arts Commission Executive Director Malcolm White and his friends strolled up Capitol Street dressed like characters from Tennessee Williams plays.
White's goal was to start a parade that was unique to Jackson, so on that day, he created one combining elements St. Patrick's Day and Mardi Gras celebrations. The parade, which was once called Mal's St. Paddy's Parade & Festival, was renamed as Hal's St. Paddy's Parade & Festival in 2016 in memory of his late brother Hal White.
The parade will fall on St. Patrick's Day, Saturday, March 17, this year, and the theme will be "Artfully Alive at 35," celebrating the 35th year of the event. —Amber Helsel
Finalists: Bright Lights Belhaven Nights (August, email@example.com) / Jacktoberfest (October, jacktoberfest.com) / Jackson Music Awards (July, jmaainc.com) / Mistletoe Marketplace (November, mistletoemarketplace.com) / Zoo Brew (April, jacksonzoo.org)
Best Art Gallery: Fondren Art Gallery
(3242 N. State St., 601-981-9222, fondrenartgallery.com)
If you're an art lover who has not been inside Fondren Art Gallery's new location, you are missing out. The space is filled ceiling to floor with artwork, from the framing area downstairs to the gallery upstairs to even the parking lot, with all of its different art pieces and studios.
Fondren Art Gallery has work from artists in all manor of mediums, including watercolor paintings from Darryl Anderson, oil paintings from Cleta Ellington, drawings from Jeffrey Yentz, and international artists such as abstract artist Cheng Jinlu.
The gallery not only represents current artists but also trains up-and-coming creatives. Owner Richard McKey teaches art lessons for adults for $60, and children can register for an art lesson with Holly Wigman for $40. —Amber Helsel
Finalists: AND Gallery (133 Millsaps Ave., 601-351-5075, andgallery.org) / Brown's Fine Art and Framing (630 Fondren Place, 601-982-4844, brownsfineart.com) / Fischer Galleries (736 S. President St., fourth floor, 601-291-9115, fischergalleries.com) / Offbeat
(151 Wesley Ave., 601-376-9404, offbeatjxn.com) / Southern Breeze Gallery (500 Highway 51, 601-607-4147, southernbreeze.net)
Best Barbershop: Fondren Barber Shop
(2943 Old Canton Road, 601-826-0707)
Even with huge competition in the Best Barbershop category, Fondren Barber Shop claimed the title for a fourth year in a row.
"We kind of noticed the trend happening where men were giving themselves permission to treat themselves better than they used to," Eddie Outlaw, who opened the business with husband Justin McPherson in 2013, says. "We saw that happening, and we're glad that the men of the metro area are happy with it and taking advantage of it."
Outlaw says that he hopes Jacksonians voted for Fondren Barber Shop because of its commitment to elevating the barbershop experience, with one of the biggest focuses being customer service. "It starts at the front of the house and goes all the way through to their stylist and the way they're treated," he says. —Micah Smith
Finalists: ACEY Custom Hair Design (3015 N. State St., 601-937-7754) / The Barbershop at Great Scott (4400 Old Canton Road, Suite 100, 601-984-3500, greatscott.resurva.com) / Custom Cuts & Styles (2445 Terry Road, 601-321-9292) / Maurice's Barber Shop (multiple locations) / Noble Barber (1065 Highland Colony Pkwy., Suite F, Ridgeland, 601-856-6665, noblebarber.com)
Best Beauty Shop/Salon: Barnette's Salon
(4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 201, 769-230-4648; 1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 8001, Ridgeland, 601-898-4646; 4400 Old Canton Road, 601-362-4040; barnettessalon.com)
Barnette's Salon may have downsized a bit last year, closing its Highland Bluff shop to focus on its locations at Banner Hall and Renaissance at Colony Park, but that didn't stop the business from winning Best Beauty Shop/Salon for a third consecutive year.
General Manager Richard Gray, who has been with Barnette's for two years, says that people keep coming back to the salons because their stylists go above and beyond for clients, whether they come in for a simple cut, coloring or specialty services.
"We have wonderful employees that are just easy to get along with. They're motivated and well-trained, and the customers we have are just fantastic people," he says. "Everybody seems to enjoy coming to work, simply because of the customers." —Micah Smith
Finalists: Artisan Hair Company (400 A Cynthia St., Clinton, 844-321-2426, artisanhaircopmany.com) / LIV the salon (160 W. Government St., 601-814-8731) / SMoak Salon (622 Duling Ave., Suite 206, 601-982-5313, smoaksalon.com) / Watercolor Salon (115 W. Jackson St., Suite 1H, 601-605-4448, watercolorsalon.com) / William Wallace Salon (2939 Old Canton Road, 601-982-8300)
Best Caterer: Fresh Cut Catering & Floral
(108 Cypress Cove, Flowood, 601-939-4518, freshcutcateringandfloral.com)
Many people who have planned events in Jackson are probably familiar with Wendy Putt's work. Her company, Fresh Cut Catering & Floral, is often a local go-to for event planning because she and her team can do basically everything: floral arrangements, decorating and food service.
Fresh Cut has catered events such as weddings, birthday parties, Team Jackson luncheons, Mistletoe Marketplace, corporate events, fundraisers and more.
She also owns venues The Railroad District and The South Warehouse, so using those is even more convenient because you have a built-in decorator, caterer and flower arranger (you may have even attended a couple of Best of Jackson parties at her venues). Putt also recently opened the Nissan Cafe by Fresh Cut at Two Mississippi Museums. —Mike McDonald
Finalists: 4Top Catering (4500 Interstate 55 N., 601-942-4999, 4topcatering.com) / Ashley Steele-Ramage (Mama Hamil's Southern Cookin' & BBQ, 751 Highway 51, Madison, 601-856-4407, hamils.com) / Babalu Tapas & Tacos (622 Duling Ave., Suite 106, 601-366-5757, eatbabalu.com) / Mangia Bene Catering (4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 101, 601-362-2900, mangiabene-catering.com)
Best Dance Studio: Salsa Mississippi Club & Studio
(605 Duling Ave., 601-213-6355, salsamississippi.com)
After three consecutive years as a finalist, Salsa Mississippi won the title of 2018's Best Dance Studio, but the business' Best of Jackson history goes back much further. Sujan and Sarah Ghimire founded Salsa Mississippi in 2006, and the studio was the first to win Best Place for Dance Lessons, the precursor to Best Dance Studio, when the category was created in 2010.
While Salsa Mississippi is still one of the city's premier spots for salsa, Bachata and ballroom dancing lessons, it is also a hub for other physical-fitness practices.
Jacksonians can visit the Fondren studio to take lessons for Zumba, hip-hop dance, tai chi, yoga and hybrid kickboxing, with the guest instructors and workshops for dances such as tap, Zouk and more. —Micah Smith
Finalists: Applause Dance Factory (242 W. Stephens St., Ridgeland, 601-228-3270, danceatapplause.com) / Dance Works Studio (1104 E. Northside Drive, Clinton 601-720-1885, dwsms.com) / Studio K (801 S. Wheatley St., Suite A, Ridgeland, 769-251-1506) / Xpress Dance Company (2160 Main St., Suite D, Madison, 601-853-0826; 155 W. Government St., 601-954-6268; xdance.net)
Category We Left Off: Best Realtor
I may be the son of a realtor, but I was still surprised to see that Jacksonians voted the profession as this year's Best Category We Left Off. At least, I was until I thought about it. My mom's experience in the field over the years has shown me just how much work goes into finding someone the right place to live, with plenty of research and careful planning put into every purchase.
In one sense, realtors are also a gateway for people to enjoy every other category in Best of Jackson, from restaurants to entertainment to quality educators. The best realtors can help their clients find not just a house in Jackson but a real home, a starting point to plug in and find community here in the capital city. —Micah Smith
Finalists: Best Event Planner / Best Florist / Best LGBT Hangout / Best Yoga Teacher
Best Fitness Center: Baptist Healthplex
(717 Manship St., 601-968-1766, mbhs.org; 102 Clinton Parkway, Clinton, 601-925-7900, healthplexclinton.com; Healthplex Performance Center, 501 Baptist Drive, Madison, 601-856-7757, healthplexperformance.com; mbhs.org)
Longtime Best Fitness Center contender Baptist Healthplex has been a mainstay of the Jackson metro area since Baptist Hospital opened its first location in Jackson in 1989.
"We pride ourselves on a family atmosphere and a comfortable environment that is both friendly and uncrowded," Baptist Healthplex Interim Director Tony James says. "It's not just about fitness but the social aspect, as well."
The facility offers personal training, group exercise, aquatic exercise classes and small group training for three or more people. Group exercise courses include yoga, Pilates, body sculpting, dance aerobics, abdominal classes and senior fitness classes. —Dustin Cardon
Finalists: Crossfit 601 (113 W. Railroad St., 601-941-8904, crossfit601.com) / Focus Fit (5709 Highway 80, Pearl, 601-591-7487, focusfitms.com) / Metropolitan YMCAs of Mississippi (400 Lindale St., Clinton, 601-924-5812; 690 Liberty Road, Flowood, 601-664-1955; 6023 Lakeshore Park, Brandon, 601-992-9118; metroymcams.org) / The Club (multiple locations, theclubms.com)
Best Flower Shop: Greenbrook Flowers Inc.
(705 N. State St., 601-957-1951, greenbrookflowers.com)
Few of 2018's Best of Jackson winners have as long of a winning streak as Greenbrook Flowers, which voters have selected as the Best Flower Shop for 12 years running. For an even shorter list, look for establishments that have served the city as long as Greenbrook has. The florist is now in its fifth generation of ownership and celebrated its 100th year in operation in 2017.
Things haven't been "business as usual" for Greenbrook over the past century, though. Today, the shop is a 24-hour floral service that lets customers to purchase a variety of plants, flowers and gourmet baskets online or over the phone at any time. The store is also part of the international Florists' Transworld Delivery network, letting patrons access FTD-exclusive products without losing the personal quality that Greenbrook is known for. —Micah Smith
Finalists: A Daisy A Day (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 194, 601-982-4438, adaisyadayjackson.com) / Mostly Martha's Florist and Gifts (353 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-956-1474, mostlymarthas
florist.com) / The Prickly Hippie (470-337-7167, firstname.lastname@example.org, pricklyhippie.com) / Whitley's Flowers (740 Lakeland Drive, 601-362-8844, whitleysflowers.com)
Best Kids' Event: Boo at the Zoo
Jacksonians selected Boo at the Zoo, the Jackson Zoo's two-night Halloween festival, as 2018's Best Kids' Event for a third year in a row.
The zoo has hosted the event for more than a decade and expanded on its offerings over the years. Now, Boo at the Zoo features more than 22 vendors passing out candy and treats for children, a live deejay, a magician, the "Monster Mash" dance party, a parade of costumes, a "Howl Like a Wolf" contest and a chance to learn about the nightlife of animals at the zoo.
"The reason it is so popular is that it offers safe environment for trick-or-treating and added entertainment," Toni Francis, the zoo's event coordinator, says. "We even have the education department out greeting guests with animals from snakes to owls and other creepy-crawly animals for a hands-on learning experience." —Rebecca Hester
Finalists: Dr. Seuss' Silly Birthday Celebration (February, mschildrensmuseum.org) / NatureFEST! (April, mdwfp.com) / Touch A Truck Jackson (April, touchatruckjackson.com) / WellsFest (September, wellschurch.org)
Best Liquor/Wine Store: Fondren Cellars
(633 Duling Ave., 769-216-2323)
For some people, Fondren Cellars may seem a little overwhelming. The business, which opened in 2011, is stocked floor to ceiling with liquors, wines and other spirits. Thankfully, the store also has knowledgeable employees to point you in the right direction.
Whatever your need, whether it be something from across the world, such as sake from Japan, or something closer to home, like Cathead Vodka, you will likely be able to find something to fit your tastes on Fondren Cellars' shelves.
For the wine lovers, the business has Wine Wednesdays, during which the shop's entire inventory of wine is 10 percent off, and a "Smart Buy" rack for those who want to choose a good wine but don't have a lot of time.
Fondren Cellars also has items for bars such as bitters, mixers and ready-made cocktails, and free glassware for private events. The business can even help its patrons plan events such as engagement parties, private wine or spirit tastings, and mixology classes. —Amber Helsel
Finalists: Briarwood Wine and Spirits (4949 Old Canton Road, 601-956-5108, briarwoodwine
andspirits.com) / Corkscrew Fine Wine and Spirits (4800 Interstate 55 N., Suite 32B, 601-981-1333) / Kats Wine & Spirits (921 E. Fortification St., 601-983-5287, katswine.com) / McDade's Wine & Spirits (1220 E. Northside Drive, Suite 320, 601-366-5676, mcdadeswineandspirits.com) / Wine & Spirits in the Quarter (1855 Lakeland Drive, Suite A10, 601-366-6644, drinkinman.com)
Best Local Dealer for a New or Used Car: Paul Moak Automotive
(Honda, 802 Harding St., 855-943-4433; Subaru/Volvo, 740 Larson St., 888-859-4918, paulmoak.com)
Best Local Dealer for a New or Used Car is a relatively new category in Best of Jackson, but Paul Moak Automotive has been a finalist every year since the Jackson Free Press added the category in 2016. This is Paul Moak's first year to win the award.
One of the reasons that voters keep coming back to the family of car dealerships is the variety it offers. Customers find styles ranging from hybrids to sports cars, but the Paul Moak brand also specializes in three different makes: Subaru, Volvo and Honda.
Each of the company's dealerships also holds four stars or better on car-dealership review website DealerRater.com, with Paul Moak Honda having won Dealer of the Year and the Consumer Satisfaction Award three years in a row. —Micah Smith
Finalists: Bob Boyte Honda (2188 Highway 18, Brandon, 601-591-5000, bobboytehonda.com) / Gray-Daniels Auto Family (multiple locations, graydaniels.com) / Herrin-Gear Automotive Group (multiple locations, herringear.com) /
Patty Peck Honda (555 Sunnybrook Road, Ridgeland, 601-957-3400, pattypeckhonda.com)
Best Local Bank/Credit Union: BankPlus
(multiple locations, BankPlus.net)
Banking local can often be the best way to go. Luckily, the Jackson metro area has Mississippi-based options such as two-time Best Local Bank/Credit Union winner BankPlus. The business launched in 1909 as Citizens Bank & Trust Company in Belzoni, Miss. CB&T established offices in Central Mississippi and the Delta before it became BankPlus in September 1994 following a merger with Southeast Mississippi Bank in Quitman. Today, BankPlus has 57 offices in 33 Mississippi communities.
Along with banking amenities such as check and savings accounts, money market accounts and more, BankPlus also gives back. It created the BankPlus Affordable Housing Program in early 2002 to help local residents become homeowners, and it assists nonprofit organizations that provide affordable housing. The company also participates in an Adopt-a-School program, which provides additional resources for local schools, and takes part in the American Bankers Association Education Foundation's annual National Teach Children to Save Day, for which Bankplus agents teach children about the importance of saving money. —Dustin Cardon
Finalists: BancorpSouth (multiple locations, bancorpsouth.com) /
Hope Credit Union (multiple locations, hopecu.org) / First Commercial Bank (1300 Meadowbrook Road, 601-709-7777; 1076 Highland Colony Pkwy., Suite 150, Ridgeland, 601-790-2789; firstcommercialbk.com) / Magnolia Federal Credit Union (multiple locations, magfedcu.org) / Trustmark (multiple locations, trustmark.com)
Best Local Jeweler/Jewelry Store: Jackson Jewelers
(253 Ridge Way, Flowood, 601-992-1700, jacksonjewelersinc.com)
Whether you are buying a piece of jewelry for yourself or picking something out for a loved one, it is best to know what you are getting yourself into. Fortunately, this year's winner for Best Local Jeweler/Jewelry Store, Jackson Jewelers, is all about making sure their customers make the best choice.
Best friends Ron Muffuletto and John Winstead founded the business in 1981; however, these days, Muffuletto and his son Paul Muffuletto run the business as a full-service jewelry store. Jackson Jewelers carries one of the largest selections of loose gems and a variety of engagement rings. The business has pieces from Allison Kaufman, Benchmark and many other designers, but it can also perform services such as custom design, jewelry and watch repair, pearl stringing and engraving.
Jackson Jewelers isn't just about selling jewelry, though. The business wants to educate its customers. The store's website has resources to teach customers about everything from gem quality to jewelery care, but the business also has a certified gemologist on hand. —Amber Helsel
Finalists: Albriton's (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 184, 601-982-4020, albritons.com) / Beckham Jewelry (120 District Blvd., Suite D110, 601-665-4642, beckhamjewelry.com) / Juniker Jewelry Co. (1485 Highland Colony Pkwy., Madison, 601-366-3754, junikerjewelry.com) / Newton's Fine Jewelry (5417 Highway 25, Suite N, Flowood, 601-919-8747)
Best Local Men's Clothing Store: Buffalo Peak Outfitters
(4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 115, 601-366-2557, buffalopeak.net)
Best Local Men's Clothing Store is always a competitive category, and yet, for a three years running, voters have selected Buffalo Peak Outfitters for the title. Cody McCain, the store's marketing director, says he attributes that in part to the store's commitment to quality products.
"We've been in business for 31 years now, and I think that definitely speaks to us staying relevant to people," he says. "(It's about) just constantly providing stuff that people really like and also providing good-quality stuff. It doesn't just tear up quickly. It lasts a while, and people know that it does."
McCain says that Patagonia clothing and insulated items were popular purchases in 2017, and the store is also putting a focus on up-and-coming brands such as Howler Brothers and United By Blue for 2018. —Micah Smith
Finalists: Great Scott (4400 Old Canton Road, Suite 101, 601-984-3500, greatscott.net) / Kinkade's Fine Clothing
(120 W. Jackson St., Ridgeland, 601-898-0513, kinkadesfc.com) / The Landing (111 Colony Crossing Way, Suite 250, 601-707-7505, thelanding
socialshop.com) / The Rogue (4450 Interstate 55 N., 601-362-6383, therogue.com)
Best New Addition: Mississippi Civil Rights Museum
(222 North St., Suite 2205, 601-576-6800, mscivilrightsmuseum.com)
Mississippi turned 200 years old in 2017, and to commemorate the bicentennial, two new museums opened in the capital. The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum was one of the two institutions to open in December—and it does not disappoint.
Myrlie Evers-Williams, a civil-rights veteran and widow of Medgar Evers, witnessed many atrocities of white supremacy and racism in Jackson in the Jim Crow and Civil Rights Eras. She said in December that she came out of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum a changed person.
"I felt the pain all over again," she said. "I felt the hope all over again. I felt the determination all over again, and I came out renewed."
If that's not enough to convince you that the museum is this year's Best New Addition to Jackson, then maybe Jackson is not for you. —Arielle Dreher
Finalists: Barrelhouse (3009 N. State St., 769-216-3167, barrelhousems.com) / Jax-Zen Float
(155 Wesley Ave., 601-691-1697, jax-zenfloat.com) / The District at Eastover (1250 Eastover Drive, 601-914-0800, thedistrictateastover.com) / The Westin Jackson (407 S. Congress St., 601-968-8200, westinjackson.com)
Best Local Women's Clothing Store: Material Girls
(734 McKenzie Lane, Flowood, 601-992-4533; 1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 7005, 601-605-1605; shopmaterialgirls.com)
Material Girls, 2018's Best Local Women's Clothing Store, has been "setting the standard since OH-Four," the shop's Instagram bio reads. When Whitney Giordano Foster opened her first store, she was still a senior in college. She majored in fashion merchandising with a minor in marketing at the University of Southern Mississippi.
When she began putting her education to use, she only had a few clothing racks in the store, and she sold home decor and gifts.
Foster turned that small shop into a Mississippi stronghold with locations in Flowood, Ridgeland, Oxford and Hattiesburg, in addition to its online store.
Today, Material Girls sends buyers to showrooms and markets across the nation to add more on-trend pieces to its stock of clothing, shoes, jewelry and accessories. —Ko Bragg
Finalists: DSquared (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 151; 256 Dogwood Blvd., Flowood; 601-992-9885, shopd2clothing.com) / Libby Story (1000 Highland Colony Pkwy., Suite 5003, Ridgeland, 601-717-3300, libbystory.com) / Maison Weiss (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 109, 601-981-4621, maisonweiss.com) / Treehouse Boutique (3000 N. State St., 601-982-3433, email@example.com)
Best Locally Owned Business: Sneaky Beans
(2914 N. State St., 601-487-6349)
Sneaky Beans is a lot like the most comfortable sweater you own. It is cozy, warm and despite wearing it all the darn time, never gets old.
The business is a home away from home for many in the area. The coffee shop is literally in a house, of course, so that helps, but there is more to it than that. Depending on what mood you are in or who you are with, there is probably a room in Sneaky Beans for you. If it is 5 p.m., you can grab a beer with a pal and kick it on the porch (sometimes complete with music). If you have five hours of reading to do, you can slide into a side room in a big comfy chair. If you're working on a group project, the back room has plenty of space.
However, it's not just about the coffee, beer and comfy surroundings. Ever since owner Byron Knight started the business in 2009, it has become a staple in the community, especially for Fondren residents. The business even sponsors the State Street Concert Series for Fondren After 5. —Arielle Dreher
Finalists: Capital City Kayaks (601-953-7615, capitalcitykayaks.com) / Dance Works Studio (1104 W. Mississippi Ave., Terry, 601-720-1885, dwsms.com) / Offbeat (151 Wesley Ave., 601-376-9404, offbeatjxn.com) / Mangia Bene Restaurant Management Group (3317 N. State St., 601-982-4443) / The Country Squire (1855 Lakeland Drive, Suite B10, 601-362-2233, thecountrysquireonline.com)
Best Local Festival: Fondren After 5
(first Thursday, fondren.org)
Fondren After 5, this year's winner for Best Local Festival, has taken different forms over the last few years, but one thing has remained true: It's always been a way to bring the community together around local arts, food and culture.
In March 2017, Studio Chane owner Ron Chane, who had organized the monthly street festival since 2015, announced that he would be stepping down, but the Fondren Renaissance Foundation helped to restructure the event and keep the momentum going. Last year, a rotating lineup of presenters hosted anchor events, such as the State Street Concert Series, "Jackson Indie Music Week Presents" and FRF's own Fondren Unwrapped.
Starting in March, Jacksonians can once again enjoy the lively atmosphere of Fondren After 5. —Amber Helsel
Finalists: Bright Lights Belhaven Nights (August, firstname.lastname@example.org) / Farish Street Heritage Festival (September, farishstreetheritagefestival.com) / Hal's St. Paddy's Parade & Festival (March, halsstpaddysparade.com) / Jacktoberfest (October, jacktoberfest.com) / WellsFest (September, wellschurch.org)
Best Place to Get Your Car Fixed: Capitol Body Shop
(multiple locations, capitolbodyshop.com)
The past few Best of Jackson competitions have been a whirlwind for Capitol Body Shop. After back-to-back victories in 2015 and 2016, the veteran collision-repair enterprise fell shy of a finalist spot in 2017. This year, Capitol Body is back as the Best Place to Get Your Car Fixed.
The family-owned body shop has been serving Jackson since Chad White first founded the business in 1963. Since then, Capitol Body has opened additional locations in Flowood, Ridgeland and Byram, and expanded upon its services and equipment arsenal. Employees can replace customers' windshields, fix their brakes, change their oil and apply a new paint job in one location, no matter the make or model of the vehicle. —Micah Smith
Finalists: Barnett's Body Shop (multiple locations, barnettsbodyshop.com) / Freeman's Auto Repair (847 S. State St., 601-948-3358) / Graves and Stoddard Inc. (722 Highway 80 E., Flowood, 601-939-3662) / Tony's Tire & Automotive (5138 N. State St., 601-981-2414)
Best Place to Buy Antiques: The Flea Market, Mississippi's Trade Place
(1325 Flowood Drive, Flowood, 601-953-5914)
There's no telling what you might find at The Flea Market. The business is in a 65,000-square-foot warehouse off Flowood Drive, making it one of the largest flea markets in the Jackson metro area.
On Saturdays and Sundays, you can check out more than 150 booths that sell everything large and small, whether you're looking for collectibles or comic books, furniture, paintings, vintage radios and everything in between.
For larger items, The Flea Market has a space for salvage items in the back. There, you can find old wood, signs, doors and more. For more information, visit flowoodantiquefleamarket.com or find the business on Facebook. —Amber Helsel
Finalists: Antique Mall of the South (367 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-853-4000) /
Interiors Market (659 Duling Ave., 601-981-6020) / Old House Depot (639 Monroe St., 601-592-6200, oldhousedepot.com) / Repeat Street (242 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-605-9123, repeatstreet.net)
Best Place to Buy Kids' Clothes or Toys: Leap Frog Children's Consignment and More
(104 Village Blvd., Madison, 601-898-0727, leapfrogmadison.com)
Leap Frog Children's Consignment & More has taken the title of Best Place to Buy Kids' Clothes or Toys for the second time in the 2010s since winning in 2016.
Owner Mary Ann Chaney says she opened Leap Frog in 2001 when she saw a need for a consignment shop in Madison. The store provides consignment and brand-new products for newborns to teenagers, with boutique clothing and accessories, toys for all ages, furniture such as swings and beds, and more. Leap Frog also offers monogramming and applique on backpacks, lunch boxes and other items that can be found in store.
"We have everything that parents may need to get them through the first several years," Chaney says, "and we wouldn't be here without our great customers, so we want to provide them with what they need." —Rebecca Hester
Finalists: Bows & Arrows (182 Promenade Blvd., 601-992-9966, little-bows-arrows.myshopify.com) / Helen's Young Ages (4750 Interstate 55 N., 601-362-0317, helensyoungages.com) /
Louis LeFleur's Trading Post (Mississippi Children's Museum, 2145 Museum Blvd., 601-709-2603, mschildrensmuseum.org) /
Row 10 (1107 Highland Colony Pkwy., Suite 105, Ridgeland,
Best Place to Buy Unique Gifts: O! How Cute Boutique & Gifts
(multiple locations, 844-742-9120, shopohc.com)
There are plenty of places to find clothes, accessories, decorative pieces and food in the Jackson metro area, but few have all of the above under one roof—or should we say roofs?
With locations in Brandon, Pearl, Flowood and Madison, O! How Cute Boutique & Gifts, this year's winner for Best Place to Buy Unique Gifts, is just about as close as one can get to a one-stop shop.
Customers can purchase home decor such as candles and ceramics; fashion choices including shoes, dresses, T-shirts and purses; and food items like jams, jerky and glazes. O! How Cute also features some local and Mississippi-made artwork and crafts for those looking to grab a one-of-a-kind selection, whatever the occasion. —Micah Smith
Finalists: Apple Annie's Gift Shop (1896 Main Street, Suite D, Madison, 601-853-8911; 152 Grants Ferry Road, Brandon, 601-992-9925; shopappleannies.com) / Bliss Gift and Home (4465 Interstate 55 N., 601-326-3337) / Brock's Beauty & Gift Apothecary (1220 E. Northside Drive, Suite 300, 601-366-9343, watercolor
salon.com) / Fair Trade Green (2807 Old Canton Road, 601-987-0002, fairtradegreen.com) / The Prickly Hippie (470-337-7167, pricklyhippie@
Best Place to Work: University of Mississippi Medical Center
(2500 N. State St., 601-984-1000, umc.edu)
With 10,000 employees, it would be easy for those working for the University of Mississippi Medical Center to feel like faces in a crowd, and yet for three years in a row, it has won Best Place to Work.
For Paula Henderson, that wasn't surprising. She moved here from Maryland to become UMMC's chief human resources officer about six weeks ago because the company's shared goals of improving the state through quality education and health care resonated with her. In her time with UMMC, she says that she has noticed how engaged and committed its employees are.
"They love what they get when they come to work, and what do they get?" she asks. "They get extreme employee satisfaction because they're doing something good for their community and something great for the larger state of Mississippi." —Micah Smith
Finalists: Cole Facial Clinic & Skin Care (1030 N. Flowood Drive, Suite A, Flowood, 601-933-2004, colefacialclinic.com) / Hinds Community College (hindscc.edu) / Mississippi Children's Museum (2145 Museum Blvd., 601-981-5469, mschildrensmuseum.org) / St. Dominic Hospital (969 Lakeland Drive, 601-200-2000, stdom.com)
Best Tattoo/Piercing Parlor: Electric Dagger Tattoo
(2906 N. State St., Suite B-6, 601-982-9437)
Electric Dagger Tattoo in Fondren has been mixing big-city tattooing skills with southern charm for the past five years. This is the business' fourth consecutive year to win the title of Best Tattoo/Piercing Parlor.
"What makes our shop unique is the way we treat customers, our skill set and the dedication we put into our craft—buying books, studying and traveling to bigger cities to stay on top of trends," owner and artist Jason Thomas says. "Jackson didn't have an envelope-pushing shop, and I felt I owed it to Jackson to stay here, and bring talents here rather than move to a larger city."
Even those who aren't sure about body ink might consider a quick visit to Electric Dagger to see the gallery-worthy artwork of Thomas and the shop's other tattoo artists, "Iron Mike" Richardson and Mallory Kay. —Shameka Hayes-Hamilton
Finalists: Black Lotus Tattoo Shop (420 N. Bierdeman Road, Pearl, 601-933-1120) / Hard Rocs Tattoo & Piercing (1149 Old Fannin Road, Brandon, 769-251-5363) / House of Pain Custom Tattoos (22 Holiday Rambler Lane, Suite 300, Byram, 601-321-9040) / Squench's Tattoos, Ltd. (3780 Interstate 55 S., 601-372-2800, squenchstattoos.com)
Best Thrift/Consignment Shop: Repeat Street
(242 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-605-9123, repeatstreet.net)
When thrift-store shopping, it's often best to have a large volume of items to choose from, so you can find what you need—even if you don't know what you're looking for. For one of the largest collections of items, visit Repeat Street, Jacksonians' vote for Best Thrift/Consignment Shop for seven years running.
When you walk into the Ridgeland shop, you'll see salvage items on the porch, and the 17,000-square-foot interior has large pieces of furniture, shoes, clothing, records, accessories and everything in between.
On top of the choices within the store,
Repeat Street is a sister location to another finalist in the category, Orange Peel in Fondren, so if you can't find what you're looking for at one store, you can always try the other. —Amber Helsel
Finalists: City Thrift (5465 Interstate 55 N., Suite C, 601-345-1833, buythrift.com) / Goodwill Industries International, Inc (multiple locations, goodwill.org) / N.U.T.S. (114 Millsaps Ave., 601-355-7458) / Orange Peel Resale (422 Mitchell Ave., 601-364-9977) / Private Collection (101B Village Blvd., Madison, 601-607-6004)
Best Veterinarian/Vet Clinic: Briarwood Animal Hospital
(1471 Canton Mart Road, 601-956-5030)
Jacksonians have voted Briarwood Animal Hospital as the Best Veterinarian/Veterinary Clinic for a third year in a row, and for Dr. John Ray, who has been with the Briarwood since 1984, part of that dynasty comes from the hospital's history of serving the area.
"For one, the clinic has been here since 1960, so it's kind of a Jackson institution," he says. "It was started by Dr. Hugh Ward back in 1960 and has grown over the years. We're a multi-doctor practice now and try to offer state-of-the-art veterinary care."
All five of Briarwood's doctors work to further their education and make sure they have the most up-to-date techniques and equipment each year, Ray says, but more than that, he hopes that the community voted for Briarwood because its employees are compassionate about the pets they treat. —Micah Smith
Finalists: All Creatures Animal Care Center (262 New Mannsdale Road, Madison, 601-856-5333, allcreaturesanimalcarecenter.com) / Animal Medical Center (995 S. Frontage Road, 601-354-3622, animalmedicalcenter
ofjackson.com) / Hometown Veterinary
Service (1010 Depot Drive, Brandon, 601-825-1697) / North State Animal and Bird Hospital
(5208 N. State St., 601-982-8261, northstate
Best Reason to Live in Jackson: Fondren
For a third consecutive year, voters have selected
Fondren as the Best Reason to Live in Jackson.
While there are plenty of amazing places in the capital, the neighborhood has long been a major draw for visitors and locals alike.
Fondren offers a little something for everyone while still being uniquely "Jackson." In a single day, a Fondrenite can shop at a local grocer, see local music, purchase local art, and get food or drinks at a locally owned restaurant, all without getting in a car—a tough feat almost anywhere else in the state of Mississippi.
As with many of the city's coolest places, though, Fondren is more than the sum of its parts. It's also an exemplar of the other contenders in this category—community, hospitality, great food and great people. —Micah Smith
Finalists: Community / Food / Hospitality / People
Best Yoga Studio: Joyflow Yoga
Often, Best of Jackson winners only have their best guess for why voters chose them. Debi Lewis of Joyflow Yoga, this year's Best Yoga Studio, has a pretty good idea.
After 28 years of teaching yoga, she has been able to touch a lot of lives, she says. Lewis first got into yoga because of neck and back pain and depression, so for her, the practice has always been more spiritual than trendy fitness option.
"So I'm not a big 'Instagram chick,' in other words," she says with a laugh. "I'm not going to show off my backbend for you."
Joyflow's location in Ridgeland closed in 2017, but Lewis continues teaching classes at Fitness Plus in Jackson and Connections Pilates in Madison, while also leading teacher training courses around the state.
"I want to help people really make lasting changes in their lives that aren't just physical," she says. —Micah Smith
Finalists: M Theory Yoga (118 W. Jackson St., Suite C, Ridgeland, 601-790-7402, mtheoryyoga.com) / StudiOm Yoga
(665 Duling Ave., 601-209-6325, studiomyoga
ofms.com) Tara Yoga (200 Park Circle, Suite 4, Flowood, 601-720-2337, tara-yoga.net)