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Family Choice Awards 2012

Our annual Family Choice Awards gives you, our readers, the opportunity to weigh in on who you think does the best job in our city when it comes to serving families. It’s not an easy task, trying to meet the demands of choosy consumers, especially parents, who are constantly on the go.

But each year, lots of you share your opinions with us, weighing in on everything from your favorite pediatricians and kids clothing stores, to the restaurants that serve the best pizza and barbeque. From thousands of votes, we crunch the numbers to determine the Family Choice Award winners for 2012.

We know you appreciate those service providers that hit your sweet spot. Here, we salute the many outlets that you deem go above and beyond the call of duty by providing the best service, to adults and kids alike.  

This year we also introduce several new categories, including Best Parents Day Out programs, Best Afterschool Arts and Sports programs, Best Children's Consignment Store, Best Overnight Camp, and Best Spa for Moms, to name a few. We hope our listings will give you some ideas of places to try when you’re looking for new services for your family.

Finally, congrats to all the winners; whether gold, silver, or bronze, your excellence has been noted.

 

FUN PLACES TO GO

Best FREE Family Outing

Gold: Woodland Discovery Playground,
Shelby Farms
Silver: Levitt Shell
Bronze: Memphis Zoo, Free Tuesdays

Anything free is hard to beat. But even better are those destinations that provide a quality experience, too, which is exactly what these winners deliver. From the new playground at Shelby Farms to free concerts at the Shell or a stroll through the zoo, these attractions serve up plenty of fun that's free. Salute!

Best Family Day Trip

Gold: Memphis Zoo
Silver: Pickwick Lake
Bronze: Cedar Hill Farms

Don't you love discovering getaways that don’t require going too far yet still manage to transport you? If you haven’t visited these winners yet, put them on your to-do list.

 

FAMILY SHOPPING

Best Locally Owned 
Children’s Store

Gold: Cotton Tails
Silver: Chocolate Soup
Bronze: Itty Bitty Bella

Whether you want to your kids to look fashionable or just plain cute, you’ll find a great selection at these fine shops.

NEW • Best Kids 
Consignment Store

Gold: Once Upon A Child
Silver: Summer Kids
Bronze: TIE • Rhea Lana’s & Children’s Consignment

Gently-worn clothes are just the ticket when your kids are growing like weeds. Readers say these consignment businesses offer both variety and good quality merchandise for tots of all ages.  

Best Place to Buy Toys

Gold: Village Toy Maker
Silver:Summer Kids
Bronze: Trains and Tiaras

Every city needs a few stores that carry quality toys at a reasonable price. The Village Toymaker, their homey shops bulging with goodies, wins gold for good reason: you’ll always find a fabulous selection of interesting toys. The hardest part might just be making a decision. Congrats as well to our new silver and bronze winners. Welcome!

Best Maternity Store

Gold:  A Pea in a Pod
Silver: Haute Mama
Bronze: Summer Kids

Classy, sassy, repeat!

Best Store for Baby Gifts

Gold:  Cotton Tails  
Silver: Itty Bitty Bella
Bronze:  TIE • Spoiled Sweet &
Woman’s Exchange of Memphis

Who doesn’t want to arrive with the cutest item at a baby shower? Thankfully, these destinations provide plenty of captivating possibilities. Who says babies shouldn’t be spoiled?

Best Store for Children’s Gifts

Gold:  Village Toymaker
Silver: Booksellers of Laurelwood
Bronze:  Itty Bitty Bella

NEW• Best Place to Buy 
Baby’s Clothes

Gold: Cotton Tails
Silver: Itty Bitty Bella
Bronze: Woman’s Exchange of Memphis

Whether you’re looking for traditional christening gowns or trendier togs, readers tell us these shops offer a great selection of layette and baby clothes. Hats off to gold winner Cotton Tails, which continues to be the go-to store for fashion-savvy shoppers. Close on its heels is Itty Bitty Bella, which also carries a great collection of strollers, and the Women’s Exchange, with lots of hand-stitched items.

 

FOOD

Best Restaurant with Kids

Gold: Huey’s
Silver: Chick-Fil-A
Bronze: Red Robin Gourmet Burgers

When you’ve got a picky eater at home, it always helps to have a go-to place (besides Mom's kitchen) where the food is predictably good. If you haven’t visited these restaurants yet, treat your family tonight. Our readers think they’re tops.

Best Restaurant without Kids

Gold: Flight Restaurant and Wine Bar
Silver: TIE • Restaurant Iris & Jim’s Place Restaurant and Bar 

Bronze: Ruth's Chris Steak House

All parents need an elegant night out on occasion. Our readers tell us these winners offer ambiance, tasty offerings, and a no-bicker zone. Ahh.  

Best Healthy Kids’ Menu

Gold: Jason’s Deli
Silver: Holiday Ham

Bronze:  Panera Bread

Memphis is lucky to have a growing number of contenders in this category. These three eateries offer food that not only tastes good, but is good for you.

Best Pizza Place

Gold:  Memphis Pizza Cafe
Silver: Mellow Mushroom

Bronze:  Russo’s New York Pizzeria

Whether it's thick crust, thin crust, or something in between, your pizza officianados will leave the table with a smile on their face after gnoshing at these fine pizzerias.

Best Barbecue

Gold: Central BBQ Memphis
Silver: Germantown Commissary
Bronze: Corky’s

With their latest downtown eatery now open, Central BBQ leads the pack in smoky deliciousness. When it comes to 'cue, these three know how to serve it up.

Best Ice Cream

Gold: Baskin-Robbins
Silver: YoLo Frozen Yogurt
Bronze: Ben and Jerry’s

In a word: Yum.

 

SERVICES

Best Kids’ Party Destination

Gold:  Sky Zone Sports    
Silver: Pump It Up
Bronze: Memphis Zoo

Although fairly new to Memphis, Sky Zone has captured the imagination of kids young and old who love to move. Pump It Up follows in their tracks; for a quality outdoor experience, our Memphis Zoo is hard to beat.

Best Kids’ Party Entertainment

Gold: Music for Aardvarks
Silver: Sky Zone Sports
Bronze:  Pump It Up

Kids live to wiggle and Mr. Joe, with Music for Aardvarks, gives them something to sing and shout about. Congrats to the Aardvarks and all our winners!

Best Bakery for Birthday Cakes

Gold: Muddy’s Bake Shop
Silver: Miss Muff’n Bakery  
Bronze: Kay’s Bakery

If you’ve been looking for a new place to pick up something tasty for your birthday boy or girl, your search is over.   

Best Salon for Kids’ Haircuts

Gold: Sports Clips
Silver: Super Cuts
Bronze:  Fantastic Sam’s

Looks like the price is right when it comes to finding stylists who will work with squirmy kids. Our readers endorse these fine outlets, which shape bedheads into things of beauty.

NEW• Best Spa for Mom

Gold: Gould’s
Silver: Germantown Day Spa
Bronze: Pavo

The best way to take care of your family is to take care of yourself. A visit to Gould's will give weary moms a place to relax and rejuvenate. Ahh...

Best Pediatrician

Gold: Dr. Chris Hanson, Laurelwood Pediatrics
Silver: Dr. Landon Pendergrass, Pediatric Consultants
Bronze:  Dr. Aimee Christian, Memphis Pediatrics

This is always a hotly contested category, with many doctors receiving votes. But those who came in on top had the most ardent followers. Congratulations, all.

Best Pediatric Dentist

Gold: Dr. Bradley Wilkinson
Silver: Dr. Meade Moore
Bronze: Dr. Michael Blen
We also had many dentists mentioned in this category, so congrats to these winners for coming out on top.

Best Orthodontist

Gold: Dr. Danny Weiss
Silver: Dr. Stanley Werner
Bronze:  Dr. Gregory Wilkinson

 

BEST OF THE CITY

Best Hospital

Gold: TIE • Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and Methodist-Le Bonheur Germantown
Silver: Baptist Memorial Hospital
Bronze: Methodist Hospital

We are blessed to live in a city that offers excellent medical care.  

NEW • Best Place to Have Your Baby

Gold:  Baptist Women’s Hospital
Silver: Methodist Germantown
Bronze:  Baptist  

A good birth experience is what these hospitals deliver.

Best Public School

Gold: White Station High School
Silver: Crosswind Elementary   

Bronze: Grahamwood Elementary

This category always yields a lengthy list of schools. But this year, it was White Station High that took the gold, just passing Crosswind Elementary. Grahamwood Elementary nosed out several other strong contenders to remain in the bronze position. But as any parent will tell you, a school is only good as its principal and teachers. Hats off to these educators, our readers voted you number one.

Best Private School

Gold: Woodland Presbyterian  

Silver: Grace St. Luke’s
Bronze: Briarcrest Christian School

Always a horse race, this year was no exception. But Woodland Presbyterian managed to stay out in front again this year, successfully winning gold. Grace St. Luke’s came in a strong second, and Briarcrest Christian fended off the competition to retain their bronze finish.  

Best Field Trip for Kids

Gold: Memphis Zoo
Silver: Memphis Botanic Garden
Bronze: Children’s Museum of Memphis

Field trips are more difficult to pull off these days, which is why having destinations that offer strong programming is so important. The zoo and botanic garden help kids learn about nature and animals, and CMOM, which just edged out the Pink Palace for the bronze, gives kids a glimpse into the grown-up world. Kudos to all, you do a great job educating (and entertaining) young learners.

Best Day Care


Gold: Memphis Jewish Community Center Early Childhood Center  
Silver: Lindenwood Christian Child Care
Bronze: We Love Kids Learning Center

Ask any parent what they need when children are young and quality childcare is often their response. Thankfully, the landscape has improved dramatically since we began this survey a decade ago. This year’s finish highlights some of the best: Memphis Jewish Community Center, which roared back to reclaim gold, followed closely by Lindenwood Christian and We Love Kids with bronze.

NEW • Best Parent’s Day 
Out Programs

Gold: Mullins United Methodist Church
Silver: Grace St. Luke’s Episcopal
Bronze:  Holy Rosary Catholic Church

Perfect when children are young and mom needs a breather during the week.

NEW • Best After-school Performing Arts Program

Gold: Music for Aardvarks
Silver: TIE • New Ballet Ensemble & Playhouse on the Square
Bronze: TIE • Briarcrest Performing Arts School & Hutchison Center for Excellence

Kids love to create and these programs give them lots of potential outlets.  

NEW • Best After-school Sports Program

Gold: TIE • Briarcrest & Memphis Jewish Community Center
Silver: TIE • Grace St. Luke’s & Holy Rosary
Bronze: Soccer Ole

NEW • Best Overnight Camp

Gold: Victory Ranch
Silver: Camp Bear Track
Bronze: Pinecrest

Camp is the place kids can not only make new friends, but discover new talents in themselves. These winners help kids discover a new home away from home.

NEW • Best Recreational Outing

Gold: Shelby Farms
Silver: Memphis Zoo
Bronze: The Green Line

For health and fitness fun, our readers say these destinations rock.

Best Annual Event for Families

Gold:  Zoo Boo
Silver: Memphis Italian Fest   
Bronze:  Memphis in May

Zoo Boo continues to bring home the gold in this popular field. An annual Halloween tradition, it's one that's sure to please.

Best Tourist Attraction

Gold: Memphis Zoo
Silver: Graceland
Bronze:  Beale Street

Three destinations that say Memphis.

Best Local Blog

Gold: Eastmemphismoms.blogspot.com
Silver: ILoveMemphisblog.com
Bronze: diningwithmonkeys.blogspot.com

These informational bloggers talk about the best places to visit, eat, and have fun with your family. Bookmark them — along with memphisparent.com, 
of course!

Best Local Role Model

Gold:  Coach Josh Pastner, University of Memphis Tiger Basketball Coach
Silver: Memphis Mayor AC Wharton
Bronze: TIE • Penny Hardaway, Minority Owner, Memphis Grizzlies & WMC Weatherman Dave Brown

Sports, weather, and civic leaders are the folks our readers look up to. Kudos to all.

 

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