Best Local Dog Trainer
Richmond SPCA (Sarah Babcock, Jackie Laubacher)
2519 Hermitage Road, 521-1300, richmondspca.org
An animal lover since childhood, Richmond SPCA Chief of Education and Training Sarah Babcock left her job as an engineer in 1998 to pursue animal behavior education. Jackie Laubacher, a behavior training specialist at the Richmond SPCA, and works with soon-to-be-adopted pups and provides public training classes.
2. 2SpeakDog (Kasey Herrera)
3. Impawsible Pups
Best Dog Park
Byrd Park, Park Drive at Pump House Drive; barkerfield.org
This canine kingdom at Byrd Park pleases owners and their furry friends alike. The park is fenced, allowing dogs to roam without being attached to their leashes, and doggie bags and tennis balls are provided. All dog breeds are allowed, and separate areas are provided for large and small dogs.
2. Rockwood Park
3. Chimborazo Park
Best Place to Board Your Pet
Holiday Barn Pet Resorts
3800 Mountain Road, Glen Allen, 672-2200; 614 Johnston Willis Drive, 794-5400
Sad you can’t bring your pet on vacation with you? Don’t be. At Holiday Barn, they may be vacationing better than you. Pups can frolic in the pool, and they’ll be pampered with spa treatments, multiple walks, gourmet treats and luxury suites. Furry feline companions get individual, multi-level cat condos that feature play aquariums, and receive daily snuggles.
2. Happy Camper Pet Lodge
3. Dog Services
Best Local Veterinarian
Betty Baugh’s Animal Clinic
5322 Patterson Ave, 288-7387
Founder Betty Baugh Harrison emphasizes nutrition and prevention as the strongest platform for animal health. Starting in 1998 as a house-call veterinarian, she opened her storefront clinic in 1999. Clients can expect services ranging from acupuncture to dentistry.
2. Locke Taylor
3. River City Veterinary Hospital
Best Dog Groomer
3501 W. Cary St, 358-9267
If your dog deserves a spa day, look no further than Dogma, which guarantees a comfortable and pleasing experience for man’s best friend. This establishment’s groomers have more than 50 years of combined experience and are trained to understand dog body language and communicate with them effectively.
2. Holiday Barn
3. Tie: Bark & Sparkle; Impawsible Pups; Ridge Dog Shop
Best Place to Adopt a Pet
2519 Hermitage Road, 521-1300, richmondspca.org
Find a new best friend at this rescue pet hub frequented by Richmonders. You’ll have no problem finding a jogging (or TV-watching) buddy, as this nonprofit cares for about 3,600 animals per year.
2. Richmond Animal League
Best James River-centric Attraction
Stop by the rocks at Belle Isle during warm months and you’ll see a bevy of sunbathers, kayakers, cyclists and more. It’s the perfect place for a walk or a picnic with a view of Tredegar Iron Works, Hollywood Cemetery and the city skyline. Even better, a trip here won’t leave your pockets empty.
2. Pony Pasture
3. Brown’s Island
Most Overhyped Festival
If standing in sweltering heat with juice running down your chin, hands and arms isn’t your thing, it might be time to skip the 33rd annual Carytown Watermelon Festival. However, if the coziness of sharing the street with 115,000 other festival-goers seems attractive, enjoy the Richmond staple with music, food, a kid’s area, and, of, course watermelon.
2. Shamrock the Block
3. Folk Festival
Best Place to Eat Your Lunch Outdoors
1700 Hampton St., 358-7166, maymont.org
Rolling green hills provide plenty of space for a sunny picnic. Pack a basket and enjoy views of the Maymont Mansion and its exquisite gardens. Little ones can visit the children’s farm and petting zoo. “I think Maymont is just top of mind when it comes to picnics,” says Carla Murray, assistant director of marketing and public relations at Maymont. “We have people that come here every day when the weather is nice.”
2. Virginia State Capitol grounds
Worst Street to Bike On
Beware of boisterous drivers on one of Richmond’s busiest streets. Narrow shoulders make this volume-heavy artery a dangerous and inconvenient place to pump those pedals. Instead, opt for less congested side streets to get where you’re going. Or, if you’re looking to get some exercise, check out one of Richmond’s many bike trails.
2. Cary Street
3. Monument Avenue
Best Farmers Market
South of the James Farmers Market
New Kent Avenue at W. 42nd Street, growrva.com
With nearly 100 vendors, this celebrated open-air market at Forest Hill Park delivers the goods — local goods, that is. Satisfy your sweet tooth with an enormous sourdough doughnut from Mrs. Yoder’s Kitchen, or make yourself sparkle by purchasing some handcrafted jewelry. Food trucks provide fuel for the market’s shoppers, which is open year-round.
2. Tie: The Farmers Market at Saint Stephen’s; Lakeside Farmers’ Market
3. 17th Street Farmers’ Market
Best Outdoor Adventure Company
6836 Old Westham Road, 560-0068, riversideoutfitters.net
Take advantage of the great outdoors with some guidance from Riverside Outfitters’ team of trained professionals — but don’t worry if you aren’t exactly an Eagle Scout. “We have an authentic and relaxed but professional approach to how we go about our business,” says Matt Perry, president. Float down the James in a guided raft trip, or tackle a high-ropes course amongst the trees. Lessons and seminars are provided for adventurers seeking new thrills.
Best Public Golf Course
Independence Golf Club
600 Founders Bridge Blvd., Midlothian, 601-8600
Independence Gold Club got a major facelift in 2014, earning it a place on Golf Digest’s list of Top 10 Remodels of 2016. Improvements have reduced the average play time from 5 ½ hours to 4 hours and 5 minutes, says Nick Austin, director of golf. “We got rid of a lot of unnecessary hazards.” The addition of Champion Bermuda grass also made the course “fun, fast and incredibly smooth.”
2. Belmont Golf Course
3. Providence Golf Club
Best Local Golf Instructor
Adam Smith, Salisbury Country Club
13620 W. Salisbury Road, Midlothian, 794-6841
Adam Smith has provided private instruction for Salisbury Country Club members and their guests since 1998. A second-generation PGA professional — his father served as head pro at the Country Club of Virginia from 1973 through 1993 — Smith gives 1,000 lessons per year and believes in “keeping it simple and teaching basics that are helpful for game improvement without too much technical complication.”
Best Private Golf Course
Country Club of Virginia
6031 St. Andrews Lane, 288-2891; 709 S. Gaskins Road, 287-1330
The Country Club of Virginia‘s Westhampton, James River and Tuckahoe Creek courses feature challenging play on perfectly manicured greens. If you’re not a member — or lucky enough to be invited by a member to play — you can check out the James River Course during the inaugural Dominion Charity Classic Nov. 3 to 6, the first PGA Tour Champions event in the Richmond area in 25 years.
2. Hermitage Country Club
3. Tie: The Federal Club; Kinloch
Best Health Club/Gym/Fitness Center
2201 Old Brick Road, Glen Allen, 464-0990; 11621 Robious Road, Midlothian, 378-1600
Both locales offer a top-of-the-line experience. An exceptional selection of group classes, a trackside café and a rooftop bar make this gym the ultimate place to break a sweat. Kids can participate in summer camps, swim lessons and activities while mom and dad run errands or lounge poolside. “We’re family friendly and cater to the young and young at heart,” says Wendy Greene, local marketing director.
2. Gold’s Gym
Best Dance Classes For Adults
Spotlight Studio of Dance and the Arts
6828 Woodlake Commons Loop, Midlothian, 639-1186, spotlightstudio.net
Spotlight Studio offers everything from Latin fusion and flamenco to Bollywood and burlesque, but assistant director Kelly Atkinson says tap and jazz are the most popular dance classes for adults. “Some of our adults have formal dance training and are rekindling their passion for dance,” she says. “But you can truly walk in as an adult beginner without any dance experience at all. We’re welcoming of everybody.”
2. Richmond Ballet
3. Rigby’s Jig
Best Dance Classes for Children
Spotlight Studio of Dance and the Arts
6828 Woodlake Commons Loop, Midlothian, 639-1186
Rather than prepare its students for dance competitions, Spotlight Studio instills the joy of giving back to the community through performance. “We embrace diversity in the arts and focus on technical training through teamwork,” says assistant director Kelly Atkinson. “It is more than just about dance here — it’s life lessons.”
2. Tie: Central Virginia Dance Academy; Richmond Ballet
3. Village Dance Studio
Best Sports Facility
VCU Siegel Center
1200 W. Broad St.
During basketball season you can’t beat VCU’s Siegel Center for atmosphere. Sure, the Verizon Wireless Arena itself is fairly uninspiring, with cinder block walls and a drab gray-and-black palette. But add in nearly 8,000 gold-clad VCU fans, the Rowdy Rams student section, the funky Peppas pep band and the scrappy VCU Rams team, and the Stu turns into the HavocDome.
2. The Diamond
Best Yoga Studio
Hot House Yoga
9665 W. Broad St., Glen Allen, 622-0099; 14227 Midlothian Turnpike, Midlothian, 794-0099; hothouseyogi.com
You don’t have to be a yogi to enjoy the benefits of this studio’s hot yoga practice. Instructors are ready to help newbies “ohm” their way to a healthier, more peaceful life through group or individual sessions. “For us, it’s about consistency and passion for what we do,” says co-owner Jimmy Yax. Veteran yoga students can deepen their practice with workshops and retreats through this family-owned business.
3. Tie: Glenmore Yoga & Wellness Center, Shockoe Slip Yoga and Yoga Source
Best Place to Be Fitted for Running Shoes
Road Runner Running Store
3002 W. Cary St., 353-8365
Whether you’re a beginning jogger or a veteran marathoner, Road Runner’s staff is trained to fit you with the proper footwear. Plus, they walk (or run) the talk — all of them are runners. “We engage with the customer to see what their running program is and analyze their mechanics,” says Brandon Croft, assistant manager. “We educate them on the product and we inspire them to get out there and enjoy their shoes.”
2. Lucky Foot
3. Fleet Feet
Best Adult Sports League
Richmond Volleyball Club
2921 Byrdhill Road, 1907 Westmoreland St., 358-3000; rvc.net
While the sport is the main focus, the social aspect is also a big draw at RVC. “We get a lot of folks who come in who don’t have a lot of knowledge about volleyball,” says executive director Darcy Carroll. “You see young 20-year-olds looking for a way to meet people that’s not a bar. But guess what? You can stay and have a pitcher after your game and that’s nice, too.”
2. River City Sports & Social Club
3. Richmond Kickers
Best Place to Buy Outdoor/Sports Gear
2020 Old Brick Road, Glen Allen, 360-1381
From camping equipment to yoga gear, REI’s got you covered. Not only does it have an expansive selection of products, but it also offers customers the opportunity to test out gear with outdoor classes, hikes, bike tours and more. “Our philosophy is a life outdoors is a life well-lived,” says Grant Smith, general manager. “We carry authentic gear and we have staff who are involved in our activities and are knowledgeable about the gear.”
3. Bass Pro Shops
Best Bowling Alley
6101 Brad McNeer Parkway, Midlothian,744-1077
Uptown Alley offers something for all types of bowlers in its 38 lanes — there are gutter bumpers for beginners, black-light bowling for teens and state-of-the-art scoring systems for everyone. Plus, there’s plenty more to do once you’ve finished your frames. Visit the on-site full-service restaurant or one of two bars, enjoy billiards or the arcade, and listen to music on Friday and Saturday nights.
2. AMF Sunset Lanes
3. AMF Shrader Lanes
Best Community Association
Fan District Association
The Fan has one of the most active community associations in Richmond. “We have tried to not only fulfill our obligation as a civic association…but we have also tried to [provide] outlets and events for people in our neighborhood to meet each other and to really form the bonds of a strong community,” says Matthew Stanley, a Fan District board member and former president.
2. Museum District Association;
3. Tie: Charter Colony HOA; Church Hill Association; Rutland HOA
Best Martial Arts Classes
Master Cho’s Tae Kwon Do
4386 Pouncey Tract Road, Glen Allen, 364-0101; 9964 Brook Road, Glen Allen, 262-0101; tigercho.com
Though owner Alana Cho is reluctant to divulge the number of students at Master Cho’s two locations — “We try to be humble,” she says — she does reveal that students range in age from 3 ½ to 78, and from special-needs to Olympic athletes. “I believe everyone should know how to protect themselves,” she says. “Not just females, but everyone.”
2. Midlothian Athletic Club
Best Tennis Lessons
11621 Robious Road, Midlothian, 378-1600
ACAC tennis pros are USTA-certified and offer everything from starter classes and a development program to private lessons and a high-performance program for all ages. “We have fabulous instructors that really care about the people across the net from them,” says Jason Kinder, director of tennis. “We are constantly trying to be innovative with our approach.”
2. Tie: Midlothian Athletic Club; Westwood Club
Best Place for a Crossfit Workout
Crossfit Addict, crossfitaddict.net
Crossfit Midlo, crossfitmidlo.com
Gold's Gym, goldsgym.com
Shockoe Bottom Crossfit, shockoebottomcrossfit.com
West End Crossfit, crossfitwestend.com
With five gyms — or “boxes” as they are called in CrossFit parlance — tied in this category, it’s safe to say the CrossFit craze is alive and well in RVA, and that CrossFitters are loyal to their individual locations. Perhaps it’s because this intense regimen inspires camaraderie among its participants through friendly competition.
Best Up-and-Coming Neighborhood
The historic Church Hill neighborhood is enjoying a revitalization evident in new businesses including Stroops Heroic Dogs, Roaring Pines and the recently renovated East End Theater Apartments with the new Liberty Public House restaurant inside. Scott’s Addition is also seeing a resurgence, with recently opened and coming attractions including Peter Chang, Blue Bee Cider and Ironclad Coffee Roasters.
2. Tie: Hallsley; Jackson Ward
Best New Neighborhood in Which to Buy a Home
3900 Brightwalton Road (Information Center), Midlothian, 794-9119
With amenities including a dog park, paved trails, pool and clubhouse, this Midlothian neighborhood is perfect for families. What sets it apart, though, is each home’s design. The architecture is what attracts people, says Franny Powell, senior vice president of marketing. “It’s strictly controlled and monitored so every home is unique.”
2. Magnolia Green
Neighborhood That Knows How to Decorate for the Holidays
Take a walk through time while staring in awe at the beautifully decorated homes in the historic Fan district. These dazzling dwellings are anything but dated, especially while they twinkle cheerfully during the holidays. The neighborhood even boasts its own holiday house tour, which takes participants inside some of the most impressive digs.
2. Monument Avenue
3. Walton Park
Neighborhood Most in Need of a Grocery Store
Residents of this East End neighborhood may not be aching for a full-service grocery store much longer. Hoping to provide healthy, affordable food, as well as employment opportunities for Church Hill residents, financer Steven Markel is in the early stages of an approval process for a Jim’s Local Market at 25th Street and Nine Mile Road.
3. North Side
Best New Community for Boomers
West Broad Village
Glen Allen, westbroadvillage.com
West Broad Village in Glen Allen offers a lot to like for boomers in search of a walkable community but who don’t want to move downtown. There are housing options ranging from apartments to low-maintenance, luxury townhomes. Plus, you can’t beat the convenience, with more than 40 shops and restaurants (including Trader Joe’s and Burger Bach), bars and an upscale gym within walking distance. There’s also live music on Saturday nights during the summer.
Best New Apartment/loft Community
Anything in Scott’s Addition
A drive through Scott’s Addition is proof the neighborhood is on fire, with construction crews transforming former warehouses and industrial buildings into apartments and lofts. A proposed project for two, 10-story towers could add 258 more units to the neighborhood. The addition of an Aldi, Peter Chang’s new restaurant and yet another microbrewery — look for a Three Notch’d Brewing Company on Broad, soon — adds to the neighborhood’s hip amenities.
2. West Broad Village (The Flats)
Lewis Ginter Recreation Association (Photo by Julianne Tripp)
Best Neighborhood Clubhouse or Community Center
Lewis Ginter Recreation Association
Lewis Ginter’s vision for a neighborhood bound by community centers lives on today in Ginter Park’s rec center. The historic clubhouse was built in 1906 and today is an active hub for fitness classes, twice monthly dances and special events. The pool is a popular place for North Siders to cool down in summer months, with an adults-only pool, an active swim team and social events such as a Labor Day pig roast.
2. West Broad Village
Best New Community for Families
Hanover County, rutlandnewhomes.com
With walking paths, a pool, clubhouse and playground — and highly rated schools — Rutland is a virtual suburban utopia. One thing that sets it apart is its clubhouse, a home that was used during the Civil War as a headquarters for Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart. “We renovated and relocated the Rutland House,” says Summer Baker, marketing manager at HHHunt. “We offer distinct home choices that complement the community’s history.”
Best Condo Community
4708 Old Main St., rockettsvillage.com
With incomparable views of the James River, a number of restaurants within walking distance, nearby Stone Brewery, a marina and easy access to the Capital Trail, Rocketts Landing provides a unique urban living experience just minutes from downtown. Choose a hip loft with exposed brick and an industrial feel, or perhaps a four-story, million-dollar home — complete with private elevator.
2. Monument Square
3. Sterling Row