The Best of the South Sound 2015


Illustrations by Dan Schlitzkus. Hand lettering by Nicole Logan.


Gallery // Jewelry // Boutique
Creative Forces Gifts and Sundries
Readers voted Creative Forces Gifts and Sundries as the best local gallery, jewelry, and boutique. The beautiful gallery located in Hotel Murano showcases local Northwest artists and includes gorgeous glass vases, elegant bracelets, and Tacoma trinkets available for purchase. Tacoma

Little Creek Casino Resort
Do you know when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em? Well don’t walk away! Run down to Little Creek Casino Resort. The casino was voted best by South Sound readers and offers more than gambling — it also plays host to entertainers, offers several dining options, and has an award-winning golf course. Shelton

El Toro Westgate
Throw on a little eyeliner or “guy” liner (see Keith Richards) and pile in to the tour bus (mini-van will do) and join other South Sounders at El Toro Westgate for karaoke on Friday and Saturday nights. The South Sound voted El Toro the best place to channel your inner Britney Spears. Tacoma

20140424-JF5A9399-XLMovie Theater
The Grand Cinema
The Grand gives screen time to independent films and hosts the Tacoma Film Festival and numerous other film events. During the Sony hacking debacle, The Grand was one of the only theaters in the area brave enough to show The Interview. Tacoma

Live Theater
Pantages Theater
When South Sounders want to catch a great live performance, they purchase tickets to Tacoma’s Pantages Theater. From vibrant musicals to bluesy folk shows, the Pantages is the place to go — and it’s stunning, too. Tacoma

Museum // Birthday Place // Northwest Travel // Destination // Kid-Friendly
Hands On Children’s Museum
Olympia’s Hands On Children’s Museum is really cool. Geared for kids ages 1-10, it is a family-fun destination that inspires kids to learn and teaches them that learning is fun. Our readers named it best museum, birthday place, Northwest travel destination, and best kid-friendly. We have something to add — it has the best slide, too. Olympia

Washington State Fair
Procession of the Species
The South Sound couldn’t decide which festival it likes more, so you voted the Washington State Fair and the Procession of the Species co-winners of Best Festival. Both events are fun for the whole family — and both have become Northwest traditions. Puyallup and Olympia, respectively

Blitz & Co Florist
Family-owned and-operated Blitz & Co was picked as the Best Florist in the South Sound. Victory has never smelled so sweet! Tacoma

Medium Business
Brown Paper Tickets
Brown Paper Tickets is Pierce County’s favorite website to sell and buy tickets. The medium-size business is a place to get the word out about events. Seattle

Credit Union
Harborstone Credit Union
Founded at McChord Air Force Base in 1955, Harborstone Credit Union is as homegrown as they come. The credit union now serves more than 74,000 members throughout Washington. Various locations

Car Dealership
Established in 1938, Titus-Will dealerships know a thing or two about cars. They are one of Washington’s largest volume auto groups. They boast great customer service and offer a huge selection of new and used cars. Various locations

_MG_0684Auto Repair
Import Auto Center
When your trusty car needs a little T.L.C., the South Sound trusts the specialists at Import Auto Center in Tacoma, which services Mazda, Toyota, Honda, Acura, and more. Tacoma

Large Business // Bank
Columbia Bank
Roll on Columbia, roll on! The Northwest bank is certainly rolling in happy customers. Columbia Bank was voted the best large business in the South Sound — and people who come to the Best of the South Sound party this year will get to get their picture on the signature blue couch! Various locations

Jennifer Andrews
Annie Arbenz
Jennifer Andrews and Annie Arbenz of Andrews and Arbenz, PLLC have been voted the South Sound’s dynamic duo of the courtroom — and lucky for you, they work together. Tacoma

Office Space
Rusty George Creative
Looking for a snazzy place to work or do business? The South Sound thinks the offices at Rusty George Creative are too cool for school. The company specializes in strategic branding, from logo design to website development and everything in between. Tacoma

Circle of Friends in Action
Circle of Friends in Action won the Best Nonprofit in the South Sound last year, and the humanitarians and their dedication to the children of Rubongi Village, Tororo Uganda, make South Sounders proud.

Auto Body Shop
Collision Specialists
Whoops! Fender bender? Readers say to head to Collision Specialists in Tacoma. That’s where they take their mighty metal steeds for a little grooming. Tacoma

Fournier Insurance Solutions
The Fournier family of Fournier Insurance Solutions likes to keep its business all in family, and the South Sound is happy to have Fournier looking out for our families. Various locations

Suburban Opticians
Jeepers! Where’d you get those peepers? The South Sound clearly likes the eyeglass specialists at Suburban Opticians in Tacoma. They voted the eyewear gurus the best in South Sound. Tacoma

Real Estate
Thunderbird Real Estate
Leslie Center and Beth Johnson opened an independent real estate company, and both have several years of real estate experience. They started their business together last year and impress our readers with their service. Tumwater

Small Business // Financial Advisor
Financial Insights
Need a little help with your financial plans? The South Sound recommends you ring up the team at Financial Insights in Tacoma. Ali A. Criss of Financial Insights was voted the best financial advisor in the South Sound, too! Tacoma

It’s a funky bunch down here in Tacoma, and our readers wouldn’t want it any other way! The historic port city keeps on rockin’ the South Sound and is obviously better than Phoenix, Arizona, Philadelphia, Atlanta, or L.A. (Don’t believe us? Ask Tom Tuttle.)
fashion_hlAntique Store
The Key Antiques
Browse the treasures and trinkets at The Key Antiques, and you’re sure to find a new favorite heirloom to display. Make a Monday special by bringing home a fabulous English Arts and Crafts gong to summon the family to the dinner table that’s topped with a one-of-a-kind decorative plate set. Lakewood

Teaching Toys
The toys from Teaching Toys are safe, durable and, best of all, fun. They’ve searched the globe for the coolest toys — many of them are wood, not plastic. And kids and parents agree this toy store might not only be the best in the South Sound, but perhaps the galaxy. Tacoma

The excitement of finding a hidden vintage gem keeps South Sounders heading over to Goodwill. Shopaholics can feel good about spending at the steal-of-a-deal store. Goodwill benefits those in need and creates jobs. Various locations

Whoa baby! The clothes, diaper bags and toys at Sumner’s SugarBabies have the South Sound going goo-goo. The cute, trendy and unique pieces at SugarBabies are sure to be the hit of any baby shower and will keep your kid looking like the rock star she is. Sumner

Fashion Blog
All Things Kate
Kate Retherford, the brain and beauty behind Northwest fashion blog All Things Kate, is an inspiration for women to look and feel great about themselves. She recently dropped more than 70 pounds! The spunky redhead provides health and exercise tips and suggested fashion finds to make any gal (any size) feel like a million bucks. Plus, she’s a Pacific Lutheran University grad. Seattle

3961_p_1326Local Designer
Luly Yang
Luly Yang loves sharing her love for fashion and design with the women of the Northwest. The Seattle-based designer creates gorgeous haute couture gowns for special occasions that make women feel confident and beautiful. Seattle

King’s Books
King’s Books is the largest used and new independent bookstore in the South Sound and any bibliophile’s dream. The Tacoma store is a wonderful spot to find a new story to curl up with on a rainy Sunday afternoon. And pet a cat. Tacoma

Men’s Clothier
Fashion never sleeps, and when the men of the South Sound want to look stylish, they visit Nordstrom. Whether a fresh pair of kicks or a three-piece suit is on the list, Nordstrom has it all. Plus, Nordstrom’s customer service is top notch. Various locations

Bridal Shop
The Wedding Bell
Whip out the checklist. Still missing something new for the big day? For more than 69 years saying yes to the dress has been easy for South Sounders who visit The Wedding Bell. Brides-to-be can choose from more than 700 bridal dresses in stock, and alterations are made in-house. Tacoma
food_hl Wine Shop
Total Wine and More
Washington’s become a destination for wine connoisseurs the world over, and readers looking for a huge selection prefer Total Wine and More. Various locations

Eddie Williams
Chef extraordinaire Eddie Williams at JW Restaurant spent a childhood traveling Europe tasting the culinary delights while his father was stationed in Germany. The creative chef loves to cook, and the South Sound loves to eat his amazing food. JW, Gig Harbor

Shake Shake Shake
Huge lighted letters spelling E-A-T welcome South Sounders as they enter Tacoma’s Shake Shake Shake burger joint. The last thing you’ll want to do is shake off this place. (Sorry, T. Swift) The restaurant offers a mix of classic and modern takes on burgers, and of course, milkshakes! Tacoma

IMG_2998Bar Lounge
Hilltop Kitchen
Looking for a place to wet your whistle? The South Sound says Hilltop Kitchen is your best bet for a delicious drink. Everything is made in house, and sourced sculpture-grade ice ensures you get the best craft cocktail around. Tacoma

La Petite Maison
Some things are better done the French way: braids, kisses, and of course, food. The cuisine at La Petite Maison is fresh, delicious, and presented like works of art. The menu changes daily so you’ll always have an excuse to go back and try something new. Olympia

Food Truck
Hometown Dogs
Frustrated because you can’t find a Chicago dog in Washington? The creators of Hometown Dogs decided to do something about that. The company also provides jobs to people with disabilities. Lakewood

Anthem Coffee & Tea
Anthem Coffee & Tea was named to encourage others to “live loud and live passionately.” The South Sound has loudly and proudly declared Anthem Best Coffee Shop. Quite a feat in a state known for loving coffee! Puyallup, Tacoma

El Gaucho
It’s no “mis-steak” that El Gaucho in Tacoma was voted the place to sink your teeth into a tender and juicy steak. Using only the best beef (and pork, poultry, and seafood), El Gaucho is a cut above the rest. Various locations

When the South Sound is in the mood for sushi, readers recommend Trapper’s. With all-you-can-eat lunch and dinner options offering fresh made-to-order rolls, it’s impossible to leave unsatisfied. Various locations

The CloverLeaf
The South Sound is feelin’ lucky to have The CloverLeaf. The long-standing Tacoma monument has delicious pizza, and the beer is cool and refreshing; what else could you want? Tacoma

Chateau Ste. Michelle
When it comes to looking at the quality of wine made in Washington, the glass is definitely half full. The South Sound recommends filling your glass with one of the 60 wines from one of the oldest wineries in the state, Chateau Ste. Michelle. Woodinville

Boutique // Winery
Mosquito Fleet
The South Sound voted Mosquito Fleet Best Boutique Winery because readers know good wine. But did you know founders Jacquie and Brian Peterson and Jacy and Scott Griffin met at a birthing class? Nine months without wine, we’d be dreaming up a winery of our own, too. Belfair

Frisko Freeze
A Tacoma staple since 1950, Frisko Freeze is as frill-free as they come. The simple, all-American fare has South Sounders cruising by for burgers, onion rings, and milkshakes. Tacoma

House of Kee
Have you tried the house chow mein with pan-fried noodles at House of Kee? The family-owned business has been in Pierce County for more than 35 years, and the readers of South Sound think it’s the bee’s kees — er, knees! Puyallup

Happy Hour // Kid-Friendly // Outdoor Dining
Boathouse 19
When the kiddos are buggin’ for a burger, readers go to Boathouse 19 for the stunning views, outdoor seating, and good eats. But when the 21-and-under crew is with the sitter, folks head to Boathouse for the killer happy-hour deals. Tacoma

Silk Thai Café
When you’ve got an appetite as big as an elephant, Silk Thai Café is the place to go. The one-of-a-kind Thai restaurant serves expertly layered dishes full of Thai flavors with a friendly attitude that’ll have you back for more meals amid the authentic décor. Tacoma

Food Blog
TNT Diner
Need the latest news in the foodie-sphere? South Sounders say you should direct those peepers to the TNT Diner blog on The News Tribune’s website. The newspaper’s blog always has new entries on what to eat, when to eat it and where. Tacoma

Heritage Distilling Co.
The majority-owned-by-women distillery offers crazy cool flavors of vodka, including lavender, and classes to help you learn to distill your own whiskey just the way you like it. And that’s just the way the South Sound likes it. Gig Harbor

Corina Bakery
South Sounders cry tears of joy when describing the tiers of cakes, mounds of frosting, and other confections at Corina Bakery. The talented bakers at Corina love baking the best in pies, cheesecakes, and couture wedding cakes. Tacoma

Cheap Eats
Red Hot
When a South Sounder turns the magical age of 21, their first stop is often Tacoma’s hot dog and beer joint, Red Hot. On WA Wednesday, locally brewed pours are 50 cents off, and no need to say “aw shucks!” if you don’t eat meat, either. The menu at Red Hot includes vegan selections like the North End Not Dog. Tacoma

Romantic Dinner
JW Restaurant
Dust off the dinner coat, slip into that LBD, and head to dinner for two at JW Restaurant. The food is delectable, the service is superb, and the fresh Northwest flavors won’t disappoint. Gig Harbor

Giorgio’s Greek Café
Need to get from zero to hero in a flash? Park Pegasus at Giorgio’s Greek Café for a meal the gods would approve of. Hercules can rest easy here; the Puyallup café looks as pretty as the food tastes. Puyallup

Vien Dong
The pho is phenomenal, and the sautéed chicken and cashew stir-fry is crazy good at family-operated Vien Dong. If for some reason you haven’t eaten at the Tacoma Vietnamese food favorite, get to it stat! Tacoma

Fujiya was one of the first Japanese restaurants in Tacoma, and it’s still No. 1 in the hearts and stomachs of South Sound readers. The assortment of sushi, teriyaki, steak, and noodles once again earned the Best Japanese nod. Tacoma

Moctezuma’s Mexican Restaurant and Tequila Bar
Any time is a good time for Mexican food, and when South Sounders wants good Mexican cuisine, they head to Moctezuma’s in Gig Harbor or Tacoma. The menu of traditional fare and new delights will have everyone in your party doing a little salsa dance! (On second thought, they might be too full of good food to move.) Gig Harbor, Tacoma

7 Seas Brewing
7 Seas Brewing has made its mission to create the perfect pint for its consumers to enjoy. Readers voted with a message: Mission accomplished! They voted 7 Seas Brewing their favorite brewery again. Gig Harbor

Gateway to India
The Puget Sound has been treated to delicious food from Gateway to India since 1996. The casual dining environment offers a variety of dishes from Northern India, including seafood, lamb, and tandoori. Tacoma and Gig Harbor

Marzanos Italian Restaurant holds true to the traditions of Italian cuisine while adding select Northwest flavors and, mamma Mia, is it good! For more than 20 years the restaurant has been a staple for Old World deliciousness. Parkland

Ice Cream Social
Sure, most ice cream is good, but when readers want really good ice cream, they want Ice Cream Social. The handcrafted scoops are made from quality, natural ingredients from local sources and come in a variety of flavors. We’ll take a scoop of salted caramel with candied bacon, please! Tacoma

MSM Deli
Lunchtime in the South Sound wouldn’t be nearly as great without MSM Deli. The Magical Sandwich Makers never skimp on the good stuff when creating their sammies and have a great beer selection. Tacoma

Hole-in-the-Wall // Bar
Tanglewood Grill
With a menu that ranges from cumin-spiced meatballs to pumpkin and mascarpone ravioli, and cedar-wrapped King salmon filet, the food at Tanglewood Grill has South Sounders coming back again and again. Gig Harbor

Restaurant // Lunch // Breakfast/Brunch // Service // Fine Dining
Lobster Shop
Readers who are looking for a good meal — morning, noon, or night — head to Lobster Shop. With excellent service and delicious food, the Ruston Way hotspot is a foodie destination must. Tacoma

Vegetarian // New Restaurant
Viva Tacoma
The South Sound is jazzed about Viva Tacoma. The new organic, gluten-and-dairy-free restaurant makes good food that leaves you feeling good. Want to know another secret to Viva’s success? It counts love and compassion as key ingredients. Tacoma

Famous Dave’s
Dave’s BBQ is so tasty, it’s made him famous! The pit masters at Famous Dave’s get their hickory logs glowing around 4 a.m. to make sure South Sounders can sink their teeth into those slow-cooked ribs that are totally worth the mess. Various locations
health_hl Salon
London’s Salon
You need a hairstyle that will go with every outfit, so it’s important to get a great one. Readers have again declared London’s Salon the best because they leave not only looking, but also feeling, amazing. Tacoma

Cosmetic Surgeon
Dr. Justin Piasecki
Nothing compares to a sunny day in the Northwest, but don’t forget the sunscreen! Good thing South Sounders have Dr. Justin Piasecki to check out all their skin concerns. The world-renowned surgeon is double-Board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. He can be found at The Skin Cancer Center. Gig Harbor

Dr. Katherine Holley
Dr. Katherine Holley and her holistic approach to treating pain made her a favorite in the South Sound. After a Chronic Pain Medicine fellowship at the University of Vermont, she’s made her way to The Washington Center For Pain Management. Lakewood

Dr. Douglas J. Knight
Megawatt smiles abound in the South Sound thanks to Dr. Douglas Knight. This is the fourth time the talented Dr. Knight and his team at Dr. Douglas Knight Orthodontics have been voted best — definitely something to smile about. Tacoma

_MG_0307Tattoo Parlor
Flaming Dragon
Captain Obvious statement of the day: Tattoos are permanent. That means you want someone you can count on supplying the ink. South Sound readers recommend the talented artists at Flaming Dragon when you want to adorn your body with a special piece of art. Tacoma

Dr. Karen Nelson
The longtime Puget Sound doc has delivered thousands of babies and loves interacting with women in various stages of their lives — and she has won this award several years in a row. Tacoma

Dr. Bruce Davies
University of Dallas and University of Texas Southwestern Medical School grad Dr. Bruce Davies has lassoed the hearts of parents in the Northwest. He was voted the best doctor to treat your youngsters. Fircrest

Eye Care
Cascade Eye & Skin Center
When it comes to the best eye care in the South Sound, there is one clear winner: Cascade Eye & Skin Center. The personal attention to patients is eye-catching, and high-tech treatments can only be described as visionary. The centers employ more than 30 eye and skincare professionals. Various locations

Olympus Day Spa
When the women of the South Sound need a day to say “ahhhhh,” they head to Olympus Day Spa. The female-exclusive spa merges Eastern medical techniques with Western relaxation techniques. Lakewood

Dr. Andrew Iverson
Washington native Dr. Andrew Iverson of Tacoma Health Natural Family Medicine has been to the far corners of the Earth to study alternative medicine and applies his findings to help South Sounders. When he’s not with his patients he spends time writing, reading, and cooking meals for family and friends from his cookbook, Nature’s Diet. Tacoma

Carpe Diem Massage
After one visit to Carpe Diem Massage, you’ll be rubbing it in to all your friends. Located in the historic Henry Drum House, Carpe Diem Massage offers South Sounders a variety of massage packages to choose from, including Swedish deep tissue or Ashiatsu Oriental bar therapy. Tacoma

Dr. Jason Stockton
When Dr. Jason Stockton of Tacoma Family Chiropractic isn’t treating patients at his clinic, the South Sound’s favorite chiropractor (he’s won this award numerous times) can be found at the nearest sporting event. Stockton is the team chiropractor for the Tacoma Rainiers Baseball Club and works with local college athletes. Tacoma

Gym // Group Workout
Innovative Fitness
A little sweat session is good for the heart and soul, and Innovative Fitness is where South Sound readers go to get in tip-top shape. It’s a great spot for one-on-one personal training or for group classes. Tacoma and Gig Harbor

La Bella Nail Spa
Looking good from your fingertips to your toes is a snap when you get your nails done at La Bella Nail Spa. The South Sound favorite for all things nail care offers an array of manicure and pedicure options, including a honey milk pedicure that will have your feet feeling fancy. Tacoma

Personal Trainer
Jesse Ewell
When it’s time to get that booty in gear, the South Sound laces up and listens to fitness guru Jesse Ewell. The personal trainer at Innovative Fitness is a boss at building muscle and toning and tightening that tush and everything else. Tacoma and Gig Harbor

Yoga Studio
Source Yoga
Started by modern-dance students Melissa Paz and Erin Joosse, Source Yoga has become the 253’s favorite spot to get its om on. The studio practices in the style of hatha yoga and mindful awareness. Tacoma

Sephora-2Beauty Buys
Looking to get all dolled up? Sephora is the perfect place to get all your primping needs and the beauty experts are happy to help you find the right shade of lipstick for every occasion. Various locations

Physical Therapist
Ross Anderson
Three-peat alert! Ross Anderson at Anchor Physical Therapy has been voted Best Physical Therapist in the South Sound again. Tacoma

Dentist // Cosmetic Dentistry
Dr. Karla Bloomquist
Dr. Karla Bloomquist of SoundBridge Center for Dental Arts will have your pearly whites shining brightly like a diamond. The Gig Harbor-based dentist has won again and offers a wide variety of dental services that can be performed in her upscale and comfortable office with her team. Gig Harbor

Lash Out Loud
When you’re in need of a little love for your lashes, flutter over to Lash Out Loud. The lash artists at the Puyallup salon are some of the best in the biz and take their time to make sure your lashes look divine. Puyallup

Tacoma General Hospital
Has your kid’s latest attempt at flying left him in stitches? (And not the laughing kind?) South Sounders recommend you get fixed up good as new at Tacoma General Hospital — which is part of the larger MultiCare Health System. Tacoma

Seattle Sun Tan
Between work and family functions, getting that “just back from Maui” glow can be hard to achieve. South Sounders rely on Seattle Sun Tan for all their tanning and airbrush tanning needs. Various locations
home_hl Interior Designer
Stefanie Brooks
To make a house into a home, a special touch is needed. Readers rely on the skilled eye of Stefanie Brooks of Stefanie Brooks Interior Design to create functional and individualized spaces for their homes — she is frequently featured in South Sound magazine. Tacoma

Darren Dickerson
When the South Sound thinks architect, it thinks Darren Dickerson. (Sorry George, you can’t get “Art Vandelay” past us!) The owner of Coyote Design Architecture + Planning has more than 20 years experience in residential and commercial projects. Fircrest

Kitchen and Bath Designer
Signature Design and Cabinetry, LLC
Perfection can’t be rushed, and the experts at Signature Design and Cabinetry take their time to make sure their customers get the perfect kitchen and bath to match their specific needs and wants. They also offer a selection of “green” products that are attractive and durable. Tacoma

Olympic Landscape and Irrigation Co.
The Northwest is known for its lush, green landscapes, and Olympic Landscape and Irrigation Co. is one of the best at reining in that natural beauty to create the best yards. Readers have voted Olympic the best for several years in a row for a reason. And for more than 30 years, the pros at Olympic have been providing creative landscapes that include sprinkler systems, ponds, and outdoor lighting. Puyallup

Harrison Homes LLC
SE Construction
Over the limited counter space in the kitchen and the pea-sized master bedroom? The South Sound has two great companies ready to turn that fixer-upper into a dream house. Harrison Homes LLC and SE Construction tied for Best Remodeler. Gig Harbor and Tacoma, respectively

It’s all in the family at Watson’s Greenhouse and Nursery. For more than 25 years, the family-owned Puyallup Valley greenhouse (with an excellent view of Mount Rainier) has been a winter wonderland during the holiday months, a gardener’s paradise during the spring, and a flowery oasis during the summer. Puyallup

Buy Appliances
Albert Lee Appliance
Albert Lee Appliance is a family-owned business and one visit to any of its five showrooms and you’ll feel like part of the family. The awesome service and excellent selection are why the South Sound voted it Best Place to Buy Appliances. Various locations

Buy Furniture
Seldens Home Furnishings
Furniture can make or break a great room. With more than 70 designer home-furnishing brands to choose from, the South Sound finds the right end table, bed, or rug for any room at Seldens. Tacoma

Hardware Store
McLendon Hardware
It’s quite handy to have a good hardware store close by and South Sounders are grateful they can bop on over to McLendon Hardware and accomplish all their DYI goals. Various locations

Harrison Homes LLC
South Sound readers have honored Harrison Homes LLC with the top builder award once again. It handles projects of all sizes from start to finish — from remodels to new home builds and is well-connected with subcontractors and dedicated to making sure the job gets done well — seamlessly. Gig Harbor


art-studio-141024-cwa-171Private Middle School
Charles Wright Academy
The students at Charles Wright Academy are taught to aim for the best. The private independent learning community uses academic rigor, endless inspiration, and high expectations to motivate its students. Looks like it’s working — it was voted Best Private Middle School in the South Sound. Tacoma

Public Middle School
Mason Middle School
Teachers and students participate in several fundraisers and volunteer events, including WE Day, which rewards kids for community service with a concert and event in Seattle. Tacoma

Private High School
Bellarmine Preparatory School
Bellarmine Prep is a powerhouse in the South Sound for its stellar contributions inside the classroom and on the athletic field. Tacoma

Public High School
Curtis High School
All hail the Curtis High School Vikings! Students at Curtis High participate in the High School and Beyond Plan to help them achieve greatness as they head off to college and the job market. University Place

Public Elementary School
Washington Hoyt Elementary
The Cougars at Washington Hoyt Elementary are a bunch of smart cookies! After learning bunches at school, they like to hone their tactical skills at chess club, polish up their painting skills at WAM (Washington Art Movement), and accomplish engineering feats at Lego Robotics club. Tacoma

Private Elementary School
First Presbyterian Church School
From preschool to fifth grade, students are taught using a classically oriented curriculum and to view the world through a Christian perspective. And their mascot is Aslan, the Lion from the Chronicles of Narnia! Tacoma

Preschool // Teacher
Celebration Friends Preschool/Vera Clowers
A good education starts with a great teacher. Vera Clowers was named Best Teacher at the Best Preschool in the South Sound. Clowers has been helping kids get a great start at Celebration Friends Preschool for more than 20 years. She is a repeat Best of the South Sound winner. Puyallup

MultiCare New Adventures Children’s Center
Parents trust MultiCare’s New Adventures Child Care Center. Located on the grounds of Tacoma General Hospital, New Adventures keeps your kids (ages four weeks to 12 years old) entertained and safe while you’re away. Tacoma

pets_hl CCVH01-11Vet
Chambers Creek Veterinary Hospital
When Garfield isn’t feeling up to snuff after getting into the lasagna, take him to Chambers Creek Veterinary Hospital. The staff at Chambers Creek is compassionate and looks forward to treating all the Garfields and Odies of the South Sound. Lakewood

Doggy Daycare
Unleashed Dog Daycare and Wellness Center, LLC
Everyone needs a pal. At Unleashed Dog Daycare your pup can run and play all day with new doggy friends. The friendship between Unleashed and the South Sound is going well; this is the third time Unleashed has been crowned Best Doggy Daycare. Tacoma

Westcoast K9
The dog lovers at Westcoast K9 are all about keeping Fido looking fine. They offer an array of grooming and self-service pet-washing options that will make South Sound pooches look like Westminster Kennel Club winners. Olympia

travel_hl Hike
Here in the South Sound, not only are we lucky enough to gaze daily at our mountain, but we’re close enough to hike it! South Sounders voted Paradise the best place to hike. Mount Rainier

Hotel Murano
Hotel Murano manages to capture the best parts of the South Sound through its many amenities. Wine and dine at Bite Restaurant, take a day to relax at Savi Day Spa, enjoy beautiful art created in Tacoma, and then hit the hay in one of the swanky rooms at the luxurious downtown hotel. Tacoma

Travel Blog
Expedia Viewfinder
Planning a trip can be stressful. When the South Sound is gearing up to go mobile, it heads to Expedia Viewfinder to get the best info on all things travel. Find the best deals on flights, hotels, and places to eat before you step a foot out the door.

2011_06_16_AJE0079Bed and Breakfast
Hedman House, A Bed & Breakfast
Looking for a quaint spot for a quick getaway? South Sound readers recommend a stay at Puyallup’s Hedman House. The cozy rooms are a few blocks from downtown and innkeepers Neil and Normajean are as sweet as they come. Puyallup

Point Defiance
Metro Parks Tacoma has made it impossible to become bored at Point Defiance Park. South Sounders can work on their fitness along the Ruston Way trail, dip their toes at Owen Beach, or visit the otters at the Zoo and Aquarium. Whatever you decide to do, don’t forget to stop and smell the roses at the botanical gardens! Tacoma

Wedding Venue
Thornewood Castle
Want a fairytale start for a happily ever after? The lush and colorful gardens at Thornewood Castle will make you feel like you’ve stumbled into Queen Mab’s fairy haven and castle. Its ornate decorations will leave you curtseying in gratitude of their splendor. Plus, rumor is the place is haunted, and what’s a castle without a ghost? Lakewood

Golf Course
Chambers Bay Golf Course
The sprawling links of Chambers Bay have quickly become a South Sound must-see destination. The beautiful golf course inspires Pierce County residents and pro golfers from around the world to tee off in hopes of playing their best game yet. Even if your golf game is more Charles Barkley than Bubba Watson, the course snuggled along the shoreline of Commencement Bay is a great spot to walk or jog with pals before an Arnold Palmer in the clubhouse. It’s hosting the U.S. Open this summer. Enough said. University Place

Photos courtesy Tacoma City Ballet Archived Photos; Scott Haydon Photography; Julia Sumpter; Julia Sumpter; JSP Visuals; Liz Morrow; Julia Sumpter; courtesy Moctezuma’s; Julia Sumpter; Julia Sumpter; courtesy Sephora; Dane Gregory Meyer; Julia Sumpter; Brian Lee; Asta Tobiassen DVM; Alicia Joy Photography. Thumbnail image courtesy “A Trip to Mt Rainier-3,” © 2012 Rachel Samanyi, used under a creative commons attribution license.

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