Birmingham Parent 2017 Family Favorites

Birmingham Parent 2017 Family Favorites | Birminghamparent.com
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What Are Your Family Favorites? Who Does Your Family Like the Most? Announcing the Birmingham Parent 2017 Family Favorites Award Winners.

Published: July 1, 2017
By: Lori Pruitt & Bethany Adams Hunley

Sometimes as a parent we rely on friends and family to tell us what is the best of the best.  Many times you are introduced to a favorite by word of mouth. Or you see an ad for a spot, go there, and then share with everyone else how great it is. 

            

All of us have opinions on what the “best” really is – whether is your favorite beach destination, your favorite place for frozen yogurt, the best family dentist or place to have a baby, we all have favorites.

 

This is what the Birmingham Parent Family Favorites Awards is all about. The longest running contest of its sort in the Birmingham area, we do it totally with you and for you. You nominate and choose the winners. This year we’ve added a few new categories, too!

 

It’s an open forum – we didn’t give you the choices, you made them yourselves. We’ve tallied the numbers and here are the results. In cases where voting was close, we also chose an “honorable mention” or two.  That’s why not every category HAS an Honorable Mention winner. Our Honorable Mention means voting was close, and it’s not “consolation” prize! Like last year, we’ve grouped the winners into easy categories for you.

 

We hope you will keep this article all year as a reference to things to do and places to go in Birmingham, and if you have a favorite that didn’t make it this year, be sure to vote for them in 2018. This article will always be available at www.birminghamparent.com as an easy reference, and our winners’ websites are hot-linked for easy use.  And be sure you tell the winners that you read about them in Birmingham Parent!


And congratulations to our random prize winner, Tara Ward of Gardendale, who won a terrific trip for 4 to the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Florida, our travel sponsor.

 

AND THE WINNERS ARE….

 

FAMILY FUN

Birmingham area parents know how to have fun. And there are so many great places right here to enjoy! Whether it’s indoors, outdoors or something in between, there are great places for our families to play here in central Alabama, and beyond. When it comes to vacationing, great beaches, mountains and more are just a short trip away.

 

FAVORITE TRAVEL AGENT

AAA

When those little automobile accidents happen, AAA can save the day. Give you and your family peace of mind by joining AAA and ensuring that you are covered in just about any type of automobile accident. With 24/7 Roadside Assistance and numerous other member discounts and benefits, you are sure to feel safer and happier while traveling the roads as an AAA member. https://apps.alabama.aaa.com

Honorable Mention: Adventure Travel, www.adventuretravel.com/

 

FAVORITE IN-STATE VACATION

Gulf Shores/Orange Beach

Why travel out of state for beautiful beaches and attractions that are fun for the entire family? Right here in Alabama, you will find quality golf courses, thrilling water adventures, tasty seafood, and historical attractions like Fort Morgan, the site of the Civil War Battle of Mobile Bay when you visit Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Book your dream vacation today. www.gulfshores.com

 

FAVORITE ALABAMA BEACH

Gulf Shores/Orange Beach

It should come as no surprise that Orange Beach and Gulf Shores are two local favorites for Alabamians. Featuring white, sandy beaches and fun for everyone in your family, these beaches are sure to become your new favorite vacation destinations. Be sure to support our state’s beautiful, local beaches. www.gulfshores.com

 

FAVORITE FLORIDA BEACH

Destin, Florida

This repeat winner is certainly a favorite among families and vacationers from all around the country. Although Destin was once a sleepy fishing village, it has now transformed into a bustling tourist destination. If you enjoy white, sandy beaches and gorgeous blue water, Destin is certainly the place for you.  www.emeraldcoastfl.com

Honorable Mention: Panama City Beach, www.pcbeach.org/

 

FAVORITE MOUNTAIN RETREAT

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Gatlinburg is the ultimate mountain getaway for visitors of all ages. Explore the scenic Smoky Mountains that surround this busy, rustic town. Whether you are seeking relaxation or adventure, Gatlinburg has something for you. www.gatlinburg.com/

Honorable Mention: Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, www.mypigeonforge.com/

 

FAVORITE OUT-OF-STATE VACATION

Walt Disney World

The happiest place on earth is a timeless favorite of families from all around the world. Disney World in Orlando, FL is where fairy tales come alive and dreams come true. Whether you enjoy bustling nightlife or princess makeovers, everyone is sure to make some of their happiest memories while vacationing here! https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/

 

FAVORITE FAMILY ATTRACTION IN BIRMINGHAM

Birmingham Zoo

Children of all ages are sure to enjoy their time spent at the Birmingham Zoo. Exotic animals, interactive animal shows, petting barn, and train and carousel rides are just a handful of the exciting activities offered here. Hurry to the Birmingham Zoo now to see how pirates have taken over the Red Diamond Express Train.  www.birminghamzoo.com/

Honorable Mention: McWane Science Center, www.mcwane.org/

 

FAVORITE FAIR, FESTIVAL OR SPECIAL EVENT

Sloss Fest

You will find fun for all ages at Sloss Fest. Whether you enjoy live music from popular bands, art vendors, or local brews and foods, you and your family are sure to enjoy this one-of-a-kind festival right here in Birmingham. This  year’s event is July 15-16. www.slossfest.com/  

 

FAVORITE MUSEUM FOR KIDS

McWane Science Center

The interactive learning environment found within the walls of the McWane Science Center will be the most fun your children will have while exploring the fascinating world of science. Toddlers and young children will love visiting the Itty Bitty Magic City exhibit to explore all that Birmingham has to offer in a safe, pint-sized way. www.mcwane.org/

 

FAVORITE  PARTIES, ACTIVITIES & LEARNING

Central Alabama families love a celebration.  They also have a high regard for education, and we’ve got lots of both right in our own backyard.  Whether it’s finding that great extracurricular activity, a great party venue or a new school or tutoring help, our readers selected great favorites for all.

 

FAVORITE COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY

University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)

The University of Alabama at Birmingham has quickly become a local favorite for current and aspiring college students. No matter your interests, UAB is sure to offer an excellent educational experience. Pioneering state-of-the-art medical treatments and research, UAB has become the college to attend when pursuing a degree in the medical field. www.uab.edu

 

FAVORITE TUTOR

Grade Power Learning

Grade Power learning strives to promote self-confidence and academic success to those enrolled in this program. Offering assistance and enrichment in all subject areas, any child will benefit from the extra academic attention offered here. Two locations, Highway 280 and Pelham. http://gradepowerlearning.com/

 

FAVORITE CHILDCARE OR PRESCHOOL

Odyssey Early Schools

With two facilities to choose from within the Birmingham area, Odyssey Early Schools has continued to grow in popularity. Providing a personalized curriculum which is tailored to the individual needs of each child enrolled, your children are sure to love learning within these walls. www.odysseyearlyschool.com/

Honorable Mention: Covenant Classical Schools, http://covenantclassical.com/

 

FAVORITE PRIVATE SCHOOL

Briarwood Christian School

Briarwood Christian School strives to promote excellence in education through a Christ-centered learning environment. Students will leave Briarwood Christian School better prepared to live in a Godly manner in a contemporary world. http://briarwoodchristianschool.org/

Honorable Mention: Indian Springs School, https://www.indiansprings.org/default.aspx;      Joseph Bruno Montessori Academy, http://jbma.education/; John Carroll High School, https://www.jcchs.org/

 

FAVORITE AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAM

Odyssey Early Schools

Be sure to visit one of the two campus options offered within the Birmingham area to learn more about their age-appropriate and personalized curriculum for each of their students. The popularity of Odyssey Early Schools within the Birmingham community should more than attest to this well-loved program. www.odysseyearlyschool.com/

 

FAVORITE SPECIAL NEEDS SERVICE OR PROGRAM

The Bell Center

Providing children who are at risk for developmental delays with the most effective early intervention services available, the Bell Center is the perfect fit for your child’s unique and individual needs. The Bell Center is available to children from birth to three years of age. https://www.thebellcenter.org/

Honorable Mention: Child’s Play Therapy Center, www.childsplaytherapycenter.com/; Mitchell’s Place, www.mitchells-place.com/


FAVORITE LOCAL GYM OR EXERCISE FACILITY

YMCA

Due to the scattering of YMCA facilities throughout the Birmingham area, you need not look far to find a YMCA facility that is convenient for your family. Whether you are looking for fitness activities for all ages or after-school and summer care for your children, you will find them all at your local YMCA. www.ymcabham.org/

 

FAVORITE PARTY PLACE

Pump It Up

This family favorite continues to grow in popularity every year. Children will have a blast playing together on the larger-than-life inflatables provided in this facility. Private party rooms and one-on-one attention from the staff make Pump It Up a favorite among children and parents. Two great area locations, Trussville, and the new Pelham location.  www.pumpitupparty.com/

Honorable Mention: Let’s Play, www.letsplayparty.com/

 

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FAVORITE GYMNASTICS PROGRAM

Mountain Brook Gymnastics

Serving the children of Birmingham for nearly 30 years, Mountain Brook Gymnastics is certainly a favorite among local children and parents. Offering preschool, recreational, and tumbling classes, every child can find a reason to love Mountain Brook Gymnastics.  www.mountainbrookgymnastics.com/

Honorable Mention: Premiere Gymnastics, www.premiergym.net/


FAVORITE PARENT/CHILD CLASS

Fiddlesticks Music

Your child is sure to love their time spent creating music and memories at Fiddlesticks Music. This award-winning program will be an experience that you and your child will both enjoy, especially since you can become involved in the class as well. Visit their website to schedule your next visit to Fiddlesticks Music. www.fiddlesticks-music.com/

 

FAVORITE DANCE CLASS

Birmingham Academy of Dance

Birmingham Academy of Dance strives to provide its dancers with a strong dance background, while also taking your financial contribution into account. There will be no unnecessary fees or unexplained expenses found here. Birmingham Academy of Dance is a wonderful choice for both your aspiring dancer and family as a whole. www.badance280.com/


FAVORITE ART CLASS

Sips n Strokes

If you have been looking for the perfect Girl’s Night Out or date night experience, look no further than Sips n Strokes. You and your friends are sure to enjoy creating your own take-home masterpiece while sipping delectable adult beverages. Several area locations.  Check the website at www.sipsnstrokes.com/

 

FAVORITE THEATRE CLASS

Red Mountain Theatre Company

The Red Mountain Theatre Company is a nonprofit theatre that aims to inspire artists and youth, as well as engage audiences through quality theatre productions and educational programs. Throughout the last four decades, the Red Mountain Theatre Company has worked to create one of the finest arts education centers in the South. redmountaintheatre.org/

Honorable Mention: Birmingham Children’s Theatre, http://www.bct123.org/

 

FAVORITE MUSIC CLASS

Mason Music

Mason Music is the place to go for music lessons or camps around the Birmingham area. Rapidly growing in popularity, Mason Music offers music lessons, as well as recording studio experiences and skills for their students. Your child is sure to grow and thrive in this unique learning environment. https://masonmusicstudios.com/

 

FAVORITE MARTIAL ARTS CLASS

Tiger Rock

This repeat winner continues to grow in popularity with parents and children each year. The programs offered at Tiger Rock combine modern sports science, the latest research and hundreds of years of tradition to provide its members with the most enjoyable and effective experience available. tigerrockmartialarts.com/

Honorable Mention: Master Scarsella’s World Class Tae Kwon Do, http://www.alabamatkd.com/

 

FAVORITE STORY TIME

Hoover Library

Be sure to visit the Hoover Library, and attend one of their exciting KidZone events and activities that your child is sure to love. Story Time, theatre, crafts and fitness activities are all offered here. www.hooverlibrary.org/

 

FAVORITE DAY CAMP

Odyssey Early Schools 

With two locations in the Birmingham area – Inverness and Trace Crossings – Odyssey Early Schools is already tops among families for preschool programs, and gets kudos for its summer fun programs, too! www.odysseyearlyschool.com

 

FAVORITE SLEEP AWAY CAMP

YMCA Camp Cosby 

Since 1922, Camp Cosby has offered safe and exciting adventures for youth throughout the area, which means generations of kids have been able to enjoy a great camp experience. Camp Cosby is located on the shores of Lake Logan Martin in east Alabama. Cosby is more than a community – it’s a family. www.ymcabham.org/camp-cosby


FAVORITE PARTY RENTAL 

Fun Source

Fun Source carries a full line of tents, tables, chairs, linens and more to accommodate all types of events, and has the largest variety of licensed Disney moonwalks, bouncers and inflatables in the state. They can even put on a full-scale carnival! www.funsourceinc.com

Honorable Mention: Parties on the Move, www.partiesonthemove.com

 

FAVORITE PARTY SUPPLIES/INVITATIONS

Party City

Party City, a national franchise with three locations in the Birmingham area, is known for all kinds of party goods, invitations, costumes and more! It’s a trusted Family Favorite to find everything you will need to throw a great party for any occasion. www.partycity.com

 

FAVORITE BIRTHDAY CAKE

Edgar’s

Edgar’s, founded in Birmingham in 1998 with locations all over the Southeast, has a well-earned reputation for delicious cakes and more for any occasion! www.edgarsbakery.com


FAVORITE BUSINESSES & SERVICES

Our readers rate these stores, restaurants, salons and other services as their favorites! From auto service to frozen yogurt, to haircuts and shoes, this list has everything you need to know.


Favorite Mom’s Salon or Spa

Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort and Spa

Every parent is well deserving of some rest and relaxation every so often. The spa at Ross Bridge has quickly become a favorite place among parents for that much needed pampering. Visit their website to view their array of services and book your visit today. www.marriott.com/hotels/hotel-information/fitness-spa-services/bhmhv-renaissance-birmingham-ross-bridge-golf-resort-and-spa/

 

Favorite Dad’s Haircuts

Sports Clips

If your husband is seeking a more masculine hair cutting experience, he is sure to enjoy Sports Clips. Friendly stylists and affordable prices, as well as sports themed decorations and services, will make for the most enjoyable hair cutting experience possible for the men in your life. https://sportclips.com/

Honorable Mention: Great Clips, www.greatclips.com/haircare-services

 

Favorite Shopping Center/Mall

The Summit

If you enjoy high-end, unique shops or delectable foods at trendy restaurants, any shopaholic is sure to enjoy their time spent at The Summit. This outdoor shopping center has a little bit of everything that you could be looking for coupled with a safe and scenic environment. Be sure to visit The Summit on your next shopping trip. thesummitbirmingham.com/

Honorable Mention: Riverchase Galleria, https://www.riverchasegalleria.com/en.html

 

Favorite Maternity Shop

The Swanky Stork

There is no doubt that it can be hard to feel elegant when you are expecting. The Swanky Stork strives to provide you with trendy, comfortable maternity clothes at reasonable prices. Treat yourself to some quality, fashionable outfits to accent your growing baby bump. https://www.theswankystork.com/

 

Favorite Haircut for Kids

Great Clips

If you are looking for an affordable and stylish place to get your child’s hair cut, look no further than Great Clips. With friendly staff and kid-friendly services, you and your child are sure to have an enjoyable and stress-free hair cutting experience. https://www.greatclips.com/haircare-services

 

Favorite Consignment Store or Sale

Kid’s Market and Mom

Kid’s Market and Mom has been a favorite among Birmingham families for many years. Offered twice a year, Kid’s Market is the largest consignment store in Alabama. Whether you are looking to buy or sell, you are sure to benefit from participating in this amazing event.  http://kidsmarketandmom.com/

Honorable Mention: WeePeat Boutique, http://weepeatboutique.net/

 

Favorite Store for Kid’s Clothes

The Children’s Place

Baby or preteen, you and your children are sure to enjoy shopping at your local Children’s Place. Current styles and comfortable fabrics, as well as affordable prices, can all be found here. Be sure to stop into The Children’s Place on your next shopping trip.  www.childrensplace.com/shop/us/home

 

Favorite Store for Kid’s Shoes

Sikes

Whether you are looking for practical or special occasion shoes, you are sure to find them all at Sikes.  Serving Birmingham children since 1955, you and your children will love the selection and one-on-one attention found here. https://sikeschildrensshoes.com/

 

FAVORITE MAID SERVICE

The Maids

The Maids is a leading residential cleaning company and is a repeat winner! Readers love The Maids, a locally owned and operated franchise that employs a 22-step team approach home cleaning system. Look for the yellow cars with blue lettering! www.maids.com


FAVORITE AUTO REPAIR

Express Oil/Tire Engineers

Families depend on Express Oil Change & Tire Engineers for many automotive needs. With nearly 300 locations in 14 states, it’s easy to find a location near you. www.expressoil.com.

 

FAVORITE CAR DEALER

Hoover Toyota

For more than 20 years, Hoover Toyota has offered excellent automotive sales, service and parts expertise to its customers – and it’s a repeat Family Favorites winner. It is very active in the community, sponsoring youth sports teams and several local fundraising events. www.hoovertoyota.com

Honorable Mention: Carmax, www.carmax.com

 

FAVORITE REALTOR/REAL ESTATE COMPANY

RealtySouth

RealtySouth, headquartered in Birmingham, serves the entire state of Alabama, with more than 750 agents in 21 sales offices. The company receives regular kudos for a streamlined home sales process and offers a full range of mortgage, title and insurance services. It’s easy to find an agent near you! www.realtysouth.com

Honorable Mention: ARC Realty, www.arcrealtyco.com

 

FAVORITE HEALTH INSURANCE

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama

This repeat Family Favorite, based in Birmingham, is the largest provider of healthcare benefits in Alabama. The company covers more than 3 million people in Alabama with nearly a million more outside the state and invests more than 92 cents of every premium dollar on medical care.

www.bcbsal.org

 

FAVORITE HOME/AUTO INSURANCE

State Farm

State Farm, founded in 1922, is a repeat winner, offering a variety of insurance options that include home, renters, motorcycle, life and car. It’s all you need for every insurance need. www.statefarm.com

Honorable Mention: ALFA, www.alfainsurance.com

 

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FAVORITE BANK

Regions Bank

Regions Bank is a repeat Family Favorites winner and is a leader in the world of banking. There are many convenient locations in Alabama and other states, along with staff that are well qualified to help with a full range of banking services. Its online banking is popular as well. www.regions.com

 

FAVORITE CREDIT UNION

America’s First Federal Credit Union

America’s First, as it’s called, is a repeat Family Favorites winner and offers customers checking and savings accounts, loans, credit cards, investments and insurance and much more. Several locations make it a great choice, too. www.amfirst.org

 

FAVORITE TOY STORE

Toys R Us

With two locations at The Summit in Birmingham and in Hoover, Toys R Us, a national toy store chain, is this year’s Family Favorite. It’s hard to imagine anything this popular toy store doesn’t have – from infant toys to tech. www.toysrus.com

 

FAVORITE EDUCATIONAL TOYS