Annually the Courier Post runs a "Best of South Jersey" survey and prints the results. This is an invaluable tool, not only for finding out where you can get something done, or buy something, or eat, but where your neighbors think they have gotten the best service, help, health care, and so on.
Often in early years after retirement, my friends would ask me how I know about "these things" "these places" "these events" and how I know is mostly from local newspapers such as the Retrospect, the Gloucester City News, or the big one, The Courier Post. Many of my friends have very streamlined homes and lives and don't want to be bothered with the detritus of newspapers, magazines, or pamphlets, but I am a print voracious person with a comfortably lived in bungalow and I can manage with a little clutter. Now, don't get me wrong, I am not a hoarder, but we do have weekly recycle pick-up so I can take the newspapers, pamphlets, magazines, and read them, pass them on or recycle them.
Several of my favorite places made the South Jersey Best lists: Belia's Copy Center (where I get my postcards printed, among other things), Maritsa's (one of my favorite luncheon places) and for many years, my veterinarian made the Best of list: Dr. Sheehen in Fairview section of Camden.
Here are some categories I would like to add, and the reasons:
Best local park to walk in: Knight Park in Collingwood
(it is paved, a veritable arbor museum of large old and beautiful trees and it has new clean bathrooms)
Best Historic House to visit: James and Ann Whitall House, Red Bank Battlefield, National Park, NJ (reasons: gorgeous house and park with paved walked trails, picnic shelters, and many great events such as the October Re-Enactment of the Battle of Red Bank of 1775) I have a runner-up: Pomona Hall, Camden County Historical Society, Camden, Nj (reason: beautiful house, interesting history and excellent museum about Camden County History, PLUS a genealogical research library and Bonny Beth Elwell, a wonderful young historian and genealogist.
Best History Lecture Series: Corson Poley Center of Burlington County Historical Center, Burlington City, NJ (reason: when I think back on the most interesting lectures I have heard I always come back to the monthly lectures at Corson Poley Center where I just heard the lecture on Pirates last Sunday
Best Book Store/Coffee Shop: Bogarts in Millville (reason: really good music, free, lots of books and good coffee and tables to enjoy it.)
Best Garden Plants: Platt's Farm in Mickleton, either Democrat Road or Harmony, you can look it up on your computer, (They have everything! And competitive prices)
Best auto mechanic: Rob's Auto Mechanic Shop, corner of Market and Green, Mt. Ephraim, NJ (reason: I have always found Rob to be kind, talented, and fair. His work is excellent and very reasonable, and as a woman, honesty is important to me - I have a fair understanding of auto mechanics, but who can understand the engines of this century with the computerized and sensor technology. I trust Rob and have had good, fast, inexpensive service from him every since he opened his shop.)
Best Vegetable and Honey Market: Verccio's, Brooklawn Circle (I drink herbal tea and thus use a lot of honey - Verccip's is local honey, inexpensive and the widest array of vegetables and fruits I have ever seen - also seasonal and holiday plants and cut flower bouquets at very reasonable prices!)
Best Road Side Markets: Red Top and Green Top on Route 70 near Marlton, Medford, Shamong area (reason: I pass them on the way to Pakim Pond and always stop to buy apples or fruits and plants and to gaze upon the beauty of the plant displays - abundance!)
Best Fast Salad Lunch: SaladWorks in Collingswood (reason: for $9 you can get a big salad with 5 toppings, or soup and salad and a delicious hot whole wheat roll and the staff are always friendly and polite and helpful. If you are health conscious, you want to go there for lunch!)
Best Art Lessons/Gallery/Gift Shop: Main Street Art in Maple
Shade where you can book a "Sip and Paint" experience or an Art Party for child or adult, and take lessons or buy interesting hand-made gifts for an upcoming birthday, or Christmas)
Best Dog Park: Timber Creek, off Chews Landing Road in Blackwood (reason: old Slim's horse back ranch - great woodland trail that was the old horseback riding trail, varied scenery along Tomber Creek and a lovely little pond for our dog to frolic in, bathrooms, picnic table and a nice nasture to walk around or the leashless fenced in park which can get muddy in season)
I will add more later and I haven't forgetten to add my list of really old trees, But it's time to get ready for the gym! Also, I will finish my Museum of the Ordinary Person tale one of these days. I promise!