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BEST WOMEN'S WEAR ON WHEELS
Sacramento had barely gotten used to the idea of food trucks when the city's first fashion truck hit the streets. Bridgette Maldonado debuted her GYPSY MOBILE BOUTIQUE this past April during Second Saturday. Now, the chic black van (formerly a U.S. Postal Service truck) makes regular appearances at events such as SactoMoFo and on the streets outside Shady Lady Saloon, Fox & Goose Public House and other restaurants. Maldonado transformed the van's interior into a 60-square-foot shop, complete with clothing racks, display shelves, a sales counter, even a tiny dressing room. She sells trendy dresses, tops, hats, belts, purses and jewelry at wallet-friendly prices. (Dresses cost about $42, tops no more than $30.) The truck has been so successful, she's now toying with the idea of opening a second truck selling menswear. gypsymobileboutique.com
BEST PLACE TO WIG OUT
Want to look like your favorite pop star—Katy Perry, say, or Nicki Minaj? Head straight to the wall of wigs at EVANGELINE'S in Old Sac. The store carries more than 500 styles: everything from beehives and flips to mohawks and Afros. There are light-up wigs, glowin- the-dark wigs, even a pixie-cut wig with detachable pigtails. They come in every color of the rainbow, so you can sport blue locks one day, magenta the next. The synthetic wigs cost $10 to $45 and are a hit with young women and anime fans of both sexes. "People are having wig parties," says Teri Burge, a buyer for Evangeline's costume section. "It's a great party idea." 113 K St., Old Sacramento; (916) 448-2594; evangelines.com
BEST BOUTIQUE FOR HIM AND HER
Sacramento has its share of women's boutiques, but there aren't many stores that cater to both the men and the ladies. To fill that niche, Justin Bilbao and Scott Gilbert opened GOOD STOCK BOUTIQUE. "Neither side is an afterthought," says Bilbao about his Downtown Plaza store, which is modeled after big-city his-and-hers boutiques such as Atrium in New York. The shop carries women's labels including TOMS, Wildfox Couture, Rebel Yell and MinkPink and men's brands such as Insight, Obey, Lifetime Collective and RVCA. This isn't Bilbao and Gilbert's first rodeo: They brought urban streetwear and skate apparel to Sacramento 20 years ago when they opened their first store, GettaClue, for the 14- to 21-year-old set. Good Stock caters to a slightly older, wealthier, more fashionforward clientele. Among its customers: Sacramento Kings guard Tyreke Evans. 545 Downtown Plaza; (916) 440-9700
BEST PLACE TO NAB A BIT OF OLD HOLLYWOOD
Vintage and consignment stores are a dime a dozen these days. But there's nothing quite like LA FEM SOPHISTIQUE, an East Sac resale boutique that opened in April. Store owner Sandi Linder was asked by a friend—a former Hollywood glamour girl once married to a movie producer—to sell her private collection of clothing from the mid-'50s to the late '80s. In her prime, the anonymous collector had been an avid shopper with an eye for designer labels and a reputation for never wearing anything twice. Linder took possession of more than 300 wardrobe boxes filled with 10,000- plus items in perfect condition: lingerie, cocktail dresses, evening gowns, business suits, silk blouses, purses, hats, shoes, bathing suits—you name it. There's a flouncy pale-blue chiffon peignoir trimmed with dyed-to-match blue marabou by Lucie Ann of Beverly Hills (lingerie designer to the stars in the '60s) and an emerald satin Natori robe with mink collar and cuffs that could have been worn by Alexis Carrington Colby, the "Dynasty" ballbuster played by Joan Collins. Prices range from $10 for a Tshirt to upward of $15,000 for a designer evening gown. If these clothes could talk, just think of the stories they'd tell! 3241 Folsom Blvd.; (916) 308-4456; lafemsophistique.com
BEST PAEAN TO PIG
BACON FEST sounds like one of Homer Simpson's harebrained schemes. Actually, last January's three-day event was the inspiration of two locals, Brian Guido and Nick Miller, who wanted to showcase the craftsmanship that goes into makin' bacon. So they persuaded a handful of restaurants to show off their way with swine. Luigi's Slice served BLT pizza and brought in bands to play songs from Kevin Bacon movies. Pangaea Two Brews Cafe offered bacon-and-beer specials, while Magpie Cafe and The Golden Bear served bacon-heavy brunches. And Mulvaney's Building & Loan hosted a sold-out bacon-curing competition. "It was way bigger than any of us thought it would be," says Guido, who went on to organize BLT Week in July, complete with a BLT bike crawl and restaurants serving BLT doughnuts, BLT cocktails and other delicious variations on the BLT theme. This January, Bacon Fest expands to a week (Jan. 21–27), with more participating restaurants, a music showcase and a bacon-cocktail competition. As Homer would say: Mmm . . . bacon.
BEST URBAN MUSHROOM GROWER
With an average of 320 days of sunshine a year, Sacramento isn't the ideal place to grow mushrooms. But that didn't stop Roxana Walker from starting DRAGON GOURMET MUSHROOMS, which supplies some of the city's top restaurants with their favorite fungi. Walker, a chemist for the state, began farming mushrooms for fun in her garage back in 2000. She started selling her 'shrooms at a local farmers market and eventually outgrew her home setup. Now, she has an 8,200-square-foot warehouse downtown where she produces 600 pounds of oyster mushrooms and 100 pounds of shiitakes a week. Walker sells her produce at Taylor's Market, Nugget Markets and farmers markets all over the region, and she supplies restaurants such as Biba, Magpie Cafe, Kru, Zen Sushi and Lucca.
BEST LOCAVORE FIND
Everyone knows you can buy a first-class education at UC Davis. But did you also know you can buy meat? UC DAVIS MEAT LAB is a federally inspected meat processing plant on the Davis campus that's used primarily for teaching and research by the university's animal science department. But on Thursdays and Fridays from 1 to 5:30 p.m., the meat lab opens its doors to the public and sells the same cuts you'd find at a highend butcher, from dry-aged rib-eyes to frenched racks of lamb. "Everything's local and fresh," says meat lab manager Caleb Sehnert, who oversees the facility and its student employees. Proceeds are ploughed back into the animal science department. "Our customers really like our products," Sehnert says. "And they get to support the university." Building C, Harold Cole Facility, La Rue Road, Davis; (530) 742-7410; animalscience.ucdavis.edu/facilities/meat
BEST CREAMY TREAT
When she was laid off from her corporate job almost two years ago, Rachel Sprinkle-Strong yearned to do a 180. So she started POPCYCLE CREAMERY, making artisanal ice cream push-up pops with intriguing flavor combos such as sweet corn/blackberry, roasted cherry with goat cheese and strawberry balsamic. Sprinkle-Strong uses organic milk, raw cane sugar and produce from local farmers markets to make her small-batch wares, which she sells for $3 a pop at local street events. She also takes orders for weddings and private parties, coming up with custom flavors such as cocoa Zinfandel for the pops she made for a Bogle Vineyards employee's wedding rehearsal dinner using the winery's Old Vine Zin. (916) 214-8023; popcyclecreamery.com
HOME + GARDEN + DESIGN
BEST VINTAGE STUFF
Before Pottery Barn opened its new teen store in Roseville this past summer, the company's design team headed to BUNGALOW VINTAGE LIVING in Fair Oaks and scooped up all manner of things for use as props: vintage luggage, an airplane propeller, books, an antique globe, light fixtures. "They came in three days in a row," says owner Kim Panighetti. No wonder: The 2,000-square-foot store is chockablock with beautiful old things that Panighetti and her partner, Sue Parish, source on shopping trips throughout the Midwest and Pacific Northwest— jewelry, furniture, urns, statuary, candles, dishware, chandeliers and more. Pottery Barn isn't alone in its affection for this chic store; designers for the Restoration Hardware catalog also shop here. 10139 Fair Oaks Blvd., Fair Oaks; (916) 967-7000; bungalowvintage.blogspot.com
BEST WAY TO BUY ART AFFORDABLY
You'd love to own an original piece of art by Gregory Kondos, but you can't afford it, right? Wrong. Every May, the Crocker Art Museum holds BIG NAMES, SMALL ART, a silent auction of small artworks (12 by 12 inches or less) by such notables as Eric Dahlin, Pat Mahony, Tony Natsoulas, Maija Peeples-Bright, Mark Bowles and, yes, the great Kondos himself. Earlier this year, auction goers snapped up original works for as little as $35. Even Lial Jones, director of the Crocker, bids at the auction. "It's one of my favorite events," she says. "It democratizes the process of acquiring art." Mark your calendar: Next year's event takes place May 30. crockerartmuseum.org
BEST PLACE FOR MIDCENTURY FURNITURE
Hipsters looking to score an Eames chair or Danish modern settee should make a beeline for SCHIFF'S ESTATE SALE BUILDING in North Sac. Owner Gary Schiff liquidates estates, selling everything from jewelry and collectibles to furniture, much of it from the "Mad Men" era. In addition to running the store, Schiff also holds estate sales at homes throughout the region. Get on his email list and you'll receive advance notice of sales, so you can stake your claim to that pink dinette set you've always wanted. 1309 Del Paso Blvd.; (916) 206-4458; estatesalebuilding.com
BEST BACKDROP FOR YOUR RUBBER DUCKY
One look at furniture designer RICK CRANDALL'S CUSTOM BATHTUB CREATIONS and you realize this ain't your grandma's claw-foot tub. Crandall used thousands of pieces of broken stone and aquarium-quality silicone adhesive to take a standard 6-foot tub from functional to conversation piece. Forged metal legs and fixtures complement the design, which easily is cleaned with a bristle brush and standard bathtub cleanser. Looking for something more rustic? His river-rock tub is 6 feet long, holds up to 72 gallons of water and recreates the sensation of a summertime dip in a clear lake, with its earth tones and mudlike exterior. Prices for these designs start at $10,000, but if they don't fit your décor, Crandall will help you come up with something special. Your rubber ducky never had it so good. 1ofakindbydesign.com
BEST ECO-FRIENDLY DORM
Davis has long been an eco-friendly enclave, but the recent opening of UC DAVIS WEST VILLAGE takes it up a couple of notches. Photovoltaic panels and waste-to-energy biodigesters, combined with energy-efficient housing design and on-site drainage, are incorporated to make the community produce as much energy as it consumes. Currently housing more than 800 students in two apartment complexes, the zero-net-energy community also will include single-family homes for purchase. A village square, recreation center, retail and office space, plus the new home for Sacramento City College's Davis campus, round out the new development. UC Davis associate professor of landscape architecture Stephen Wheeler, who has written case studies on the West Village project, says it's getting Davis some attention on a national level. "We want our town to be known for being on the cutting edge environmentally," says Wheeler. "This fits pretty well into that vision."
BEST WAY TO GET CAFFEINATED
Long known for art studio tours and gallery shows, Second Saturday in Sacramento now also will be known for the COFFEE BIKE TOUR, hosted by Broadacre Coffee. Started in January of this year, the tour was brewed up by Broadacre co-founders Justin Kerr and Leyland Elia as a way to support like-minded coffeehouses in the area. "We wanted to have time with our customers to share our passion for Sacramento's coffee scene," says Elia. Every month is a little different, but stops often include local favorites such as Insight Coffee, Chocolate Fish, Temple, Old Soul and Naked Coffee. Reservations are not required for this free event: Just show up at Broadacre's 10th Street location at 10 a.m. every second Saturday with your bike and a thirst for some java. 1014 10th St.
Thanks to The Ballroom on Folsom Boulevard, no one's putting Baby in a corner any more. For more than 11 years, The Ballroom has offered dance camps as a way of introducing people to dancing without long-term commitments. Held three times a year on a Sunday, each DOLLAR DAZE DANCE CAMP features four different dance classes over the course of four hours— and it only costs a buck. Dances at the daylong camp range from salsa and merengue to East Coast swing and the waltz. No partner? No problem. Manager Linda Infante says camps average close to 200 people per session, with single attendees accounting for nearly 75 percent, so you won't be a wallflower for long, if at all. 6009 Folsom Blvd.; (916) 456-2616; theballroomofsacramento.com
BEST DAY TO GET CULTURED
On the first Saturday in February for nearly 15 years now, MUSEUM DAY has gotten Sacramentans out of their houses and into the streets to visit 28 area museums at little to no cost. Coordinated by Sacramento Association of Museums, the event aims to showcase what the region has to offer. "We have wonderful culture, wildlife, art and history right in our own backyard," says Museum Day coordinator Delta Pick Mello. Participating museums include heavy hitters such as the Crocker and the California State Railroad Museum, as well as more obscure places such as the Museum of Medical History in East Sacramento. The best part? It's not just downtown: You can visit participating museums in Rancho Cordova, Folsom, Roseville and Woodland. sacmuseums.org/museumday
BEST EXCUSE TO GET UP ON THE WEEKEND
Every Saturday morning, Gina Garcia Di Fiore leads YOGA IN THE PARK, a free outdoor yoga class in East Sac's McKinley Park. A certified yoga instructor, she routinely attracts more than 200 people with her vinyasa class geared to students of all levels. (Attendees are as young as 3.) The 75-minute class meets at 9 a.m. behind the rose garden from April through September. In winter, it moves indoors to the park's Clunie Community Center. Why free? "Everyone should have access to yoga," says Garcia Di Fiore, who started a nonprofit called Yoga Across America to replicate her program around the country. facebook.com/yogaacrossamerica
BEST WAY TO CHANNEL YOUR INNER PICASSO
Cocktail hour just got more interesting thanks to the creative minds behind HAPPY HOUR PAINTS. For $40, a local artist provides instruction on painting a reproduction of a landscape or still life using materials provided. While you're getting in touch with your artistic side, you can enjoy an adult beverage or two and socialize. Co-owners Cait Ehisen and Kyle Lanthier came up with the idea after hearing of similar ventures in Santa Barbara. Since their June launch, they've hosted 10 events at area restaurants, including Fat City, Bella Bru and The Red Rabbit. Never painted before? No worries: Ehisen says the events are tailored to those who have never held a paintbrush. "It's not a class—it's more of a social painting event," she says. happyhourpaints.com
BEST LIFELINE FOR FELINES
The ORPHAN KITTEN PROJECT is the best thing to happen to kittens since, well, catnip. Run by the Feline Medicine Club at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, it was conceived as a way for vet students to learn about feline neonatal care as well as help reduce the feral cat population. Since 2005, the project has placed more than 1,200 kittens in homes throughout the Central Valley. The majority of kittens come from individuals who stumble upon a litter, but area shelters also rely on the program to take kittens requiring bottle-feeding. Fostered by vet students, undergrads and private citizens, the kittens are weaned, vaccinated, spayed/ neutered and microchipped prior to adoption. The group frequently hosts adoption events at the Davis farmers market and maintains Petfinder.com listings for all available kittens. facebook.com/orphankittenproject
BEST HELP FOR LOCAL BOOK CLUBS
Once again, the Sacramento Public Library is making it easy for people to read more. It started the BOOK CLUB IN A BOX project in October 2011 as a resource for book clubs. Each bright-red crate contains 15 copies of a book, a list of discussion questions and tips on how to run a book club. Titles include recent fiction best-sellers such as The Help and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo as well as nonfiction titles and classics. The boxes can be checked out for six weeks, giving book club members plenty of time to read even the longest tomes. And if that wasn't enough, there are a few Book Club in a Box audio selections, which contain CDs of the books instead of print copies.
BEST BICYCLE PROGRAM
The country is seeing an explosion of DIY "bicycle kitchens" where cyclists learn to do their own bike maintenance and repair. For their senior project, high school students Aaron Stahl and Jeremy Gray started THE MET'S BIKE COLLECTIVE, a bicycle kitchen run by and for students. The duo, who graduated this past spring from The MET, a public charter school at Eighth and V streets, received a $4,000 grant from Sacramento Bicycle Kitchen to pay for tools; REI provided training in bike repair. Now, working out of a room in the school's newly renovated $7 million building, teens teach their fellow students how to fix a flat tire, true the rims and perform other maintenance tasks. "They can fully take apart a bike from stem to stern," brags principal Allen Young.
When it was built in 1877, the GOVERNOR'S MANSION at H and 16th streets was considered the grandest house in all of Sacramento. Originally a private residence, it was home to 13 governors from 1903 until 1967, when Nancy Reagan declared it a firetrap and moved her family out. Last year, the historic 12,000-square-foot mansion (which is open for tours) landed on California's State Parks closure list, a victim of the state's budget woes. But happy days are here again for the stately Italianate Victorian. Thanks to a $75,000 gift from Raley's and $25,000 from Sacramento's Church of Scientology, the manse was taken off the closure list in June. Sometime later this year or early next, the Historic Governor's Mansion Foundation will unveil the longawaited restoration of the third floor's ballroom, billiard room and ladies' sitting room. During the update, walls have been repaired and repainted, murals restored and carpets replaced with historically accurate reproductions. And the mansion's transformation is not just an inside job: The all-volunteer Mansion Gardeners are restoring the gardens back to their glory days.
BEST WAY TO GET YOUR FILL OF CRAB
Every weekend from January through March, hundreds of people indulge in the peculiarly Sacramento ritual known as the CRAB FEED. A popular fundraiser for schools, churches and nonprofits, the crab feed follows a formula that rarely deviates. People pay $35 or $40 a head to sit at long tables in a hall or gymnasium and eat course after course of classic Italian American fare: soup, salad, antipasto, spaghetti, garlic bread and, of course, big bowls of fresh Dungeness crab. Crab feeds are all-you-can-eat affairs, which is a large part of their allure. Die-hard crab feeders are easy to recognize. They're the ones who come armed with their own crab cracking utensils and butter warmers. Put your bib on: The 2013 crab feed lineup includes Junior League of Sacramento (Feb. 2), Sacramento State Athletics Hornet Club (Feb. 9) and Firefighters Burn Institute (March 2).
BEST NEW PARK
At first glance, it looks like your average city park: benches, a picnic area, some exercise equipment. When you get closer, you realize that ELK GROVE RAIN GARDEN, just across from Colton Park on Laguna Springs Drive, is smarter than your average park. Designed by Cosumnes Community Services District in partnership with the city of Elk Grove, the rain garden was conceived as a way to educate the public about low-impact development practices, according to engineering services manager Darren Wilson. "We realized we had a great opportunity to make something beautiful as well as educational," says Wilson. The garden includes several features that make the most of rainwater: Concrete and granite pathways absorb rainfall, a dry well helps groundwater recharge, and rain chains trickle down openly for optimal water absorption. Native plants and trees plus educational signage also are prominent.
BEST ALTERNATIVE TO SECOND SATURDAY
Sure, you've heard of Sacramento's Second Saturday art walk. But did you know Davis holds an art walk, too? Coordinated by the Davis Downtown Business Association, 2ND FRIDAY ARTABOUT is more low-key and familyfriendly than the midtown version. A couple dozen galleries, stores, spas and restaurants serve up music, art and free refreshments from 5 to 9 p.m. on the second Friday of every month. For a downloadable guide and map, go to davisdowntown.com.
ARTS + ENTERTAINMENT
BEST THEATRICAL SUCCESS STORY
The story of New Helvetia Theatre sounds like the plot for a Tony-winning musical. Our hero, theater founder and artistic director CONNOR MICKIEWICZ, leaves his hometown of Sacramento to study theater in New York. He returns to fulfill his dream of sharing lesserknown musical theater productions in intimate venues. With the support of the community and theater-loving fans, he starts New Helvetia Theatre. After 3 ½ years of producing critically acclaimed shows and renting space at various theaters around town, Mickiewicz finds a permanent home for New Helvetia at 10th and R streets downtown. After October's production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Next to Normal, the theater staff will focus on renovation and planning for the 2013 season. Don't you just love happy endings?
BEST INDIE ARTISTS
Sacramento band KNOCK KNOCK has been entertaining the region since 2000 with its combination of guitar hooks, fantastic harmonies and pop-indie sensibility. With its third album, We Will Raise Your Child, the band has upped the ante by adding humor as well as keyboards. The members liked keyboardist Dylan Barnes so much, in fact, that they added him to the lineup, where he joins bassist/ vocalist Allen Maxwell, rhythm guitarist/vocalist Heather Conway, guitarist Mike Cinciripino and drummer Christine Shelley. While the group's sound has been compared to national acts such as Wilco and Yo La Tengo, Knock Knock is happy to keep it local: The current album was released on vinyl in a joint venture by Sacramento Records and Phono Select Records this past March, while Test Pattern Records released the CD version in September.
BEST BREAKOUT BAND
The past few years have been good to experimental hip-hop band DEATH GRIPS. Formed in late 2010, the Sacramento-based trio of MC Ride, Zach Hill and Andy Morin received acclaim from SPIN Magazine and The New Yorker for its 2011 debut album Exmilitary. The band's raw, subversive lyrics combined with soul-shaking beats got it signed to Epic Records in February. A few months later, its second album, The Money Store, was released and the group appeared at Coachella. Committed to releasing a third album, No Love Deep Web, before the end of 2012, Death Grips canceled its summer tour, instead focusing on recording new songs at studios in Sacramento and Oakland.
STUFF BEST USE OF MOMMY MUSCLE
Autumn Heacox was watching the "Today" show when she learned about a new phenomenon called the cash mob, in which a group of people assemble at a local business and spend money in a show of support. That gave Heacox, who'd recently given birth to her first child, an idea: Why not organize a mob of moms to shop at locally owned children's stores? SACRAMENTO FLASH MOMS held its first cash mob in June at Puddles, an upscale children's boutique in Sacramento's Lyon Village shopping center. The rules were simple: Show up between 10 and 11 a.m. and spend at least $20. About 15 moms attended (many with little ones in tow). "Most of us spent well more than $20," says Heacox, who hopes to attract more cash mob participants at future events. "We need to keep small businesses in town and flourishing." facebook.com/sacflashmoms
BEST PARTY IDEA
Putting on a kid's birthday party can be daunting. How do you keep 20 kids entertained for three hours? Bounce house or bowling? Chuck E. Cheese or laser tag? Thanks to local resident David Carpenter, there's a new option: THE BUSY BUS. Carpenter turned two decommissioned metro buses into party pads on wheels. One is a toddler tumble bus with a rock climbing wall, trampoline, ball pit and rope climb. The other, geared to older kids and teens, is a videogame bus, complete with three flat-panel TVs, Xbox, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii game stations and a wellstocked videogame library that ranges from family-oriented games to the hardcore stuff such as Call of Duty. Each bus can accommodate around 30 kids and costs $395 for a three-hour time block. Let the party begin! (530) 400-6415; thebusybus.com
BEST AFTER-SCHOOL MUSIC PROGRAM
As a middle school music teacher, Nina Vigil faced a vexing problem: Many of her students went on to high schools without orchestras. "They needed a place to play," says Vigil, who took matters into her own hands and started CAMELLIA JUNIORS ORCHESTRA. The string orchestra practices one evening a week from September through May and performs in public three or four times a year. In this era of brutal budget cuts, school music programs are fast disappearing. "For many students, this will be their only opportunity in high school to play," says Vigil, who also runs Camellia Cadets Orchestra for middle school students. "It allows them to continue their musical interests." (916) 929-6655; camelliasymphony.org
BEST GIFT FOR A LITTLE GIRL
For little girls who love to play dressup, there's the aptly named DRESS UP PILLOW. The 18-by-18-inch felt pillow features on one side a girlish silhouette, on the other a heart-shaped pocket filled with felt cutouts of hats, shoes, skirts, tops and dresses, each backed with a bit of fabric fastener so a child can dress and re-dress the silhouette to her heart's content. In Sacramento, Kerrie Kelly Design Lab is the exclusive designer dealer for the $68 pillow. 3252 J St.; (916) 919-3023
BEST LOCAL OLYMPIC FAN
He's no Ryan Lochte, but UC Davis sports doc BRIAN DAVIS is still one heck of an Olympian. Davis attended the 2012 Summer Olympics in London as a consultant volunteer physician, one of only two American doctors chosen for that honor. Assigned to the judo and wrestling arena, he treated top athletes from all over the world, including one who blew out his knee right before going on to win a medal. You might call Davis an Olympics junkie: In addition to London, he volunteered at Olympic and Paralympic games in Salt Lake City, Athens and Vancouver, and he hopes to go to Rio in 2016. But 12-hour workdays in London left him little time to catch any of the events. "I saw the closing ceremony," he says. "That's it."
BEST PEOPLE MOVER
She's been called a money maven and fundraising guru, thanks to raising $15 million over the course of 30 years for area nonprofits, libraries and other organizations. But Sacramento resident MARYELLEN BURNS is much more than that, according to her friends and colleagues. Library director Rivkah Sass calls Burns a "major friend-raiser" for her ability to bring people together. Food reporter Elaine Corn, who's working with Burns on We Are Where We Eat, a yearlong project focused on local food producers and cuisines, calls her a "teacher, coach, guidance counselor and gadfly." And art educator Larry Fox says Burns is a "force of nature." No matter what you call Burns, she's dedicated her life to helping Sacramento thrive, whether it's through writing grants for literary and arts education programs, preserving Sacramento's history or teaching people how to make their dreams a reality through crowdfunding workshops.
BEST PUBLIC TRANSIT FAN
It started as Facebook posts of the amusing, sometimes touching, sometimes troubling stories that BRIAN GREEN, media consultant for the state Senate, heard and observed while riding Regional Transit into downtown Sacramento. At the urging of his Facebook friends, and with the help of his wife (who surprised him with a Word document compilation of nearly three years' worth of stories), he self-published Rail Tales, a collection of 200 vignettes categorized by month. Since its publication in June, the book has sold upward of 600 copies. "Anyone who rides public transit—not just in Sacramento—can relate to it," says Green. His experiences have definitely changed him for the better: "It's made me aware that we're all in this together."
BEST AIRPORT AMENITY
Flying is no fun these days. Between the long security lines, the TSA pat downs and the $25 fee just to check a bag, most of us are in a foul mood before we even set foot on the plane. But if you're flying out of Sacramento International Airport, you can shed some of that stress at one of three MASSAGE BAR kiosks in terminals A and B. While relaxing to soothing music, you can get a 15-minute traditional Swedish chair massage for $21 or a 10-minute foot massage for $18. (The heated neck wrap and eye mask are free.) The kiosks are especially popular with business travelers, says Massage Bar regional manager Olivia Dost. "It helps with jet lag," she says.
BEST TRAVEL PLANNER
When she owned midtown's Le Petit Paris, Tassina Placencia used to lead shopping trips to the City of Light. After she closed her French-themed boutique and cafe in 2010, she shut down her tour business as well. But Paris still beckoned, so earlier this year she revived LE PETIT PARIS TOURS & TRAVEL PLANNING. Clients get an itinerary geared to their individual interests (shopping, food, sightseeing), along with a terrific daily map and detailed instructions on what to do, where to go and how to get there. "It's Paris at your door," says Placencia, who knows the city like the back of her hand. To help clients avoid acting like Ugly Americans, she also offers pointers on Parisian culture and customs. (Need to use a cafe bathroom? Order something, she advises.) One thing's for sure: As long as Placencia is in business, we'll always have Paris. (916) 833-7319
BEST DOG WALKER—ER, RUNNER
Nancy Greenlee's dog Chester was a nervous, excitable ball of energy who never seemed to get tired, despite twicedaily walks. So the East Sac resident hired Desiree Haight of THE JOGGING DOG to wear Izzie out. For $18, Haight will take your pooch for an invigorating half-hour run. Her clients include high-energy breeds such as pit bulls, Jack Russell terriers and Labradors. "A walk usually isn't enough for that kind of dog," says Haight. "They need a run to take the edge off." Haight, who runs 50 to 60 miles a week in the course of her job, is in great shape—and so are her canine companions. "When you run an overweight dog, after a while you can start to see the hint of a waistline," she says. "It's very rewarding." (916) 538-9635; thejoggingdog.com