Best Hydrotherapy
Earthling Day Spa
245 East Bay St. Downtown 722-4737
This full-service day spa uses its Vichy hydrotherapy capsule as part of some of its signature services. Try it, and you’ll experience a soothing steam session. Then you’ll be sprayed with warm water from four overhead jets while you lie in a flat-bed capsule. The rainshower is used to rinse spa-goers after body scrubs and wraps, like the herbs, spices, and essential oils body wrap that’s part of the Javanese Beauty Ritual service ($150). –Stephanie Barna

Best Indulgence
Glow Spa
320 Coleman Blvd. Mt. Pleasant 388-9195
There’s nothing better than a good rub-down. Paired with a salt scrub. And a steam. Oh, how we love all things related to the lolling world of spa indulgence. Glow Spa. Just saying the name sends a ripple of sweet anticipation down the backs of our necks. Tucked in the corner of a Coleman Boulevard shopping center, this small haven is serious about their pampering ways. Their spa menu is a comprehensive list of therapeutic bliss that transcends the normal spa offerings. Reiki, a holistic approach to healing, is featured alongside vitamin-packed facials, enzyme wraps, and deep cleansing treatments infused with botanicals. One of the most demanding fashionistas we know swears she received the facial of her life at the hands of Heather, the spa’s owner, who is also rumored to be the best wax artist in town. Under her trained eye, brows are given architecture and faces come to life. And no visit to Glow Spa is complete without a trip to the steam room, where personalized aromatherapy detoxifies the body and leaves guests, dare we say, glowing. —Ida Becker

Best Beauty Deal
Relax for Good at Honeydew Spa
153 Market St. Downtown 937-4983
Honeydew’s Relax for Good membership is a deal almost too sweet to believe. For $45/month, you can get unlimited spa treatments, including manicures, pedicures, and massages. Members also get 10 percent off all spa products. Not only will your nails be exquisitely groomed 24/7, Honeydew will also send you notices about special VIP nights for special savings. Premium and deluxe memberships are also available, allowing you to receive multiple treatments in a day and (gasp!) validated parking. Relaxing has never been so affordable. —Anna Claire Hodge

Best Hidden Haircuttery
Berenice’s Salon
344 1/2 King St. Downtown 853-5113
This quirky little salon, stashed down a semi-hidden alley next to Clara’s Coffee, is one of the great secrets every young person in town who wants a hip haircut but doesn’t want to pay exorbitant prices should know about. The space itself perfectly blends the boho cool of a New York salon with just enough Southern charm. In case you’re looking for more than just a cut and color, they also offer a full range of services. If you’re insanely picky about haircuts and loath to trust a stranger to cut your precious locks, ask for Nicole Antonacci. She has a superhuman ability to take a client’s vague description of what they want and, like magic, deliver the haircut you’ve always dreamed about but can never fully articulate. –Sara Miller

Best Bedside Manner
Dr. Charles Kisabeth
CFC Parkwood Pediatrics, 1243 Savannah Hwy. West Ashley 556-8110
Taking your kid to the doctor can be like pulling teeth — it’s only possible with a lot of wiggling, wrenching, and screaming. Fortunately there are pediatricians like Dr. Kisabeth, who take the time to build a rapport with their patients, no matter how small their shoe size, speaking with them rather than over or at them. Likewise, the nurses treat visitors like their own beloved grandkids, which is unusual but effective. Within mooing distance of the Coburg cow, Dr. Kisabeth has an old-fashioned bedside manner that makes any bitter pill easier to swallow. –Nick Smith

Best Traveling Masseuse
Eden Fonvielle –Holy Cow Yoga Center
10 Windermere Blvd. West Ashley 769-2269
Riddle: What’s not too New Age, but not too harsh, plays Brian Eno as opposed to Enya, and schedules appointments at both Holy Cow Yoga studio and/or in your own home? Answer: Eden Fonvielle, our pick for Charleston’s Best Traveling Masseuse. Fonvielle, known for her down-to-earth spirit and lovely selection of aromatic oils, will come to your home, massage chair in tow, and go to town on your glutes, hammies, and tootsies. But what really makes this gal great is that when she’s not working her Swedish relaxation magic, she performs with her husband in the V-Tones, an all-ukulele band. Head over to Five Loaves Cafe the last Friday of each month to spot Eden and the V-Tones getting down. You can bet they’re limber and relaxed. –Kinsey Labberton


Best Cancer News
MUSC Stepping Up Accreditation
171 Ashley Ave. Downtown 792-2300
How screwed up is our nation’s medical system? How about the cost for Avastin, a colon cancer drug that has shown it can also treat breast and lung cancer? Try $100,000 a year! That’s why it’s such good news that the Hollings Cancer Center is trying to get certified as a national cancer center. This means the amount of money, research, and potentially life-saving trials at the hospital could explode. And that bodes well for every local family that will ever be touched by cancer in the future. –Bill Davis

Best Place to Retire
Bee Street Lofts
150 Bee St. Downtown 937-4949
Where would you buy if you were an aging boomer? How about right next to the damn hospital. First, the Bristol rose up on the banks of the Ashley, within spitting distance of the hospitals, and now there’s a whole new development cropping up practically on the parking lot of the VA hospital — a perfect place for aging (and rich) vets looking to kick back and relax, with a view of the river and a walkway to the doctor. –Stephanie Barna


Best Cushy Outdoors Experience
Edisto River Treehouses
Carolina Heritage Outfitters, Highway 15. Canadys 563-5051
The Edisto River is the longest free-flowing blackwater river in the southeastern United States. With broad banks, a shallow, sandy bottom, miles of emerald cypress forests, and a current that moves at a glacial mosey, it’s perfect for kayaking. The river’s winding, undeveloped shoreline provides the perfect romantic getaway all by itself, but if you’re looking to really score points, call Carolina Heritage Outfitters and book one of their unique treehouses nestled in the trees on the river’s edge: it’s the comfiest “outdoors” experience to be had in the wild, short of renting an RV. Each treehouse is solidly constructed of completely natural (often local) wood; they’re fully furnished with kitchen, futons, outdoor grill, and dining deck; and each is tucked in the words out of sight of any other. You’ll even get breakfast delivered each morning (it comes over dirt paths on an ATV). A reasonable $125 per person per night includes treehouse rental, unlimited use of a canoe, a shuttle to the put-in, and breakfast. Paddle in on Day 1, spend your nights in the treehouse, and then paddle out on your last day. Finally, count the brownie points you earned on two hands and both feet. –Patrick Sharbaugh

Best Free Afterschool Activity
Kids CANtina
Main Library, 68 Calhoun St. Downtown 805-6801
If your kids’ eyes are looking squarer than usual and it’s time to yank them away from the TV, there are alternatives to letting them out to play dodge-the-truck on the highway. Top of the afterschool heap is Kids CANtina, which (unfortunately for thirsty parents) has nothing to do with tequila. It’s actually a cozy way to keep young ‘uns off the streets with classic board games. Kids from 6 to 12 can sign up and get colorful badges, enter a book raffle, help themselves to popcorn and lemonade, and choose old-school games to play. Accompanying adults will recognize ones they played when they were children (Mouse Trap, Kerplunk, Operation) and dig the chance to watch a new generation get hooked on diversions that don’t need a microchip to deliver thrills. –Nick Smith

Best Moonlit Walk
Francis Biedler Forest Nightwalks
Off I-26 West, Exit 187, Dorchester County. 462-2150
Ever wonder what goes on in the swamp after the sun goes down? Grab your sweetie and head up the road to Francis Beidler Forest in Dorchester County. The forest, part of Four Holes Swamp, is a registered National Natural Landmark and is the world’s largest virgin cypress-tupelo swamp forest. On select Saturdays throughout the year, you can take a nighttime stroll through the swamp for just $8. No waders needed — it’s all boardwalk. You venture into the darkness, soon becoming part of this nocturnal wildlife sanctuary. There are trees older than life itself, flowing streams (thus, no mosquitoes), and barred owls, with their questioning calls. And over there, a quick glint in the moonlight? Just above the water? Just an alligator, checking out his visitors for the evening. These are but a few treats found on the nightwalk, but if you prefer your virgin cypress in a bit more light, then you can take a daytime stroll, self-guided or with a trained swampologist, or a guided canoe or kayak trip. However you take your swamp, an outing in the Francis Beidler Forest is sure to please (and it’s all blissfully free of pluff mud). –Marilyn Jones


Best Local Sea Monster
Alligatorzilla on Bull Island
Chris Crolley, president of kayak company Coastal Expeditions, was featured in a piece in The Post & Courier in January covering “Alligatorzilla” — a 20-foot, over 1,000-pound beast found during a birdwatching expedition in an alligator-infested pond along Alligator Alley on the north end of Bull’s Island. The area — about 20 miles north of Charleston –is a six-mile-long undeveloped island established for the protection and preservation of endangered and threatened species such as the wood stork and the loggerhead sea turtle. Experts say the pristine sanctuary has the highest gator population of any place north of Florida. Crolley returned to the pond for photographic evidence … and got it! With “Alligatorzilla” tromping around, his photo and story illustrated the fact that there are some places around the Lowcountry that people should not casually paddle and peruse. –T. Ballard Lesemann

Best Summertime Activity
Picking Strawberries at Leland Farms

4801 Maybank Hwy. Wadmalaw Island 559-1296
When strawberry season rolls around, Leland Farms out on Wadmalaw Island opens the gates and lets you loose on the rows of strawberry plants with a couple of plastic bags to fill with as many strawberries as you can pick. There’s nothing like watching a kid, her face dripping with red juice, take a sweeping look of the fields around her and exclaim, “I love strawberries.” We do too, and we love Leland Farms for providing such an idyllic setting for playing farmer. –Stephanie Barna

Best Place to Crab
For commercial crabbers and casual hobbyists, trapping and luring local blue crabs — a Lowcountry delicacy and a source of income for hundreds of coastal South Carolina fishermen — has become increasingly more difficult over the last few years or so, partly from overfishing in certain areas, but mostly from a series of droughts in S.C. that changed the salinity of the waters feeding into the inlets and creeks. The salt levels are higher than usual, which affects how the “sallies,” “sooks,” and “jimmies” live, mate, and spawn. Within a year or two, things may be back to normal, so get those smelly chicken necks and balls of twine ready. —T. Ballard Lesemann

Best Relocation Effort
Page’s Thieves Market
1460 Ben Sawyer Blvd. Mt. Pleasant 884-9672
Since opening the barn-sized store of “art, collectables, and hobbies” in 1964, proprietor Linda Page has seen all sorts of neighboring businesses come and go on the boulevard heading to Sullivan’s Island. There was the Slip-Slidin’ Waterslide, a concrete skateboard bowl, and several others. Over the winter, construction crews began excavating grounds to build a new Publix facility near Page’s Thieves Market and ran into trouble when they approached the task of draining a small pond behind the store — a home to many small bream, bass, and mud turtles. Luckily, local wildlife enthusiasts Keepers of the Wild brought in poles, seines, and nets and captured as many live fish and turtles as they could, gradually relocating them to Charles Towne Landing park. –T. Ballard Lesemann


Best Way to Spend a Muggy Summer Night
Skinny Dipping in the Atlantic
Water cascading down naked flesh in the moonlight is a sight to behold. Something else everyone should see are the phosphorescent plankton that sparkle green and blue at night when you run your arms just below the surface of the water. The glowing purpose of their sparkle is a protection mechanism which creates an “aura” around predators, making them more visible to their potential bait. You might be drunk and you might not even know the people you are getting naked with, so be sure to pick up some of your own luminescent protection — like glow-in-the-dark condoms. Make sure you pick up after yourself. Plus, the water feels great on your balls. –Benjamin Schlau

Best Display of Lunacy
Polar Bear Plunge
2213 Middle St. Sullivan’s Island 883-9646
In a city rife with tradition-steeped rites of passage, the Polar Bear Plunge, hosted by Dunleavy’s Pub on Sullivan’s Island, tops the list of our most anticipated annual events. Every New Year’s Day, thousands flock to Station 22 1/2, where Bill Dunleavy serves as ringmaster for what can best be described as Halloween meets Day of the Dead (due to the omnipresent hangover that clouds the plungers’ sanity). After the dip, the Dunleavy’s staff and Special Olympics volunteers raise funds for local athletes by selling beer and hot dogs to the shivering crowd. –Ida Becker

Best Tunnel for your Balls
New Municipal Golf Course Tunnel
2110 Maybank Hwy. James Island 795-6517
Sure, the hookers beneath I-26 on Huger Street might be able to do more with your balls, but they’re nowhere near as expensive as the tunnel beneath the new James Island bridge, which cost, like, eleventy billion dollars by the time Mayor Joe Riley was through bidding out the damn thing. –Bill Davis

Best New Workout
The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge

Some days the fog is thicker than pea soup. Other days, the wind blows so hard that runners are reduced to a slow crawl. Despite the variable weather conditions, untold thousands have flocked to this new avenue of exercise. The evenly split bike-and-walk path doesn’t provide much room for strollers (and we wish the sign banning dogs was more visible, since we’ve observed several incidents involving dogs not being tended by their daydreaming owners), but hundreds manage to successfully navigate the passage every day. The steep incline on the Mt. Pleasant side can take your breath away, so consider starting from the opposite end if it’s your first trip across the new bridge. –Ida Becker

Best Neighborhood Fishing Hole
The Old Pitt Street Bridge by Cove Inlet
East end of Pitt St. Mt. Pleasant
Of course, it depends on the weather, the tides, the moon, and the bait, but the creeks running beneath the Old Pitt Street Bridge at the east end of the Old Village in Mt. Pleasant contain enough spot, flounder, croaker, bass, and pin fish to make for a fun family outing. Originally used as a trolley trestle going from Mt. P over Cove Inlet to Sullivan’s Island in the early 1900s, the Pitt Street Bridge closed when the “modern” Ben Sawyer Bridge opened in 1945. Nowadays, it serves as a scenic destination for birdwatchers, photographers, neighborhood joggers, and fishermen. –T. Ballard Lesemann

Best Magnús ver Magnússon Impressions
The Competitors of Charleston Star: Strength Challenge
Comcast’s C2 is the place to spot locals performing in shows just like the ones we see on “real” TV. In the first installment of the Charleston Star series, Charlestonians battled it out for the title of next big country star … of the tri-county area. The second installment, Strength Challenge, proved far more exciting, with a series of strength competitions modeled on ESPN2 staple World’s Strongest Man. Hopefuls went head-to-head in extreme tests like pulling a semi truck with a tow rope, stacking sandbags, and flipping tractor-trailer tires end to end down the length of a field just outside of the North Charleston Coliseum. The four-part series aired through the last two weeks of October and the first two of November, and the winner was … not Magnús ver Magnússon. –Sara Miller

Best Waterfront Warning Placard
Red’s Ice House
98 Church St. Mt. Pleasant 388-0003
“Warning to Captains: It’s illegal to operate vessels while intoxicated.” — hanging on a post on the dock by Red’s Ice House, Shem Creek. –T. Ballard Lesemann

Best Place to Put In a Kayak
Shem Creek Marina/ Shem Creek Maritime Center
526 Mill St. Mt. Pleasant 884-3211
At the intersection of Simmons and Mill streets, just north of the last bend in Coleman Boulevard, paddlers and rowers can put in on the accessible ramp at this convenient spot by the Shem Creek Nautical Museum. This side of the creek is just up from the Shem Creek Bridge and the mouth of the inlet and harbor … and ocean! –T. Ballard Lesemann

Best Place to Get Big
Gold’s Gym
1291 Folly Road. James Island 853-4653
Here’s a secret about our sleek physiques: we didn’t get to be a bullpen pack of dudes with six-packs you can drink from all week long and ladies showcasing smooth lines of leg that leave them begging by the door by chance or good genetics alone. Ready to kick up a little sand this summer? Then we suggest getting with the gym whose name recalls the faraway swagger of Muscle Beach, Mr. and Ms. Olympia, and oiled delts, pecs, and guns glistening in the California sun. Best news? Here’s a place we can go old-school with our bodybuilding or sample a wide range of state of the art fitness programs, including NIA, Pilates, Tae Bo, GGX, and more pumping, ripping, trimming, and cardio classes designed to meet both our goals and our schedules. –Jason A. Zwiker


Best Place for Edmund Hillary Wannabes
The Climbing Wall at James Island County Park
871 Riverland Drive. James Island 795-7275
Granted, 50 feet is not “the roof of the world” (you’ve got another 28,985 feet to go), but you don’t need a passport to go to James Island, and frostbite is never an issue. If you don’t know where to start, the park offers classes in belaying, then you and your Tenzing Norgay can reach the top and, just like Sir Edmund, shout, “We’ve knocked the bastard off.” —Wayne Marshall

Best Place to Meet a Hooker … or a Slicer
City of Charleston Golf Course
2110 Maybank Highway James Island 795-6517
Known as “The Muni” by the golf-noscenti, it’s not the prettiest or the longest or the most difficult golf course in the area, and it’s certainly not the most expensive. What it is, is an old-style course opened in 1927 with proletariat sensibilities where everyone is welcome, walking is encouraged, and between the 14th and 15th hole you can use your tax dollars and walk under Maybank Highway through the infamous tunnel — or you could play Dodge Car with the traffic. –Wayne Marshall

Best Place to Play Basketball with Your Kid
Sullivan’s Island Playground
One of the worst habits a little baller can develop is heaving the ball at the basket instead of shooting it. A great way to get around this is to find an 8-foot rim at a local park and get him or her introduced to the proper mechanics. Problem. Most parks don’t feature 8-foot rims, and where they do appear, they are often bent to hell by frustrated white dudes dunking on them. Apparently, the jocks out at Sullivan’s value passing and team defense over sky-walking, as the 8-footers out there are always intact. Bonus: there’s a great jungle gym a few feet away for when your little Kobe gets bored. –Bill Davis

Best Local Surf God
Kai Dilling of Sol Shapes
1440 Ben Sawyer Blvd. Suite 1500. Mt. Pleasant 881-6700
Kai Dilling, a former middle school teacher, has over 25 years worth of competitive surfing experience and puts his creative talents to further use as an instructor, craftsman, and radio correspondent. In warmer months, the IOP native runs the Sol Surfers surf camp for kids and teens. Throughout the year, he hand-shapes his own line of boards under the name “Sol Shapes.” He’s also a fixture on 96 Wave’s “Storm & Kenny Show with Stupid Mike” as “That Guy, Kai” — offering accurate and upbeat reports on the wave action on Sullivan’s and Folly Beach. Whadda guy. –T. Ballard Lesemann


Best Kayak Gods
Greg Barton and Oscar Chalupsky at Epic Kayaks
645 Marina Dr. Charleston 720-8841. www.epickayaks.com
Olympic gold medalist Greg Barton and World Paddle Ski Champion Oscar Chalupsky moved to town in 2005 and opened Epic Kayaks in the Fountain Walk shops. Their goal was to design and build touring kayaks with the same lightweight features found in racing boats. Since then, they’ve established their equipment as some of the best in the world. In 2005, their Epic Mid Wing paddle was voted the best high-end paddle by readers of Sea Kayaker magazine, and they’re set to launch a new boat, the Epic V10 Sport, that looks like a high-tech speed racer worthy of its $2,500 price tag. They recently moved to a new headquarters on Daniel Island where they design, build, and sell their boats, in addition to providing $40 paddling classes and two-hour nature tours. –Stephanie Barna

Best Way to Get in Shape and Help a Good Cause
Team in Training
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has an innovative way to help people get fit, strive for a goal, and help fund necessary research all in one fell swoop. It’s called Team in Training (TNT), and the goal for participants is to prepare to run or walk a full or half marathon, cycle a century bike ride (100 miles), or participate in a triathlon. TNT provides team members with a four-to-five month training program with an experienced coach and mentor, group training sessions, clinics on nutrition, fundraising (you have to raise money for your travel through sponsorships and donations), injury prevention, etc., plus hotel accommodations, event travel, and entry into your chosen event. The program is perfect for athletes at all levels, from beginners to veterans wishing to improve their performance. For more information on how to join, call the S.C. chapter of the Society at 958-9185 or visit www.teamintraining.org/sc. –Sara Miller

Best Way to Get Yelled into Shape
Boot Camp
Not for the faint of heart, boot camps have risen in popularity among fitness-minded folks looking for a new challenge. While the program offered by MUSC is led by actual Marine base boot camp drill sergeants and thus has an edge on the intensity factor, the upscale fitness club V uses National Academy of Sports Medicine-certified trainers to lead their no-nonsense exercise regimen. Both programs are fierce! –Ida Becker

Best Tennis Camp (for Kids)
St. Andrew’s Summer Tennis Camp
Playground Road. West Ashley 763-4360
One of the city’s best kept secrets are the Burke brothers, Phil and Bryan, who coach tennis at the parish courts off St. Andrews Boulevard. For around $110 a week, your little acer can learn how to play the game in a half-day setting, and for an additional $40, hang out at the summer camp until you get off work. As an added bonus, your kid comes in contact with Phil and Bryan, former touring tennis pros who played college tennis at S.C. State who are constantly in competition for the title of nicest guy in town. –Bill Davis

Best Fest
Charleston Cycle Fest
We live in a fairly bikeable city — great weather, a modicum of hills, plenty of outstanding views. The organizers of the Charleston Cycle Fest took full advantage of these facts, creating a weeklong event that included a cycle-themed film festival at Brittlebank Park, numerous clinics for all levels of cyclists, and a ton of bike rides. The festival also crossed age lines, with family-friendly programming that strived to make sure that everyone with two wheels and some energy could coax their inner Lance Armstrong out. Now, if only we had room for some bike lanes downtown… –Sara Miller

Best Race
Charleston To Bermuda
Although the upcoming footrace across the new bridge threatens to sweep this category in 2006, our favorite race of 2005 was fought on the high seas as 15 ships navigated their way to Bermuda, the British outpost situated 777 nautical miles off the coast of Charleston. Folks around the world were able to all the boats in the race, which unfolded over the course of a week. The race lasted much longer than anticipated on account of challenging weather and a series of malfunctions on several sailboats, but all sailors arrived safely in port. The South Carolina Maritime Heritage Foundation has taken over the sponsorship of the race, which got its start in 1997, and plans to race the currently-under-construction Tall Ship, located in Ansonborough Field, in the 2007 regatta. Ah, we’re looking forward to the next adventure on the high seas. –Ida Becker

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