Best grammar school
1. Lusher Lower School (7315 Willow St., 504-862-5110; www.lusherschool.org) — Combining creativity, life skills and education, "Little Lusher" offers a balanced, tuition-free education. The lyrics of the school song "Learning the Lusher Way" help kids realize that they are unique and that if they do their best and love others, they can succeed.
2. Holy Name of Jesus School (6325 Cromwell Place, 504-861-1466; www.hnjschool.org
3. Isidore Newman Lower School (1903 Jefferson Ave., 504-899-5641; www.newmanschool.org, @IsidoreNewman)
1. Academy of the Sacred Heart: Little Hearts Early Learning Program (4301 St. Charles Ave., 504-269-1230; 4521 St. Charles Ave., 504-891-1943; www.ashrosary.org, @ashrosary) — Unlike many daycares and preschools, the teachers at Little Hearts (toddler and nursery) and the preschool have bachelors degrees or higher and the classes are small, with a teacher and assistant in each room. And the puffy-sleeved smocked dress with monogrammed Peter Pan collar and bloomers is such an adorable uniform.
2. Isidore Newman Greenie House (1903 Jefferson Ave., 504-899-5641; www.newmanschool.org, @isidorenewman)
3. Metairie Park Country Day School Edisen House (300 Park Road, Metairie, 504-837-5204; www.mpcds.com)
Best high school
1. Benjamin Franklin High School (2001 Leon C. Simon Drive, 504-286-2600; www.benfranklinhighschool.org, @bfhsfalcons) — When the school relocated from the old Carrollton courthouse building — where Audubon Montessori is and where Lusher Extension was prior — to the University of New Orleans campus, there was a second line procession during the move of the giant marble Benjamin Franklin statue.
2. Jesuit High School (4133 Banks St., 504-486-6631; www.jesuitnola.org, @jesuitnola)
3. Isidore Newman Upper School (1903 Jefferson Ave., 504-899-5641; www.newmanschool.org, @isidorenewman)
Best local university
1. Tulane University (6823 St. Charles Ave., 504-865-5000; www.tulane.edu; @tulanenews) — As Tulane is simultaneously on lists for its academics (Forbes) and for its partying (Bro Bible), successful students learn that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, but that all play and no work makes Jack lose his scholarship and sleep on friends' couches until summer.
2. University of New Orleans (2000 Lakeshore Drive, 504-280-6000; www.uno.edu, @uofno)
3. Loyola University (6363 St. Charles Ave., 504-865-3240; www.loyno.edu, @loyola_nola)
Best Saints player
1. Drew Brees (www.drewbrees.com; @drewbrees) — The super dad and charity man who helped spark the conversation about tipping on takeout is a seven-time Pro Bowler who threw a complete pass into our hearts in 2006 when he helped bring the Saints from 3-13 to 10-6 with an NFC South division title.
2. Jimmy Graham (www.facebook.com/thejimmygraham, @thejimmygraham)
3. Marques Colston (@marquescolston)
Best Pelicans players
1. Anthony Davis (www.facebook.com/anthonydavis23, @antdavis23) — Known by many for his physical attributes — a 7-foot-5-inch wingspan and eyebrows that stretch from far past his eyes' outer corners, merging above his nose into a thick bush — Davis joined the New Orleans team in the 2012-2013 season as forward-center.
2. Eric Gordon (@theofficialeg10)
3. Jason Smith (@jasonsmith014)
Best local artist
1. George Rodrigue (730 Royal St., 504-581-4244; www.georgerodrigue.com; @george_rodrigue) – Though most popular for his Blue Dogs, paintings he modeled after his late dog Tiffany starting in 1984, some of Rodrigue's finest works are his Cajuns, bodies and oaks. He recently was diagnosed with lung cancer, which he believes was caused by art supplies he used in his studio.
2. James Michalopoulos (617 Bienville St., 504-558-0505; www.michalopoulos.com; @michalopoulos)
3. Frenchy (8319 Oak St., 504-861-7595; www.frenchylive.com; @frenchylive)
Best local jewelry designer
1. Mignon Faget (The Shops at Canal Place, 333 Canal St., 504-524-2973; Lakeside Shopping Center, 3301 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 504-835-2244; 3801 Magazine St., 504-891-2005; www.mignonfaget.com; @mignonfaget) – Her designs offer something for all New Orleanians, from her kid-friendly Animal Crackers collection to her masculine animal belt buckles to her delicate strings of pearls. She puts a sophisticated spin on everyday New Orleans living with her housewares, like the crawfish and newspaper tray and Superdome glass.
2. Gogo Borgerding (2036 Magazine St., 504-529-8868; www.ilovegogojewelry.com)
3. Tom Mathis (8138 Hampson St., 504-861-9925; www.symmetry-jewelers.com; @symmetrygallery)
Best local photographer
1. Studio Tran (3814 Bauvais St., Metairie, 504-258-7260; www.studiotran.com; @studiotran) — Studio Tran photographers capture the most special things in life in high resolution and with perfectly matched color and light. People who've hired Studio Tran rave about the attention to detail and how no moments were missed, whether candid or posed.
2. Zack Smith (717 Deslonde St., 504-251-7745; www.zacksmith.com; @drumtographer)
3. Frank Relle (41 Fifth St., Gretna, 504-366-4849; www.frankrelle.com; @frankrelle)
Best new local book
1. Goodnight NOLA (www.blackpotpublishing.com) — Author Cornell P. Landry teamed with illustrator Louis J. Schmitt to make a NOLA-centric bedtime storybook, in the style of the 1947 children's classic Goodnight Moon. Referencing "Mardi Gras things" and Cafe du Monde appeals to kids, while the Cooter's fries and Zatarain's spice mentions satisfy adults.
2. The Devil In Her Way (www.billloehfelm.tumblr.com; @billloehfelm)
3. Love Letters From New Orleans (www.lovelettersfromnola.com)
Best art gallery
1. Rodrigue Studio (730 Royal St., 504-581-4244; www.georgerodrigue.com; @george_rodrigue) — Locals and visitors alike come to this gallery for Blue Dog paintings.
2. Arthur Roger Gallery (432 Julia St., 504-522-1999; www.arthurrogergallery.com)
3. Martine Chaisson Gallery (727 Camp St., 504-302-7942; www.martinechaissongallery.com; @MartineGallery)
1. New Orleans Museum of Art (City Park, 1 Collins Diboll Circle, 504-658-4100; www.noma.org, @noma1910) — There's always something happening at NOMA: Friday night movie screenings, live music and kids' activities, Saturday wellness classes, Sunday afternoon gallery talks. Museum admission is free on Wednesday, and visiting the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden is always free.
2. The National World War II Museum (945 Magazine St., 504-528-1944; www.nationalww2museum.org, @wwIImuseum)
3. The Ogden Museum of Southern Art (925 Camp St., 504-539-9600; www.ogdenmuseum.org, @ogdenmuseum)
Best place for a first date
1. City Park (1 Palm Drive, 504-482-4888; www.neworleanscitypark.com; @NOLACityPark) — City Park is the perfect place for a first date because there's no shortage of things to do. You can play on swings, ride the Live Oak Ladybug or Ferris wheel in the amusement park, play 18 holes of mini-golf, ride pedal boats or just have a picnic.
2. City Putt (City Park, 8 Victory Drive, 504-483-9385, www.neworleanscitypark.com; @NOLACityPark)
3. Bacchanal (600 Poland Ave., 504-948-9111; www.bacchanalwine.com; @bacchanalwine
Best place for a breakup
1. City Park (1 Palm Drive, 504-482-4888; www.neworleanscitypark.com; @NOLACityPark) — To have a dramatic breakup like on TV, go to City Park. Sit on swings next to each other, looking into the distance to avoid eye contact. Or, go to Morning Call, get emotional and leave the breaker-upper sitting alone with two orders of beignets and hot chocolate.
3. Bourbon Street
Best place to have a birthday party for adults
1. Rock 'N' Bowl (3000 S. Carrollton Ave., 504-861-1700; www.rocknbowl.com; @rock_n_bowl) — Rock 'n' Bowl has a dedicated event coordinator who helps people plan adult birthday parties at varying price points. All party packages include alcohol, two-and-a-half hours of bowling, shoe rental, set up and break down. The Super Strike package also has top-shelf cocktails, entrees and appetizers.
2. Bacchanal (600 Poland Ave., 504-948-9111; www.bacchanalwine.com; @bacchanalwine
3. Barcadia (601 Tchoupitoulas St., 504-335-1740; www.barcadianeworleans.com; @barcadianola)
Best place for a wedding reception
1. City Park (1 Palm Drive, 504-482-4888; www.neworleanscitypark.com; @NOLACityPark) — Wedding planning can be time-consuming and stressful, but City Park makes it a breeze by handling several things in house. City Park couples choose from three venues in the park, can pick a food and beverage package and let the staff take care of the rest.
2. Audubon Tea Room (Audubon Park, 6500 Magazine St., 504-212-5301; www.auduboninstitute.org, @audubonzoo)
3. Southern Oaks Plantation (7816 Hayne Blvd., 504-245-8221; www.southernoaksplantation.com)
Best Carnival day parade
1. Thoth (www.thothkrewe.com; @kreweofthoth) — In 1947, the Krewe of Thoth plotted its route to pass by more than a dozen institutions where the sick and shut-ins lived. They still pass by some of those places today and host several charity events throughout the year. One of this year's prized throws was the "red Thoth-o cup."
2. Zulu (722 N. Broad St., 504-827-1559; www.kreweofzulu.com; @zulukrewe)
3. Rex (www.rexorganization.com; @rexparade)
Best Carnival night parade
1. Muses (www.kreweofmuses.org, @kreweofmuses) — Muses has everything a night parade should: bright and funny floats, lavishly costumed (and masked) riders, fun throws that light up, useful throws that won't end up in the trash and plenty of marching groups and bands. The group's decorated shoes, though, are tops.
2. Endymion (www.endymion.org)
3. Bacchus (www.kreweofbacchus.org, @tweetbacchus)
Best condo/apartment building for singles
1. The Cotton Mill (920 Poeyfarre St., 504-566-9700; www.thecottonmillneworleans.com) — Living at The Cotton Mill puts singles in the middle of the Warehouse District action, near clubs, bars, restaurants and museums. The building itself has a pool, gym, half-acre indoor courtyard and entertainment center where residents are bound to bump into each other, accidentally or on purpose.
2. The Saulet (1420 Annunciation St., 504-586-9800; www.saulet.com; @thesaulet)
3. American Can Company (3700 Orleans Ave., 504-207-0090; www.americancanapts.com)
Best food festival
1. Oak Street Po-Boy Festival (www.poboyfest.com; @poboyfest) — The food is one of the best reasons to go to many festivals, and the Oak Street Po-Boy Festival shows why. What started as a po-boy preservation project has evolved into a font of new and creative sandwiches, some of which have been added to local menus, and one even inspired a restaurant.
2. New Orleans Oyster Festival (www.neworleansoysterfestival.org, @nola_oyster)
3. Louisiana Seafood Festival (www.louisianaseafoodfestival.com; @laseafoodfest)
Best golf course
1. Audubon Park (6500 Magazine St., 504-581-4629; www.auduboninstitute.org, @audubonzoo) —The Golf Digest award-winning course was redesigned in 2001, blending old Uptown scenery with modern landscaping. There are six- and 12-month pass options for frequent players and a dress code makes it a wonderful place for combining business with sport.
2. City Park New Orleans North (1051 Filmore Ave., 504-483-9410; www.cityparkgolf.com; @nolacitypark)
3. English Turn Golf & Country Club (1 Clubhouse Drive, Algiers, 504-392-2200; www.englishturn.com)
Best live music festival
1. New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (www.nojazzfest.com; @JazzFest) — People who enjoy Jazz Fest know planning is necessary. Wear galoshes even if it doesn't look like rain, eat for free at the food demonstrations, park legally and bring a copy of Gambit's "cubes" and maps to keep from getting stuck in the back at performances.
2. French Quarter Festival (www.fqfi.org/frenchquarterfest, @fqfestnola)
3. Voodoo Music + Arts Experience (www.worshipthemusic.com; @voodoonola)
Best local charity event
1. Zoo-To-Do (www.auduboninstitute.org/ztd, @zootodo) — Going "on down to the Audubon Zoo" for Zoo-To-Do, you'll see the facility adorned in lavish decorations, enjoy live entertainment and have premium cocktails and food from more than 70 area restaurants. Proceeds benefit our furry, feathered and finned friends at Audubon locations.
2. Hogs for the Cause (www.hogsforthecause.org, @hogs4thecause)
3. Red Dress Run (www.nolareddress.com; @nolareddress)
Best local 5k/10k race
1. Crescent City Classic (www.ccc10k.com; @ccc10k) — At this race, participants focus on setting new personal records rather than costuming or getting wasted. The Crescent City Classic — now in its 35th year — serves as a test of fitness for many and a way to start getting healthy for others. There's an after party with food, drinks and live music as well.
2. Red Dress Run (www.nolareddress.com; @nolareddress)
3. The Color Run (www.thecolorrun.com/neworleans, @thecolorrun)
1. LA/SPCA (1700 Mardi Gras Blvd., Algiers, 504-368-5191; www.la-spca.org, @laspca) — The LA/SPCA offers low-cost veterinary services, pet ownership education and kids' activities, in addition to providing basic animal shelter services such as animal adoption and surrender and stray removal. Citizens can help the LA/SPCA by volunteering, donating money or wish list items or fostering animals.
2. Team Gleason (www.teamgleason.org, @team_gleason)
3. Jerusalem Shriners (1940 Ormond Blvd., Destrehan, 985-725-1716; www.jerusalemshriners.com)
Best tennis courts
1. City Park (1 Palm Drive, 504-482-4888; www.neworleanscitypark.com; @nolacitypark) — City Park's Pepsi Tennis Center has brightly lighted courts, showers and lockers, tennis clinics for kids and tennis tournaments for adults. Food and specialty cocktails are included in court fees during Friday Night Doubles events, held on the first and third Fridays of each month.
2. New Orleans Country Club (5024 Pontchartrain Blvd., 504-482-2145; www.neworleanscountryclub.com)
3. Audubon Tennis Center (6320 Tchoupitoulas St., 504-895-1042; www.auduboninstitute.org)