Children’s Clothing Store
1236 State St., 962-7771, chickenlittlekids.com
I dare you to have a child in Santa Barbara and not wind up spending some serious time and money at Chicken Little. From bottles and breast pumps to strollers, car seats, clothes, stuffed animals, books, and so much more, Greg and Jennifer Bouma’s place has got your kids covered from conception to middle school. Their registry service is a lifesaver for first-time parents who have no idea what they are getting into, and their staff provides smiling and insightful service each step of the way. In business since 1981 (Chicken Lips existed for a couple of years prior at a different location), Chicken Little is one of only a few retail businesses in town that can boast having generations of the same family as happy customers.
Finalist: Peanuts Maternity & Kids
Two locations, kernohanstoys.com
Walk in and put your head on swivel — the toys and games and stuffed animals are everywhere! It is heaven on earth for kids of all ages and a hellish experience for parents in a hurry with a toddler in tow. Since the 1950s, Kernohan’s has been the go-to for birthdays, Christmas, Hanukkah, and any other holiday or gift-giving occasion a Santa Barbarian might encounter. And while original proprietor Harriet Kernohan is long since retired, new owners Greg and Gretchen Brinser have very much carried on her tradition with a vast selection of toys big and small, timeless and technological, fancy and no-frills. Spend at least $10 and the gift wrapping is still free!
Finalist: Chicken Little
Daycare Facility • Kids’ Summer Camp
36 Hitchcock Wy., 687-7727, ciymca.org/santabarbara
“There is something for every child at the YMCA,” said Tina Vincent, the Santa Barbara Y’s sports and wellness director. Give even a quick glance at their offerings both in the summer camp and daycare departments, and you will be hard-pressed to disagree with her. Whether it is preschool, before school, after school, or even during a workout, the YMCA has a variety of childcare options available to parents. During the summer months, the spectrum of camp offerings is enough to make most adults wish for a redo on the summers of their youth. There is theater camp, robotics camp, dance camp, culinary camp, babysitter training camp, and a number of sports-specific camps including baseball, lacrosse, soccer, and basketball. “The children come first; they always have, and they always will,” summed up Janine Greenfield, the associate director of youth and family programs.
Finalists: Just 4 Fun Fitness (Daycare Facility)
Santa Barbara Zoo (Kids’ Summer Camp)
Dr. Jerold Black
51 Hitchcock Wy., 563-6211
As a freshly minted first-time father, I can say with authority that finding a good pediatrician is among the most stressful and important undertakings in those early days. Luckily, readers of The S.B. Independent have been in agreement in recent years that Sansum Clinic’s Dr. Black is the best person for the job in these parts. Celebrated for his easygoing personality, straight talk, and dogged devotion to staying up to speed on the latest pediatrics medicine research available, Black, the former head of Sansum’s Pediatrics Department, is still accepting new patients.
Finalist: Children’s Medical Clinic
La Cumbre Animal Hospital
110 S. La Cumbre Rd., 967-0121, lcah.com
There are few feelings more helpless than having a sick pet and having no idea what to do for him or her. Luckily, since 1959, Santa Barbarians have had La Cumbre Animal Hospital to help. Run nowadays by Dr. Beverly Holmes and Dr. Eve Kuesis, the clinic does it all: breeding, exotic pet care, vaccinations, wellness exams, surgery, emergency help, nutrition counseling, and more. And they do it with such grace and empathy that our readers consider them top dog (or cat, as the case may be) in a community that has no shortage of veterinary options.
Finalist: San Roque Pet Hospital
Dioji K-9 Resort & Athletic Club
Two locations, dioji.com
The humanization of our four-legged friends jumped to a whole new level here in Santa Barbara when Dioji first opened a handful of years ago. I mean, it is a K-9 resort and athletic club complete with a swimming pool and giant outside padded play area and an on-site pet boutique. It is a certifiable fantasyland for social dogs and all but guarantees that your beast is going to have a much more fun day than you after you drop him or her off. Besides the cushy doggie daycare facilities, Dioji offers baths, pedicures, massage, teeth cleaning, de-skunking, and cage-free overnight boarding with couches, elevated beds, and pillow-filled pooch-style pleasure pits.
Finalist: Camp Canine
Douglas Family Preserve (a k a the Wilcox Property)
While most of us still can’t stop calling it the Wilcox Property, this 70-acre chunk of trails and trees with 360-degree ocean and mountain views is an absolute gem of a place for human’s best friend. Meandering, shade-dappled pathways full of great things to smell and pee on twist their way around this public Mesa park, complete with a doggie watering station and an ample supply of poop bags. Connector trails can even get you and Fido down to the dog-friendly sand at Hendry’s Beach below.
Finalist: Arroyo Burro Beach (a k a Hendry’s Beach)
Multiple Locations, lemospet.com
As the largest independent feed and pet-supply company on the Central Coast, Lemos not only rivals — if not exceeds — the national chains in selection and pricing but also does so with a small-town and personable feel. The employees remember your name and your pets and, most importantly, your individual needs. Got a cat or dog that is a picky eater? Lemos is the spot to find them a natural food they will love. They also give out treats.
The Little Dog House
5758 Hollister Ave., Goleta, 964-2446, doggroomerssantabarbara.com
This year marks the 40th anniversary for the Little Dog House and its 15th Best Of win in this category. It is a run that, according to owner Annabelle Hofmann, has had her grooming four or five different generations of pets for the same client. “I have been here a very long time,” she says with a little laugh. As for her secret to sustained success? “I do poodles and exotics and run a rescue group that has placed over 2,000 dogs in homes over the last five years, but mostly I think it is just because I let all the dogs run loose. They get to run and play when they’re here,” says Hofmann. “I’m not so good with people, but I am great with dogs. I love dogs.”