Whether you’re a recent transplant or you’ve lived here for decades, consider this list your go-to resource for local living. In this year’s readers’ poll, more than 17,000 voters selected their favorite people, places and organizations across Howard County — resulting in hundreds of recommendations among our winners and honorable mentions.
Here are your Best of Howard County for 2018.
Editor’s note: Winners and honorable mentions were determined by popular vote. Readers were invited to vote online in August.
OUT & ABOUT
Annual festival/event: Howard County Fair
Wine in the Woods
Columbia Festival of the Arts
Preakness Balloon Festival
Art gallery: Howard County Center for the Arts
HorseSpirit Arts Gallery
Pistachio Gallery (closed, operating online)
Kids’ activities: Clark’s Elioak Farm
A working farm in Howard County since 1797, a fun haven for children since 2002, Clark’s Elioak Farm has been an ever-evolving county institution for generations.
These days, the farm is pretty much all about the kids – including the adult variety.
“We’re very popular with grandparents,” says owner Martha Clark. “It’s a great place for grandparents to bring their grandkids.”
The farm’s major draws include fairy-tale attractions from the long-closed Enchanted Forest, imported to Clark’s over the past 15 years, and a super-abundance of farm animals.
“What people tell us is they like is the fact that we’re an open environment,” says Clark. “There’s not a lot of technology or bells and whistles. You just come, and the kids get to run around in a safe environment.” — Pete Pichaske
10500 Clarksville Pike, Ellicott City. 410-730-4049. clarklandfarm.com.
Sky Zone Columbia
Performing arts group: Toby’s Dinner Theatre
Columbia Pro Cantare
Special event venue: Turf Valley Resort
Howard County Conservancy
The Great Room at Savage Mill
Volunteer organization: Howard County Fire and Rescue
Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center
The Arc of Howard County
Antique shop: The Antique Center at Historic Savage Mill
The Pink Cabbage
Cottage Antiques (tie, closed)
The Vintage Marketplace at Glenwood (tie)
Bookstore: Barnes & Noble
Books with a Past
Bike shop: Race Pace Bicycles
The Cycle Mill
Bridal shop: The Bridal Boutique/Columbia Bridal
Car dealership: O’Donnell Honda
Apple Ford Lincoln
Jim Coleman Honda
Consignment/resale shop: 2nd Avenue
Once Upon a Child
Clothing boutique: Sweet Elizabeth Jane
Clothes Mentor Columbia (tie)
A Divaz Boutique (tie, closed)
Furniture store: Su Casa
Oak Tree Furniture
Sergio’s Fine Jewelers
Edward Arthur Jewelers
Fulton Station Jewelers
Pet supplies store: Bark
You probably won’t find the same brands of pet food at Bark! that you’ll find at a supermarket.
What you will find is a variety of nutritious, mostly high-end products ranging from grain-free to gluten-free to raw.
What you’ll also find, according to marketing manager Laurie Newton, is a knowledgeable, well-trained staff that can help you choose the healthiest food for your pet.
“It’s really important for us that our staff is very well-versed on all of our products and a good resource for all of our customers,” Newton says. “If someone comes in and they have a dog or cat with a particular allergy, say, we make sure the staff can advise them on the best product.” — Pete Pichaske
5805 Clarksville Square Drive, Clarksville. 443-535-0200. barknatural.com.
My Pet Store and More
FOOD & DRINK
Beer, wine and/or liquor store: Pine Orchard Liquors
The Perfect Pour
The Wine Bin
Jason’s Wine & Spirits
Caterer: Putting on the Ritz
Smokin’ Hot Bar & Grille
Absolutely Perfect Catering
Farmers market/stand: Howard County Farmers Market Ellicott City
Howard County has at least a half-dozen farmers markets, but only a few sell only produce grown on a county farm. And only one of those sells prepared food as well.
That market is one of three operated by the Howard County Farmers Market Board, open Wednesdays from spring until fall, and located in the parking lot at the Miller Branch library in Ellicott City.
“It’s a grower’s market when it comes to produce and fruits, but the prepared food is the big difference,” says board president Jamie Brown, whose Glenelg-based TLV Tree Farm sells at all three of the board’s markets.
The market’s prepared food sellers include HarborQue BBQ, based in Baltimore, and River House Pizza of Ellicott City. — Pete Pichaske
Miller Branch library, 9421 Frederick Road, Ellicott City. Wednesdays, 2p.m.-6 p.m., May 9 through Nov. 14. howardcountyfarmersmarkets.com.
Frank’s Produce and Greenhouse
Ellicott City Old Town Market
Health food/supplement store: Trader Joe’s
David’s Natural Market
Place to buy seafood: Wegmans
HEALTH & WELLNESS
Alternative wellness center: Maryland University of Integrative Health
The Still Point
Quiet Time Hypnosis
Audiologist/hearing repair: ENTAA Care
Kaplan Hearing Center
Costco Hearing Aid Center
Chiropractor: Howard County Chiropractic Spine & Sports Rehabilitation
Dabbs Rehab Center of Maryland
Chesapeake Family Wellness Center
Day spa: The Pearl Modern Spa & Boutique
The Spa at Turf Valley
Lynn’s Day Spa
The Spa at Skincare Institute
Dental practice: Columbia Smiles Family Dentistry
Roschella & Zinger Dental Group
Dobbin Dental Suite
Menton Family Dental Care
Eye care: Wilmer Eye Institute at Columbia
Physician’s Eye Care and Laser Center
Columbia Eye Associates
Columbia Family Eye Care
Medispa: Oasis Day Spa
Doctor K MediSpa
Pura Vida Medical Spa
Between the Lines MediSpa
OB/GYN: Capital Women’s Care
The Women’s OB/GYN Group
Johns Hopkins Community Physicians
Orthodontist: Baltimore Orthodontic Group
Rubler & Halpern Orthodontics
Pediatric practice: Kenneth Klebanow & Associates
Howard County Pediatrics
The Pediatric Center
Ellicott City Pediatric Associates
Physical therapist: Howard County Physical Therapy
Life Fitness Physical Therapy
Revive Physical Therapy
BodyWise Physical Therapy & Wellness
Best plastic surgeon: Columbia Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
His impeccable resume includes graduating magna cum laude from Yale, a medical degree from New York’s Columbia University and a position as plastic surgery chief resident at the Stanford University Medical Center.
But Dr. Eric Chang believes that what makes his 12-year-old practice, Columbia Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, stand out is his effort to make patients feel at ease.
“We expend a lot energy on making people feel comfortable, seeing our patients not as patients but as human beings,” he says. “It’s important for us to spend time with them, really get to know them as people.
“Some of our patients, our breast cancer patients for example, we’ve known for years,” he adds. “So in that way, it’s really special.” — Pete Pichaske
8860 Columbia 100 Parkway, #206, Columbia. 410-740-9330. columbiaaesthetic.com.
Dr. Sarah Mess
Dr. Terri Hill
Plastic Surgery Professionals
Therapist/counselor: Stanton Psychotherapy
Together Couples Counseling
Urgent care: Patient First
KinderMender Walk-In Pediatric Center
Righttime Medical Care
Veterinary practice: Countryside Veterinary Clinic
Triadelphia Veterinary Clinic
Cat and Dog Hospital of Columbia
Dunloggin Veterinary Hospital
Flooring and carpeting: Bode Floors
Chuck and Carol Bode have deep roots in Howard County. They’ve lived and raised a family here for more than 50 years, and they’ve been selling carpet and flooring here (now at two locations, in Columbia and Ellicott City) for 40 years.
Those deep roots are what make their family-owned company special, according to Chuck Bode.
“The biggest strength of Bode Floors is the reputation and brand-name recognition we have developed in Howard County over many years,” he says. “Most of our business comes from repeat customers, referrals and word of mouth.”
9515 Gerwig Lane, Suite 130, Columbia. 410-381-5900. bodefloors.com.
A Plus Carpet & Flooring
The Vertical Connection Carpet One
Main Street Oriental Rugs
Garden center/nursery: Frank’s Produce & Greenhouse
Grandfather’s Garden Center
The Nursery at Lauren’s Garden Service
Heating/air conditioning repair: Environmental Systems Associates
B&B Air Conditioning and Heating Service Co.
No-Frost A/C & Heating Co.
Homebuilder: Ryan Homes
Housecleaners: The Cleaning Authority
Pioneer Custom Cleaning
Home Sweet Home Cleaning Services
Landscaper: Rhine Landscaping
Mike’s Landscaping Supplies
Lauren’s Garden Service
Plumber: Ken Griffin Plumbing Services
Zepp Plumbing & Heating
Mark Brew Plumbing and Heating
Real estate agent: Bob Lucido, Keller Williams Integrity
Creig Northrop, Long & Foster Real Estate
David Yungmann, Keller Williams Integrity
Maria Weaver, Re/Max Advantage Realty
Remodeler: Cornerstone Remodeling
Cossentino and Sons
Allan Homes Unlimited
Ken Griffin Plumbing & Heating
Senior housing community: Vantage House
The Lutheran Village at Miller’s Grant
Waverly Woods West
Accountant: Keith Dorsey, JK Associates
Daniel Mules, Geier Asset Management
Jeffrey D. Ring, Fisher Ring LLC
Auto repair: Hillmuth Auto Care
A family-owned business since its inception 40 years ago, Hillmuth Auto Care has always been big on customer care.
“In the auto service industry, you have to build relationships, and we’re pretty good at that,” says Billy Hillmuth, who opened the business with his brother, Doug.
In that vein, Doug Hillmuth has a mantra he likes to instill in employees who deal with customers: “Have you made a friend today?”
“It’s our way of saying you treat everybody like a friend, a neighbor, a brother,” he says.
Started out of a two-bay repair shop on Dobbin Road in Columbia, Hillmuth Auto Care now has four locations, three in Howard County. — Pete Pichaske
12411 Clarksville Pike, Clarksville; 6810 Oak Hall Lane, Columbia; 2480 State Route 97, Glenwood. 410-381-1124. hillmuth.com.
Ken’s Service Center
British American Auto Care
Neubauer’s Auto Repair
Bank/credit union: APL Federal Credit Union
Tower Federal Credit Union
Barbershop: Floyd’s 99 Barbershop
Rob’s Barber Shop
Sal’s Barber Shop
Child care: Bet Yeladim Preschool
The Young School
The Goddard School
Computer repair: Best Buy Geek Squad
Doggie day care: Camp Bow Wow
The Coventry School Inc. for Dogs and Their People
Wagging Lounge Dog Resort
Family lawyer: Mulinazzi Law Office
Weinberg & Schwartz, LLC
Law Offices of Alisa G. Cummins
Law Firm of Robert L. Flanagan
Financial adviser: Gary Williams, Williams Asset Management
Baltimore Washington Financial Advisors
Geier Asset Management
Brian Avrunin, Ameriprise
Florist: Wilhide’s Unique Flowers & Gifts
The Flower Basket
Clarksville Flower Station
Interior decorator/designer: Classic Interiors
Terra Maria Home Interiors
Drury Lane Interiors
The Decorating Therapist
Pet groomer: The Dog Wash
Wagging Lounge Dog Resort
Salon: Mason & Friends Salon & Spa
Looks Salon & Spa
Cloud 9 Salon
Travel agent: AAA Columbia Car Insurance and Travel Center
Monica Baker Travel
The Travel Boutique
Blog: Village Green/Town Squared
Scott E Blog
The Unmanly Chef
Warren’s Beer Adventures
Clergyperson: Monsignor Joseph L. Luca, St. Louis Catholic Church
Rabbi Craig H. Axler, Temple Isaiah
The Rev. Paige Getty, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia
Monsignor John Dietzenbach, Church of the Resurrection
Elected official: County Executive Allan H. Kittleman
County Councilman Calvin Ball
County Councilman Jon Weinstein
County Councilwoman Jen Terrasa
Personal trainer: Bonnie Pace, Columbia Gym
Stephanie Dignan, The Boot Camp Girl
Vic Selvaggi, Colosseum Gym
Jason Schreiber, Top Tier Crossfit Columbia
Police officer: Vic Broccolino Jr.
Principal: Nick Novak, Howard High School
After nearly a decade running one Howard County high school or another, Howard High principal Nick Novak has a good idea what works: listening to the many stakeholders.
“Whatever school you go to you’re going to find great students, great teachers, great parents – a great community, with so much passion and support for principals,” he says.
His style is to tap into that knowledge, passion and support and find a consensus for how the school should operate.
Novak used that collaborative style last year when he surveyed all of Howard High’s stakeholders to come up with a new mission for the school that aims to promote “a culture of integrity, equity, and responsiveness that embodies our Howard.” — Pete Pichaske
8700 Old Annapolis Road, Ellicott City. 410-313-2867. hohs.hcpss.org.
Karen Murphy, Resurrection-St. Paul School
David Burton, Glenelg High School
Rick Wilson, Wilde Lake High School
CrossFit box: CrossFit Cove
Top Tier CrossFit Columbia
12 Labours CrossFit
Dance lessons: B. Funk Dance Company
Backstage Dance Studio
Arabesque Dance Studio
Golf course: Turf Valley Resort
Hobbit’s Glenn Golf Club
The Timbers at Troy
Waverly Woods Golf Club
Gym: Life Time Athletic
Supreme Sports Club
The Y in Ellicott City
Martial arts classes: American Academy of Martial Arts
Klotz Institute of Karate
Hwarang Martial Arts
WKD Karate for Girls
Music lessons: Mike’s Music
Damon Foreman Music Academy
Music & Arts
Olenka School of Music
Pool for kids: Swansfield Pool and Mini Water Park
Life Time Athletic
River Hill Pool
North Saint John’s Swim & Tennis Club
Yoga studio: The Yoga Center of Columbia
You don’t have to know your downward dog from your plow pose to enjoy classes at the Yoga Center of Columbia.
For that matter, you don’t have to be capable of doing most yoga poses.
The Columbia studio offers yoga classes for just about all ages and abilities – including classes for amputees and people in wheelchairs.
“We are proud of offering yoga for everyone,” says owner Kathy Donnelly, who started at the Yoga Center as a teacher in 2000.
Longevity is another key to her studio’s success, Donnelly says. She noted that the Yoga Center has been open since 1992 and quipped, “You couldn’t even find a yoga mat then.”
8950 State Route 108, Suite 109, Columbia. 410-720-4340. columbiayoga.com.
BYC Yoga 26