Best Of 2018

Best Magic Elixir

Dr. Duffy's Dispensary CBD tincture

Say it with us, kids: It won't get you high. No, CBD, aka cannabidiol, is the calming ingredient of the cannabis plant (THC is the "wacky tobaccy" part). Dr. Duffy's drops are sourced from hemp grown in Colorado and sold locally, and 20 drops under your tongue can make for a more balanced, harmonious state of mind – and can even help relieve muscle pain and aid your digestion. If a tincture's not your thing, Dr. Duffy also produces oils, capsules, salves and creams for people and pets too.

Best Nonalcoholic Reason to Go to a Brewery

Free water during Hurricane Irma

Usually we only visit a brewery with the intent of tying one on – I mean, let's just be honest – but during the Hurricane Irma madness, as power and water service was spotty at best for thousands, local breweries stepped up by offering access to their free, impeccably filtered water to anyone who showed up with a jug. As Ten10 Brewing put it, "Our whole building runs off of our industrial water filtration system (the water in our toilets is probably nicer than your tap water). If you need it, it's here." Now that's being a good neighbor.

Best Place to Get Metaphysical Supplies

Avalon Beyond

Sometimes, when it feels like the world is spinning off its axis, it's empowering to know you still have some control over how things turn out. Whether you're just learning what a smudge stick is or you're already in an established coven, Avalon Beyond is the quintessential spot to get "magickal" books, candles, crystals, oils, herbs, jewelry and all the things you'll need to summon up a true love with one green eye and one blue.

Best Plant Whisperers

Till Plant Co.

The media claims that millennials are "obsessed" with houseplants. That may be true, or it may be just another internet take™, but there's no denying that potted plants are big right now, and the excellent humans of Till Plant Co. are here to serve all your newbie needs. Their cute pink trailer pops up around town (often outside Lil Indies) selling plants and accessories, but their Facebook page is also a trove of good information for those of us still working on keeping our new pals alive. Did you know that when someone says a plant doesn't need much water, "what they probably meant to say was it 'doesn't need much watering,' referring to the frequency of watering. Because, when you water a plant, whether a succulent or a fern, it should always be done thoroughly"? We did not know that, and it might explain the state of this sad little shriveled greenish thing on our desk.

Best Reason to Chuck Your Kindle 
Out the Window

Best Used Books

For bibliophiles in Orlando, there's a hidden treasure tucked away in Longwood: Best Used Books is used bookstore excellence (and excess) in every possible way, and in a time when the big box bookstores are on the ropes, that makes for a very valuable commodity. The place is stuffed to overflowing with all manner of hardcovers, paperbacks, DVD, records, manga and we even saw a box or two of old horror magazines the last time we were there. Staff is helpful and happy to accept trades, and the high shelves, precarious piles and miles of sci-fi paperbacks make this the perfect spot to get lost on a rainy afternoon.

Best Reason to Drink Pants-free

Booze delivery (Shipt, Instacart, Drizly, etc.)

The world feels a bit frightening lately, so it makes sense to keep your home bar well-stocked to take the edge off – or get completely obliterated, whatever, we're not judging. That task has become much easier lately with the launch of several delivery services that'll bring alcohol right to your front door, which means you'll never have to throw on an outfit to fake like you're a functioning member of society. As of May, Amazon has jumped into competition with the likes of Shipt, Drizly, et al. to deliver beer and wine to Prime Now members in as little as an hour. Never lose your buzz (or risk drunk driving on a beer run) again!

Best Reason to Go Solar

Duke Energy fucks up Hurricane Irma response

Hey, remember when Hurricane Irma blew through town after more than a week of hype over it being one of the strongest hurricanes ever? You'd think that would mean that energy companies like Duke and FPL would make extensive preparations for the inevitable damage to the power grid. But you are not a corporation only concerned with profit. The storm left millions of people without power, but Duke's slow response – coupled with their habit of promising power would be on by a certain time and not fulfilling that promise – is where most of the anger was pointed. To add insult to injury, Duke even tried to get approval for rate increases on its customers to pay for losses that were largely the result of their unpreparedness. Never mind that the last time they got approval for rate increases to build a nuclear power plant in Levy County, they never bothered to build it and just pocketed the extra money. As hurricane season begins again, that Tesla Powerwall is looking pretty attractive.

Best Storage Facility

Colonial Lanes

One of the last vestiges of Old Orlando fell to the deadly scythe of progress this year when Colonial Lanes – the beloved bowling alley that had been in business since 1959 – was shuttered to make way for ... a self-storage facility. And while self-storage facilities are a great investment for the owners – low overhead, low labor cost, constant revenue – we're sad that a place that helped define the character of the neighborhood will only exist in the storage unit of our memories now. The boozy bowling leagues, all-ages punk shows, karaoke glory and the bar that time forgot are now consigned to the memories of those who experienced them, never to be discovered by someone new again.

Best Tech Tool for Overwhelmed Fringe Fanatics

Free Fringe-o-Matic scheduling website

With over 120 different offerings spread over two weeks, trying to manually map out the perfect Fringe Fest viewing schedule can reduce the strongest theater fan to tears. Thanks to the pro bono programming efforts of festival patron Lewis Johnston, Fringe fanatics finally had a fast, free digital assistant to help assemble their plan of attack in 2018. Now, if only Fringe-o-Matic was able to plot out where to park your car ....

Best We're Not Sure What It Is, but We Like It

The Heavy

When we first spoke to owner Jennifer Crotty about her plans for the Heavy, the multi-vendor space she's built inside the old Lombardi's Seafood building, she alluded to there being "food – good food." Permitting and zoning made food a no-go, though, so in the ensuing months all energies were focused on making it a retail venue with an emphasis on design – there are textiles, ceramics, glorious plants and a "flower bar" where you can order up a custom arrangement. We've also seen pop-ups from Gypset jewelry, Secret Society Goods, Intrepid Hearts, Mercantile Coffee and Gezellig Cookies. Call it Pier 1 for hipsters all you want; we won't deny our love.