Walking south on University Avenue, it's hard to miss the dazzling candy-colored window display of nail polishes at Peninsula Beauty Supply. It's equally hard not to go inside and pick a flavor of nail polish, just because. Whether you're on the lookout for the perfect false lashes to replicate Twiggy's signature doe eyes, or au naturel lipstick or daisies for your hair to express that inner flower child, this store has a full arsenal of the beauty supplies you need and some you didn't know you needed. From shampoo to blow dryers and hair clips, this store has something for everyone looking to up their grooming game.
250 University Ave., Palo Alto, 650-327-1454; peninsulabeauty.com
Runner-up: LaBelle Day Spas & Salons
Mike's Bikes is on a mission to get you rolling. Staffed by more than 250 cycling enthusiasts, this year's Best Bike Shop offers choices among choices among choices: a wide selection of Specialized, Santa Cruz, Orbea and others as well as a range of terrain and mountain bikes. You can even go electric and no one will judge. The shop holds communal rides and free Tuesday Tech Clinics. No matter what you choose, you're guaranteed to have a gas.
4233 W. Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, 650-858-7700; mikesbikes.com
Runner-up: Palo Alto Bicycles
Feel like some Ken Kesey? Allen Ginsberg? Tom Wolfe? Head over to Books Inc., a hidden gem in the heart of Palo Alto's Town & Country Village that offers myriad nifty selections, both old books and new, for local bookworms. Founded in California in 1851, this independently owned and operated bookseller is among the few still standing that were around in the 1960s when bookshops nurtured that era's revolutionary thinkers and writers. So come by to browse, pick up a toy for your niece or nephew, ask staff members about their reading recommendations or attend an author's book-release party.
855 El Camino Real #74, Palo Alto, 650-321-0600; booksinc.net/PaloAlto
Runner-up: Kepler's Books & Magazines
Top-of-the-line service, fine designers and attention to personal detail are the hallmarks of California Avenue's rad clothing boutique Leaf & Petal, consistently rated as one of Silicon Valley's most boss boutiques since 1976. Shed those old grubs and deck out in the coolest threads from top designers, groovy artisan jewelry and spiffy shoes. From formal to casual day wear, this women's clothing store takes an anti-corporate philosophy to customer service that big-box stores can't match. A love of fashion and commitment to help clients find their personal preferences will help you develop your personal groove.
Runner-up: Romi Boutique
Hall of Fame: Shady Lane (inducted 2016)
Looking for some psychedelic granny glasses with purple lenses? Stop by Lisa Berkowitz Optometry/Wilby Optical Inc. and tell them Janice sent you. This is the go-to place for designer eye wear, sunglasses, contact lenses, repairs, general vision care — and personal service. Berkowitz and the staff will help find the best shape, color and style of peepers to suit your style and budget. Clients say Berkowitz is "kind, knowledgeable and trustworthy."
855 El Camino Real, Suite 103, Palo Alto; Wilby Optical: 650-326-9111, Lisa Berkowitz Optometry: 650-618-4220; wilbyoptical.com, lisaberkowitz.com
Runner-up: Lux Eyewear
Any flower child will delight in the floral and garden arrangements at Mill's Florist, the city's oldest provider of blooms since 1903. Their far-out selection knows no boundaries, with orchids, exotic flowers, house plants, roses and more. If you're looking for a last-minute gift to celebrate a birthday or surprise your foxy lady, Mill's delivers orders around the Midpeninsula. If you happen to cruise by the shop's brick building with an open garage downtown, the staff will be more than ready to offer tips that will keep you coming back for more.
235 University Ave., Palo Alto, 650-326-3443; millsflorist.com
Runner-up: Village Flower Shop
You'll never experience a bad trip at Hassett Ace Hardware, where customer service consistently goes above and beyond the norm. For three generations, this family-operated Ace co-op has helped residents match paint colors, cut keys, repair worn-out chainsaws, sharpen knives, assemble barbecues, order hard-to-find parts and provide an assortment of other hardware goods. Customers describe the staff as "super, super nice," "helpful" and always willing to spend as much time as needed to help you "figure everything out."
875 Alma St., Palo Alto, 650-327-7222; hassetthardware.com
Runner-up: Barron Park Supply Co. Inc.
You're not likely to find leather bangles, macrame chokers, toe rings or plastic snap beads at Gleim the Jeweler. Instead, this is the place to go for engagement rings, designer pieces and precious stones. The Palo Alto mainstay boasts a range of high-end jewelry collections as well as its own exclusive Gleim collection, which uses the finest gems and diamonds set in platinum and gold. Gleim the Jeweler also is an authorized agent for Swiss watch brands and offers expert watch repair, battery installation and watch maintenance.
111 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto, 650-325-3533; gleimjewelers.com
Runner-up: Mansoor Fine Jewelers
Hall of Fame: Shady Lane (inducted 2016)
Everyone needs a local wine shop they can go to for expert, reliable and approachable advice. Biondivino Wine Boutique brought that to Town & Country Village when it opened in November. This place makes it clear, it won't sell out to the man. It's mantra: "Commercialism and (wine) scores don't matter here — instead we focus on quality and history." The shop is the second location for owner Ceri Smith, who has operated a wine shop of the same name for more than a decade in San Francisco. Biondivino offers a "living wine list" that's almost entirely Italian, with an emphasis on food-friendly, organic and biodynamic wines and small producers.
855 El Camino Real #160, Palo Alto; 650-800-7293; biondivino.com
Runner-up: Edible Arrangements
Furuichi Bros. Los Altos Nursery gives new meaning to the term "flower power." Tucked in a residential neighborhood, this family-owned nursery is like a botanical garden with a colorful display of blooming flowers, native trees, exotic greenery and a variety of other plants surrounding a koi pond that's outta sight. Customers have described the nursery as a "little bit of Heaven on Earth that must be experienced in person." This hidden gem, operated by three generations of the Furuichi family, has been part of the Los Altos landscape since 1906 and has played a key role in beautifying many of the city's streets.
245 Hawthorne Ave, Los Altos, 650-948-1421; losaltosnursery.com
Runner-up: Barron Park Florist
Hall of Fame: Summerhill Nursery (inducted 2015)
All the cool cats know that Pet Food Express in Midtown is here to cater to their needs. That's why this is the place where the city's pampered cats, dogs and small pets like to hang. The California-based chain not only offers high-quality food, toys, grooming and training services, bedding and more but also helps pets in need find new homes by hosting adoption and rescue events and donating to shelters. Looking for a job? It's also been named one of the "Top Work Places in the Bay Area" for the past seven years in a row, and you can bring your pet to work with you!
3910 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, 856-6666; petfoodexpress.com/stores/detail/palo-alto
Runner-up: Bow Wow Meow
For nearly three decades, Footwear Etc. has been a mecca for those seeking to be free-spirited — and street fashionable. This family-run business specializes in comfortable footwear that can remedy common foot and leg problems, making it easy for you to beat feet outta there and join the party. The downtown store features a large selection of therapeutic MBT shoes and Vionic shoes with Orthaheel technology. It's not uncommon to see employees measuring customers' feet, offering brand suggestions for foot pain and moving back and forth between the customer and the storage room to find just the right shoe.
463 University Ave., Palo Alto, 650-328-1122; footwearetc.com
Sporting Goods & Apparel
Looking for a buzz? Whether it's a runner's high or a caffeine jolt, ZombieRunner's got you covered. The running store offers a wide selection of shoes, socks, hats and other running accessories, along with one of California Avenue's favorite coffee bars. Whether you're buying a pair of Mizunos or a Turkish cappuccino, you're bound to walk out of Zombie Runner feeling much faster than when you walked in.
429 California Ave, Palo Alto; 650-325-2048; zombierunner.com/about/palo_alto_store
Runner-up: Palo Alto Bicycles
If you want to pen a letter home to your old lady or maybe drop a love note on that groovy hunk you talked to at the Be-In, it pays to have the right stuff. And the right stuff is definitely on the shelves at Papyrus. It's got boss note cards, cool stationery, the hippest gifts, a raft of ribbons and wrapping paper and more. It's even got tie-dye journals so you can lie on the lawn and express yourself. For formal occasions, talk with the beautiful people there about custom invitations and thank you cards. Peace out.
11 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto, 650-328-7016; papyrusonline.com
Runner-up: Letter Perfect
Hall of Fame: Village Stationers
Whether you're looking for the latest toys or retro ones like Twister, G.I. Joe and Lite Brite, chances are you'll be able to find them at Ambassador Toys at Town & Country Village. This children's toy store is filled floor to ceiling with boxes of puzzles, games, kits and even a train table. Board books, picture books and non-fiction books about nature line the bookshelves, and collectible character dolls stand protected in a glass case while stuffed Folkmanis puppets sit ready to be touched and tried out. This store offers myriad toys, books, games and arts and crafts for babies through middle schoolers. Customers say plainly that this place has "stuff kids will love."
855 El Camino Real #33, Palo Alto, 650-324-8697; tandcvillage.com/tc-ambassador-toys.php
Runner-up: Cheeky Monkey Toys
Leaf & Petal
See complete listing under Best Boutique.
Runner-up: J Foss