Best of the Burbs 2014: Best of Roseville, Rocklin & Granite Bay writers' picks

SN&R's writers highlight the cream of the crop in this neighborhood

There’s no better way to sell a cupcake than this hipster sign waver.

There’s no better way to sell a cupcake than this hipster sign waver.

photo by lisa Baetz

Best place to pay to feel loved

Cuddle Connection

It may sound like a satire on one of those New York Times trend pieces, but Cuddle Connection is a real thing my poor, lonely, touch-deprived friends. The touchy-feely peeps here offer human contact “in a non-sexual context” with services that start at $29 for a half-hour session. If you're not just seeking physical reassurance, but rather a way to improve your hugging techniques, then enroll in the company's Cuddle University, which—with a fee of $59 per person—promises “interpersonal skill building in a fun and positive environment.” Of course it does. 151 N. Sunrise Avenue, Suite 511 in Roseville; (916) 740-1283; R.L.

Best hipster sign waver

Smallcakes Freshberry Roseville

Maybe you've seen him, gently shaking that cupcake sign along bustling Douglas Boulevard, looking like a beatnik Waldo with his long, dark hair, stunner shades and pop-art-bright hoodie. In a city with no shortage of “Come shop here!” sign wavers, this Smallcakes Freshberry Roseville employee makes the prosaic form of advertising look deservedly ironic. We don't know how he does it, or anything else about the guy. But we're glad he's there, sort of asking us to buy his cupcakes. 2030 Douglas Boulevard, Suite 16 in Roseville; (916) 774-0000; RFH

Best place to hike it out

Sierra College cross-country trails

For those feeling extra grumpy these days (holler!), these trails at Sierra College make for lovely stress relievers. There are several paths located on the Rocklin campus, including ones that crisscross through woodlands, rolling hills and near stream beds. The 1-mile Sierra College Nature Trail is particularly gorgeous. Located within the Sierra College nature area and outdoor classroom, it's a hikeworthy trek that, if you're observant and lucky, may provide a glimpse of raccoons, foxes, deer and other wildlife. See, you're less stressed just thinking about it, right? 5000 Rocklin Road in Rocklin, R.L.

Best rival to MTV's The Paper

The Granite Bay Gazette

The most award-winning newspaper in the region is probably the one made by 35 Granite Bay High School students. The Gazette rakes in about 100 honors every year—yes, there are that many conventions and associations dedicated to high-school journalism—including legitimately prestigious awards. The 50-page paper prints eight times a year, and its alumni have gone onto esteemed publications like Bloomberg News, the San Francisco Chronicle and The Sacramento Bee. Remember the pimply dramatics on MTV's single season of The Paper? Chances are, that newspaper staff has nothing on the Gazette. J.B.

Best center of the consumer universe

Westfield Galleria at Roseville

It used to be that a Central Valley resident would have to travel to Los Angeles to get a transcendent Beard Papa's cream puff, to London to buy Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics and to San Francisco to peruse an H&M. But now the commerce gods have shined down on us and sanctioned us with all of these glorious money pits (and more) just off Highway 65 in Placer County. Blessed be! 1151 Galleria Boulevard in Roseville, (916) 787-2000, G.G.

Best very funky used bookstore

Beatnik Books

Beatnik Books is a blast from the past, even though the secondhand bookstore opened in 2011. On a typical 3rd Saturday Art Walk, you can score quality paperbacks for less than $5, craft jewelry and funky vintage clothes—all while hearing local musicians strum their hearts out. Beatnik recently expanded its space to host more shelves, poetry slams and Magic: The Gathering tournaments. 309 Lincoln Street in Roseville, (916) 741-2328, C.D.

Best little-known faux-nut

Rustic Grains Bakery/Cafe

Apparently, nothing makes foodies crazier than a new hybrid creation, like the croissant-doughnut phenomenon. People still wait hours for the original, trademarked Cronut in New York. Locally, Sweet Dozen near Carmichael has got some serious media attention, and the bakery runs out of its “doissants” every morning around 10 a.m. But more layered, flaky, buttery fried goodness can be found at Rustic Grains Bakery/Cafe in Roseville. Its creation, called a “boundi,” comes doused in cinnamon, sugar, chocolate ganache, or filled with custard for $3 apiece. 406 Vernon Street in Roseville, (916) 783-3190, J.B.

Best small-dog savers

Small Dog Rescue

The volunteers who run Small Dog Rescue have a lot of compassion for the littlest pups: Chihuahuas, poodles, terriers, even the trendy breed du jour, pugs. They get dogs that would otherwise would have been euthanized at animal shelters, plus canines from Mexico via Compassion Without Borders. The animals are placed into foster homes until someone with a big heart comes by to adopt the adorable creatures. And it could always use more bighearted volunteers, too. S.

Best bookman

Ronald J. Ballou-Bookman

Until a customer walks into his bookstore, Ronald J. Ballou sits in darkness. No windows. One candle. He'll explain that old books don't really like light, and Ballou's collection is full of hard-to-find, beautiful antiques—literature, history, philosophy as well as scientific and religious texts ranging from $10 to thousands of dollars. He's spent the last 21 years searching for rare first editions and authenticating signed books—basically, the work of a book detective. 124 Riverside Avenue in Roseville, (916) 786-8219. J.B.