Coffee & Treats in Hoover

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Armed with just a single, generations-old cookie recipe, Great American Cookies opened its first store in 1977, and the rest is history. Today, the franchise boasts locations in malls across the country and nabbed a coveted spot on Entrepreneur magazine?s 2012 list of Top 500 Franchises in the baked-goods category. The shop?s reputation grew, and so did its menu as chefs churned out a mouthwatering roster of gourmet-cookie recipes, each created and carefully tested in Atlanta. The tempting options now include snickerdoodle, peanut butter with M&M?s, and chewy pecan supreme, as well as freshly baked fudge and cheesecake brownies and cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting. The real showstoppers, however, are the giant chocolate-chip cookie cakes, which can be customized with sweet, celebratory messages or shopping lists penned in colorful icing.

1701 McFarland Blvd.
Tuscaloosa,
AL
US

It’s always swimsuit season inside Rio Tan, where six levels of tanning booths reward customers with a bronze, attention-grabbing glow. The salon offers six levels of tanning to accommodate a wide range of skin types, as well as spray tans for optimal convenience. Aiming to keep bodies in shape, Fit body wraps expose them to slimming infrared heat, which is usually found on the dark side of the sun.

1839 Montgomery Hwy. S
Hoover,
AL
US

Home to a vast lineup of dairy-based frozen treats, Bruster's makes its ice creams, yogurts, and waffle cones fresh every day in-store. The menu boasts everything from traditional sundaes ($3.65–$5.94) to customizable, candy-loaded blasts ($3.65–$4.35). Guests can opt for a regular cone ($2.74–$4.95) or homemade waffle cone ($3.65–$5.40) filled with one of the multitudinous ice-cream flavors, such as Monkey Madness––with banana ice cream, buckeyes, and marshmallows––or Chocolate Lover's Trash––chocolate ice cream filled with chocolate chunks, chocolate-covered peanuts, chocolate butter toffee, chocolate krispies, and receipts from visits to the biannual cocoa consortium. Bruster's also offers no-sugar-added options and fat-free ice creams, as well as low-fat yogurts.

1008 Vestavia Pkwy
Vestavia,
AL
US

Tranquil Touch Therapy schedules professional soothing services to treat clients from top to toe. Opt for the paraffin treatment, and mitten- or stocking-stuffers are dipped in a soft wax designed to retire old skin cells and lock in hydration. The calming treatment can help ease joint pain and increase circulation, leaving appendages smoothed and ready for a shadow-puppet marathon.

3100 Lorna Rd
Hoover,
AL
US

Gigi of Gigi’s Cupcakes has been a self-starter since she was 15. That’s when she began her first business—a cleaning company—because she "didn’t want to work for anyone else." What began as a youthful whim blossomed into a business that, along with waiting tables and singing professionally, carried Gigi into her 30s.

Then, one day, her brother suggested making a career out of her baking hobby. That pastime had been born in her childhood, when Gigi often spent time with her mother and grandmother as they baked and bonded. So, amid seemingly insurmountable financial constraints, Gigi unveiled Gigi’s Cupcakes in 2008 and, within weeks, had more than covered her bills. Today, the franchise boasts more than 50 locations in the 18 states that haven’t outlawed dessert.

Each bakery crafts its cupcakes daily with fresh ingredients, and updates the menu according to day of the week and season. Traditional summer flavors such as Scarlett’s red velvet, chocolate-chip-cookie dough, and Birthday Surprise have recently met their culinary match in new mini cheesecakes that masquerade as cupcakes to rebel against their conservative wedding-cake parents.

4745 Chace Cir
Hoover,
AL
US

Although The Whole Scoop's freezers are certainly stocked with vanilla ice cream, there's certainly nothing "vanilla" about the shop's 32 different hand-dipped flavors. Hoover residents Sue and David Cohen opened The Whole Scoop over three years ago, and quickly carved out a niche for their shop as a go-to destination for families, teams, and groups in need of frozen treats. Once they're drawn in by the eclectic menu of eight types of sundaes, creamsicle shakes, and fresh-baked cookies, satisfied patrons can show their love by adding photos of themselves to a collage of smiling customers that adorn The Whole Scoop's wall.

3421 S Shades Crest Rd
Hoover,
AL
US