1992 Readers Poll
1992 Critics Picks
Best Grocery Store To Take Your Kids

This HEB has carts with infant carriers already attached and clearly marked "no candy" checkout lanes. Sure, it's crowded and noisy and packed with college students. That's the beauty of it: plenty of camouflage. And once, when one of our daughters sent a pound of un-ground coffee beans skittering all over the floor, an employee magically appeared and in a low, comforting voice said, "I'll take care of it. You can just disappear, it never happened." That's gold medal material.

1000 E. 41st, 459-6513

Best Parent's Night Out

Such a deal! The kids are extremely well-supervised, lovingly cared for, and provided with excellent ways to occupy themselves while you make good your escape for a whole luxurious 3 1/2 hours - enough time to see a movie, spend some quality time alone together, or even eat in a restaurant where you don't have to unwrap the food first. Heavens! These people are saints sent from above!

Trinity United Methodist Church
4001 Speedway

Best Playscape

Run by the University of Texas' Dr. Joe Frost, an internationally-known expert in child development and play-ground equipment safety, the Redeemer Lutheran playground is constantly evolving and contains the latest in playground technology. Although used primarily by the church for its day-care center, the playground is open to the public and contains two specially designed playscapes: one for younger kids and one for older ones.

Redeemer Lutheran Church
1500 W. Anderson

Best Playscape (indoor)

An imaginative ideascape, the Austin Children's Museum entertains on many levels, so the young are enthralled and the old not bored.

1830 Simond

Photo by John Anderson

Best Restaurant Playscape

Combining the best of all worlds, this McDonald's offers a nearly escape-proof outdoor area with a wonderful wooden playscape and a giant inflated moonwalk where your kids can jump to their heart's delight. Guaranteed to leave your house unruffled while giving you enough uninterrupted time to read a magazine. All this and frozen yogurt cones, too, for only thirty-one cents-a-kid and some very dirty socks to wash ... later.

303 E. Oltorf, 512/442-7717
1143 1/2 Airport, 512/926-1234
Capital Plaza, 5355 N. I-35, 512/452-7473

Best Swimming Lessons

The 4-year-old has been taking swimming lessons at Crenshaw's for the past few years and this kid is a fish. His friends, Sarah and Laura, aged 4 and 6 respectively, do breaststroke, backstroke, butterfly, sidestroke, Russian jumps into the pool, water ballet, and basically seem like shoo-ins for an Esther Williams revival. You want drownproof, you'll get drownproof. You want a kid that swims like a naiad, you may get that too. And you will also get to rest your eyes on some of the hunkiest young swimming coaches on the face of the earth. Not a bad deal for the price.

Crenshaw's Athletic Club
5000 Fairview Dr.

Best Toy Store To Go To Without A Child

Everything at Toy Joy is so touchable! And wondrously accessible to people of all sizes. But you can't trust little kids when they twist the knobs on wind-up monsters, squeeze on the squishy, unidentifiable and occasionally disgusting creatures or try on weird jewelry. So leave the children at home - select an appropriate guilt offering if you must - and go play!

Toy Joy
403 W. Second

Best Worm Bar

Here is my dream date with anyone over two and under ten: it's at Northcross Mall, where we take in a movie, then sit and watch the skaters while licking a cone. We check out Petland on the way to throw pennies into the fountain, where we wish our separate child and grown-up wishes, then wind things up at Oshman's. We cruise the driving range, the racquetball court, the rollerblade area, archery range, the ski slope, the basketball court (in case you haven't been there lately, you can really test-drive those sporting good purchases these days.) For a grand finale, we hit the worm bar in the fishing department. This is a set of three wooden counters, each 20 feet in length, in whose 361 individual compartments are 361 different styles of plastic worms, minnows, crawfishs, floating lizards, salamanders and the aptly named gets-itz, in every fluorescent, gaudy, ugly and beautiful color on earth, many with gold and silver sparkles embedded in the rubbery surface. These things cost 5 cents each, so you can imagine exactly just how much bang you get for the buck you give to a kid here. Only problem: the adult-height counters are too high for small children to see without a boost, but this is only because the designers of Oshman's had no idea they were setting up one of the cheapest and most entertaining kiddie amusement areas in the city. Maybe they'll fix it now that they know.

Oshman's Super Sport
Northcross Mall; 2525 W. Anderson

Critics: Architecture & Lodging
Critics: Architecture & Lodging

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