Kids
2000 Readers Poll
2000 Critics Picks
Best Arcade

It doesn't take a genius to tell that this is one of the more popular attractions on the drag, a place increasingly becoming overrun by high-end boutiques and chain eateries. Now how are ya supposed to blow off steam in places like that? It's all relative, we guess. Fortunately, Einstein's can fix you up, whether it's the with new hopped-up models like 18-Wheeler-American Pro Trucker, Cart Fury, or Ferrari F355, or the stalwarts like Star Wars Trilogy and Gauntlet Legends. Got change for a buck?

Einstein's Video Arcade
2310 Guadalupe
512/480-0544

Best Bookstore

The very recent closing of the much-beloved Toad Hall makes this a heartbreaking posthumous award. We hate to think of Austin kids without Barbara Thomas and her well-informed, book-loving staff to choose just the right book to feed eager, inquiring minds. If the loss of a nationally respected independent children's bookstore is part of the price of local prosperity, we're paying too damn much. Toad Hall is a priceless, irreplaceable jewel.

Toad Hall
1206 W. 38th, Ste. 1101
512/323-2665

Best Clothing

We're still diggin' on Markdown Madness, that crazy period where Old Navy marks down last week's fashions (sometimes literally last week's) for a fraction of the price. We bought cargo pants for $3.99 and some of those droopy baggy shorts for a mere buck. Whoa! Truth told, we also have a soft spot for their CD listening booth and simple styles that even fashion dorks like us can coordinate. Apparently you feel the same way.

Old Navy
2901 Capitol of TX Hwy. S.
512/328-0953
www.oldnavy.com

Best Clothing Resale

Low-down alternative journalists can carp all we want about the well-off, but we gotta come clean: Thrift stores in their neighborhoods rock! After all, when you're looking to outfit the whole family, quality and durability are worth the search. It stands to reason that the hotbed of all that is true and Texas, our own Austin Junior League, has one of the finest resale stores going. Too bad it's no longer our little secret!

Junior League of Austin Resale Shop
6555 Burnet
512/459-4592

Best Indoor Playscape

We can't vouch for those insane, primary-colored, two-story tubey things, but we can tell you that our kid still digs the Capital Plaza Mickey-D's with its overhead railroad and tribute to fast-food past. You voted this your fave out of all other indoor kiddie playscape options. Impressive in a town with so many.

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

Best Party Entertainer

W. C. Fields would not have lasted long in this act. Obviously, Darren Peterson, the man behind the dog, loves dogs and kids, and shows it in his circus style act, featuring said dog who jumps rope and catches Frisbees® (and has done so on Donnie & Marie and The Late Show With David Letterman) and a parrot named Lauren Macaw who helps tell pirate stories. Look for this motley crew in the upcoming Zach Scott production of Evita!

Chicken Dog Productions
512/266-9398

Best Party Supplies

Need some crepe paper and birthday candles in a hurry? It's Party Pig to the rescue! Christmas lights, Halloween costumes, tiki torches, and Thanksgiving decorations pack each location of this glorious temple to the party gods.

Party Pig Superstore
2900 W. Anderson, 512/454-2518
Tech Ridge Shopping Center, I-35 & Parmer
5601 Brodie, 512/892-2721

Best Playground/Park

This playground not only includes a playscape that is equally entertaining to toddlers as it is to teens, it also has the zesty Zilker Zephyr miniature train that beckons riders, and the incomparable Barton Springs for your swimming pleasure. Beat that.

Zilker Park
2100 Barton Springs Rd.
512/974-6700
www.austintexas.gov

Best Recreation Center

Well, Hancock has done it again this year. It shouldn't come as a surprise, really. For providing services for kids, whether it's summer camp with field trips to Sea World and whatnot or afterschool sports leagues, this city of Austin center is the way coolest. Play on, Hancock, and keep up the good work!

Hancock Recreation Center
811 E. 41st
512/453-7765
www.cityofaustin.org/parks/hancock.htm

Best Restaurant

We regret to inform you that the near-campus Hang Town has gone to restaurant heaven. But fortunately, the Great Hills and West Lake locations are at the ready to keep the family fed! Kids love the restaurant's snazzy take on traditional hamburger and pizza fare, and even better, the line of TVs over the counter which play cartoons all day long. Parents like that the staff is friendly, the wait is short, the prices more than reasonable, and the clientele completely accustomed to fidgety, finicky kids!

Best Shoe Store

When baby needs a new pair of shoes, roll your dice toward Sandy's, Austin's best source for proper little shoes for those tender little feet. High-quality footwear for young 'uns, just like for grown ups, costs a little more, but who wants to see their toddler hobble? Even if you're not well-heeled, your kids can be.

Sandy's Shoes & Toys
2525 W. Anderson, Bldg. 1, #150
512/452-8697
www.fb.com/sandysshoes

Best Toy Store

Boxing nuns, glass marbles, squishy rubber brains, wind-up dinosaurs, diffraction-gratinged gyroscopes, holographic puzzles, Pokémon and Sanrio, and skadoodles of other junior J-pop paraphernalia, balls that bounce crookedly, or beep when they bounce, or light up when they bounce, or simply bounce - this is where we go when we want our children, even our inner children, to think there's a heaven on earth. The angels can keep their silly old halos - we'll take a foil-embossed, die-cut decal of the Powerpuff Girls, thank-you-very-much.

Toy Joy
403 W. Second
512/320-0090
www.toyjoy.com

Best Video Selection

It's in! What you want, baby, they got, cause that's their promise. You may not be able to sample the more obscure offerings, but when Pokémon 2000 hits the stores and and is out of stock everywhere else, chances are you'll be able to get your hands on it here.

Blockbuster
1112-A N. Lamar
512/440-7710
www.blockbuster.com/

 
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