Kids
2002 Readers Poll
2002 Critics Picks

Kenny Braun

Best Arcade

Check out 40,000-plus square-feet of the absolute latest and greatest of video games. Sure, it's a chain, but it's a Dallas chain, so it's almost one of us. You, dear readers, certainly think so. Can we venture to guess why? Well, D&B is not solely a video game arcade in the classic hanging-out-with-your-fellow-underage-pals sense of the term. No, kids, Dave & Buster's is also a megaplex sports and singles bar (kids are allowed, accompanied by an adult, only until 10pm). Some parents might find that an afternoon of arcade magic with junior is exactly the best time to order up a stiff one.

Dave & Buster's
9333 Research
512/346-8015
www.daveandbusters.com

Best Birthday Cakes

Family owned and operated, Lucy’s Cakes is still doing what they’ve done best in Austin over the past 11 years: baking cakes from their own family recipes in their own special ovens (we can’t tell you any more detail, it’s a secret). Lucy’s believes in doing it the old fashioned way: baking, decorating, writing up tickets by hand. We taste some of that at every sweet-toothed special occasion. Like birthdays, some traditions should never change.

Best Party Place

With endless rounds between the all-you-can-eat buffet and video/virtual reality games and indoor carnival rides, what more could one ask for, except maybe a TV room featuring three different channels and another strictly cartoon room? Oh, wait, they have that, too! Plus they can even provide the cake. Whoa. There's not much more for a weary parent to do but sit back, enjoy the pizza, and relish the fact that the dishes are going to be taken care of by someone else.

Gatti's Pizza
2614 S. Lamar, 512/583-8102
3711 Guadalupe, 512/583-8095
2410 E. Riverside #H6, 512/583-8097
1555 Bastrop Hwy., 512/583-8104
2931 Anderson Ln., 512/583-8090
801 E. William Cannon, 512/583-8103
3720 Far West Blvd., 512/583-8092
2121 Parmer Ln., 512/583-8086
7525 E. Hwy. 290, 512/583-8091
2801 Bee Caves Rd., Rollingwood, 512/583-8101
10740 Research Blvd., 512/583-8087
12110 Manchaca, 512/583-8099
3305 R.R. 620 N., 512/583-8093
6800 Westgate, 512/583-8105
7101 Hwy. 71 E., Oak Hill, 512/583-8098
Gatti Land, 1112 N. I-35, Round Rock, 512/255-6699
1504 Aquarena Springs Dr., San Marcos, 512/710-2222
www.gattispizza.com

Best Party Supplies

Suffer the wrath of your 6-year-old, or simply head on over to the Party Pig for those absolutely necessary Pokémon plates. From New Year's Eve to luaus, da Pig has da goods to deck out any back yard in themed party splendor. May the fiesta begin!

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

Photo by John Anderson

Best Indoor Fun Spot

Back in the day, we had Mr. Wizard and field trips to the LBJ building. We're not bitter, mind you, but look at how far we've come: The Austin Children’s Museum is everything a kid could want out of field trip, a day trip, or a bonding trip with that special adult -- a visual, tactile, and intellectually engaging wonderland where playing is learning and learning is playing.

Thinkery
1830 Simond
512/469-6200
www.thinkeryaustin.org

Best Place to Commune With Nature

With the hike & bike trail, access to the greenbelt, our beloved Barton Springs, that awesome big red kiddy firetruck, tons of playscape action, Zilker Botanical Gardens, a disc golf course, nine soccer fields, a rugby field, a sculpture garden, a hillside theatre, a moontower, a nature center, and -- phew! -- tons of wonderful events throughout the year, this 351-acre beauty is a blessing to us all. See you there.

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

Kenny Braun

Best Recreation Center

Boasting a gymnasium, game room, dance studio, batting cages and fields, WAYA is the perfect place for kids and adults to get that adrenaline pumping in a fun, interactive environment. The $150 yearlong family membership allows more than 4,500 kids to participate in 12 sports leagues and numerous other programs every year. What better way to settle those little family vendettas than over a raucous game of kickball?

West Austin Youth Association
1314 Exposition
512/473-2528
www.waya.org

Best Summer Camp

The Dougherty Arts Center (comprising the 1,800-square-foot Julia C. Butridge Gallery, the 150-seat Dougherty Arts Theater, and the Dougherty Arts School) isn't just for kids, and it isn't just for the summer. But from the looks of this poll, they've got those two covered.

Dougherty Arts Center
1110 Barton Springs Rd.
512/974-4000
www.austintexas.gov/dougherty

Kenny Braun

Best Kids Restaurant

With endless rounds between the all-you-can-eat buffet and video/virtual reality games and indoor carnival rides, what more could one ask for, except maybe a TV room featuring three different channels and another strictly cartoon room? Oh, wait, they have that, too! Plus they can even provide the cake. Whoa. There's not much more for a weary parent to do but sit back, enjoy the pizza, and relish the fact that the dishes are going to be taken care of by someone else.

Gatti's Pizza
2614 S. Lamar, 512/583-8102
3711 Guadalupe, 512/583-8095
2410 E. Riverside #H6, 512/583-8097
1555 Bastrop Hwy., 512/583-8104
2931 Anderson Ln., 512/583-8090
801 E. William Cannon, 512/583-8103
3720 Far West Blvd., 512/583-8092
2121 Parmer Ln., 512/583-8086
7525 E. Hwy. 290, 512/583-8091
2801 Bee Caves Rd., Rollingwood, 512/583-8101
10740 Research Blvd., 512/583-8087
12110 Manchaca, 512/583-8099
3305 R.R. 620 N., 512/583-8093
6800 Westgate, 512/583-8105
7101 Hwy. 71 E., Oak Hill, 512/583-8098
Gatti Land, 1112 N. I-35, Round Rock, 512/255-6699
1504 Aquarena Springs Dr., San Marcos, 512/710-2222
www.gattispizza.com

Best Kids Bookstore

All that most bookstores offer are circus midget chairs for the kids. Not so here. Storytime, book signings, puppet shows, and that super chill reading space make BookKids at BookPeople the perfect play-date spot to take your petite sophisticate and his or her friends. And if you’re a single person looking for something intriguing and out of the ordinary for that child in your life, the staff is personable and knowledgeable about things appropriate for what age and the like.

BookPeople
603 N. Lamar
512/472-5050
www.bookpeople.com

Bright Beginnings (top), Dragonsnaps   Kenny Braun

Best Kids Clothing

While both Bright Beginnings and Dragonsnaps offer colorful arrays of shoes, toys, and kiddie accessories, it was their unique selections of children?s clothing that landed them here. From brand names Slapdoodle to Mulberry Bush (evidently the height of pre-adolescent fashion these days), there are countless outfits available for your adorable little tykes. Clothes range from toddler through preteen.

Bright Beginnings
701 Capital of TX Hwy. S.
512/328-8989

Dragonsnaps
2438 W. Anderson
512/445-4497

Best Kids Clothing Resale

The JLTS is loaded with top-of-the-line duds for dudes and dudettes of all sizes. You can get you some fancy mall clothes without having to -- perish the thought -- actually go to the mall, and without having to shell out big bucks for big fashions. Plus the Junior League ladies who work there are real nice. One was overheard recently proclaiming to a low-budget lad procuring soccer shorts for a couple bucks, "Why I just bought these same shorts for my grandson -- for $20!"

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

Best Kids Shoe Store

Twinkle, twinkle, little toes New Balance, Keds, and Club Polo, Bass and Reebok, Pretty Please, Make teeny tootsies feel at ease. 20,000 pair; 4,800 square feet Will please your kiddies' widdle ... feet!

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

Best Toy Store

This fun-loving, and sometimes twisted, toy store is fun-plus for kids and adults alike. With a clutter of old favorites to the new and obscure, shoppers can find at least a dozen goodies they cannot live without. Even better, it stays open until at 11pm every night should you be driven by some strange craving for Dinosaur Slime, Silly Putty, and Sock Monkeys.

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

Best Video/DVD Kids Selection

From the once and future classics (Baby Huey! Droopy & Company! Davey & Goliath!) to the best in Japanimation (Giant Robo! Gundam Wing! Cowboy Bebop!), the selection at Vulcan can inspire your crew to get started on the cult film tip early on.

Vulcan Video
4411 Russell, 512/326-2629
www.vulcanvideo.com

 
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