Kids
2008 Readers Poll
2008 Critics Picks

Todd V. Wolfson

Best Arcade/LAN

The latest video games? Check. Comfy chairs? Check. Dark relaxed environment? Check. Tek Republic is one of Austin's last great public-gaming centers for gamers and geeks alike. And with an all-day pass costing only $20, how could you not afford to "pwn noobs" all day?

Tek Republik
5310 Burnet Rd. #106
512/459-2244
www.tekrepublik.com

Best Bookstore

Where have you registered your child? Being able to set up a must-read list for baby is just one of the ways that BookPeople keeps young readers engaged. Whether it’s story time or literary day camp, Austin’s biggest independent bookstore makes reading fun – and keeps it that way.

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

Best Clothing

Basic play duds and special-occasion extravaganzas, every shade of the rainbow and then some. This place has options galore, and if the staff weren’t so helpful, we could almost be overwhelmed. But they are, so you can find all: cuter-than-thou threads for every little one, from baby's day one to chic preteen gear.

Bright Beginnings
701 Capital of TX Hwy. S., 512/328-8989
1006 W. 38th, 512/454-5437

Best Haircut

Birds has a fanatical following among the hip crowd, which doesn't care to spend the outrageous prices charged by many other salons. But mainly it has salons cool for young men who would rather play Guitar Hero than read GQ. Birds knows what their customers want (even the young ones) and has carved out a very successful niche.

Birds Barbershop
2110 S. Lamar, 512/442-8800
6800 Burnet, 512/454-1200
1107 E. Sixth, 512/457-0400
1902 S. Congress, 512/445-0500
905 E. 41st, 512/492-8400
5000 W. Slaughter, 512/758-7800
13219 Hwy. 183 N., 512/879-4700
www.birdsbarbershop.com

Best Shoes

Austin's mini-Carrie Bradshaws know the spot to find those hot Ninas for kids to complete that perfect outfit. Seriously, these boots would fit right in on SoCo! Your kicks are like windows to your uh … soles? No! Self-expression, dude! How about a sweet pair of Keds to show off a bodacious ollie on your skateboard? Or a pair of mod, stylish Stride Rites to tap into his budding intellectual? Or perhaps you simply wish to blow minds with the wall of Crocs in every color of the rainbow, plus fake fur?! Winning year after year for its attention to style and personal service, Sandy's has got the hottest, the latest, and the raddest. Holiday hint: Sandy's has toys!

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

Best Toys

Good luck tearing your child (or yourself) away from Terra Toys. Once inside the expansive, well-organized store, there's not much hope of getting out — the only thing that could make this place any better is if the dragon outside breathed free $100 bills instead of smoke. Find a toy here for any age, kid or adult.

Terra Toys
2438 W. Anderson Ste. 1-C
512/445-4489
www.terratoys.com

Best Restaurant

From its aptly named neighborhood burgers to those scrumptious sweet-potato fries to the ever-so-Texas Frito pie – this restaurant has quickly moved from a great burger joint to an Austin institution. When you add to all that the wonderful playscape, pint-sized menu for the kiddos, and a fantastic selection of ice-cold brews for the grownups, you have the fittings for a perfect Austin family outing.

Phil's Icehouse
5620 Burnet Rd., 512/524-1212
2901 S. Lamar, 512/707-8704
13265 Hwy. 183 N., 512/257-8750
www.philsicehouse.com

Best DVD Selection

It's not just about having what came out two weeks ago. It’s about having two stores filled with decades of classics from around the world to help build up the next generation of Kaels, Eberts, and Knowleses.

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

Todd V. Wolfson

Best Video-Game Rental/Purchase

Remember when you found that indie book or record store that, despite its wide selection, also had the best prices? Now, imagine that the store sold video games and was actually doing well for itself but still retained its independence. That would be GameFellas. With great deals on new games and an expansive collection of classic ones, GameFellas is the best place to buy, sell, or trade with the "L337."

GameFellas
GameFellas Video Game Exchange, 13770 Hwy. 183 N. #134, 512/302-3021
GameFellas Video Game Exchange, 5510 S. I-35 #240, 512/441-4412
www.gamefellasentertainment.com/

Best Teen Hangout

OMG, when your parents are being totally lame and that dude down the street is being a creeper, there's only one option: Text your BFFs, get someone's cool/mysterious older brother to drive, and just hang out — "chillax," if you will — at Barton Creek Square Mall. A movie theatre, a food court, Hot Topic — there's no better teen hangout.

Barton Creek Square
2901 Capital of TX Hwy. S.
512/327-7040

Best All-Ages Music Venue

The Red River scene may change, but no condos can put the kibosh on Emo's and its teen-loving ways. Whether the act is local electro or Sweden’s best exports, Emo's keeps the neons lit, the doors open for all three stages, and the water coolers full. Just don't try to use your fake, because the wall of shame beckons.

Best Nature Day Trip

Tigers, tortoises, goats, emus, and more live out their glory years at this charming rescue zoo tucked in the West Austin hills. It's a pint-sized place, small enough for a kiddie choo-choo train to circle every half hour but big enough to win the hearts and the votes of Austin families year after year.

Austin Zoo
10808 Rawhide Trl.
512/288-1490
www.austinzoo.org

Bret Brookshire

Best Texas Amusement Park

This summer's heat was relentless. No duh, we're in a drought. According to this vote, many of you found an excellent option to extinguish the heat: Pack up the car with family or friends, and take a trip down to New Braunfels to spend the day at a wet wonderland called Schlitterbahn. For those who know the Central Texas park inside and out and are looking for a new place to chill out: Their parks in South Padre and Galveston (currently closed for accessing Ike damages) offer the same summer relief.

Schlitterbahn
381 E. Austin St., New Braunfels, 830/625-2351
33261 State Park Road 100, South Padre Island, 956/772-7873
2026 Lockheed, Galveston, 409/770-9283
14353 S. Padre Island Dr., Corpus Christi
www.schlitterbahn.com

Best Cheap Thrill

Two dollars. Two hundred pennies. And a swimsuit. That's for the teens. For the wee ones, it costs a mere buck to roll in the spacious green lawn (watch out for the sunbathers!), to make a splash off the diving board, and to giggle and frolic in the ice-cold, revitalizing water. For those really low on dough (or with a furry friend), there's the supercheap (as in free) part of the springs just to the east of the fence.

Barton Springs Pool
2201 Barton Springs Rd.
512/867-3080
www.austintexas.gov/department/barton-springs-pool

David Brendan Hall

Todd V. Wolfson

Best Afterschool Activity

Stage moms take note: Cranking out talented tots since 1980, KidsActing now boasts multiple alumni on Broadway and network television. Which is good, because having the chance to star as a pint-sized Danny Zuko in Grease (one of three afterschool musicals and a multitude of classes offered this fall) would make anyone wanna ditch their homework, too. And a new location at Center Stage to boot! Macaulay Culkin and Gary Coleman left big shoes to fill. Get rehearsin', junior.

KidsActing
2826 Real
512/836-5437
www.kidsactingstudio.com

Best Summer Camp

Stage moms take note: Cranking out talented tots since 1980, KidsActing now boasts multiple alumni on Broadway and network television. Which is good, because having the chance to star as a pint-sized Danny Zuko in Grease (one of three afterschool musicals and a multitude of classes offered this Fall) would make anyone wanna ditch their homework, too. And a new location at Center Stage to boot! Macaulay Culkin and Gary Coleman left big shoes to fill. Get rehearsin', junior.

KidsActing
2826 Real
512/836-5437
www.kidsactingstudio.com

Best Sports/Rec Program

Once again our readers give a nod to West Austin Youth Association's programs. But this place isn't only about sport: WAYA's "positive coaching" principles mean that kids learn more than just how to win a game. And they can participate (almost) as soon as they learn to play – kids can take Sportball classes starting at 16 months (yes, 16 months!).

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

Best Birthday Cakes

Awesome adventures in sugar and flour have won Lucy's Cakes 30 years of accolades. A cake is an edible work of art as well as a catalyst for celebration. In their hands, you can experience cake as record player, cake as butterfly, cake as cowboy … cake as anything you can imagine. The three generations of one family that run Lucy's are true craftspeople: People of the Cake. Wouldn't you like to join their tribe?

Bret Brookshire

Best Party Place

No chlorine, no filters, just sweet running water, ready for your kids to splash in with or without swim shoes: West Lake Beach is an award-winning family-owned secret. A modest entry fee grants access to this unspoiled party place, which also offers volleyball courts, grills, picnic tables, and a horseshoe pit. Everyone from toddler to grandpa can have fun. For a truly divine time, the whole beach is rentable. (Mermaids make great babysitters, by the way.)

West Lake Beach
2509 Westlake Dr.
512/327-9004
www.westlakebeach.com

 
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