READERS' PICK: Just think about it: On the north is a bus station with a Tohono O'odham name (like the indigenous people had buses!); to the west is the Tucson Mall; to the east is Wal-Mart; and to the south is an all-you-can-eat place called Sweet Tomatoes. This makes video arcade/bumper boat/batting cage/mini-golf course Funtasticks about the least surreal place in the entire area. This is a great place to blow a day and ease that family guilt. The kids will love the wet fun of the bumper boats, Dad can embarrass himself trying to hit a 70 mph fastball at the batting cages, and Mom can use virtual-reality technology to rip out the spleen of some samurai warrior. Then you can all play miniature golf. An odd note: For a video arcade, they have some surprisingly good food.
READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Golf 'n Stuff, 6503 E. Tanque Verde Road. This place is busy every day of the year. Walk up the carpeted path toward the castle and enter the ear-splitting game room. Then get out of there as soon as you can, onto one of the challenging mini-golf courses, into the race cars, or into the clothes-drenching bumper boats. This place is great for kids' parties, kids' blow-off days, and adult kids who never really grew up.
LOOSE CHANGE: Pima County Fair, 11300 S. Houghton Road. Thrills and spills await as you pile the kids in the SUV and head out to the fairgrounds for a day of non-stop merriment, mirth and music. Where else will you find carnival rides, endless entertainment and livestock galore, not to mention Aunt Bertha's famous pickles and Mom's apple pie? You'd be hard-pressed to find more bang for your buck. While we're mesmerized by Terry Stokes the Hypnotist, the ever-popular Bengal Tiger Show, and that irresistible petting zoo full of furry creatures, the kids sneak off to consume their body weight in hot dogs and cotton candy.