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Best After-School Hangout
Best All-Ages Gift Emporium
Best Birthday Party
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Best Catered-To-Kids Restaurant
Best Cheap Chill
Best Clothes
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Best Outing (Other Than The Malls)
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Best Cheap Thrill

Reid Park Zoo
1100 S. Randolph Way

READERS' PICK: The black jaguar fixes the little girl in her translucent gaze, flexes all 120 pounds of sleek muscle and lunges hard, leaving only a muddy swipe on the Plexiglas. Her sister lounges in the reed thicket, dappled with shadows, the awe of all who view her. Nearby, a toddler places his tiny sandal in the cement-clad footprint of the speckled bear and shrieks. Loudly. Possibly he's imitating the gibbon, whose otherworldly whooping pervades the park. By far, small humans are the cutest species on exhibit here, where they can run, howl, caw and snort with the best of them. Now with the new, three-acre South America Habitat Loop, they'll have 12 new exhibits and more than 100 new species to explore. Enthusiastic teen volunteers conduct story readings and live animal demonstrations at the zoo school. One of the top small zoos in the country, the Reid Park Zoo is dedicated to conservation, education and research--and it's fun, too.

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: GKC Cinema, 4690 N. Oracle Road

A REAL SCREAM: Open late seven days a week, the bright blue Frosty Sno trailer, 849 W. Congress St., beckons to the parched and bored with its painted rainbow. Located just west of El Rio health clinic, a Frosty Sno snowcone is a treat any time of day. For just under $3, you can order a mountain of shaved ice in more than 20 flavors (the popular ones have little red arrows next to them), with the option of combining up to three flavors in one cone. There are also a variety of add-ins, like fresh fruit, ice-cream and saldaditos (dried, salted plums). Another favorite such enterprise is the surreal Sonoran Snoballs trailer, its midnight blue and neon pink shell appearing and disappearing at various midtown sites. (A regular spot is the northeast corner of Broadway and Campbell Avenue.)

Case History

1998 Winner: The Municipal Pools
1996 Winner: Reid Park
1995 Winner: Reid Park Zoo

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