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Best Outing (Other Than The Malls)

Reid Park
County Club Road and 22nd Street

READERS' PICK: The penchant of many children to glut on television and video games makes it seem as though kids today have lost the ability to experience wonder from anything that isn't tubular or cyber-sensational. Running counter to this prevailing perception are the expressions of pure wonder, sheer pleasure and joy to be found on the faces of the children playing and exploring Reid Park. Although smaller neighborhood parks are liberally sprinkled throughout the city, for many children and their parents Reid Park is the park to visit. The playground equipment is super-duper. In addition to an abundance of swings and slides, plenty of more contemporary climbing sets are complete with tunnel tubes and bigger-than-life Tic-Tac-Toe games. Picnic tables can be found throughout the park, seemingly encouraging visitors to bring lunch and stay awhile. Meander through the rose garden with the baby in the stroller, and introduce her to what a fabulous sense we have in our smellers. Perhaps, though, the single most appealing feature at Reid Park is the presence of water, which can be found in many small streams and ponds around the park. Paddling and splashing in that water--in addition to the occasional child who wades right in--are lots of well-fed ducks and geese, which not only appreciate but actually seem to expect popcorn. A small hill in the park provides the opportunity for young explorers to use their imaginations to discover strange new lands. If you want to divest yourself of some cash, paddle boats can be rented on one of the interior ponds. Pack a lunch, feed the ducks and glory in the knowledge that some things never change.

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: If you want like to make a day of it, plan to spend a little bit longer at the park and take in Reid Park Zoo, a sure-fire child-pleaser that manages to bring smiles to the faces of many an adult, too. We know other cities have bigger and grander zoos, but we can't help thinking that what the Reid Park Zoo might lack in quantity, it more than makes up for in quality. We particularly enjoy checking out the polar bears' wet somersaults from the underground cave, and planting ourselves between the lions and the giraffes so we can pretend we're somewhere on safari in East Africa.

STAFF PICK: TIE--Old Pueblo Trolley and Sabino Canyon Tram. During the half of the year that is the reason we all live in Tucson, there's hardly a more pleasant way to spend a day with the kids than riding a trolley or a tram. Besides being a great way to entertain children or houseguests, one can brush up on local history or riparian habitats, be reminded of the charm and beauty of the area we live in and sometimes take for granted. The Old Pueblo Trolley stops in front of some good restaurants, cafés, taverns and shops along Fourth Avenue and University Boulevard. Take in a museum at the University of Arizona. The drivers are knowledgeable; if you ask, they'll probably let you toot the horn. On the Sabino Canyon tram, you'll bone up on your Lower Sonoran Desert facts and steal a quick peek at the hardbodies on Muscle Beach. Walk away from the tram route and enjoy the quiet and the wildlife. The drivers have semi-scripted monologues to toss out on the way up the canyon, but they shut off the fuzz and allow you to ride down in relative peace and quiet.

Case History

1998 Winner: Reid Park Zoo
1997 Winner: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
1996 Winner: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

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