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Best Outing (Other Than The Malls)

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
2021 N. Kinney Road

READERS' PICK: We recently visited the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum to see some monsters. The ocelots, margays and jaguarundis were within sight--and beautiful creatures they were--but where were the coatimundis? A sign read "Danger," imploring us not to get too close; but curiosity overcame fear and we leaned forward. Then, out of the corner of our eyes, a long brown tail appeared momentarily from behind a rock. Could that be the vicious coatimundi? Might it strike terror into our hearts at any time? Suddenly, out walked a sleek, skinny creature that looked like a stretch-limo kitty. "Meow?" it asked. Tension turned to laughter as we realized not all desert animals are the monsters you'd expect. That's one of many lessons kids (and parents) can learn at the world-famous museum, a desert dreamland filled with everything from rattlesnakes to hummingbirds, mountain lions to prairie dogs. Young'uns just go ga-ga over this stuff--and learn plenty in the process. (To find out about workshops and classes for kids, click on http://desert.net/museum/)

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Tucson Children's Museum, 200 S. Sixth Ave., is fabulous! Where else can our kids immerse themselves in the principles of physics, human anatomy and really cool fire-fighting paraphernalia within a few wildly distracting minutes? Kids love this place, and generally dash from exhibit to hands-on exhibit, until they collapse or find themselves trapped inside a giant soap bubble--whichever comes last. Only weeks later, after you've forgotten all about the place, does little Johnny pop up with something like, "Dad? Did you know light is both a wave and a party grill? Yeah, a particle. Dad? Dad? How come you didn't wave back this morning?" Somewhere in there lies the front door to all the wonders of the cosmos, and a visit to the Children's Museum is one small but entertaining step in the right direction.

Case History

1998 Winner: Reid Park Zoo
1996 Winner: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
1995 Winner: Reid Park

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