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Best of San Antonio > Readers Pick

Mini Me

Justin Parr

 

Nicest Pet-care Services
PetsMart

Multiple locations
petsmart.com
PetSmart also won Best Pet-toy Shop.

The first thing I noticed about this place was that I actually got to go in. I got to go! No sitting in the car, per the usual. Or, more likely, given what my people say is the danger of leaving me in the car in the Texas heat, sitting at home, loving on Silver Fox (note: best dog toy ever! Whole Foods, why did you stop carrying it?) So, that’s nice. It’s huge, yeah, and there are all these aisles that my people don’t go down, even though I spy some very colorful and interesting things (feathers? I’m totally interested in feathers!). But there are so many toys to choose from, it’s kind of overwhelming. We usually go home with several –those tennis ball things on rope, a squeaky-fluffy animal, some natural rawhide.
Best of all, it’s a great place to meet other dogs: big fluffy ones, small yappy things, lean racer types. One time I even met a cute little lady dachshund. Just my size. I’d tap that, I thought. (I’m wired for safe sex, too. Very eligible. I don’t have papers, though, which makes me a little nervous, what with all the border talk. But the pedigreed chicks kind of dig my “outlaw” status. I work it.)
And, it turns out, you don’t have to have papers to get your doggie maintenance at PetsMart (it’s full-service, too, if you know what I mean), or to spend the night — just shots and a license, and as you know, in America they’ll give a license to anyone. I especially liked the daily kong treat and the personal play time – all add-ons to the basic room fee. But I’m worth it. Beware the doggie-cam room, though, unless you want your people all up in your business.

2. Lucy’s Doggy Day Care
2250 Thousand Oaks Dr.
(210) 495-3647
lucysdoggydaycare.com

3. Happy at Home
(210) 378-2559
happyathome-sa.com

__________________________________________________________________

Best Pet Boarding
Lucy’s Doggy Day Care

2250 Thousand Oaks
210-495-3647
lucysdoggydaycare.com
It’s no Puppy Bowl IV (thanks for that thoroughly enchanting, evening-long brain fart, Animal Planet), but the web cam at Lucy’s Doggy Day Care should at least answer some of your burning pet questions: How often and why do dogs sniff each others’ bums? Do they really like toys, or are those $15 furry squeak bags just another way to assuage totally unnecessary guilt? Does pookums mope around during my absence?
The answer to the latter seems to be no, at least at Lucy’s, perhaps because the Northside pet-care facility applies that old truism of child-rearing: the simple-hearted (-minded) like structure. Hence, not much web-cam action between noon and 3:30 p.m., when they’re napping. The rest of the day, though, it makes a great screen-saver, even if you’re not keeping your eye on one special pup.

2. Rob Cary, 14824 Bulverde Rd., (210) 494-7787, robcary.com
3. Cowboy Kennels, 5207 McCullough, (210) 822-1166, cowboykennels.com

__________________________________________________________________

Best Place to Adopt a Pet
Humane Society SPCA of Bexar County

4804 Fredericksburg Rd.
(210) 226-7461
humanesocietyspca.org

Since moving to its current location on Fredericksburg Road a little over five years ago, Bexar County’s Humane Society has rapidly expanded to become a key resource for pets and pet owners in our community. The pet adoption center has various dogs, puppies, cats, and kittens ready to adopt on any given day, and the primary focus of the friendly and knowledgeable staff is to make sure you find the animal that’s right for you. All persons wishing to adopt are required to spend 20-30 minutes with their chosen pet, then are asked to complete an adoption application to ensure the pet is going to a loving home. Adoptions valued at over $300 run $25-125, which includes the animal’s spay or neuter in addition to extras like vaccinations, heartworm and flea meds, microchip implantation, 30 days of pet insurance, and more. And your money’s going to a great cause — the Humane Society is a leading educator for responsible animal care, which reduces strays and unwanted animals.

2. Animal Defense League
11300 Nacogdoches
(210) 655-1481
adltexas.org

3. San Antonio Animal Control (The Pound)
210 Tuleta
(210) 207-6650
sanantonio.gov/animalcare

__________________________________________________________________

Best Pet-Toy Shop
PetsMart

Multiple locations
petsmart.com
PetsMart also won Best Pet-care Services.


courtesy photo

The first thing I noticed about this place was that I actually got to go in. I got to go! No sitting in the car, per the usual. Or, more likely, given what my people say is the danger of leaving me in the car in the Texas heat, sitting at home, loving on Silver Fox (note: best dog toy ever! Whole Foods, why did you stop carrying it?) So, that’s nice. It’s huge, yeah, and there are all these aisles that my people don’t go down, even though I spy some very colorful and interesting things (feathers? I’m totally interested in feathers!). But there are so many toys to choose from, it’s kind of overwhelming. We usually go home with several –those tennis ball things on rope, a squeaky-fluffy animal, some natural rawhide.
Best of all, it’s a great place to meet other dogs: big fluffy ones, small yappy things, lean racer types. One time I even met a cute little lady dachshund. Just my size. I’d tap that, I thought. (I’m wired for safe sex, too. Very eligible. I don’t have papers, though, which makes me a little nervous, what with all the border talk. But the pedigreed chicks kind of dig my “outlaw” status. I work it.)
And, it turns out, you don’t have to have papers to get your doggie maintenance at PetsMart (it’s full-service, too, if you know what I mean), or to spend the night — just shots and a license, and as you know, in America they’ll give a license to anyone. I especially liked the daily kong treat and the personal play time – all add-ons to the basic room fee. But I’m worth it. Beware the doggie-cam room, though, unless you want your people all up in your business.

2. Petco
Multiple locations
petco.com

3. Petland
Multiple locations
petland.com

__________________________________________________________________

Kid-friendliest Park
Brackenridge Park

3700 N. St. Mary’s
sanantonio.gov/sapar/
Brackenridge Park also won Best Park for a Picnic.


Jeanna Goodrich

The 344-acre inner-city haven that is Brackenridge Park recently underwent a major renovation that converted winding back roads to hike-and-bike trails, repaired and extended paths through the woods, and installed sculptures by Anne Wallace and Susan Budge. (Wallace’s “Glorieta” refers, in part, to the parks’ former subversive underside as a hookup site). The improvements have only made this century-old treasure more popular, while eliminating some of the parking spots along those former roads. To the rescue for those sunny weekends when the picnic areas and playgrounds are packed with barbecuing familia: an eco-friendly parking garage on the site of the old City nursery grounds that will serve the park, its zoo, and the adjacent Witte Museum.
The park, which got its start in 1906 with a 200-acre grant from water czar George Brackenridge, reclaimed another piece of its golden past this spring when the Japanese Sunken Gardens were reopened after extensive repairs to the pools. Although the tram is gone, never to return, the Koi are back, and from the old bathing-house jungle gym to the miniature train, Brackenridge offers a full weekend of fun. When the River Improvements project finishes its work in a few years, you’ll be able to hike or bike all the way to the Missions, too.

2. Kiddie Park
3015 Broadway
(210) 824-4351
kiddiepark.com

3. TIE
HemisFair Park
600 HemisFair Park

McAllister Park
13102 Jones-Maltsberger

__________________________________________________________________

Best Child Daycare
Country Home Learning Center

Multiple Locations
countryhomelearningcenter.com

No parental decision is more difficult and subjective than finding the right daycare provider, but Country Home Learning Center stood out to voters by virtue of its warm, residential environment, large indoor and outdoor playgrounds, carefully regulated waterpark, and a learning center that focuses on arts & crafts, computer instruction, and theatrical performances. Country Home handles everything from full-time infant care to after-school assistance and also runs a popular summer camp. Their quirkiest feature: a 1950s-themed soda shop used for cooking projects and snack breaks.

__________________________________________________________________

Most Reliable Babysitter Service
Mommy Mixer

mommymixer.com
A glass-half-empty kind of gal might say that the Mommy Mixer concept proves life gets less sexy post-partum: Instead of heading out to flirt with young men, you’re headed out to assess the relative unflappability and warmth of college-age women who are looking for a gig — watching your kids. But optimists will say it’s the perfect opportunity to put romance back into your relationship with one key ingredient that we like to call Reliably Relieved of Parenting Responsibility. Mommy Mixer identifies and vets the sitters (and hires moms for part-time jobs as Campus Reps and City Managers); you show up to meet, greet, and hire in cheery locations such as Bloom Maternity (p.s. It’s OK to contract for errand-running and other ancillary tasks, too.) The next SA event for this Austin-conceived baby genius is May 5.

__________________________________________________________________

Best Kids Clothing Store
The Children’s Place

Multiple locations
childrensplace.com

With locations at malls from South to West to Far North, the Children’s Place is well on its way to being SA’s fancy Old Navy for kids. Sure, they have fun, durable playwear for your babe-to-pre-tweener, but where they excel is in the matching “look presentabe” sets, and mostly at prices that won’t make you cry over spilled grape Kool-Aid.

2. Gap Kids, North Star Mall
7400 San Pedro
(210) 340-1433
gap.com

3. Old Navy
multiple locations
oldnavy.com

__________________________________________________________________

Best Place for Birthday Parties
Incredible Pizza Co.

11743 West Ave
(210) 342-2121
incrediblepizza.com
Don’t let the name fool you. Incredible Pizza is an amusement park with bumper cars, bowling lanes, mini golf, etc. that happens to offer an all-you-can-eat buffet for the same reason that Vegas casinos aren’t lit with natural sunlight: the longer you stay, the more you spend. The Happy Days-style ’50s nostalgia for “family” entertainment makes it hard to believe this company’s roots are in quirky Victoria, Texas.

2. Peter Piper Pizza
Multiple locations
peterpiperpizza.com

3. Chuck E. Cheese’s
Multiple locations
Chuckecheese.com

__________________________________________________________________

Family-friendliest Fiesta Event
King William Fair

kwfair.org

2008 marks King William Fair’s 40th anniversary. What began as the King William Association’s art-block-party has become a not-to-miss fiesta event, committed to providing activities for the whole gang. Kids under 17 get in free, and adults pay only $5. Not bad at all for a day of live music, dance, arts & crafts vendors, a parade, and more!

The most vital part of “more” — at least for this category — is the Kid’s Kingdom, where little ‘uns can do crafts, play games and sports, and let’s not forget the cherry: a moonbounce.

2. Fiesta Arts Fair
swschool.org/fiesta_arts_fair.php

3. Battle of Flowers
battleofflowers.org/

__________________________________________________________________

Kid-friendliest Museum Activities
Witte H-E-B Science Treehouse

3801 Broadway
(210) 357-1900
wittemuseum.org


Jeanna Goodrich

Psh — this isn’t just a kid-friendly museum activity. Sure, my grandparents took me when it first opened, but I was totally about to take my ex-boyfriend for his birthday last year (and then his parents had to go and buy us plane tickets to the Pacific Northwest [still love you guys, btw!]). Whatevs, man. The Treehouse, created by Carlos Cortes, was thoroughly renovated in 2006, and includes experiments of all kinds, not least of which is a water experiment using matter from our own SA River.

2. Children’s Museum
305 E Houston St
(210) 212-4453
sakids.org

3. Saturday Morning Discovery @ Southwest School
300 Augusta
(210) 224-1848
swschool.org

__________________________________________________________________

Nicest Library Branch
Central Library

600 Soledad
(210) 207-2500
sanantonio.gov/Library/central/

The Central Library overwhelmingly won top-rank in this category, and rightfully so. With itswide open spaces, bold artwork (see best public-art installation on TK, where “Chihuly” took second place), and its impeccable Texana and Genealogy sections ... it’s hard not to like this library. Sure, people still squabble over the outrageousness of the enchilada red hue, but it makes Central Library what it is — an eyesore for some and for others a funky haven to sink your head in any book of your liking.

2. San Pedro Library
1315 San Pedro
(210) 733-1454
sanantonio.gov/LIBRARY/branch/sanpedro.asp

3. Hannah Landa Memorial Library
233 Bushnell
(210) 732-8369
sanantonio.gov/Library/branch/landa.asp

__________________________________________________________________

Best Bouncy-House Selection
Pump It Up

Multiple Locations
pumpitupparty.com

If we set aside the appeal of a bounce-house chain named after an Elvis Costello classic, we’re able to notice that Pump It Up’s various locations provide ample opportunity for adolescent mayhem, from Pop-In Playtime packages that allow parents to bond while their kids pogo in their own inflatable universe to party rooms and special packages for birthdays, field trips, and other gatherings.

2. Inflatable Wonderland
6909 N. LOOP 1604 E.
(210) 212-4386
inflatablewonderland.com

__________________________________________________________________

Best Party-Supply Store
Party City
Multiple Locations
partycity.com

It’s hard to conceive of a party occasion or theme (at least a family-friendly one) that Party City doesn’t have covered. You can find everything from balloons to Dora table covers and Birthday Blossom Hats for your little ones. Party City’s ample supply of Bull Piñatas also come in handy when you’re planning a Cinco de Mayo bash and they’re a rare source of Walking Matzah Balls for Passover. They’re prepared for the unlikely, so if you walk in and ask for music to accompany a Texas Hold ’Em Party, plan to walk out with a CD.

2. Amol’s Specialty
710 S. Flores
(210) 227-1457

3. Garden Ridge
6840 NW Loop 410
(210) 521-7737

__________________________________________________________________

Best Toy Store
Toys “R” Us
7140 Blanco
(210) 525-8697


courtesy photo

Toys “R” Us makes shopping for kids slightly less painful because they don’t leave any age group out of the equation. If you need something to captivate your baby, you’ll find sassy rattles, teethers, and nursery gyms. On the other hand, if your kids skew a little older, Toys “R” Us carries everything from Hannah Montana light-up bracelets to Guitar Hero games.

2. TIE:
KB Toys
Multiple locations
kbtoys.com

Learning Express
Quarry Market Shopping Center
255 E. Basse
(210) 930-4442
sanantonio.learningexpress-toys.com

__________________________________________________________________

Best Place to Deliver a Baby
Methodist Hospital

4450 Medical Dr.
(210) 575-4000
sahealth.com

After an initial round of enthusiastic phone tag, Methodist’s PR folks never called back, so we offer instead this tale: When the daughter of one Current staffer was born, she was a little premature and her lungs weren’t yet fully developed. This baby girl had to stay in a preemie ICU, with a plastic lid over her head and little tubes running up under her rib cage – a pretty distressing situation for her young single mom. But the nurses at Methodist treated both of them like family, gave her as much information daily as possible, and let the mom decorate the little ICU crib. It was comforting that there always seemed to be a nurse in the room rocking or looking after those fragile babies. The little girl is in college now, with nary a scar to show for her rough beginnings. So the website pics of newborns are nice, as are the state-of-the-art facilities, but when it comes down to delivering in an institutional setting, it’s those human hands and hearts that make all the difference.

2. Northeast Baptist Hospital, 288 Bitters, (210) 297-7005, baptisthealth.org

See Also

Best of 2008 FAQ's in Readers Pick 4/23/2008

Special Places in Readers Pick 4/23/2008

You've Been Served in Readers Pick 4/23/2008

Shop Till You Drop in Readers Pick 4/23/2008

Working-class Heroes in Readers Pick 4/23/2008

You Turn Me On in Readers Pick 4/23/2008

Mini Me in Readers Pick 4/23/2008

Our Bodies, Our Selves in Readers Pick 4/23/2008

Vice and Virtue : Part 2 4/23/2008

Vice and Virtue : Part 1 4/23/2008

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