When you find out you're having a kid, people tell you that you need a lot of stuff: bouncers, swings, activity centers, mobiles, soothers and other various and sundry Bright Flashy Things. We got all that stuff, and you know what my kid likes to play with? Dish towels. Obviously, that's not going to last forever, but it's a nice reminder that kids really do appreciate the little things. As long as you're there to make the experience fun for your progeny, something simple can make a lasting memory. And that's part of the magic of The Trains at NorthPark. There are certainly flashier things than 40-plus vintage locomotives chugging along 2,500 feet of track, but kids are endlessly fascinated with trains. Combined with a fun narrative from Mom or Dad about all of the American landmarks represented on the journey, this experience makes for epic holiday family time. Grab lunch at the food court and then make a memory at NorthPark's annual choo-choo wonderland -- tickets are a budget-friendly $6 for adults and $3 for kids. The trains are located on Level 2 by Barney's New York at NorthPark Center, 8687 North Central Expressway, and will be open through January 2 from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and Sundays from noon until 6 p.m. Christmas Eve hours are from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Visit northparkcenter.com.
Mondays-Saturdays, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri., Dec. 24, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sundays, 12-6 p.m.; Dec. 27-31, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Starts: Dec. 20. Continues through Jan. 2, 2010