Best (Indoor) Playground - 2004
Pepsi Kid Zone at The Shops at Willow Bend
Play outside all you want; the mosquitoes are all yours, and good luck with that sunburn, holmes. Us, we like our play time inside--and in an upscale shopping mall, no less, near the food court (Cinnabontastic!) and not too far from the Apple Store, where they sell the 40GB iPod we're too cheap to buy but not to stare at longingly. Besides, this place is awesome: Kiddos can climb all over giant, cushiony replicas of what appears to be the world's messiest dinner table. There's the giant platter of steak and sunny-side-up eggs, a cup of hot cocoa, a giant half of an enormous grapefruit and even a bottle of overturned hot sauce, all of which the little ones run on and jump on and slide down till they're too exhausted to think of eating. The floor's bouncy for the kids just learning to walk, and parents can sit and watch from the comfy seats that line the playground like a fence; there's just one entrance, making it extremely safe. And, of course, the mall's kiddie clothing stores are all neatly gathered nearby, which makes this an expensive day out but well worth it.