Best Catered-to-Kids Restaurant

Chuck-E-Cheese

Reader's Pick: Here a kid can be a kid with a screaming cheesy meltdown. It's an overstim orgy, with music and play structures and arcade games. Send you wide-eyed children crawling around in an elaborate maze of tubes that would make a Nogales (ahem) importer proud. Just like at the bank drive through, you send your kids up one tube and they come sliding down another. And the two ball pits are an excellent place to challenge your kid's immune system. The front entry corridor is especially designed to keep kids from darting out to escape the onstage performance of the CEC Band, crude human-sized animatrons of Chuck E and Friends with jerkier movements than a cuckoo clock- Spielberg's A.I. it ain't. They even have their own monetary system consisting of tokens that can be spent on winning even more tokens, which kids can trade for a trinket or kewpie. While there, why not sign up for the Big Cheese Club, which includes an "autographed" picture of Chuck, a CEC Utility Belt and member identification card. We strongly suggest that the latter be carried at all times and proffered to the very next police officer who asks to see your ID.

Of Mythic Proportions: McDonald's. We know it's been around forever and is granddaddy of places where kids go to eat badly and play loudly, but McDonald's is still kickin' it. Kids can run, slide, climb and throw, and this year there's an added bonus: Kids can go to McDonald's and learn a valuable lesson- it's almost impossible to win at Monopoly.

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