READERS' PICK: Not just the best, but the only place in town to roast weenies to the roar of the king of the beasts from the adjacent zoo. Reid Park is still the family mecca you knew as a kid. Duck feeding and lake wading are now prohibited, but it's got playing fields, more and better play equipment, party ramadas and even public art. The aforementioned Reid Park Zoo is still the wildest bump for your buck in town (gratis if you're four or under; six bits to mid-teens). And no more concrete-pacing for the sun bears; thanks to the miracle of modern rock formation, your tax dollars and some generous donations, those puppies have caves and waterfalls to protect them from the day-camp crowd. Helpful docents now let you touch elephant fingernails, which has to qualify as the highlight of any day in the park.
READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Himmel Park, 1000 N. Tucson Blvd. As a park, Himmel is a definite overachiever, what with the soccer fields, tennis courts, swimming pool, library, outdoor amphitheater, playgrounds and the last train to Clarksville--SP1673, which is returning to its rails even as we speak. Himmel Park definitely makes maximum use of its mere 26 acres. In 1987, a committee made up of various neighborhood groups decided that the park should be downsized to preserve its uniqueness. It takes a lot of courage to improve a park by limiting access and usage of it. Quaint it has remained, centrally located and perfect for kids' birthdays and medieval festivals. It's a great place to walk your dog or test the current gun laws. On a hot day, you can even duck into one of the city's best-kept secrets, the Himmel Park Library, an oasis within an oasis.
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