Kids & Family

Editors’ choice

Illustration By John Craig

Best place to dunk and plunk

Sparks Marina Park
Lincoln Way, Sparks

When the city of Sparks proposed turning the toxic Helms Pit into a summer/winter playground for water-starved families, there was a collective gasp: “Can those guys be serious? We’ll have three-eyed fish and gill-breathing children before you can say, ‘petroleum distillates and synthetic paraffinic hydrocarbons.’ “ Well, we’ve been turned around on the issue. The only iridescent colors in that water are on the rainbow trout. Fishing, biking, jogging and swimming—the Sparks Marina has everything a kid could want.

Best place to catch a comet

Pyramid Lake
When the Perseid meteor shower comes along every August, families in Reno and Sparks who look to the sky to see shooting stars only end up at the chiropractor with shooting pains from their necks to their lower backs. The neon-induced light pollution makes our skies about as clear as grandpa’s cataracts. Head out to Pyramid Lake, where the starry skies haven’t been hidden behind a mess of spotlights and streetlights.

Best place to teach kids about the birds and bees

Rancho San Rafael Park
Rancho San Rafael features more bees than you can shake your stinger at, a pond chock full of tadpoles and, for bird watchers, habitat coming out the xeriscape. Face it, you’re more likely to run into a passenger pigeon in the Wilbur May museum next to the shrunken head than you are anywhere in the great outdoors. There’s also plenty of grass for kite-flying, picnicking and lounging, and a couple of playgrounds.

Best place to wire up your children

Computer Extreme
414 Greenbrae Drive, Sparks

So you’ve resisted joining the computer-game frenzy. You haven’t given in to the impulse to buy a Sega Dreamcast. But that old Gateway just sits there gathering dust, and a relative has bought your son a Star Wars game, so you give in. You try to install it, and all you get is the error message "Needs 3-D accelerator." Get thee to Computer Extreme. While they can’t turn an overdriven 386 with a 100 MHz into a Pentium 3, they will install a Voodoo card, and when your 100 MHz chip won’t handle the action, they’ll sell you a game that will work.