BEST TOY STORE (1999)
If you're raising one of the painters, architects, chemists, or poets of tomorrow, you shouldn't miss the fun and educational stuff at this perennial parental favorite. For the prepubescent Picasso, there's a dazzling array of art supplies (the raw but promising pink-and-green self-portraits that occasionally hang about the premises are entries in a store-sponsored art contest). For the aspiring engineer, there are Lego sets, model rockets, and Mr. Potato Head bath toys (potentially traumatizing for the younger tykes, but good fun nonetheless). Waiting on the shelves for a good home are sock monkey kits (everyone should have one), books about bugs and dinosaurs, colored quartz and bloodstone samples for the juvenile geologist, and a menagerie of cute little animals for kids who just want something to stick in their mouths. Owner Cynthia Gerdes and her gregarious staff can help you find the perfect plaything, or you can just follow the delighted squeals of the youngsters as they discover some new treasure.