Better Boutiques

15 Smart Alternatives to Toys “R” Us

Sure, you can buy your child a stuffed bear at any big-box discounter, but for truly thoughtful toys, great galvanizing games, captivating crafts kits, and thought-provoking books, visit these shops. After all, we know your children are extra-special—so shouldn’t their playthings be too?

Larchmont, (914) 834-2900
Children can choose from the hundreds of gorgeous beads here—twinkling hand-blown glass and crystal, elaborately hand-carved wood, vibrantly colored ceramic and acrylic, and funky metal—to make their own jewelry, headbands, and other unique works of wearable art. Or a nice gift for Grandma.

Larchmont, (914) 834-0601
A PC green gift shop that is a plastics-free-zone, so no purchase ends up clogging the landfill for generations to come.

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Galapagos Books
Hastings-on-Hudson (914) 478-2501
Before hard-copy books go the way of hula hoops, consider loading up on titles from this shop’s excellent selection of multi-cultural literature in Spanish, Italian, Japanese, French, German, and, of course, English.

Pelham, (914) 646-6062
The focus here is on time-tested classics, e.g., tin tea sets, majestic wooden rocking horses, and sweet rubber duckies.

Greenburgh Nature Center’s Nature Store
Scarsdale, (914) 723-3470
Great stuff for young outdoorsmen: nature-explorer kits, paint-your-own birdhouses, and, for a real up-close encounter with insects, jars with magnifying glass tops.

Hudson River Museum’s Museum Shop
511 Warburton Ave, Yonkers (914) 963-455
Dollhouse enthusiast Mark O’Banks recently gave the Museum a display-quality, 26-room Victorian dollhouse, and children who are delighted by it can come to this shop for their own dollhouse-making kits.

Miller’s Toys
Mamaroneck, (914) 698-5070
Lauded by Child magazine as one of the country’s 10 best toy stores, this fourth-generation toy emporium is stocked with specialty toys from around the world. And, oh yes, books and a top-notch bike shop.

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Neuberger Museum of Art Gift Shop
Purchase College, Purchase (914) 251-6100
You can come to the Neuberger for the art but the shopping is swell, too. Artsy goods here include sculptor Peter Mayor’s
vibrantly colored Legos alternative, ShapeScapeS. Really cool.

Phillipsburg Manor Museum Shop
Sleepy Hollow (914) 631-8200
Take a bit of history home with the Manor’s historical games and crafts kits.

Teatown Lake Reservation Nature Store
Ossining, (914) 762-2912
Nurturing a young naturalist? This shop offers natural science games, toys, books, and crafts, including quartz and crystal mining kits.

Tra La La
Irvington, (914) 591-5312
The emphasis here is on creative and educational playthings, including Melissa & Doug floor puzzles and Creativity Kids arts-and-crafts kits.

Van Cortlandt Manor Museum Shop
Croton-on-Hudson (914) 271-8981
Find Revolutionary War-themed board games, along with puzzles and books for your budding historian.

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The Voracious Reader
Larchmont, (914) 630-4581
Books, books, and—yes!—more books. (Great recommendations, too.)


Brush up on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow—one of nine versions—at the Sunnyside Museum Shop.

Washington Irving’s Sunnyside Museum Shop
Tarrytown, (914) 591-8763
At the home of Washington Irving, author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, choose from nine unabridged versions of Irving’s seminal work and such etiquette books as Manners Can Be Fun. (Yeah, sure.)


Womrath Bookshop
Bronxville, (914) 337-0199
Look for a great selection of books (some on CDs), as well as puzzles and science kits.


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