10 Unbelievable Toy Stores Around the World

A visit to a toy store can be a mini-vacation in itself, and doesn't mean necessarily racking up a big bill.
A visit to a toy store can be a mini-vacation in itself, and doesn't mean necessarily racking up a big bill.
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Traveling can be tough on kids and parents, but promising a trip to the toy store at your destination just might be enough to keep a child's behavior in check during your travels. The world's most unbelievable toy stores offer so much more than just shopping -- they're an experience in and of themselves, full of wonder, and can make even hardened grownups feel like kids again. From life-sized characters made of building blocks to toy stores equipped with theaters and mini golf courses, these top-ranking toyshops are well worth a visit, even if it's just to marvel at their design and whimsy. Who knows? You might even find your new favorite toy, or rediscover an old favorite.

10: FAO Schwartz, New York City

Hamleys has been at its current location on London's Regent Street since 1881.
Hamleys has been at its current location on London's Regent Street since 1881.
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The incredible shopping experience at Manhattan's 5th Avenue FAO Schwartz begins when a pair of smartly dressed toy soldiers throw open the doors so you can enter. The store, which started more than 150 years ago, seemingly contains every toy you could possibly imagine for kids and adults alike, from train sets to building blocks and everything in between. Try out the giant piano featured in the movie "Big" or wander through rooms filled with child-sized plush animals. Construct your own Muppet in the Muppet What-Not Workshop, a slightly kookier version of the Build-A-Bear concept, or "adopt" a new doll from the store's "nursery." If the store's constant crowds have got you down, consider splurging on a private tour, which allows you to explore the store prior to opening for a small fee. And no trip to FAO Schwartz is complete without a stroll through the store's candy shop FAO Schweetz, which spans 6,000 square feet of the flagship store. Look for crispy rice treats and lollipops larger than your head, as well as retro candy bars and loose candy sold by the pound. Sadly, FAO Schwarz will permanently close its doors in mid-July 2015, so visit while you can!

9: Toys R Us, New York City

Forget Central Park and the Empire State Building: what kids want to see when they visit NYC is the enormous Toys R Us in Times Square. At more than 110,000 square feet, it ranks as the largest toy store in the world, and features countless toys, from classic wooden playthings to the latest video games and electronics [source: Toys R Us]. If you've been to one of the other 1,700-plus branches of this toy store, don't be fooled -- the Times Square location is truly a unique marvel. In addition to thousands of toys, this flagship store features a 60-foot tall Ferris wheel with 14 toy-themed cars... all inside of the store! A "Jurassic Park" section houses a number of dinosaurs, including a 20-foot T-Rex. Consider yourself a Barbie girl? Don't miss the two-story, life-sized Barbie Dream House. A massive "Candy Land" section offers a wide selection of sweets, with another section dedicated to classic Wonka treats. Before you leave, take advantage of photo opportunities with Geoffrey the Giraffe, the chain's iconic mascot.

8: Hamleys, London

Hamleys has been in business since 1760, and at its current location on London's Regent Street since 1881. With seven stories to explore, you'll find classic favorites and the latest and greatest in toys and amusement, including friendly workers offering demos and plenty of chances to try things out for yourself. The store features one of the biggest Build-A-Bear workshops on the planet, where kids can choose from an impressive selection of plush friends, clothes and accessories. A large Lego section features a revolving selection of life-size displays, ranging from classic cartoon characters to members of the royal family, all made entirely from building bricks. If you need a break from all the fun, stop off at Scrumpaliscious, a world-class candy shop located on the top floor. Don't forget to check out Hamleys' famous window displays, especially if you visit during the holidays. And despite its long history, the store doesn't show its age thanks to a full refurbishment completed in 2012.