Kids in Bellwood

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Like a playroom still under quarantine from a massive imagination explosion, the shelves of My Favorite Toy Store overflow with colorfully packaged toys of every size and shape. Throughout the two stores—located in Elmhurst and Downers Grove—several play sets provide hands-on demos, from the classic building blocks fortifying castle keeps to the wooden tracks helping toddlers to reenact scenes from Strangers on a Train. Meanwhile, helpful staffers provide advice on appropriate age ranges for each toy in stock, gift wrap any purchase for free, and host kid-friendly events such as youth art festivals that line the walls with the works of young Picassos.

123 N York St
Elmhurst,
IL
US

Inspired by their mutual passion for babies, sisters Jackie Wilkinson and Debbie Feiler set out to apply their experience raising 11 children by opening Beautiful Beginnings in 1995. Bright lights twinkle from the high ceiling, illuminating high-end colorful wares designed to outfit youngsters or decorate nurseries. A design team aids parents in selecting all the pieces to create a custom space for a baby, from pairing complementary wardrobes and cradles to matching beds with the perfect size boogey monster. For parents-to-be, attentive designers stand at the ready to assist them in creating a registry.

4472 Lawn Ave
Western Springs,
IL
US

For more than 60 years, Toys“R”Us has been helping kids be kids and grown-ups to revisit their childhoods by providing one of the largest selections of top-brand toys, electronics, games and everyday baby essentials. Founder, Charles Lazarus, revolutionized the toy business by modeling his stores after supermarkets, providing a variety of options to suit varying ages and interests and offering customers to help themselves and have fun in the process. Today, that sense of playfulness is evident at nearly 600 stores in the United States alone, including a flagship location in Times Square where kids are greeted by a 60-foot Ferris wheel, a 5-ton animatronic T-Rex, and a life-sized, 4,000-square-foot Barbie house.

Beyond everybody's favorite bikes, trains and video games, each Toys“R”Us store keeps its shelves stocked with the season’s must-have toys as well as nostalgic standbys that never go out of style. Time-tested brands such as LEGO, Radio Flyer, NERF and Fisher-Price share the shelves with an expansive selection of electronics for older kids, including Wii U and tablets. And though the company has inspired generations of boys and girls to try their hardest not to grow up, it also strives to ensure budding brains develop right on track by devoting a significant portion of its stores to “smart-play” with a wide selection of electronic learning toys and software.

Toys“R”Us—whose extended family of brands includes Babies“R”Us and FAO Schwarz—has earned a number of awards and recognitions through the years, including a spot on Fortune’s list of the World’s Most Admired Companies in 2012. The company has also drawn considerable recognition for its expansive charitable efforts, which include partnerships with the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and Save the Children. This year also marks the tenth consecutive year that the company has partnered with the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation to collect new, unwrapped toys and monetary donations in its stores to benefit the organization.

1500 75th St
Downers Grove,
IL
US

Rainbow Play Systems’s expansive showrooms introduce kids aged 2 to 10 to a wonderland of gym equipment, all of which is available for purchase. A multitude of swing sets with spiral slides, trapeze rings, and tire swings exercise tykes while preparing them for the physics portion of the SAT.

800 West 79th Street
Burr Ridge,
IL
US

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7000 N Austin Ave
Niles,
IL
US

Inside a bustling factory and design studio in Chicago, needles embroider children's names on rocking chairs, receiving blankets, and mammoth toy boxes. Nearly every Hoohobbers item is highly customized—whether with monogramming, personalized color and pattern options, or a choice of fabrics. This feature isn't the only one that appeals to design-minded parents. Furniture, accessories, and household goods for babies, toddlers, and children are portable, lightweight, and durable. Unfortunately for neglected screwdrivers, allen wrenches, and stress balls, the items require no assembly. Their practical yet modish designs often appear in magazines, including Chicago Parent, Life & Style, and People and regularly win awards, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Best of Chicago title for infant and toddler gear in 2009 and 2010.

1657 N Elston Ave
Chicago,
IL
US