With more than one million book titles to choose from, Barnes & Noble stocks one of the retail world's largest selections of bound pages, along with a huge assortment of educational toys and games. Keep sprightly scribes from using walls, furniture, and siblings as writing surfaces with the help of LeapFrog’s Scribble & Write ($24.95 online), or indulge kids’ natural passions for outer space and solid detective work with a LEGO Space Police Smash ’n’ Grab set ($19.95 online).
The Niabi Zoo houses 900 animals from 160 species hailing from a quintet of continents on its 40-acre grounds. Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, this Midwestern menagerie abides by rigorous standards for bird and beast welfare. Traverse the educational trails, sighting zebras, ostriches, and giraffes trying on oversized bowties in the African exhibit or large cats such as the jaguar, leopard, and bengal tiger. The Niabi Zoo also protects 200 acres of area land for native wildlife preservation and bocce-ball tournaments.
Azul World Treasures drapes necks and wrists with gleaming semiprecious stones, fills cupped palms with geodes and fossils, and entertains children with educational archaeology kits. Wristlets ($7.50–$14.95) of smooth, buttery Costa Rican wood make wearers' forearms look as smooth and elegant as a dolphin at a royal ball, and Azul creations with beaded details ($19–$293) bewitch lobes, necks, and arms alike. Azul’s gem-chip necklaces come in a full rainbow of stones, from eggplant-purple amethyst to the pale-pink-and-green unakite ($4.95–$12.50). Polished minerals, such as chunks of quartz crystal ($1) and iridescent peacock ore ($1.55), cascade throughout the emporium, wending through pyramids of Iowan geodes ($2–$25). Meanwhile, Dig it Out! Kits ($4.95–$24.95) let young ones excavate, paint, and name dinosaur skeletons with scientific monikers such as "Tyrannosaurus Rex" or "Robocop," and soapstone boxes ($4.95–34.95) provide storage for the bones.
Backyard Candle Co. owners and votive lieges Tricia Whisler and Linda Messer hand-pour 100% soy candles into attractive container sets of numerous sizes (5–16 ounces, $7.99–$15.99). Before getting their candles, guests take in wafts of the scent menu, which drifts with 50 different aromas that include the sweet Pink Sugar, the delectable Coconut Cream Pie, and the soft Country Clothesline. Lotions and shower gels douse bodies in fragrances (two for $15.99), while tarts ($1.50) and scented room and linen sprays can be used to freshen up an office or mask the scent of a secret horse stable ($4.99). With creative graphics and images, Papaya cards greet loved ones with a nod toward style and a nudge toward creatively abandoning the envelope ($2.50). Under its vintage pressed ceilings Backyard Candle Co. also stocks a vast array of rotating eclectic home decorations.
Each month, a glossy new issue of Madison Magazine arrives in the mailboxes of readers, sharing local stories and events such as a profile of a local band instructor or an upcoming ballet folklórico performance. For nearly 35 years, the award-winning publication has filled pages with articles and photographs showcasing the Madison area’s restaurants, businesses, and cultural life. The arts and entertainment section highlights events such as the Madison World Music Festival, and food and dining articles explore new barbecue spots and share recipes that highlight local and seasonal ingredients. In addition to regularly reserving space for subjects such as health and habitat, the magazine turns out once-a-year creations, such as an annual food lover's issue and a Best of Madison Readers’ Poll that directs readers toward comfortable coffeehouses and talented theater companies.
Since 1989, designers and framers at the locally owned and operated The Great Frame Up have covered artwork and photos with thousands of frame and mat combinations and prevented 3-D keepsakes and sports memorabilia from selling themselves on eBay by enshrouding them in shadowboxes and acrylic cases. Framing jobs take place entirely on-site, ensuring a speedy turnaround on projects and a personal guarantee on all craftsmanship. The Great Frame Up’s website offers tips and trends to help customers navigate the process, from choosing frames to hanging and arranging finished pieces.