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.
Save babies and expecting mothers the sartorial embarrassment of being wrapped inside oversized t-shirts or second-hand onesies with today’s Groupon: $35 for $70 worth of fashionable baby duds and maternity clothes at Apple Seed Maternity and Baby Boutique. Located in Old Town Alexandria, this trendy shop for the pleasantly pregnant carries stylish clothes for the expecting and gear, strollers, and children’s clothing for the expected. There is no ban against the non-pregnant, so it’s also a great place for friends and family to pick up gifts for an upcoming baby shower. Funnel cake: Your baby wishes to attend the carnival! While most physicians agree that pregnant women cannot ride rollycoasters and should not be spooked by Doctor Frankendracula's House of Stuff Jumping Out At You, your baby will be very impressed when its weight is accurately predicted at 8 lbs., 2 oz.
Dalton Brody provides an upscale boutique atmosphere nestled in a cozy storefront of mottled stone and regal green awnings. The shop is stuffed to the rafters with crystal and glassware, painted serving trays, candles, handbags, picture frames, and much more. Fill your home with the mingling aromas of lavender and rosemary from a petite air essence incense-like air freshener ($45), or dappify the gentleman of your choosing with a pale-green American–sailboat tie ($75). For the homosapien who has everything, leather money clips ($38) come in a variety of grains and colors, while a small photo album bound in gentle green-and-pink floral tapestry ($34) will hold a variety of memories, images from the future, and souls. Dalton Brody also stocks numerous gifts for new moms and their babies; perk up a nursery with a pink piggy bank ($52) coated in white polka-dots.
The instructors at FUNdamentals of Baltimore prepare babies and toddlers for the journey ahead with age-appropriate lessons for the mind and body. Alongside their parents, babies learn the basics of mobility and music, and toddlers enjoy a mixture of free play, exercise, and lessons on numbers, colors, and animals. Classes are capped at around 12–15 kids to ensure that each participant receives ample attention from the staff.