Midwest

The World’s Best Toy Stores

There's a hand-carved (!) carousel, 18-hole mini golf course, Kool-Aid waterfall, gourmet fudge shop, vintage toy museum, huge children's book selection, llama petting zoo, puppet shows and, oh yeah, you can also buy toys.

It’s a tough job but someone has to take on the task of finding the world’s best toy stores. So Spot Cool Stuff assigned ourselves.

Here’s a look at our favorite shops for indulging your kids—and your inner child:

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The Dunes of Lake Michigan

Picture outdoor travel in the upper midwest of the United States and an image probably comes to mind of flat forests and flat fields—if anything comes to mind at all.

In fact, the region is home to a variety of unexpected natural treasures,. Among those: the world’s largest freshwater dune system.

These dunes scattered along the shores of the five Great Lakes—Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie, and Ontario—were formed 3,000 to 6,000 years ago (recent in terms of geological terms) when the water level of the lakes was 40 feet (12 meters) higher than it is today. Every U.S. state and Canadian province that borders a Great Lake has at least one sand dune preserve area, including Indiana where there are some wonderfully scenic dunes not far from the powerfully unscenic blighted industrial town of Gary.

Arguably the coolest place to experience the Great Lakes dunes is at the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area in western-central Michigan.

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A-Maze-Ing

The Villa Pisani maze is the world’s most difficult to solve. Napoleon himself is among those who have been flummoxed by it.

The world “mazerific” is thrown around a lot these days. But we’ve found eight mazes that really are superlative, either for their size, history or quirky features.

Check out our review below . . . and try not to get lost along the way.

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Wine Avec Design

At most of the world’s wine bars there’s a direct correlation between the quality of the decor, the quality of the wine and the snootiness of the clientele. At Chicago’s Avec Restaurant & Wine Bar high design and highly delicious wine have been refreshingly paired with a friendly, informal, atmosphere.

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(Legally) Spend The Night In A Museum

Do you usually find the experience of visiting a museum:

    A) so dull that you want to fall asleep; or
    B) so interesting that you don’t want to leave at the museum’s closing time.

Either way, you could benefit from a museum that provides visitors a place to sleep. Here’s our rundown of five museums where you can spend the night among the art galleries and science exhibits:

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