B, C at 81st St.-Museum of Natural History
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New York's most celebrated science and nature museum has long attracted gaggles of school kids ooh-ing and ah-ing over the 94-foot-long blue whale in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, and you'll find them just as wild about space toys and Day-Glo astronaut candy in this shop's lower level. The exceptional three-floor store stocks much more than museum T-shirts, keychains, and exhibit paraphernalia—though they're there as well—with much shelf space dedicated to educational toys, books, and DVDs. While children rule on the lower level, more adult offerings like books on paleontology, Native Americans, cooking and popular science lie up the iron-railed staircase, next to the two-story cast of a basal rock wall from the Columbia River Canyon. On the third floor, underneath gilded pterodactyl skeletons, are gifts particularly in tune with the neighborhood's tastes: Navajo jewelry and African sculpture and textiles.Extra
Shoppers who wish to skip the exhibits can still shop the AMNH store; just ask the guard at the admissions counter and you'll be permitted to enter and spend.