Stop No. 1: LARK Toys in Kellogg, Minn.
Editor's note: This is the first stop in our new series, 101 Things To Do. Each week through December 2020, we will select one place or activity to highlight. The stories are compiled at www.rivertown101.com.
It's a carousel, miniature golf, handmade toys, and books all wrapped in a building of fun. It's LARK Toys in Kellogg, Minn.
It is a unique retail space that appeals to everyone in the family," said Miranda Gray-Burlingame, co-owner with her husband and her parents. "It's so fun. With Mayo Clinic so close, we meet people from all over the world. We like to see all generations connect with each other and have fun together."
The carousel lets kids ride on dragons and horses and ostriches and just about any other animal they can imagine. Each animal, hand-carved from Minnesota basswood and brightly painted, is a work of art kids can ride.
Near the carousel is a hallway called Memory Lane with displays of toys and stores from past generations.
'We love to see people young at heart," said Gray-Burlingame. "We hear grandparents telling stories to their grandchildren about playing with similar toys when they were young. We hear people talking about playing marbles. So often now, the playtime for kids is lost in video games."
Many of the toys on display and for sale are LARK Made toys, created in the workshop in the back of the store.
"We try to stay away from toys that require batteries," Gray-Burlingame said. "We don't want to sell toys that do the playing for kids."
The store is filled with toys that kids can try. Happiness and laughter fill the rooms. Kids run through one door after another, moving from room to room in an endless maze of games, toys, and books.
"We want to create a sense of joy," said Gray-Burlingame. "It is a sacred honor to create a place of joy and peace and colors. We want kids to learn how to play.
She said the store gets very busy in the summer and suggests that visitors "who can should come when things are a little calmer, so they can have a fun time and spend a few hours."
Gray-Burlingame and her family want visitors to be happy. "Whether they walk away with a toy or not, we hope they walk away with a good feeling."
If you go...
What: LARK Toys
Where: 63604 170th Ave., Kellogg, MN 55945
When: Varies by season. January-February, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Sunday; March-Memorial Day, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Check the website for other months.
How much: Free