Best Toy Store 

LEARNING TREE

Readers' Pick

True story: A certain local 3-year-old decided, for reasons unclear, that Santa was destined to bring her "a silly looking donkey with umbrella eyes" this past Christmas. Mom and Dad, convinced the bizarre wish would pass, paid it no mind until, on Christmas Eve, they realized the 3-year-old's mind wasn't going to change. The fate of Christmas morning, it seemed, rested on this fantastical donkey's arrival. Dad then turned to the place Missoulians most trust when it comes to the wants and needs of 3-year-olds: The Learning Tree in Southgate Mall. The store stocks everything from Playmobile to plush toys, Melissa and Doug products to pretty marbles. And, low and behold, donkey figurines. Alas, no umbrella eyes, but the last-minute find still worked like a charm, and solidified The Learning Tree's status as the best toy store in town. Learning Tree: Southgate Mall; 543-0101; learningtreemontana.com

FINALISTS:

2. Tsunami: 101 S. Higgins Suite 4; 541-8699

3. Walking Stick Toys: 829 S. Higgins; 543-1179; walkingsticktoys.com

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