Best Out-of-This-World Gift Shop - 2011
The iconic castle that overlooks the city and serves as the Rocketeer's preferred launch pad also boasts an eclectic gift shop where aw-shucks Huell Howser DVDs compete for shelf space with glossy calendars depicting sweet Hubble porn. Griffith Observatory's Stellar Emporium truly shines when it comes to hoodwinking your kids into learning: Pick up a faux Barbie decked out in her NASA finest or a Jr. Astronaut costume that harkens back to the days when manned space travel was a thing. Wonky picture books for your budding moon-nerd celebrate Apollo 11 in exhaustive detail (Moonshot) or quaintly suggest that lunar travel will be but one of many possible diversions in the future (If You Decide to Go the Moon). Here's a cranky biography of Nikola Tesla, and some snazzy brass Victorian compasses. A cool grand lets you walk away with a hefty chunk of the Campo del Cielo meteorite, but affordable smaller chips put a tiny piece of the heavens within almost anyone's reach. 2800 E. Observatory Road, Griffith Park; (213) 473-0890, griffithobservatory.com.