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How to Visit a Teddy Bear Museum: Santa Barbara USA, England, South Korea, Online

Ever since 1902, when a candy salesman was inspired to create a new stuffed toy by pictures of President Teddy Roosevelt holding a bear cub, people have been wild for teddy bears. Through hundreds of variations and descendants like Pooh and Paddington, the love affair has continued. If you want to pay special tribute to your plush pal, follow these steps to visit the teddy bear museums of the world.

Start in the US with a visit to the Susan Quinlan Doll and Teddy Bear Museum in Santa Barbara, California. Open Friday through Monday (and many holidays) from 11 am to 5 pm, the Quinlan Museum includes examples of teddy bears that reflect California's melting pot of ethnicities. This museum also features a library for serious teddy bear researchers, a tea room and a gift shop. Call (800) 730-1707 for directions and other visitor information.

Head to England to share your passion for teddies. This is the home of Pooh and Paddington, as well as two teddy bear museums. Start with the Dorset Teddy Bear Museum in Dorchester, which is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 or 5 p.m. every day except Christmas and Boxing Day (December 26). This cottage museum has a great collection of stuffed bears and a period toy shop where you can indulge your fantasies of a Victorian childhood.

Combine teddy bears and children's theater with a visit to The Teddy Bear Museum in Wimbledon, England. Once located in Stratford-upon-Avon, this collection-which includes William Shakesbear-has moved to become part of The Polka Theatre, a children's theatre experience. Visit the museum, take in a play, have a snack or meal in the cafe and browse in the shop. There's even a playground for kids who get restless looking at exhibits.

Join the Asian craze for teddies by visiting the Jeju Teddy Bear Museum on Cheju Island in South Korea. Part of the sprawling Jungman Resort Complex on Chungmoon Beach, the Jeju Teddy Bear Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day, with even later hours in the summer. In addition to the museum and the standard gift shop and cafe, the Jeju Teddy Bear Museum offers a popular bar and restaurant where you can share sophisticated refreshments while you relive your childhood.

Visit the teddy bears of the world without leaving home. Teddies World is an international online teddy bear museum loaded with photos, features, history and links. The site is run from Germany, so be patient with the quirkiness of the English translations. The pictures are worth thousands of words.

Hours and special exhibits may change, so call ahead or visit a website before planning your visit to a teddy bear museum.

Like most museums, teddy bear museums charge admission. Contact the individual museum for fees and possible discounts.

Teddy bear museums tend to come and go. Several that are listed in tourist brochures, such as the Teddy Bear Museum of Naples, Florida, are no longer open or have moved. That's another good reason to call ahead.

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