Chicago is a city full of culture, and it wouldn’t be the same without the many family-owned stores scattered throughout the city. Now that Macy’s stores have partnered with Toys R Us, the unique local toy stores in the Chicago area need your support more than ever.
There are times when shopping at a department store makes sense, but these mom-and-pop shops are fixtures in the community that provide great customer service and flair to our neighborhoods. Whether you’re shopping for the holiday season, or simply trying to find the perfect gift for a kid’s birthday party, you can feel good about supporting small businesses while perusing a great selection of well-curated toys.
Here are our recommendations for the best toy stores in the Chicago area:
There are three Chicago locations of this local favorite toy store, and they have a wide variety of new toys for kids of all ages. Their knowledgeable staff meticulously selects the toys they carry, so whether you’re looking for educational toys, craft kits, doctor sets, bath toys, or action figures, you can feel confident in the toy’s play value and quality.
The store’s mission is to support the community, so they source their toys from local businesses when possible, provide free shipping to some local charities, and host events for the whole family. If you prefer online shopping, you can order the toys online and select free curbside pickup or pay a small fee for shipping.
Located off of Historic Route 66, Berwyn’s Toys & Trains is one of the best places to shop for trains, pine cars, and slot cars. This is a must-stop shop for train enthusiasts, but they also carry lego sets and some vintage toys that will take you down memory lane!
Located in the heart of historic Oak Park, Geppetto’s Toy Box is a European-inspired toy shop that specializes in eco-conscious and wooden toys. They also have a great selection of baby toys, board games, and an impressive pretend play section. This special toy store has great customer service, and they love using their expertise to help you choose the perfect gift. They have a user-friendly website and offer in-store pickup if you prefer to do your shopping that way.
4. Pumpkin Moon
Also located in the heart of Oak Park, this eclectic toy store has a constantly evolving inventory. They pride themselves on being the best place to find superhero and pop culture figurines, so if you’re looking for a Frida Kahlo, Maya Angelou, or Amelia Earhart toy, Pumpkin Moon is a great place to look!
27 N. Northwest Highway, Park Ridge IL
Gladstone Park’s American Science may have moved to Park Ridge, but it is still the best place to explore the world of hands-on learning and science experiments. Inspired to make kids giggle or say “gee whiz!”, American Science and Surplus was founded by Al Luebbers in 1937. They offer “incredible stuff at unbelievable prices” and carry a wide array of science kits, construction sets, outdoor games, and more. There’s something fun for every young adult here, and it truly is one of Chicago’s coolest toy stores!
Timeless Toys is one of the cutest independent toy stores in Chicago, and it’s located in the charming Lincoln Square neighborhood. It has an old-fashioned feel, and they have an adorable selection of plush toys, puppets, outdoor games, books, and more.
8. Toy De Jour
This clever toy store buys and sells vintage toys. If you’re looking for art featuring the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, quirky prayer candles, Power Rangers, My Little Pony, collectible Kid Robot toys, and other nostalgic treasures, Toy De Jour is worth checking out. They just hosted a special event that exclusively featured McDonald’s chicken nugget toys!
Rotofugi has consistently been considered the highest rated toy store on the ranked list of Chicago toy stores, and they carry some super unique toys. They have a large selection of Japanese vinyl figurines, trinkets, and other hand-picked toys that will be difficult to find anywhere else. Online shopping is an option, but if you go to their store on Lincoln Ave. between Diversey Pky and Kenmore Avenue, you can admire their rotating art gallery!
Logan Square’s Play opened on W. Logan Blvd. in 2010 when the owner, Ann Kienzle, thought the neighborhood could use a fun, unique toy store. She has since opened 3 other locations in Lincoln Park, Andersonville, and the West Loop. Each location features curated toys to fit the community it serves. For example, the Andersonville location has a wide selection of LGBTQ and Swedish toys and the West Loop location has a lot of cooking toys.
11. Nakama Toys
This toy store started off as a blog written by a husband and wife duo. Bryan and Mary love anime, video games, and sci-fi and have taken their enthusiasm for Japanese collectibles to a brick-and-mortar location in Logan Square. “Nakama” means friendship, and they hope you stop by their store to “nerd out” with them.
12. Peach Fuzz
This adorable toy store in Humboldt Park is a top choice if you are looking for Chicago-themed toys and gifts. They also sort their toys, books, and clothes by theme which is helpful when looking for the best gift for a kid with a passion. Some examples include “activism and awareness”, “dinosaurs”, and “safari”.
13. Kido Chicago
Kido, a diverse kid’s boutique, has some amazing inclusive toys, books, and gifts for the next generation. They sort their toys by “toddlers”, “little kids”, and “big kids”, which is super helpful if you are looking for gifts.
Anderson’s Toyshop in Naperville has been in business for 30 years, so they are experts in selecting classic and modern toys that your kids will love. From sensory bins to STEAM activities, they have something for every kid.
Dice Dojo in Edgewater has the best collection of board games and card games in Chicago. They host weekly game nights and special events in their store, so it serves as a gathering place and social atmosphere in addition to an expertly curated game store.
Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply Company is the store attached to 826Chi, a non-profit organization that helps school-aged kids with their writing skills. They sell some spy-themed toys and books written by Chicago kids. All proceeds go to supporting the 826Chi program.
The Wild Child has two locations in North Shore Chicago, and they specialize in quality toys and try to select organic and green toys when possible. They have an impressive selection of outdoor toys and scooters too.
18. Toys Et Cetera
This beloved toy store in historic Hyde Park has been around since 1976 and carries expertly curated toys that help develop critical thinking skills, self-esteem, and constructive social values. From creative art activities to scientific pursuits, they have a lot of experience selecting toys that inspire the imaginations of kids.
Moore Toys and Gadgets opened in Wheaton in 2014 with the mission of providing the community with a family-friendly toy store that is inclusive and carefully selected. This family-owned toy store has a loyalty program, an interesting selection of bobblehead dolls, and a lot of great games and toys for older kids.
20. Beat Street Toys
This jam-packed, eclectic toy store has locations in Evanston and Winnetka. There are nostalgic treats, and interesting toys for all. Adults and children will have fun perusing these stores.
21. The Red Balloon Co.
The Red Balloon is a super cute clothing and toy store in Chicago. They have interesting puzzles and games and lots of Tonies. They also have some great Chicago-themed toys and gifts!
MINISO is a Chinese Toy Store chain with two locations in Chicago, and their mission is to sell high quality toys at a lower price. They have a great selection of Squishmallows, a claw machine, some fun Chinese toys that you can’t find elsewhere, and the best gifts for children of all ages.
Build-A-Bear is not exclusive to Chicago, but it’s such a fun experience for kids that we had to put it on the list. They have six locations in Chicago, including one on Navy Pier! Kids get to customize their own teddy bears and other furry friends. They can choose from more classic options or licensed favorite characters, and then they can select outfits, accessories and more. Kids get to name their stuffed animals and even get a birth certificate to take home with them!
24. Lego Store
The Lego store is also not unique to Chicago, but there’s no better store for Lego enthusiasts. There are five locations in the Chicago area with one being in Water Tower Place and another in the Woodfield Mall. Tbe Woodfield Mall location also has Legoland Discovery Center, an indoor lego playground!
This list would not be complete without the American Girl Store…a store that is often considered one of the world’s greatest toy stores. I took my 3-year-old daughter for her birthday, and it truly deserves the fanfare.
While there are multiple locations around the United States and the world, the first location was in Chicago. In addition to the dolls, the gorgeous store on Michigan Avenue has a doll hospital, a doll salon, and a restaurant. They know how to make kids feel special, and shopping here is an unforgettable experience.