After making your list and checking it twice, you hesitate before buying it all with one quick click. Where’s the excitement, engagement and discovery? Wander the aisles of the best independent toy stores in town and your kids are sure to discover something unique they never knew they wanted. Just be warned, you might find a new toy of your own to put under the tree.
photo: ©2014 Jon Hill
Grown-ups just want to have fun and at Huzzah! in Venice you can. The mom in you will love the selection of alternative, non-mass market toys the store specializes in (read: no battery-powered Elsa Dolls singing the same song on a loop here), while the big kid in you giggles over the “grown-up toys” like a Crazy Cat Lady Action Figure. Your toy-loving tykes can explore and discover that educational toys are actually way cooler and more entertaining than they imagined.
Don’t Miss: Check out the row of bins lining the counter filled with whimsical wind-up toys and kitschy knick-knacks perfect for party favors that won’t end up in the trash before the party ends.
2010 Lincoln Blvd.
Photo Credit: Max B. via Yelp
The Brentwood Country Mart already exudes idyllic nostalgia, which makes it the perfect home for a quaint-feeling toy shop like Toy Crazy. These classic, timeless toys define inspired playtime and will remind you of your own childhood, while being equally delightful for your tots. Every item for sale, from classic board games to unique outdoor toys, is meticulously hand-picked by the owner, and seasoned toy connoisseur, Melissa Moore, to ensure the most engaging, get-them-off-the-couch play experiences for your little ones.
Don’t Miss: What’s the only thing better than an awesome toy store? One that’s right next to an amazing ice cream shop. Send the kids over to Sweet Rose Creamery for a scoop with another grown up while you scoop up a few things for your stockings.
225 26th St.
Karen’s Toys Encino
The flagship store of this mom and pop mini-chain of toy shops is a whopping 4,000 square feet of wall-to-wall toys. Every inch is covered in high-end dolls, games, puzzles, craft and science kits, and even a large selection of eco-friendly toys. Unlike the toy section at Target, you won’t dread getting stuck perusing these shelves of beloved brands, like Bruder, Playmobil and Melissa and Doug. Play tables tucked into the corners give your curious tots a chance to check out some of the toys before you buy. There are also smaller locations in Sherman Oaks and Glendale.
Don’t Miss: Be sure to raid your piggy banks for quarters to pop into the in-store coin-operated rides. Definitely take advantage of the gorgeous, absolutely free gift-wrapping if you happen to be buying for someone else.
16101 Ventura Blvd.
Photo Credit: Byanko S. via Yelp
Big Lou’s Toys and Collectables
Sci-fi and comic book nerds unite at Big Lou’s, the perfect spot to give your uninitiated young Jedi apprentices an intro lesson to Star Wars collectables. The rows of display cases featuring action figures, comic books and all kinds of vintage toys and collectables are changed out regularly so every visit offers something new to drool over.
Don’t Miss: The massive in-store slot car track is the only one of its kind in Los Angeles. For five bucks you can challenge the kids to a race, winner gets extra toppings on your post-race fro-yo at the Menchie’s across the street.
5413 Sepulveda Blvd.
photo: Landis Labyrinth
So much good stuff, one store can’t contain it! Landis has a big classic shop, filled with games, toys, puzzles and other great gifts. Then one store down, you can visit the “Early Years” store that’s filled with goodies for new parents and kids under 3. While kids can entertain themselves forever in either store, you’ll get sucked into their wall of carefully selected family games and the opposite wall filled with retro treats that make perfect stocking stuffers.
Don’t Miss: Larchmont is a street designed for kids (and parents!). Wrap up your shopping at Flicka and Bluebird for high end kids clothes (new at Flicka and used at Bluebird) and then play at Snooknuk and nosh at Z Pizza or California Roll and then get treats at Salt & Straw or ‘Lette Macaron.
140 & 144 N. Larchmont Blvd.
photo: Jolie Loeb
Miracle Mile Games and Toys
This neighborhood toy store not only has all the stuff we love, but discovery is the real name of this toy game. Not only do they encourage kids to get down and play with all the toys open and on display (saving you from the fate of spending a fortune on a gift where the box gets more play time than the present), but the staff is exceptionally well versed in all the toys available and is incredibly helpful at finding toys that fit your giftees age and interests as well as your budget.
Don’t Miss: Think globally, shop locally. Talk about one of a kind toys: here’s where you can stock up on locally made toys that you’ll kinda want to steal from your kids. Like the make your own terrarium, from Spitfire Girl, out of Los Feliz. Or Chase the Bunny’s dolls, of Etsy fame.
5363 Wilshire Blvd.
Big Kid Collectable Toy Mall and Retro Store
Take the kiddos along for a trip down memory lane at Big Kid Collectables where every toy you once loved and those you always coveted, like that Charlie’s Angels Lunchbox you never got, fill the packed shelves of vintage toys, metal lunchboxes and even old school candy and cereal. Introduce your little ones to the wonderful world of battery-free entertainment and splurge a bit to take home a little part of your childhood you can all enjoy.
Don’t Miss: Ask the clerk about the vintage soda machine and you’ll be granted a token for a sweet, classic refreshment, like Bubble Up or Dad’s Root Beer.
14109 Burbank Blvd.
What L.A. toy shops are you clamoring to go to as much as your pint-sized shoppers? Share your favorites in the comments!
—Written by Shahrzad Warkentin