The biggest thrill on Christmas morning is the shrieks and smiles when the kids tear into their packages. But Lego kits and Barbie dolls all start to look the same after a while. If you’re on the hunt for unique gifts that will thrill the littles, check out these mom & pop toy stores for some holiday surprises  that will really light those little faces up!

photo: 5712495 via Pixabay

Barston’s Child’s Play

If you want the biggest selection of toys, Barston’s Child’s Play is the place to go. Their enormous variety is perfectly curated include high quality, good value, fun toys to be cherished for years to come.

Insider tip: their book section is also outstanding, and the staff will make recommendations if you ask.

Barston’s Child’s Play
5536 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC
202-244-3602

Online: childsplaytoysandbooks.com

photo: congerdesign via Pixabay

Labyrinth Games & Puzzles

Labyrinth Games & Puzzles offers the largest selection of board games and puzzles in the DMV. From beginners to experts, ages 1-100, there is sure to be a game here that everyone will love.

Insider tip: you can play demos of many of the games before you buy them right in the store!

Labyrinth Games & Puzzles
645 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Washington, DC
202-544-1059

Online: labryinthgameshop.com

photo: John N. via Yelp

One Two Kangaroo Toys

One Two Kangaroo has been in business for nearly half a decade, and that experience shows. Tell the owner a little info about your budget, who you’re buying for and the occasion, and they’ll give you a personalized recommendation that is incredible.

Insider tip: The space is super cramped and tight, so strollers might not fit.

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One Two Kangaroo Toys
4022 Campbell Ave
Arlington, VA 22206
703-845-9099

Online: facebook.com

 

photo: Henry M. via Yelp

Dancing Bear

This adorable shop in Frederick, MD is worth the drive. They have tons of unique, free classes like ukulele Sundays (the last Sunday of the month) or the annual make-your-own PIckle Day. t’s Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium come to life! The best part? All of the toys featured at this downtown shop require no batteries.

Insider tip: from Nov. 29-Dec. 18 you can drop off your kids’ letters to Santa and get a response! Just remember to include your address.

Dancing Bear
15 East Patrick Street
Frederick, MD 21701
301-631-9300

Online: dbeartoys.com

photo: Skitterphoto via Pixabay

Fair Day’s Play

Fair Day’s Play offers high quality toys that are all fair-trade or union-made. They also stock unique, beautifully crafted toys from Germany and Sweden, and lots of real wood toys with no lead paint worries.

Insider tip: the hours are sometimes unpredictable. You might want to call before you head out to make sure they’re open.

Fair Day’s Play
7050 Carroll Ave
Takoma Park, MD
301-270-4999

Online: facebook.com

photo: Transcendence-Perfection-Bliss of the Beyond via Yelp

Transcendence-Perfection-Bliss of the Beyond

This store lives up to its unique, zen-like name. If you’re looking for books, stickers, and other toys that are more tranquil than turbulent, this is the place for you. They have a selection of toys, books, and craft supplies that are perfect for quiet, relaxing play.

Insider tip: they also have candles and other gift items, so you can knock more than just the kids off your shopping list here.

Transcendence-Perfection-Bliss of the Beyond
3428 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC
(202) 363-4797

Online: transcendence-perfection-bliss.com

photo: PitBull D. via Yelp

Ayers Variety and Hardware

Yes, Virginia, you can still buy toys at the hardware store! Step inside this general store and go back to a day when you could pick up some fun toys and penny candy without emptying your wallet. Ayers is the perfect place to shop for stocking stuffers or old school gifts like model kits and Radio Flyer ride-on toys.

Insider tip: Santa often visits on weekends.

Ayers Variety and Hardware
5853 N Washington Blvd
Arlington, VA 22205
703-538-5678

Online: facebook.com

photo: Liza M. via Yelp

Tugooh’s Toys

Tugooh’s Toys offers eco-friendly educational toys, keeping toxic chemical compounds away from little hands. From beautiful wooden toys to stuffed animals to books, you can complete your shopping list in one trip.

Insider tip: the selection for infants is limited.

Tugooh’s Toys
1426 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC
202-338-9476

Online: tugoohtoys.com

photo: Andy B. via Yelp

Sullivan’s Toy Store & Art Supplies

The oldest toy store still operating in DC is small but densely packed with toys, books, games and activity kits. Many of the items are educational, too. They also carry lots of art supplies and project materials.

Insider tip: they offer complimentary gift-wrapping.

Sullivan’s Toy Store & Art Supplies
4200 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC
202-362-1343

Online: facebook.com

 

—Wendy Miller

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