Birthdays, holidays and “I just wanted to surprise you” days all call for a unique toy for the beloved child in your life. Ditch the malls and big box stores. Local business owners know what families really need. Next time you go searching for that extra-special something for that extra-special someone in your life, try one of these cool, local shops. We’ve rounded up the best places to buy toys in town. Read on to find out more!

photo: Geoanne Millares via flicker

Finnegans Toys & Gifts

If you grew up in Portland, you may have gotten your own Lego set here—the store has been around since 1977! It has stood the test of time and still bursts at the seams with puzzles, plushies, music instruments, play sets, books, and more. You might get lost in the rows of fun things to do, but the whole family will be so busy playing with things no one will even notice. It’s truly a place that’s best to take your time exploring. Bonus: they validate downtown parking for purchases over $20!

Mon. – Sat., 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sun., 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
820 SW Washington St.
Portland, OR

Kids at Heart

A long-standing part of Hawthorne street, Kids at Heart delivers with excellent selection of stuffed animals, play sets, books, trains, and more. Their eye toward quality extends to bigger brands like Lego and Playmobil and to smaller ones like German HABA wooden toys. The selection of sticker books is a winning destination, as is the cozy book room in back. From toddlers to almost-teens, this store has got you covered. Be sure to come back regularly for their Loyalty Club (hint: it’s the perfect way to get birthday party gifts!).

Mon. – Sat., 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Sun., 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
3445 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
Portland, OR

photo: Made You Look via Yelp

Made You Look

Made You Look has a year-long history of charming all their visitors. Offering a bi-weekly story and craft time, a crawl-through tunnel, a teepee, and a firm policy of playing with things in the store, the store attracts young to old. Toys range from yarn rattles for babies to a build-your-own speaker kit for ages 8+, and even classics like a Koosh ball and googly-eye glasses. Everything is chosen with an impeccable eye toward quality, craftsmanship and of course. fun. Oh, and don’t forget quarters for the airplane ride, blasting off with an awesome rendition of “Danger Zone!”

Mon., Wed.-Sat. 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sun. 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

2418 East Burnside St.
Portland, OR

Black Wagon

Located on Mississippi, Black Wagon is a small store with some big options. Your little one can grill up some burgers on the play kitchen in the back while you browse their selection of Winter Water Factory pajamas and Vans shoes. Or, try out the tiny catapult after picking out your favorite silly book (our pick is the A-Z of Monsters or an issue of the beautiful Illustoria Magazine). If you can’t make it all the way into the store, check out their online shop!

Mon. – Fri., 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Sat., 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Sun., 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
3964 N Mississippi Ave.
Portland, OR

photo: hello via yelp

Hello! Good Morning!

This small store is completely chock full of fun and whimsy. You might notice the giant paper-mache whale hanging from the ceiling: the fun flows down from him fins and inspires every corner of this colorful store. Owned and curated by a former animator at Laika, Hello urges customers to Please Touch Everything. Whether it’s playing with finger puppets, finding the perfect shade of washi tape, picking from the colorfully curated books, or building your own pinhole camera, you can’t help but smile in here.

Wed. – Sun., 11 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Mon. & Tues., closed
2419 NE Broadway St.
Portland, OR

Spielwerk Toys

Spielwerk was founded on the idea that playing is the “werk” of childhood, and kids need the best tools for the job. Many of their toys are sourced from Europe for the highest quality materials (though they also carry high-quality US-made toys as well), like the wooden Haba toys, and Grimm’s Spiel and Holz. You’ll find a large play area up front, complete with kitchen to try out your choice of puzzles, musical instruments, games, blocks, and more. Imaginations rejoice!

Mon. – Sat., 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sun., 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
3808 N Williams Ave #121
Portland, OR

photo: crystal via yelp


A favorite on Alberta Street, this store is always ready to inspire with the perfect gift (they do gift-wrapping, too!) It’s neatly separated into attractive sections so you can easily find what you’re looking for. Baby items are up front, puzzles and games are to the right, the cozy book section is straight back, and the fun is all around! From wooden kites to princess puzzles, a foundational chemistry kit to a mushroom rattle, it’s a cinch to find the perfect thing for the perfect kid here. And if you’re stuck deciding–ask. They know what they’re doing.

Sun. & Mon., 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Tues. – Sat., 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
1816 NE Alberta St.
Portland, OR

The Yo! Store

This store is an enigma. Can it be called a kids store with really cool women’s things, or a women’s store with just enough interesting thing for kids? You’ll have to be the judge, but either way, it’s a great destination for baby showers, wedding showers, kid and adult birthday parties, or any excuse to get out. You’ll find kids books, stylish nursery lights, bibs and bonnet, toys from the visually pleasing Kid O brand, and even tiny jean jackets with hip patches. Older kids might appreciate the temporary tattoos and cat ear hair clips, and the oldest visitors might come away with a cactus in a sweet ceramic pot or some new hoop earrings.

Tues.-Fri. 11 a.m.- 5 p.m.
Sat.-Sun. 10:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

935 NW 19th Ave
Portland, OR

—Katrina Emery


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