Sure, trains were the hot new mode of transportation in 1875, but according to your kids, the buzz hasn’t yet worn off. And for the little engine-obsessed, there is nothing better than a train table—a little imaginary world standing squarely at your kiddo’s level. We’ve rounded up welcoming Bay Area stores that not only sell train tables but have them out for all to enjoy—perfect for children with choo-choo on the brain and parents in need of a few free minutes to shop.
Ambassador Toys is an institution. With three locations across the Bay Area, these toyshops are best known for their unique collections of educational toys, many of which are wooden. Walk into any Ambassador Toys and you will be wowed by color and an endless assortment of awesome playthings. It’s amazing for those who love variety but a little dangerous for excited kids who could easily knock down hundreds of items within minutes. Enter the train table! Set up at the West Portal and Palo Alto locations, Ambassador Toys’ train tables are available to play on for free and to purchase for $199.
186 West Portal Ave.
San Francisco, Ca
Hours: Daily 10 a.m.–7 p.m
Town & Country Village
855 El Camino Real, #33
Palo Alto, Ca
Hours: Mon.–Fri., 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Five Little Monkeys
Toys ‘R Us got you thinking Elsa is the only toy ever created? Burlingame’s Little Monkeys is the cure. While the store is intimate, it offers thoughtful favorites organized by age, with doll, truck, book and dress up sections (an not a Frozen character in sight). A fun marble maze greets visitors short and tall followed by a few play pianos and then the super-popular train table. Even after multiple visits and purchasing nearly everything in your child’s age-range, you will find reason to return, if only for the fun. Plus, the Burlingame Train Station is less than a block away from the store so there’s a good chance you will hear the horn on your way in or out. The Thomas the Train Island of Sodor Table is $249.
1111 Burlingame Ave.
Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Good to know: Peninsula parents will be happy to know there are Five Little Monkeys in Albany, Novato, and Walnut Creek too!
Photo credit: G N. via Yelp
Talbots is the Disneyworld of toy stores, exciting people of every age and interest. Like hobbies? There’s a room for that. How about dolls? An entire wing is lined with play babies and collectables alike. Are you into bikes? There is a dedicated space (and separate entrance to Talbot’s Cyclery) to feed your need for outdoor speed. And then there’s the main store: Once you walk through the stuffed animals, arts and crafts, books, dress up, balls, and baby gear, you will find an area for kids to crawl through a ladybug tunnel, play house in any one of many structures, hula hoop, or go loco with motives at the train table. The great news about Tablots’ train table and play section is your kids will forget whatever they were demanding you buy them; the bad news is that you may never get to leave. Talbots offers a trio of train tables for purchase: The Thomas the Train Island of Sodor Table at $249, Brio Railway Set with Play Table at $199, and the Step Two Deluxe Train and Track Table at $99.
445 S B St.
San Mateo, Ca
Hours: Mon.-Sat., 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Learning Express Toys
Chase your kids straight to the back in this store and then get ready to relax. You will find tons of toys for them to enjoy, including a Thomas the Train table. Once your littles are happily choo chooing, discover a space packed with skill builders, imagination inciters, and adventure starters. Game on! Complimentary gift-wrapping, a friendly staff, and regular crafts and toy demos by storeowners add to the appeal of this top shop. The Nilo Train Table is $239.99.
1350 El Paseo De Saratoga
San Jose, Ca
Hours: Mon. – Fri., 10 a.m.-7 p.m. ; Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
The Wooden Horse
Want to get nostalgic and make sure your kids are on board? Head to The Wooden Horse for train table shenanigans, piano ballads and toys that stand the test of time. This well-organized shop is separated by age group on separate walls plus areas for traditional girls’ toys, kinetic toys, small toys and model toys. The Nilo Train Table is $229.99 while the PlanToys Train Table is $249.
796 Blossom Hill Rd.
Los Gatos, Ca
Hours: Mon.–Fri., 10 a.m.-7 p.m. ; Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Photo credit: PlayintheSouthbay.com
A Child’s Delight
A Child’s Delight is home to all the classic toys we played with (or our parents played with) as kids—dolls, trucks, trains, puzzles, Lego’s, bristle blocks, wagons, stuffed animals, and more—making it a delight for parents, as well. It’s one of many toy stores in Corte Madera’s Town Center, but offers more of a boutique, family-owned feel than others. In addition to train sets, train pieces, train puzzles, train books, and train whistles, A Child’s Delight has a train table and a Duplo table set-up for play. And if there are too many conductors at the helm, you can always head to the front of the store where a tent invites a game of hide-and-seek. A Child’s Delight carries the Thomas the Train Table with playboard decorated with cheerful landscape for $399.99 as well as the Nilo Train Table for $269.99 in dark wood and $219.99 in light wood.
105 Corte Madera Town Center
Corte Madera, Ca
Hours: Mon.–Fri., 10 a.m.–8 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
A Child’s Delight also has a small but equally enchanting store in San Francisco and a second Marin outpost in San Rafael.
Photo credit: 365ThingsMarin.com
The Ark Store
Aptly named, this two-story toy store is best known for the wooden ark full of stuffed animals taking center stage. The place is pretty awesome, albeit chaotic, with a drum set on one wall, Grumpy Cat sitting amidst a selection of Gund stuffed animals, a rainbow mural, monster magnets and a train set. Rare collectables and seasonal décor make this a must-visit spot for aficionados and passersby alike. Being Berkeley, there are also many a mood ring to choose from. The Thomas the Train Table is $279.99.
1812 4th St.
Hours: Daily, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.
The Ark Toy Store also has two locations in San Francisco.
Last but not least is Play Café. It’s not a toy store but you can buy a coffee and sit back and relax (or get something good to eat – lots of organic bites to choose from!) while your children play around the perimeter. Play Café is about as kid-friendly as it gets with dollhouses, ride-on toys, tool sets, dress up, a theater area, ball pit and an awesome train table with playboard. Play Café is intended for infants to kids up to five years old though older children and adults of all ages are welcome to come in for some yum and fun. It’s a cool place to host a birthday party for your favorite conductor too!
4400 Keller Ave., Ste. 410
Hours: Mon., 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; Tues.–Fri., 9:30 a.m.–3 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.–1 p.m./parties after 2 p.m.; Sund., parties all day
Do you have a favorite spot to get your train table fix?