It may be hard for kids to believe, but there was a time when Thomas the Train and princess dolls did not exist. Take a trip to the days of yesteryear and show your kids what “old school” looks like at the San Diego Toy and Doll Museum. This Poway museum lets kids and adults explore the history of their own toys at home, and then enjoy playtime together while learning about the dolls and toys on display.

san diego toy museum

About the Museum
Each room in the museum has a theme of toys on display. In the doll room, adults and kids can learn about dolls, including the origin of dolls, different cultures’ influences and the different ways dolls have been played  with throughout history. Visitors can see first-hand the transformation of dolls throughout the years as they progress along the display cases. There are several dollhouses on display at kid level height so all ages can get a glimpse of the intricate detail in the vintage toys. Plaques, signs and several videos throughout the museum engage and educate as you progress throughout the displays. Other exhibits include model cars, Star Wars figurines, Victorian era toys and even bride dolls.

girl legos toy museum

Make the Most of Playtime
For younger kids, the San Diego Toy and Doll Museum offers two interactive play zones. One is located In the LEGO room, where older kids and adults can learn about the history of the toy, marvel at LEGO displays from throughout the years, and learn fun facts about the company. Everyone from toddlers on up will enjoy playing with the interactive LEGO display, which runs the space of an entire wall. Imagination soars free as kids and adults can create an entire world, spell words and make murals all made from LEGO pieces!

The other interactive display is in the back room of the museum. That’s where the minions can play with vintage dolls, plastic and wooden dollhouses, barns and even a Barbie camper van! There are a few infant-appropriate toys as well, making the Doll and Toy museum a great place to play for kids of all ages.

girl play toy museum

Wondering What Your Old Toys Are Worth?
Feeling curious as to what your own toys might be worth? It’s hard not to wonder after wandering through rooms of vintage dolls and toy model cars each worth several figures. Visitors are welcome to peruse through the collection of books (located on the back wall of the play area) to find out how much their own childhood toys are worth. The book collection contains two books —Toys and Prices and Collecting Toys — which are your best bets on finding an accurate assessment and brief history on the pricing of childhood memorabilia.

If you feel inspired to expand your kiddo’s toy collection, check out the gift store located inside the museum. Young visitors are welcome to bring home their own toys to play with, including everything from coloring books and dolls to building blocks or balls.

bear dolls toy museum

Tips for Visiting the Museum
Ready to visit the museum? Here are a few insider tips:

  • Admission: $2/adult; free/kids 3 and under
  • The museum is not located directly on Midland Road. Look for the yoga studio and drive past the first row of buildings. It’s located in the second row of buildings, with plenty of free parking between the building complexes.
  • While there are several interactive displays, the rest of the museum is very much hands off. Little ones who can’t keep their hands to themselves will do best in the LEGO Room and the back play room with adult supervision.
  • The front desk staff will answer all your questions and is eager to help everyone enjoy their visit.

San Diego Toy and Doll Museum
14031 Midland Rd.
Poway, Ca 92064
858-486-1446
Online: sdtoyanddollmuseum.org

Have you visited the San Diego Toy and Doll Museum? What are your kids’ favorite toys, and what do you want to learn more about?

— Bryn Wied (photos too)