Encourage amazing area small business owners while indulging in a little playtime with the kiddos at D.C.’s best toy stores. Skip the big, impersonal experience at chain stores and slip out to something with a little hometown feel. These exciting stores, some new, some with decades in the area, promise everything from education to entertainment in stores that’ll keep the kids engaged for hours.
Doodlehopper 4 Kids
228 W. Broad St.
Falls Church, VA 22046
7521 Huntsman Blvd.
Springfield, VA 22153
Voted Best Toy Boutique by “NOVAMagazine,” Doodlehopper 4 Kids has been in the toy business for the past 20 years, even expanding to a second location due to its popularity. With a variety of toys for any age, take advantage of its registry for the next big family holiday. Simply visit the store within three weeks of the party, and its friendly staff with help your child fill out his or her wish list. Its wide variety of educational toys make this place a favorite for parents as well as kids. Spend hours playing at the train table, or just snag super reasonably priced toys any time. Check its website often for free in-store events, it is known for artist and educator demonstrations throughout the month.
CBS D.C. Insider Tip: As a bonus, enjoy free gift wrapping and coupons for Birthday Club members.
Kinder Haus Toys
1220 N. Fillmore
Arlington, VA 22201
Thirty years ago, Kinder Haus Toys opened its doors for business, making it one of the oldest locally owned toy stores in the Northern Virginia area. This unique store is a 2-in-1 option, with children’s books and DVDs on one side and games and toys on the other. Encourage your child to read by visiting Kinder Haus at 10:30 a.m. on Mondays and Fridays for story time. Its most popular selection of toys is the Uncle Goose Alphabet Wagon, which incorporates sign language, Chinese, Arabic and Hebrew and the Fun Straw Construction Set. Back by popular demand, Sophie the Giraffe laughs when she is squeezed. Its phenomenal clothing section includes Tea, Zutano, Absorba and Le Top.
CBS D.C. Insider Tip: Be sure to bring the kids for visits here, even if you’re buying gifts, as frequent visits by Moses, the giant cuddly dog, provide the perfect distraction.
42395 Ryan Rd.
Ashburn, VA 20148
19352 Promenade Dr.
Leesburg, VA 20176
Go Bananas is fairly new store with a great reputation. This family-run shop was created to fill a void, a need for fun, educational toys. Go Bananas prides itself on being a unique and innovational alternative to the typical big box toy store. Its Birthday Vault, an absolute must for new customers, is a great hands-on approach to involving children in their birthday celebrations. Birthday boys and girls handpick their gifts, which are saved in the Birthday Vault awaiting purchase by the party guests. Expect abundant options in the science section, with everything from geodes to chemical and electrical sets to worm farms. For children with the creative bug, try the arts and crafts section section.
CBS D.C. Insider Tip: Save money if you’re a frequent flyer here by joining Go Bananas’ customer club for Banana Bucks.
Sullivan’s Toys and Art Supplies
4200 Wisconsin Ave.
Washington, DC 20016
Sullivan’s Toy and Art Supplies Store began in the district in 1954. After moving into a larger location, its offerings have increased tenfold, always working with the most innovative toys, including those from the Toy Fair in New York. Sullivan’s most fun feature, though, is an area catered to awesome building sets including Play Mobil and Legos. Its ample supply of art materials can accommodate everyone’s talent levels. Expect fun surprises including shark week, perfect for those aquarium crazy little ones, and novelty items including Spikeletz and Angry Bird Hats.
Labyrinth Games and Puzzles
645 Pennsylvania Ave. Southeast
Washington, DC 20003
Labyrinth Games and Puzzles is truly a gem on Capitol Hill. One of the few electronics-free, educational toy stores in the area, it features a wide variety of wooden puzzles, mazes, board games and brain teasers for all ages. Most of its products are handmade by U.S. artisans or fair-trade importers. Its website features an ongoing rotation of family-friendly events to keep everyone visiting, even when it’s not new toy time. Expect everything from Dungeons and Dragons on select nights to game nights on Thursdays. Community involvement is high on its priority list. Every month, Labyrinth gives an educational game or puzzle to the school that wins its favorite school contest.
Carly Mannava is a freelance writer living in the Washington, D.C. Metro Area. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.