My American Girl-loving daughter had been to lunch at American Girl Place, but I hadn’t. Frankly, I wasn’t that excited about going. The whole American Girl experience seems so over-hyped. It’s why we haven’t written much about the American Girl company or the glitzy store at 111 E. Chicago Ave.But in the interests of thorough reporting (and to the delight of my daughter, Tess, 9), we headed downtown for tea and a show as the guests of American Girl. Now I’m a convert. Yes, the store is overrun with girls, their moms and grandmoms all burdened by red shopping bags. Yes, you can spend a fortune there. But you also can spend nothing and simply wander past the historical displays and let your daughter tell you about each of the dolls, who they are, when they lived and which accessories go with them. Then you can sit down (with your doll, if you remembered to bring it, or with a loaner doll if you didn’t) for a lovely tea with your favorite little girl. On the table is a small box of conversation starters. It includes questions such as “What is your biggest dream?” that might have been met with an eye roll from my very sophisticated 9-year-old if I had attempted to ask them outside of the magic of the American Girl Cafe.After tea, it was on to “The American Girls Revue.” These girls, ages 7-13 (and four adults), were incredibly talented and the show was impressive. The 75 minutes sped by as we watched these girls pretend to be members of an American Girls club introducing their dolls’ stories to a newcomer. It’s not cheap—tea is $16 per person and tickets to the show are $28. But, as we headed back out into a cold Chicago evening, my daughter was beaming and so was I. (For the complete listing, see page 110.)For reservations or information, call (877) 247-5223 or visit www.americangirlplace.com.Cindy Richards
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