My new favorite toy store, and other thoughts about playing in Chicago

I cringe at the thought of a visit to Toys R Us. In fact, I can probably count on both hands the number of times I’ve gone in one. The endless aisles of plastic toys made in China, the hundreds of Lego options that will certainly end up stabbing me in the bottom of my foot as I kiss my boy goodnight, the often-violent video games, the mass commercialism…yuck. No, thanks!

But play, the toy store in Logan Square? Wonderful! Ann, the owner, has a fabulous flair for stocking her adorable store with high-quality, unique toys. Parents and kids alike will enjoy the cool finds that range from 50 cents to several hundred dollars.

The store is decorated with original artwork from local artists, including my absolute favorite print that I’ve posted for you all to see! Each plush toy is somehow unique. Play offers gift wrapping and handily creates party favors, too.

The dress-up section is centered around Ann’s father’s dresser from when he was a baby, and his crib is also a fixture in the store (which I found to be incredibly sweet). Doors have been turned into tables. Church pews have been turned into bookshelves! I really loved the artistic attention to detail that made this store so special.

But my favorite was the fantastic children’s book section. I spent a long time reminiscing over some of our family’s favorites and discovering perfect gift options for the future. I’ve heard that their story time is rockin’, with kids filling up the whole place! I will definitely back to shop for more!

While visiting, Ann and I also brainstormed about some cool family events for the future! Multilingual Chicago will be offering Spanish classes starting soon, and One Fit Mama will be offering a six-week fitness session for families in May and June for just $60. We’re also planning a Family Night Out, as well as a lunch-n-learn seminar for the summer. I’m beyond excited to PLAY!! And I’m feeling more and more at home in Chicago.

My one caveat – parking was iffy for me. I found some free parking on Logan Boulevard, after learning that the parking spots in front of the store were all 15-minute loading zones. But I later learned that there is plenty of metered parking on Milwaukee. Phew!

I’m new here…tell me about your favorite local Mom and Pop-type shops that cater to families!

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