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Thursday 3 April 2014

An American Girl Day Out

Today we finally got around to taking the girls out for lunch at the American Girl doll store. "Lunch in doll store?" I hear you say. Well, this isn't any ordinary doll store. This is the American Girl store and the American girl store has EVERYTHING! There's a bistro, a party space, a doll hair salon, a huge selection of accessories for dolls, and of course, the American Girl dolls themselves. 

Lola in the American Girl store

We've been promising to take the girls for lunch at the American Girl store ever since it opened up in Palo Alto back in October. As the store is still very new and the dolls are super popular, trying to get a reservation at the bistro has not been easy. We had hoped to take the girls there after Christmas when they received their very own look alike American Girl dolls from Santa. No luck. Then we tried to get a booking for Ava's birthday in early February. No luck. Then we just tried to get any date at all but couldn't get anything until the weekend I'm due to give birth! Hmm, probably not the best idea. Then I realised that Spring Break was coming up which gave us a little more flexibility with dates rather than just trying to book on a weekend. Eureka - we got ourselves a booking! I had expected Spring Break to be just as busy as weekends however not all school districts in the Bay Area take their break at the same time. For example, Berkeley is on Spring Break this week but Oakland and San Francisco are not even though they're right next door. Weird, huh?

Anyway, with our lunch booking made for the bistro the girls have been counting down the days. They were super excited when they woke up today knowing that they were finally heading to the American Girl store. Of course, I had been a little worried that the baby would decide to come four weeks early throwing a spanner in the works but she behaved and stayed put! 

Now, the girls weren't just excited about having lunch at the American Girl store, they were excited that they were finally able to spend the Christmas money (and birthday money for Ava) that they had received from family back home in Australia. They'd been hanging onto their cash for months waiting to buy outfits and accessories for their dolls. They were also excited that their dolls would be getting their ears pierced at the doll salon today too.

Palo Alto, although relatively close, isn't the easiest place to get to from Berkeley without a car. It took the girls and I almost two hours to get there by train. We caught BART all the way to the end of the line and then switched to the southbound Caltrain which took us to Palo Alto. We had never been on Caltrain before and the girls were quite surprised at how different to BART it was. Much more like Amtrak than a subway train. Big comfy seats, an upstairs seating area, a conductor, and (their favourite) on board toilets! And so much quieter. BART really is the noisiest train system you could possibly imagine. Kim had work today however he is able to work between two offices one of which is located in Mountain View, close to Palo Alto. He hopped on his bike and met us at the store just in time for lunch.
Loving the big comfy chairs on Caltrain

The girls and I arrived a little early for our lunch booking so we headed straight to the doll salon to get their dolls' ears pierced. I was really hoping that this would be done in the salon chairs that are set up for hair styling but unfortunately they do the piercing in a special machine out the back. Lola's doll has been suffering from incredibly messy hair for quite some time (due to being owned by a three year old!) so the salon staff very kindly tidied it up for us and tied it back in piggy tails just like Lola's hair. Lola was pretty pleased that her doll got to sit in one of the salon chairs. 

Lola's doll gets a hair make over

Ready to head into the bistro

Lunch at the American Girl bistro really is a fun event for little girls. Special hook on seats are set up at the table for your doll to sit at. If you don't have your own American Girl doll, they have a selection available to at bistro to borrow. This is perfect for dining with friends who may not have their own doll. The girls' dolls were given tiny tea cups and saucers so they didn't miss out on the lunch too! 

Ava and her doll Eva ready for lunch

Lola helps her doll Beaver (it rhymes with Eva!) with a cup of tea

The bistro offers a good range of your typical kid friendly fare. Burgers, mac & cheese, pizza, quesadillas, milkshakes, smoothies... All sized large enough for the accompanying adults to get a decent meal too. In fact, we had enough left over pizza and mac & cheese in a doggy bag that I didn't have to make dinner for Kim and the girls tonight!

Mmm... strawberry smoothie

That's a pizza for one!

As everything in the store is set up for girls to bring their own dolls with them, the bathrooms feature specially designed doll hooks. The girls were pretty excited to hang their dolls up on the hooks when they went to the bathroom after lunch! I've got to say that it's the little extra touches like this that make the American Girl store quite a nice place to visit. They really have thought of everything. 

Hanging on the doll hook in the bathroom!

After lunch Kim headed back to work and the girls and I went shopping. As they've had a few months to think about what sort of accessories and outfits they'd like to get for their dolls the girls pretty much knew exactly what they'd be buying before we arrived. Ava was keen to get the skateboard set, a backpack and a handbag for her doll, while Lola wanted a pet dog - and whatever Ava was buying! Surprisingly Lola wasn't too bothered by the fact that Ava had more money to spend than she did. I had expected her to be upset that Ava could choose more things seeing as she also had birthday money but it turns out that Lola was just so excited by her own purchases (the dog and a rollerskating set) that she didn't mind.

Lola points out the rollerskating outfit and dog that she wanted

Pointing out the mini dolls we purchased on our first visit last year

I'm glad the girls didn't realise that this was a punch buggy. No punches for me!

Lola poses with Isabelle, the ballet dancing Girl of the Year for 2014. Each year there is a new Girl of the Year doll released along with an accompanying movie (hence the cut out of a real girl), books and accessories.

Ava's purchases included the skateboarding set, a sleeping bag and pillow so her doll can be cosy at night, a school backpack complete with notebooks, pens, water bottle etc and an accessory set including a denim jacket, beret, handbag and play money. Ava had also been keen to get a pet dog for her doll but I had already purchased this online for her earlier when it was on super, duper sale a few weeks back.

A shopping bag each, please!

All shopped out

On our way to the American Girl store we had spotted the Easter Bunny posing for photos with children in another part of the shopping center. The girls had been looking forward to going back to meet him after we'd finished at the American Girl store. Luckily the Easter Bunny was still there so the girls and their dolls stopped for a visit.

Meeting the Easter Bunny

A few hours and two trains later we were back home and the girls were ready to play with their new purchases. Lola was like a little kid on Christmas morning opening her purchases. She almost seemed surprised with each thing that she pulled out of the boxes as if she had no idea what would be contained inside.

Lots of boxes to open

Roller skates!

It's a dog!

The girls with their skating dolls 

All dressed up in their new outfits

The girls had such a lovely time at the American Girl store today. It was nice to be able to do something with them that was just for them before the baby comes along. In just four weeks time they're sure to be fighting for my attention so I'm glad we were able to do something that was really all about them - no baby stuff at all.

If you've got little doll loving girls in your house I really recommend a visit to the American Girl store. You just might want to leave the credit card at home though!


  1. Since I have 3 boys, I don't have many opportunities to go in this kind of place;-) But last year while we were in New York city we went to (visit) the American Girl store on fifth avenue and I was amazed by all the stuff in this store! I wish that store exist when I was a little girl ;-)

    1. They really do have everything you could possibly imagine for a doll in these stores!


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