Highlights Along the Way
Family Travel, Treats, Tips, & Traditions

A tween trip to the American Girl Doll Store

Disclosure: Thank you to American Girl Doll for hosting our lunch at the Los Angeles store. The girls spent more than enough of their birthday and chores money to get their parking validated too! Opinions are always our own.

My oldest turned twelve earlier this spring. Twelve. She’s in that transition phase where we are reminded daily with bittersweet reality that time is a thief.  All too often we don’t realize until it is gone that a stage has fully passed.  We’ve been more mindful this year about savoring these moments of childhood for as long as they are here. A trip to the American Girl Doll Store with two of her best girl friends was the perfect way to enjoy the sweet little girl phase that is still here.

American Girl Doll Store Los Angeles

This Summer we have committed to finding all the fun and losing the projects.  I mentioned before that I started classes last Spring and will continue in the Fall.  This Summer I am studying a lot, but not in class.  We are trying to make as many memories with our family as we can.  We are also trying to be more intentional about fostering quality friendships for our kids.  We’ve spent most of their childhoods in a constant state of ‘busy’ (some was unavoidable, but plenty of it wasn’t).  Unfortunately, we didn’t carve out a ton of time for playdates for our kids.  As you might have noticed, we are turning over new leaves in that area too!

Our daughter and two of her oldest friends are still knee-deep and unapoligetically in love with American Girl Dolls. While we know the day is coming that they will have more grown up interests, today is not that day. They read the books, they braid their hair, they make crafts, and anxiously await the catalogue. When we had the opportunity to visit the American Girll Doll Cafe and bring two friends, there was no hesitation!  Lu and Gi are always the first people she wants to join on special outings, and they were the perfect friends for this trip!

First stop – Starbucks for special drinks I typically say no to. All the tweens call me “Fun Mom”… they do you guys.


Some people are surprised that I fully embrace American Girl Dolls, despite the simple fact that the brand is pricier than other options.  In all honesty, I fought it for a while.  The first American Girl Doll my daughter owned was “Julie”, and we bought her second hand.  I watched how she treasured that doll. She loved her so much.  When we would go to the library, she always wanted American Girl books.  And three years ago she asked us if we would please take her to lunch at the American Girl Cafe in Los Angeles.  She had rehearsed her plea; “Please take me for my birthday just for lunch, I will save money to buy things, I won’t ask you to buy me any dolls.”  We brought our little saver and watched her happily part with several hundred dollars she had saved. She bought two dolls, accessories, and even brought her doll to the spa. She was nine years old then, and I remember thinking how fleeting that phase might be. She made it clear that American Girl was truly the only toy she was interested in. From then on out, we just embraced it! If our daughter still loves something as wholesome and sweet as old timey dolls, we encouraged it. One way she stretches her American Girl Doll dollars is by using AG Rewards.

American Girl Doll store at the grove in Los Angeles

At 12, American Girl is still a sweet retreat when life gets complicated and overwhelming. The American Girl Doll Store and Cafe in Los Angeles is about a three hour drive from our home in San Diego County.  There are several American Girl Doll Stores all over the country and I highly suggest a little road trip like this for any fan.  Three big girls and one tag a long little sister had the best day full of sweet memories. The ride was filled with chit chat, the license plate game, and silly songs.  It honestly flew by with excitement in the air.  They had looked forward to this day for months and it was finally here.

shopping american girl doll

American Girl fans might have noticed that J is wearing a vintage American Girl Doll Molly Dress!

All three big girls had been to the store before, but the excitement was as if they had never been!  The American Girl Doll store is the catalogue come to life.  Kids can see all the dolls available, books, accessories and play sets set up, and chat with other people that are just as excited as they are. The American Girl Doll Store is also where you can send a doll to the spa and even the doll hospital.

doll spa day

Pro Tip : If you are thinking of planning a trip, I highly suggest checking out the special events options on your store’s page.  A trip to American Girl will be fun no matter what, but there are so many extra touches to special events. Crafts, cupcake decorating, new doll releases, and holiday tradition special events happen at least a couple days out of every month. Events do vary in price, but many are fairly inexpensive.

Make sure to check out this video tour by our resident American Girl Doll expert….


american girl cafe

The American Girl Doll Cafe is upstairs.  After visiting the Cafe three years ago, I was personally very much looking forward to returning!  The restaurant is beautiful, the service is amazing, and the food is excellent.  Your doll is welcome to dine with you, and if you do not have your own doll, you can borrow one from the Cafe.  Little seats are provided and even small plates and cups. Little details like a special birthday chair and crafts make the deluxe birthday option even more magical.  Our girls felt like princesses the entire time!

I lost count of how many times I heard these sweet ladies say “Please” and “Thank You” and “Ahhhh soooo cute!”.  A magical time was had by all.  A trip to The American Girl Doll Store and Cafe is absolutely a splurge, but one we highly recommend.  This was a unique and sweet memory that we will tuck in our hearts forever.  Thank you American Girl, for this treasured day!

If you love American Girl – make sure to check out this fun American Girl Doll craft inspired by Nanea!




Until Next Time ~ Kate
Categories:  Products, Style and Products
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