Unique Toy Stores in Marin

October 27, 2014

Toy CrazyHere in Marin, we're fortunate to able to frequent many unique and often independent locally owned toy stores. A place to take the kids while looking for the 20th birthday gift of the year. A place where the person behind the counter is usually the owner, a member of the owner’s family, or a longtime manager who knows everything there is to know about toys. There are usually samples out and about, great for playing, and there are items guaranteed to bring back a major sense of nostalgia.

Yes, the toy store of yore—some still exist! They’ve managed to survive the arrivals of gigantic retail monsters who’ve plopped themselves down in a cool 20,000 square feet of space in a strip mall somewhere down the road. So next time you need a gift, a new addition to the household toy inventory, or just maybe a half an hour of peace, hit up one of these super cool spots. Not only will you be supporting a local business, but the kiddos will have a blast to boot.

  • Five Little Monkeys
    852 Grant Ave, Novato 94945
    (415) 898-4411

    www.5littlemonkeys.com
    Starting at the northern tip of Marin, nestled in cozy downtown Novato is Five Little Monkeys and this shop means toy business. Their goal is to give the community a unique selection of toys in a safe and fun environment. From puppets and dolls to dress-up and bikes, there is something for kids of every age. Be sure to check out new arrivals like the All Season Dollhouse or the Bananagrams game. In a hurry? Five Little Monkeys has a fantastic gift wrapping service.
  • Dollhouses, Trains & More
    300 Entrada Drive, Novato 94949
    www.dollhousestrainsandmore.com
    This massive hobby and toys shop off 101 in Novato is a blast to visit. While it's focus is—surprise!—doll houses and trains, they also have an extensive selection of high-quality toys, including LEGO, Playmobil, plush animals, and model kits. The whole family will be amazed by the huge detailed model train layouts and dollhouse displays in the store. Don't miss the Halloween and Christmas lighted displays (on view year-round), the popcorn machine, and the player piano!
  • A Child's Delight
    190 Northgate One Shopping Center, San Rafael 94903
    105 Corte Madera Town Center, Corte Madera 94925
    www.achildsdelight.com

    A Child’s Delight is an independently owned mini-chain, and still way cool. Two out of three shops are north of the Golden Gate, with stores at Northgate One in Terra Linda and Town Center in Corte Madera. Filled to the brim with old school and educational toys and a little bit of everything else, be prepared for a major melt down when trying to actually leave the premises. It ain’t gonna be easy! FYI parents: If you just don’t have the time to stop in, check out their brand new website, where shopping online can still mean buying locally.
  • Fairfax Variety
    61 Broadway, Fairfax 94930
    (415) 457-2580

    Fairfax always has some sort of fun offering and Fairfax Variety doesn’t disappoint. It’s a shout-out to the classic five-and-dime shops that used to line Main Streets and, although the toy selection isn’t super big, there are some fun joke gifts, stamp sets, and even a variety of classic books. Many an afternoon could be spent here, following a trip to the park and the ever popular Fairfax Scoop.
  • Toy Crazy
    Marin Country Mart
    2211 Larkspur Landing Circle, Larkspur 94939
    gotoycrazy.com
    The Norcal outpost of a small LA-based chain, Toy Crazy at Marin Country Mart offers unique toys and games, a knowledgable staff, and a fun atmosphere. Swing by when you're shopping for groceries at the farmer's market. Toy Crazy has been in the toy biz for over three decades, so they've had time to fine-tune their selection to represent only the best and most fun toys out there.
  • Toy World
    2094 Redwood Highway
    Greenbrae 94904
    www.toyworldmarin.com
    Toy World, which moved a few years ago to a large space on Redwood Highway, is the perfect way to make an afternoon of errands seem a little extra special. Stop off at Trader Joe’s, get the car washed and then head to Toy World, where in the back of the store there's a huge mat loaded with tons of toys for testing and trying out. Family-owned with toy ranging from eco-friendly dump trucks to collectibles such as the Breyer horse line, the kiddos will want to make a return trip in no time.
  • ToyHouse Mill Valley
    515 Miller Avenue, Mill Valley 94941

    www.toyhousemillvalley.com
    In Mill Valley, you'll find ToyHouse, which is owned by a Mill Valley mom and offers toys for kids ages 0–14. ToyHouse offers complimentary gift wrapping (and they do a great job at it!), and a train table for the kids to play at while you shop.
  • Discovery Store
    Bay Area Discovery Museum
    557 McReynolds Rd, Sausalito 94965
    www.baykidsmuseum.org
    A little bit out of the way but definitely worth checking out is the Discovery Store, located inside the Bay Area Discovery Museum. They stock toys related to the current exhibits as well as super cool stuff like that mysterious Shape-It Sand and make-your-own-volcano kits. The best part? Members enjoy 10% off total purchases.

Thanks to Gabrielle Cullen for contributing to this article.