Toy stores feel magical all year — but never more so than around the holidays. Some of us never really grow up, especially here in Austin, so there's no surprise that this city has fabulous local and long-lived toy stores. Hit up these six iconic shops for the holidays or any time.
Anna’s Toy Depot
Anna’s carries dress-up gear, tactile and sensory toys, puzzles, play animals, dollhouse families, hand puppets, and classic wooden toys — with an emphasis on non-tech, educational, and therapy play. An actual Anna, then a new mom, started the business in 1989, selling used toys directly to child care centers. The shop also sells (and buys) a large selection of second-hand toys.
Kids n Cats
Every nook and cranny in this Allandale store, open since 1991, is stuffed with, well, stuff. That includes stuffed animals, nature collectibles, figurines, ornaments, used books, wooden toys, action figures, and coloring books, plus a wild assortment of everything from kaleidoscopes to Slinkys — and, for the grownups, jewelry, incense, handbags, and cat toys.
King’s Hobby Shop
Open the doors to this nondescript building on North Lamar Boulevard, and you'll find entire miniature worlds. The shop specializes in model railroading, rocketry, slot car race tracks, airplane models, and toy soldiers. The staff knows its stuff, and King’s hosts game nights and diorama nights for those who want to build their own historic battles or imaginary kingdoms.
Over the Rainbow
Open since 1975, Over the Rainbow is the oldest independent toy store in Austin. The selection focuses on traditional toys, including classics such as dolls, tricycles, toy vehicles, stuffed animals, games, puzzles, art supplies, and craft kits, plus a large selection of children’s books. It's a good place to find high-end brands such as Steiff, Gund, and Douglas stuffed animals; Madame Alexander and Corolle dolls; and Breyer collectible horses.
Find everything from microscope and chemistry sets to dolls, swings, musical instruments, books (including those in multiple languages), games, building sets, art supplies, and kites in this large establishment, which recently celebrated 36 years in Austin. There's a knowledgeable staff, high-quality products, and plenty of demo toys for the kids try for themselves — and even a coffee bar for the grown-ups.
Austinites of all ages have been getting joy from this unique store since 1987. It recently moved from a funky corner building on Guadalupe Street to downtown, but it thankfully retained its literal floor-to-ceiling inventory of collectible, nostalgic, and off-beat toys and gifts (along with some of the usual suspects). This is a great place to find something for people of all ages.