Christmas in Chicago is a very magical time, but the magic I was there for was all contained to one place: The American Girl Store at Water Tower Place. I remember perusing the American Girl Doll catalogue every time it came to our house, dreaming that I had one of the dolls, specifically Kirsten. I’d read the catalogue as if it was a book, often there were little snippets of stories about each doll and where they came from. However, I never had a doll, and even if I did, I wouldn’t have been satisfied, I would want my doll to have ALL of the things.
Since my parents didn’t buy an American Girl Doll for me, one Christmas I convinced them to buy one for each of my daughters. Just as I suspected, my girls love their American Girl Dolls and they take them everywhere we go. I’ve been waiting for the perfect age to visit American Girl Place on the Magnificent Mile in Chicago.
American Girl Store at Water Tower Place
The store is a part of the Water Tower Place shopping mall, a huge space with many floors of stores, shops and activity centers, including the LEGO Store. From my perspective, American Girl Place is the anchor for this mall and holds a prominent position on the first and second floors.
The first floor of the American Girl Store is beautifully arranged to show off all of the dolls and their accoutrements, and oh boy, are there a bunch! We loved looking at every single accessory and ohhing and ahhing over every doll. The historical dolls, Truly Me Dolls, Girl of the Year, Bitty Baby and WellieWishers each had a special space in the store and were so fun to look at. There’s a perfectly arranged bookstore, little pods where children can step in to the backstory of specific dolls and even a hospital.
On the second floor, you’ll find our favorite spots, the American Girl Cafe, the American Girl Salon and even the Truly Me Signature Studio, where you can create a design for a doll outfit or backpack and come back for it the same day!
American Girl Doll Hospital
We had a ball point pen incident with my daughter’s doll a year ago and my research brought my to the Doll Hospital at American Girl. However, when you visit the store, there’s a doctor on hand who will visit with your doll as she lays on the mini examination table. She’ll have her eyes, ears and nose checked, her heart will be listened to, her limbs tapped on to check her reflexes and finally, she’ll receive a certificate of health with some doctor recommendations for getting well rested.
In the same area, dolls can step up for an eye exam and ultimately in some cases be fitted or glasses (great for those kiddos who wear glasses themselves), visit with the dentist and have an x-ray to determine if she needs crutches, a wheelchair or other medical devices. Our dolls both needed a pair of glasses. All of the above services are free, but any medical items needed must be purchased.
In the event of serious injury or other mishaps, American Girls can be checked in to the hospital (also available by mail) to receive new body parts, skin cleaning, limb tightening, replacement or reattachment and other necessary services. When the dolls are actually checked in to the hospital (services and return take a few weeks), they’ll come home in a hospital gown, with a hospital bracelet and a certificate of health.
American Girl Salon
We’ve had the toughest time keeping our doll’s hair in beautiful condition, so when I heard about the salon, I made an appointment for the dolls to get some beauty treatments during our visit. All of the services available for the dolls are also available for the real life visitors also.
Ear Piercing for American Girl Dolls
First, our dolls had their ears pierced. Gentle ear piercing is available for children as well. The dolls were taken away for a few moments to the ear piercing room and they returned with beautiful blue studs in their ears. We also took home a package with several other earring options. My kids were so excited about this. The earrings simply pop out and can be switched very easily.
Hair Styling for American Girl Dolls
Children can select from a plethora of doll (and girl) hairstyles on a tablet screen and then the dolls are seated in mini salon chairs and the hair stylist gets to work creating the beautiful hairstyle on your doll. Human sized chairs are also in the salon where human guests can have their hair styled to match.
Manicures and Pedicures for American Girl Dolls
While in the salon, American Girl Dolls and kids can get a manicure. The doll nail polish is easily applied and then washes right off with water. When you get a doll manicure or pedicure, you will purchase the nail polish to take home so you can polish her nails at home! Colors available were pink, purple and blue-green.
American Girl Cafe
Several years ago, when I was a new mom, I was in Chicago for work and I was invited to attend an amazing adults only party at the American Girl Store. The main event was dinner and drinks in the cafe. We were completely spoiled and treated to the whole experience, and I knew that as soon as my kids were a certain age (I didn’t know what age that would be since I was new at this), we would all come to the AG store together and eat in the cafe.
When you arrive, you can’t help but be blown away by the decor and the details at the cafe. Children (and adults) can retrieve a special chair for their doll and then attach it to the table so the doll is seated with them. If your child doesn’t have a doll of their own, loaner dolls are available to keep them company.
The menu is full of choices from hamburgers to salads, to a tea service. My kids were so excited to order bottomless hot cocoa with whipped cream and sprinkles. There’s an adult cocktail menu with AG inspired beverages like ____. The dessert is worth saving room for and if you have a birthday and purchase the birthday package, it’s extra special. Expect to spend about $20-30 per child and $30-40 per adult. If you’re a fan, this is a splurge you’ve got to go for!
All of the details just make me smile: napkins are tied with a pretty hair tie bow for you or your doll to take home, a small set of dishes is brought out for your doll and you get to take these home too! The experience is first class!
Our visit the The American Girl Place in Chicago was one for the memory books, and my kids are still talking about it and thanking me for the visit. It was everything I imagined it would be and more!