American Girl Store

The two Our Kids interns ages 11 and 9 have been anxiously awaiting the opening of the American Girl store in Tysons Corner and to celebrate the youngest’s birthday, we went for a visit.

The Bistro

To start, we had lunch at the American Girl Bistro, located on the upper level of the store. We recommend that you make reservations for your visit. They do offer walk up seating, but only if available. Reservations at this popular destination will help ensure you don’t have disappointed children.

Both kids and adults will be able to select from a good variety of options. Lunch and dinner are $16.50/person which does not include tax and gratuity. Kids 4 and under are $7.50/person. Lunch includes an appetizer plus main entree. We had warm pretzel bites, fresh fruit platter and warm artichoke dip for our appetizers. For lunch we had a mini hamburger/hot dog combo, macaroni and cheese, grilled salmon salad and pesto chicken sandwich. Sweet treats and drinks are available for an additional charge. You can view a sample menu online.

As an aside, if you’ve been to the New York City location things here are a little different. For a price of $24 for lunch you get an intro of warm cinnamon buns, followed by an appetizer, your main entree, dessert and a drink. Pricing is a bit more for the NYC lunch experience, however we enjoyed the ambiance and experience more.

We visited the Tysons Corner Bistro a few weeks after the grand opening, so restaurant service was still getting tweaked. Everything worked, but it didn’t seem smooth and polished yet (selections weren’t available that day, but then they were etc.) Based on several visits to the NYC store, I’d imagine that the Tysons store will be a star performer in no time.

The American Girl Store

Many a little girls dream – a visit to the American Girl store. Covering two large floors, the store features all of the current dolls available plus a large section devoted to the Girl of the year doll. This year it’s Kanani who is from Hawaii.

The top floor is home to the Girl of the year and the historical characters. The downstairs level has clothing, accessories and the My American Girl line. (These are dolls that look like you and have access to Innerstar University, an online portal just for kids.) You can also go to the doll hair salon or make matching Creativi-Tees™ for you and your doll. There was also a small section devoted to the Bitty Baby® line for children ages 3 and up.

When my daughters first got interested in American Girl I was hesitant. The dolls and accessories are expensive. In fact my oldest daughter had to save her money and pay for her own (which she always reminds us about!) to prove to us that it was something she really wanted and would take care of. Fast forward 5 years and several dolls later and the girls still love and play with their dolls – everything from school to fashion show to adventuring. It’s led to a lot of creative play and it’s always a pleasure to listen to their pretend games. If you still get a kick out of hearing your children say “Pretend that…” then American Girl is probably worth the investment.

I must also say that their interest in the stories of the girls has expanded into a fair amount of history (which usually elicits eye-rolling and cries of “boring, Dad!”) Each doll is featured in a series of books which accurately portray the period they are from (the Revolution, the Civil War, Pre-Settlement Plains and Victorian America, the early 20th Century, the Depression or World War II). Between the books and “afterschool special” movie series, our girls have learned a lot, and even related fictional American Girl accounts to their class work.

So with that said, be prepared. The dolls generally are $100 in their first set of clothes. Wardrobe changes and other accessories you can splurge on will have Dad in tears in no time. Have a game plan – help your kids set expectations, set a budget and use this to reinforce the concept of opportunity cost. Our Kids recommends the American Girl doll line for children ages 6 and up.

Additional Things to Note

  • The Bistro offers birthday party celebrations which you need to reserve ahead of time. Call 877.247.5223.
  • Restrooms with changing tables are available throughout the store.
  • Special events are held in-store that are generally free of charge. Check their website for a full schedule or if you’re an Our Kids member, they are all listed conveniently in the calendar of events.
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