Heading to NYC and plan to have some American Girl fun while you’re there? Today, we’re going to share with you everything you need to know to plan the Ultimate American Girl Experience in NYC!
Plan The Ultimate NYC American Girl Day
Growing up, I would have loved to have a store that catered to me and my doll, or have been able to have a dolly-sized high chair brought up to the table to enjoy a special experience with her.
So, when I found out about the American Girl store as a teen, I knew that one day I would bring my daughter and pamper her and her favorite doll for the day!
I wanted to wait until Ella was old enough to be responsible for an American Girl doll, as they are dolls that you can pass down from generation to generation, and also old enough that we could have an amazing NYC Family Vacation while there. (Although there are American Girl stores in many major cities.) For us, six ended up being the perfect age but there really is something for everyone at the American Girl store.
If you’re thinking of bringing your child to the American Girl flagship store in NYC, we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know to plan the Ultimate American Girl Day, from hotels with American Girl packages, a special dolly & me American Girl Cafe experience, to all the details about shopping at the American Girl store!
If there’s anything I missed, be sure to let me know in the comments and I will get back to you right away!
(PS – I think it would be really cute to announce your trip by ordering something like the American Girl Travel Set and giving it to your child with a note saying “we’re going to NYC to pick out your doll!” We have a collection of our favorite American Girl accessories here.)
American Girl Hotel Options
First, while planning your NYC Family Vacation, you need to book your hotel!
At the time that we visited, the American Girl Store was located just off of Fifth Avenue, making the Langham an easy choice for our stay. Not only was it super closer the American Girl flagship location, it offered a special American Girl package! (The new location is at Rockefeller Plaza, which is still only a 14 minute walk from the hotel.)
Ella arrived to an array of presents (Langham Bear robe, backpack and slippers; an American Girl doll-sized travel bed, and doll-sized robe and slippers set; a $25 American Girl Store gift card; and an American Girl DVD to bring home) and a customized welcome letter.
Each night we received a platter of treats – their “Milk & Cookie turndown service” and #PrettyinPink popcorn, too.
Other NYC hotels that currently offer this promotion include:
American Girl Tea (or Brunch)
No one wants to shop on an empty stomach! I debated if it was better to shop first or dine first, and I’m really glad I booked our American Girl tea before we planned to shop because I had no idea how much time my daughter would take in the store and it would have been harder to drag her away than to just start off our visit with our special meal.
The American Girl cafe offers four different dining options – Brunch, Lunch, Dinner or Afternoon Tea. We opted for Afternoon Tea for Ella, “Green Baby,” myself and a friend.
Every child and doll that walks through the doors is treated like royalty. Ella felt so special being catered to by the staff, and so excited to be sharing this special experience with her baby doll. (Children who do not show up with a doll are offered a loaner doll to come sit alongside them for the meal.)
I was so impressed with the food offerings at the cafe – this was a genuinely foodie-quality tea experience, with tier upon tier of delicious, bite-sized foods. The amount of food was remarkable, too, as some “kids’ dining experiences” tend to assume we all have child-sized appetites. We arrived hungry and did not leave that way.
Oh, and did I mention cocktails for the adults? Yes, please.
They also have the option to add on a cake for special occasions, and since our NYC trips always happen the week before Ella’s sixth birthday, we just had to order one.
The price was incredibly reasonable – at the time of this writing, the Afternoon Tea (without cake/birthday add-on) was $21 per person, $26 if adding a cocktail. It was a magical experience that Ella talked about for weeks afterwards, so it was definitely well worth it.
If you’re not sure about a full meal, or the cafe is fully booked at the time that you wanted to attend, there is still a small walk-up “Sweet Shoppe” with sandwiches and desserts that would be great when you start to feel hunger creep in.
I highly recommend making a reservation if you plan to visit the cafe, as it does book up during busy seasons.
American Girl Flagship Store Experience
After you are finished your meal, you’re ready to start shopping!
The American Girl store offers complimentary personal shoppers (which must be booked in advance) and I really enjoyed the low-pressure, supportive experience of having someone well-versed in everything American Girl there with me. Our personal shopper was excited to share all of her knowledge of American Girls with us (especially the historical dolls) but she was very supportive of following Ella’s lead and allowing her to just explore the store and spend as much time as she wanted exploring the child-sized washing machines and Wellie Wisher’s house.
She spent over an hour with us and I never once felt like she expected us to purchase a certain amount of product to make her time “worth it” so don’t feel like you need to be planning to spend a ton to make use of this service.
In addition to shopping, there are many Doll & Me experiences that kids can enjoy at the store, from having their ears pierced alongside their dolls, or indulging in a spa day or hair styling session. There is also a medical clinic for dolls that have been injured and need to see the “doll doctor.”
There was also a Design Your Own Matching Outfits there when we visited, which starts at $14 for T-shirts and accessories.
Dolls start at around $60 for Wellie Wishers or Bitty Babies (which are smaller than the standard American Girl doll), and most American Girl dolls are $115.
Varieties include the BeForever historical dolls (who are created alongside a panel of advisors to ensure historical accuracy), Truly Me dolls, and the Girl of the Year dolls.
There is also every accessory you can possibly imagine available for your doll! From travel kits to mini room service platters, to music studios, and even tiny camping sets for dolls.
The store is always adding on new events and activities, like theatre days or cooking classes, so be sure to check out their calendar of events and book in early!
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, Ella decided to buy lots of doll-sized toys at the American Girl store but she decided against buying an American Girl doll. Green Baby has such a special place in her heart, she was more interested in sharing the day with her and spoiling her doll than picking out a new one. I was really impressed with our personal shopper for being so accepting and gracious about that, saying at one point “they know the doll for them, and if it’s not an American Girl doll, that’s still wonderful.”
American Girl in NYC!
Of course, the American Girl-inspired fun doesn’t have to end at the hotel or the store!
There are many American Girl characters who are based in NYC, so it would be fun to recreate their adventures or retrace their footsteps. For example, Rebecca was a budding 1914s acting star living in New York City.
Even if your child’s favorite character isn’t based in NYC, you can still get up to fun adventures inspired by them. Take a cooking class just like Grace Thomas would (although hers would be set in Paris – just like our Paris Macaron Baking Class), or check out historical locations like the Tenement Museum, which shows the living conditions of people living in NYC through history.
If you are heading to the American Girl flagship NYC store with your child, plan at least 2 hours if you don’t plan on visiting the cafe. We easily spent over 6 hours in addition to a nearly 2 hour cafe visit during our week in NYC.