The best toy stores in Ontario

Where you'll find the best toys in Ontario.

By Lisa van de Geyn
The best toy stores in Ontario

THE ROCKING HORSE Kids love the Calico Critters, Thomas the Train railroad table, and the wooden marble run they can test out in the store. After 35 years in business (and the opening of their second location), these folks know what kids love. Find the popular Miss Corolle hairdressing dolls, Twilight Ladybugs and Turtles, Kid Concoctions Mix ’n Slime and Grow Grow Snow, and a birthday party area full of balloons and decorations. 193 PRINCESS STREET, KINGSTON. 613-548-4222; 843 2ND AVENUE EAST, OWEN SOUND. 519-371-9921; THEROCKINGHORSE.CA

SCOOTER GIRL Billed as the coolest toy store for kids in Toronto, Scooter Girl delivers with a pretty awesome assortment of toys for kids of all ages and interests, including the Snowballer and Snowball Maker, stamp sets, magnetic world map puzzles and the Jumpin’ Jr. First Trampoline for tots. The best part is their obvious love for their neighbourhood — locals love the “I Scooter Roncy” and “I Trike Roncy” T-shirts (for Roncesvalles, the hip street and address of this store). 187 RONCESVALLES AVENUE, TORONTO. 416-534-2211; SCOOTERGIRL.NET

TOY SOUP Located a short drive away from the well-known Mennonite village of St. Jacobs, Toy Soup has everything from pirates, knights, princesses and fairies, to travel toys (like the Tortoise Zoobie that acts as a lovey, pillow and a blanket for long road trips or airplane rides), rocket sets and PlasmaCars. They also carry a variety of growth charts and other bedroom decor, like personalized door plaques. 1376 KING STREET NORTH, ST. JACOBS. 519-664-0268; 64 GRAND AVENUE SOUTH, CAMBRIDGE. 519- 620-9050; TOYSOUPCANADA.COM

SIMPLY WONDERFUL TOYS There are plenty of play tables at the back of the store where kids (or parents) can test out toys before buying. Besides all the current toy fads, Simply Wonderful Toys prides themselves on stocking retro items. (Their old school Fisher-Price record player, Potato Gun, Slinky, Pogo Stick and Fisher-Price Teaching Clock will bring back memories.) They also have a rewards program – once you spend $600 within the year, you’ll get 10 percent off your purchases for the rest of the year. (If you spend $900, you get 15 percent off.) 10 PAISLEY STREET, GUELPH. 519-824-5682; SIMPLYWONDERFULTOYS.CA

CREATIVE LEARNING In business for over 20 years, the owners of this store know how to please both kids and parents. Their award-winning product line includes Corolle Dolls, Alex Toys and Schleich action figures, as well as a large variety of eco-friendly toys from Sprig imaginative play vehicles to Uberstix building systems. Play centres around the store keep kids busy, while parents browse educational tools and resources. The store also offers gift registries (including one just for Thomas fans), hosts birthday parties and corporate events, creates one-of-a-kind loot bags and will special order hard-to-find products. 181 MAIN STREET WEST, NORTH BAY. 705-472-9832; WWW.CREATIVELEARNING.CA

SMARTY PANTS Parents love that they can plan their child’s birthday party (complete with pizza, loot bags, cupcakes and art workshops) right in the shop. The store also hosts music and art classes, and summer camps. As for toys, find the brands you love (Alex, Manhattan, Melissa & Doug), as well as tons of educational toys that promote motor, writing and social skills, like Eggpressions (expressive wooden eggs that help with role-playing). They also carry toys for kids with autism, like Sensory Balls. 6754 THOROLD STONE ROAD, NIAGARA FALLS. 905-354-6183; SMARTYPANTSEDUCATIONAL.COM

PLAY AND LEARN TOYS Established in the 1980s as the place for parents, teachers, therapists and health care providers to find educational toys and books, the store boasts a big selection of playthings and great reads for all ages. This shop is also a must-visit for parents looking for products for kids with special needs; they have lots of resource material, as well as puppets and dress-up clothes for role- playing, which is beneficial for kids who have ADHD. 2511 PRINCESS STREET UNIT A2, KINGSTON. 613-384-4885; 947 LANDSDOWNE, PETERBOROUGH. 705-743-0144; 1121 DUNDAS STREET EAST, WHITBY. 905-666-6885; PLAYNLEARN.CA


MRS. TIGGY WINKLE'S Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s has been a fixture in Ottawa for 35 years, and they’ve got everything little and big kids love. Because they believe that toys are for both the young and the young-at-heart, they opened up Lost Marbles in two of their stores, where the older crowd (including parents) will find design-your-own Munnys, Darth Vader USB hubs and disco balls. 809 BANK STREET, OTTAWA. 613-234-3836; 100 BAYSHORE DRIVE, OTTAWA. 613-721-0549; 50 RIDEAU STREET, OTTAWA. 613-230-8081; 100 PLACE D’ORLEANS DRIVE, OTTAWA. 613-834-8988; 315 RICHMOND ROAD, OTTAWA. 613-761-6055; MRSTIGGYWINKLES.CA

MY TOY SHOP Owned by a couple of Ottawa-area parents, this is the place to visit if you’re looking for brands that the big-box stores don’t usually carry. My Toy Shop stocks Charm It charms for tweens and teens, Zubels (organic teething rings and knit plush toys), Le Toy Van (wooden cars and dollhouses) and Gymnic Hop Balls. 1136 TIGHE STREET, MANOTICK. 613-491-8697; MYTOYSHOP.CA

LASTING TOYS Looking for Lego? Lasting Toys has pieces from literally every theme Lego released in 2012 (everything from Lord of the Rings and Space Port, to Harry Potter and SpongeBob Squarepants). But what’s even more awesome is that they carry older themes that can be harder to find, like Indiana Jones, Vikings and Aqua Raiders. Mega fans will love the brick-less Lego products: pens, plush toys, storage containers, greeting cards and key chains. 2410 DUNWIN DRIVE #3, MISSISSAUGA. 905-569-6047; LASTINGTOYS.COM

APPLAUSE TOY STORE In the heart of Ontario’s cottage country you’ll find three Applause locations. The owner is a mother of four who believes in the importance of play, which is one of the reasons her stores are hands-on and staff encourage kids and parents to try toys out. There’s a selection of baby toys, like the Cloud B special edition Twilight Ladybugs and Turtles. Not only do they offer a baby and birthday registry, but they also offer teacher discounts and a rewards program. 6 MANITOBA STREET, BRACEBRIDGE. 705-646-2287; 125-3 STEAMSHIP BAY ROAD, MUSKOKA WHARF, GRAVENHURST. 705-687-7333; 17 MAIN STREET EAST, HUNTSVILLE. 705-787-0709; APPLAUSETOYSTORE.COM

This article was originally published on Oct 19, 2012

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