My youngest turns 7 next month and she has become a HUGE American Girl Doll fan, which makes my 8 and 9 year old self just squeal in delight! She is also a big mommy fan, and being the youngest of three, she sometimes doesn’t get as much alone time with me as she would like. So for her birthday, we decided to book an overnight trip to Natick, MA where we would visit the American Girl Retail Store and spend the night in a hotel. I’m going to share the details of our American Girl Boston Experience in case any of you were thinking of doing something similar with your little one.Planning a trip to an American Girl Store

First up, many of the hotels near American Girl Retail Stores offer an American Girl Package, which includes an American Girl Travel Bed, a free shuttle to the retail store, a milk and cookie turn down service including a pink cup you get to bring home, and some even include breakfast. This package is a bit more expensive than a regular room, but you do get an American Girl doll bed that can convert to a lounge chair to take home, and if the trip is for a special occasion like a birthday, then maybe you’d be OK with splurging a little. Since this trip was about making memories, we decided to go ahead and spend that little extra. Unfortunately  when we arrived at the hotel, they had somehow lost our reservation. Luckily, they still had availabilty and quickly got us set-up with a new room. Because we booked on the spot, the Doll bed wasn’t in the room when we went up, but they had someone send the bed up within 20 minutes. My daughter opened the door to a big red bag and it was pretty fun to watch her open it up to find the bed, which came with a pillow and blanket. The bed retails for $50 in stores. The package also included a little Travel Scrapbook for both girl and doll. Olivia got really excited over this and filled them out at dinner and later, in the room. After getting settled at the hotel we hopped the shuttle to the American Girl store, which was located across the street.

The Boston Store is located in the Natick Mall, with it’s own outside entrance. It is two floors filled to the brim with everything American Girl. The first floor houses the Girl of the Year, the BeForever Dolls and the Bitty Babies. Riding up the escalators will bring you to the Bistro, the TrulyMe Dolls and the Hair Salon. We decided that we wanted to hit up The Cheesecake Factory, which was located right next to the American Girl store, so we didn’t experience the Bistro this time around. We did want to use the salon services, but we didn’t arrive at the store until 3pm and at that time the Salon services were offering a three hour wait. We had already made plans to hit up the IMAX theater to catch a movie at 7, so we didn’t have time to wait. It was decided that we would return to the store the next morning and try to be one of the first in line so that we could get right in, which turned out to be the perfect plan! More on that later.

As we were walking into the store there was a gaggle of little girls with big red bags. They were all talking animatedly and were so excited! It was great to see everyone so excited. When you walk in you’re greeted with a display of the girl of the year doll and as you walk, each doll is on display with all of her available outfits. Olivia went in with three favorites, and although she didn’t know that I planned on buying her a doll, she still beelined straight to her favorites to see if she could narrow it down to just one. In addition to the BeForever dolls on display, some of the TrulyMe dolls are displayed around as well, and you are able to touch and feel them and their accessories. We also loved looking at all of the available girl and doll matching outfits.

After we walked all around the entire store I asked Olivia if she could pick just one doll, which would it be and she surprised me by actually having an answer! She chose Rebecca, so I surprised her by telling her that she was able to bring Rebecca home as a birthday present from Mom and Dad. She was pretty excited, so we grabbed the doll and headed off to the register. The cashier was super friendly and chatted with Olivia about Rebecca and her story. She also very kindly unboxed the doll and handed her to Olivia. I also ordered some black shoes, which were out of stock in store. They waived the shipping fee and placed the order, which was pretty painless.

The next morning we arrived at the store about 15 minutes early. Parking can be crazy so we wanted to ensure we got a primo spot and also that we were one of the first in the store! About 5 minutes later another family showed up and was waiting to get in and 5 minutes after that, another group did, so we were happy we got there a tad early. As soon as they opened the doors we beelined upstairs to the salon. They were able to get us in immediately, so I think it was worth coming back the next day for us. If you are able, I definitely recommend getting to the store early so that you don’t have to wait an excessive amount of time if you plan on using the salon services. The ear piercing was super quick – they brought the doll into a back room to pierce her ears and then brought her back and placed her in her salon chair. Olivia looked through the hairstyle options and made her selection. The stylist got to work, chatting with us the whole time. I loved how she explained how to style the hair – make sure to spray it with water before brushing and NEVER brush it dry. Also, make sure that the eyes are covered because they are controlled by magnets, and if those get wet they could rust and no longer work. Olivia was able to choose the color ribbons that went in the dolls hair as well. When everything was done, the stylist turned the doll around with a flourish. We went up to the register to pay and then were able to go back to get Rebecca. Olivia had to sign a paper saying she was paid in full and approved of the style, which made her feel pretty special.

The employees at the store were all very friendly and offered assistance, without hovering or being in your face. The second day we noticed that there were PJ’s on sale if you spent $50. I mentioned how I hadn’t noticed it yesterday when we bought the doll, but would have totally purchased them and the cashier told me that it was no problem and I could still take advantage of the special. I thought that was pretty great customer service!

If you are planning a trip to the Boston American Girl Store with your little one, here are my recommendations:

  • Arrive early if you want to use the salon services
  • Plan to spend at least an hour in the store, wandering and enjoying the dolls and options – if you made a special trip like we did, you don’t want to rush it. The store is an experience, so let your little one enjoy it!
  • If you plan to eat at the bistro, make sure to make reservations – if it is at all busy, you may have a long wait
  • Utilize the local hotel’s American Girl Packages – we paid $146 for a double room, when average room rates were $108. Since the AG bed retails for $50, I thought it was worth it. Plus, the milk and cookies turn down service is a fun extra perk
  • Utilize the hotel shuttle – there are parking garages but they include a bit of hike unless you want to pay a fee for the closer garage – the shuttle is convenient and free.