All-American pit stop: shopping at American Girl Place Chicago

Francesca Mazurkiewicz is a Chicago-based travel blogger and working mom of two young children. Along with her family, Francesca is out to prove that she can have it all – a family, a career, and a travel lifestyle.

I’m not a girly-girl and never have been. I never played with dolls as a little girl but there is something about American Girl dolls… As a traveler and a history enthusiast, I was drawn to American Girl because the featured dolls represent girls from different time periods and varied cultural backgrounds.

Truly me doll

As a parent, I appreciate American Girl’s messages, books, and activities to help young girls deal with difficult topics like self-esteem and social issues like others spreading rumors. Not only is it enjoyable for the young girls to play with the dolls, but it’s also educational and empowering. That’s a winning combination in any parent’s handbook.

My 6-year-old daughter, Lucia, has become a big fan of American Girl and often asks for new accessories and clothing for her dolls. Recently, the opportunity arose for us to visit American Girl Place in our hometown, Chicago, for lunch and a morning of shopping. I couldn’t pass it up. I decided I’d make the trip to go shopping at American Girl Place Chicago a surprise for Lucia. It turned out to be a success on all levels.

Any young lady interested in American Girl dolls should have the opportunity for a store experience at least once in her life. There are American Girl retail stores in Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville, New York, Orlando, St. Louis, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

American Girl retail stores are worthwhile stops while on a family vacation to one of these cities, and they’ve also become travel destinations all on their own. Since we live in Chicago, an American Girl retail store experience was an excellent excuse for Lucia and me to ride the train into downtown and have a lovely mommy-and-me day.


American Girl Place Chicago is located in Water Tower Place on the famed Magnificent Mile. Walking into the store for the first time can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you’ve got young girls to look after. This is why I suggest enlisting the services of a personal shopper. It is a complimentary service and advance appointments are required. Based on what experience the guests are hoping for, the personal shopper devises a game plan and leads the way. Ingrid, our personal shopper, knew that Lucia was to get a new doll and that we had lunch reservations at the in-store café. So we wasted no time in beginning our own American Girl retail store experience!

The first stop was the store’s second floor and the new Truly Me doll display. Truly Me, formerly known as My American Girl, is American Girl’s newly-rebranded line of contemporary 18-inch dolls and accessories. Truly Me allows a girl to create a one-of-a-kind friend through a variety of personalized doll options, including 40 different combinations of eye color, hair color and style, and skin color, as well as an array of outfits and accessories. Ingrid pointed out the dolls that most resembled Lucia: fair skin, no freckles, bob-length blond hair, and brown eyes. Lucia knew right away which one was to be her new friend! Then it was off to find her some new clothes and accessories.

The great thing about having Ingrid join us is that she knew exactly where to find the items that most interested Lucia. Ingrid already knew that Lucia plays soccer and that she loves horses, so Ingrid took us to those sections first. Ingrid also carried our shopping bag filled with items we selected. It allowed me the freedom to browse the items with Lucia and to take all kinds of pictures!


American girl doll
The American Girl Café serves brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner, and also hosts private parties. Dining is offered only at set seating times and reservations are highly recommended. We had lunch reservations for the 12:30 seating and it’s a good thing we did; the sophisticatedly whimsical café was almost at capacity. Still, service was professional and efficient. To start, each table is served deliciously gooey cinnamon rolls, followed by a family-style platter featuring soft pretzel baguettes, melted cheese dipping sauce, fresh broccoli and baby carrots, red grapes, and mini corn-dog muffins. Guests then select an entrée from the menu (chicken tenders for Lucia; bleu cheese burger for me), and the dining extravaganza culminates in an adorable and delectable dessert plate. Adults will be relieved to know that beer and wine are available, as well.

Truly Me Signature Studio:

This interactive experience is available at American Girl retail stores in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. Using a tablet interface, girls get to be fashion designers and create custom designed outfits or backpacks for their Truly Me dolls! They choose from several images and patterns and the piece is printed right there at the studio. The pieces the girls design are completely unique; talk about being “truly me”!

Our visit to American Girl Place Chicago was the perfect way to kick off our summer of family fun. Here is some more information to help you plan your own American Girl Place Chicago experience:

  1. I definitely recommend having a plan in place prior to your visit. Have an idea of what you’d like to do and be sure to make advance dining reservations and appointments for a personal shopper.
  2. Water Tower Place is easily accessible by public transportation. The closest Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) “L” station is the Red Line – Chicago Avenue stop. Water Tower Place is also serviced by the following CTA bus lines: numbers 66, 10, 146, 147, 151 and 157.
  3. Parking is available nearby at Standard Parking, 111 East Chestnut, and discounts are available for American Girl Place visitors. Bring your parking voucher and proof of purchase to the American Girl Place concierge desk to receive validation for a parking discount.


The American Girl store is located at 835 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL.
Disclosure: our guest reviewer experienced American Girl Place and the Truly Me experience complimentarily, for the purpose of review.