Dragonfly Castle Toys

Photo courtesy of Dragonfly Castle Toys.

6. Dragonfly Castle Toys

The slogan at Dragonfly Castle Toys puts it best: “No batteries. No screens. Pure fun!” The Lawrenceville shop specializes in American- and European-made toys and games, from sustainably made baby toys to pre-tween science kits and games. Sold packaged or as individual pieces, Name Trains Wooden Railway System will survive the toughest play. Durable lines like Plan Toys, Timber Tots and Moulin Roty inspire imaginative play. You’ll find a nice selection of board books and washable soft books for babies, too.

HEPA air filters and handwashing stations ensure safe in-person shopping, with appointments available for private sessions. Or order online and opt for curbside pickup.

Shadyside Variety Store

Photo by Sally Quinn.

7. Shadyside Variety Store

This 73-year-old neighborhood shop is hard to resist. Shadyside Variety Store is jampacked with old-school toys like Gumby, Bingo and Jack-in-the-Box. You’ll find new games, too: The speed-stacking Buildzi for ages 6 to 96 and the sensory adventure of Dimpl for the 6-month-and-up crew.

To build dexterity skills, pick up a “Cat’s Cradle Book of String Figures,” extra-long jump ropes for Double Dutch and a Shashibo magnetic puzzle that can be transformed into 70 different shapes. Don’t expect to simply window shop: You’re not likely to leave empty-handed.

8. Castle Toys and Games

Castle Toys and Games services fun-loving Pittsburgh kids with two locations, Oakmont and Beaver, and a terrific lineup. Active toys like pogo sticks, slacklines and American Ninja climbing ropes encourage adventurous off-screen fun. Crafty kids will find their maker moment with the selection of hands-on kits. Remote control choices range from drones to Power Driver construction vehicles to a python snake. The assortment of puzzles and games for little kids to grownups seems to be endless. Ready to shop? Castle Toys is open for in-person and online shopping.

Kawaii Gifts

Photo by Sally Quinn.

9. Kawaii Gifts

Translated from Japanese, Kawaii (sounds like Hawaii with a “K”) means cute. The adjective completely describes the contents of Kawaii Gifts in Shadyside. Hello Kitty and other Sanrio sweeties are offered in facemasks, jewelry stands and Gudetama Lazy Eggs. There’s a treasure trove of Pusheens, that adorable cat, and its critter pals, like Winter Sloth and Dragonpip.

The TokiDoki series of Surprise Boxes are darling, too. And you’ll find fun collections of Tototoro chopstick sets, bento boxes and water bottles to brighten an ordinary lunch. Kawaii offers curbside pickup and delivery for online shopping. For in-store shopping, reserve a spot for up to three people for a private session.

10. Learning Express Toys & Gifts

Each Pittsburgh Learning Express location in Wexford and Mt. Lebanon is locally owned and operated. The company curates its inventory by gauging each item’s play value, giving toy buyers assurance of quality toys. With pretend play, kids can dress up as a veterinarian, scientist or astronaut.  Science kits include rock tumblers, Air-Walkers and rubber band racers. Kids on the go will love the inflatable Jump Horse and Hop N Go Unicorns. Of course, you’ll find educational games, toys and workbooks, too. Both stores offer in-store shopping and curbside pickup.