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Need holiday gifts for kids? Here are San Francisco’s best toy stores

A rack of children's clothing including dresses and tutus with a display of toys in the background.
Mapamundi Kids, a Noe Valley children’s store, is known for its wide variety of brands. | Source: Felix Uribe Jr. for The Standard

San Franciscans of a certain vintage may fondly recall the FAO Schwarz in Union Square, the iconic children’s toy superstore that served equally well as a window shopping destination and a place to entertain kids for an afternoon. 

FAO Schwarz closed its doors in San Francisco in 2003. That was followed three years later by the closure of a large Toys R Us at the City Center at Geary Boulevard; the global toy chain filed for bankruptcy protection in 2017. With brick-and-mortar retailers disappearing and supply-chain issues since the pandemic causing merchandise shortages, toy stores—places where you and your kids can actually pick things up and play with them—have become an endangered species. This is especially true in San Francisco, which famously has more dogs than kids. There’s a temptation to simply throw up your hands and stock up on gifts for the little ones in your life with a swipe of the finger on Amazon. 

But if an internet checkout page isn’t your idea of holiday cheer, there are still places to play Santa, if you know where to look. 

Jeffrey’s Toys

Located in the heart of Downtown San Francisco, Jeffrey’s is billed as the city’s oldest toy store. Established in 1938 as Birdie’s Variety Store, it originally sold everything from hardware to records. Today, Jeffrey’s sells a wide variety of toys, games and comics for kids and kids-at-heart. It’s a convenient stop for anyone who lives or works near the Financial District.

📍 45 Kearny St.
🗓️ Opens at 10 a.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m. Sundays

Mapamundi Kids

A selection of toys and games for kids including art supplies, guitars and stuffed animals.
Many parents rave about the selection of gifts at Mapamundi Kids, a Noe Valley "lifestyle shop for kids." | Source: Felix Uribe Jr. for The Standard

Mapamundi describes itself as a “lifestyle shop for kids,” and local parents rave about its selection of toys, clothes, books and decor. The Noe Valley shop carries an extensive variety of brands and touts a “design-driven” ethos that encourages discovery through play. Mapamundi Kids is slated to close in early 2024, so get your shopping in while you can. 

📍 1306 Castro St.
🗓️ Opens at 11 a.m. Monday and 10 a.m Tuesday-Sunday


This Pacific Heights children’s store carries unique, lifelike plushies and toys along with clothing, accessories and home goods aimed at children. The store prides itself on fine domestic and European children’s clothing, toys and dolls, meaning you’re likely to find unusual—if a bit pricey—items you may not find elsewhere. 

📍 2185 Fillmore St.
🗓️ Opens at 11 a.m. Monday-Friday, 10:30 a.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday

Growing Up Arts & Crafts

This small, thoughtfully curated crafts store packs a great selection of toys for all ages in a compact West Portal storefront. The neighborhood store specializes in eclectic arts and crafts supplies, along with a range of stuffed animals, puzzles, figurines, stickers and much more. 

📍 248 W. Portal Ave
🗓️ Opens at 10 a.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday

Cliff’s Variety

The renowned Castro variety store isn’t just a destination for crafts and costumes; it’s also a great place to shop for kids. Colorful displays, a friendly staff and a vast selection of goods make Cliff’s Variety a fun stop during the holiday rush. For kids, there’s a wide selection of games, toys and crafts for the budding artist. 

📍 479 Castro St. 
🗓️ Opens at 10 a.m. daily


A display of toys and games at Tantrum children's store beneath a store sign.
Tantrum in the Richmond District sells kids' gifts with a distinctive carnival theme. | Source: Felix Uribe Jr. for The Standard

Established in 2012, Tantrum began as a vintage, “carnival-themed” store selling clothing, housewares and more. This Richmond District shop has evolved into a vintage-inspired toy store with unique gifts for adults, too. Customers describe the shop as charming and imaginative with a wide variety of games, toys and supplies for kids of all ages, from infants to older children. 

📍 248 Clement St.
🗓️ Opens at 10 a.m. daily

Standard 5&10 Ace Hardware

Though not exclusively a kids’ store, this Laurel Village hardware and variety store offers a robust toy section alongside home goods, home decor and garden supplies. Customers note that the toy section includes budget-friendly items. Its convenient location near grocery and bookstores makes this an excellent choice for shoppers looking to kill multiple birds with one stone. 

📍 3545 California St.
🗓️ Opens at 8 a.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday

Toys R Us at Macy’s

After declaring bankruptcy, the famed toy depot closed all its stores in 2018. But the brand, known for its giraffe mascot, isn’t dead—it’s staging a comeback with 24 new flagship stores nationwide next year. In the meantime, Toys R Us reopened inside Macy’s stores across the country in 2022, including the Macy’s in Union Square. Located on the department store’s lower level, the scaled-down Toys R Us is much smaller than the superstores of yore but still features popular brands including Disney, Nerf and more. 

📍170 O’Farrell St.
🗓️ Opens at 10 a.m. daily


Price-conscious shoppers love Ross for its vast selection of all sorts of goods, and that includes a robust toy section. There are three Ross locations in the city: one in the Lakeshore neighborhood, one in the Mission District and one Downtown. The stores include budget-friendly toys and clothing for children. For other mass-market options, shoppers can also find good-sized toy sections at Target locations in San Francisco. 

📍 2300 16th St., 799 Market St. and 1545 Sloat Blvd.
🗓️ Downtown location opens at 8:30 a.m. daily, Lakeshore and Mission locations open at 9 a.m. daily

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the address for Mapamundi Kids.