Whether you’re looking for a kid-friendly souvenir, an object of parental bribery or you forgot to pack something in your suitcase, when you’re on vacation, sometimes you need to hit the children’s shops.
Boulder and the surrounding cities in Boulder County don’t have a ton of children-specific stores, but what they do have far exceeds expectations. It’s about quality, not quantity. You’ll find everything from niche shops, like places that specialize in puzzles, kites and board games, to consignment stores packed with gently used clothes and toys.
Here are our 11 favorite children’s and family-friendly shops in Boulder County.
1. Into The Wind, 1408 Pearl St.
Kids are naturally drawn to this Pearl Street shop, whose windows and entry are often lined with wind chimes, spinners and mini windmills. Into the Wind specializes in kites; it can build custom ones or fix broken ones. Into The Wind, founded in the ‘80s by two architects, says it sells top kite designers. It also carries decor and everything fun for a windy day. It boasts a long list of awards from Kite Trade Association International, including multiple Retailer of the Year wins and the best Wholesaler/Manufacturer of the Year.
But this fun, colorful shop offers much more, too. It’s packed with toys, gadgets, games, knick-knacks and doo-dads.
Local tip: The least-crowded times to shop here are between 10-11 a.m. and 8-9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 5-6 p.m. Sunday. “Plan on spending some time. There are a lot of things to see and it’s a hands-on environment. We do offer a public restroom for our customers, which does have a baby changing station.” – Owner Paul Kusler
2. Grandrabbit’s Toy Shoppe, 2525 Arapahoe Ave.
This adorable, independently-owned, specialty toy store offers educational and fun toys for kids, inside the Village Shopping Center. It was founded in 1977 by a former scholarships director for a Montessori school. It sells beautiful, high-quality toys that are not just for entertainment, but also contribute to children’s development and education.
Grandrabbit’s contributes to the community, too. It says it donates an average of $25,000 every year (for more than three decades) to Colorado schools.
As for the name? It was named after an elderly woman whose grandchildren nicknamed her Grandrabbit.
3. Clothes Pony and Dandelion Toys, 1909 9th St.
Clothes Pony and Dandelion Toys is an independently owned children’s shop in Boulder (with another location in Fort Collins). Here you can find quirky and unique toys, gifts and clothes.
This shop was founded by two sisters (also mothers), who you can sometimes catch belting out Broadway show tunes as they organize the racks. Fun fact: One of the co-founders volunteered in the Peace Corps in Guatemala and co-founded the nonprofit Trees Water and People, and the other sister also worked in nonprofits, helping homeless families, before they decided to band together and open their dream store.
Local tip: “Our best tips for folks visiting either of our family-owned, independent shops are to touch everything, make a mess and have fun. We are a hands-on experience with a focus on community and relationship-building. We love the mix of individuals and families that visit our store from all over the world. We delight in ensuring that everyone finds something special, no matter what the age or interest of the child. Clothes Pony & Dandelion Toys is not your run-of-the-mill kid’s store.” – Becca, co-owner of Clothes Pony in Boulder
4. Nest Children’s Boutique, 2525 Arapahoe Ave., unit H-12
Nest is an award-winning shop for kids and babies that carries cute clothes, gifts and toys. The stock here is all unique (not the regular goodies you can find in any ol’ chain) and carefully curated by the local owners. Not sure how to narrow it down? Ask about Nest’s personal shoppers who can do the work for you.
Nest occasionally offers programming and special events, too. It runs Wee Cycle, where you can donate unwanted clothes and toys in good condition to go towards local families in need.
You can also find a location in Denver.
Nest has been named to a variety of best-of lists, including 5280’s top children’s boutiques list multiple times, Denver’s A-List’s best children’s clothing top-five finalist and CBS Local’s top baby’s clothing stores around Denver report.
5. Childish Things, 3187 Walnut St.
Childish Things is the place to go to get inexpensive, gently used kids’ clothes, gear, furniture and toys, cloth diapering supplies and maternity clothes. It’s Boulder’s oldest and largest children’s consignment shop, locally owned and run by a Boulder mom for more than 30 years. Things that don’t sell are donated to local nonprofits to help families in need. Best of all: While you shop, your kids can hang out in the play area. No need to haul them around the racks with you.
Local tip: “For travelers, we have a lot of people who will come to Boulder and then come shop with us once they arrive so they don’t have to bring as many clothes with them. They could get quite a few outfits for what the airlines charge for checking a suitcase. We also have people shop for clothes that they might not be able to find in their hometowns — like people coming from Florida for a ski vacation. Then, before they go back home, they come reconsign the clothes and get a check mailed to them once they sell. We also have people who don’t want to bring along a stroller or a bed for their little ones — we sell quite a few strollers and pack-and-plays to out of town guests. We also have a buy-back program where a customer can come buy a specific highchair, pack-and-play or booster seat for the table and they can then return it and get a set amount of the initial sale back. ” – Kerri Radicella, with Childish Things
Liberty Puzzles in Boulder. Photo by Jim Heckel
6. Liberty Puzzles, 2526 49th St.
Liberty Puzzles is one of those cool, retro, one-of-a-kind shops in Boulder that you don’t want to miss. This store is all about puzzles — but it brings puzzles to a whole new level. Find one-of-a-kind, high-quality classic, jigsaw puzzles, made right in Boulder. In fact, make sure you schedule a free tour of its factory while you’re here, at 2526 49th St. Tours are offered 1:30-4:30 p.m. weekdays. Liberty carries more than 650 types of puzzles and counting, and these are made out of wood, not cardboard — the way classic puzzles were originally made.
Fun fact: Look for these cute, hand-drawn “whimsy” pieces cut into little people, shapes and critters. Each puzzle has a variety of different whimsy pieces in it that match the theme and scene of the puzzle.
Local tip: Try not to look at the picture on the box when you put together the puzzles (you can even request your puzzle not come with a picture at all). That’s how old-school puzzles were done and it transforms the puzzle experience into one of surprise and suspense.
7. Lost Marbles Toy Store, 435 Main St., Longmont
Lost Marbles is our favorite children’s shop in Longmont (about 30 minutes northeast of Boulder in Boulder County) and one of our favorite stores in downtown Longmont, period. This shop is so much fun to hang out and play in. There are all kinds of interesting toys and games for kids, including a good selection of locally made products and plenty of things you can’t find in a big-box shop. Highlights include wooden toys, stuffed animals, train sets, classic games, puzzles and science projects.
Lost Marbles opened in 2016 by a veteran from Texas looking to improve life for his family. You can usually find him manning the store, and if you are looking for something specific that he doesn’t have in shop, he’s willing to find it for you and make a special order.
8. Atomic Goblin Games, 1801 Hover St., Longmont
Atomic Goblin Games is all about games: card games, board games, collectible games (and the miniatures that go along with them). What makes Atomic so cool is it’s not just for buying games, but it’s also for playing them. The store holds regular gaming events (which tend to draw a lot of teens and young adults). Each day has a different theme: Tuesdays are Star Wars X-Wing, Wednesdays are Dungeons and Dragons Encounters.
You can also find puzzles, role-playing books and other collectibles here.
9. Pitter Patter, 931 Main St., Louisville
Pitter Patter is a children’s clothing store in historic downtown Louisville, a small, charming town just east of Boulder in Boulder County. This boutique features absolutely stunning, fashionable, well-made clothing, toys and gifts for kids up to age 6. You can find plenty of Earth-friendly, socially-responsible, organic products here, so you know your shopping is supporting a worthy cause.
10. Zavy Green, 275 Waneka Parkway., unit 9, Lafayette
While you won’t find tutus and quirky onesies here, Zavy Green is a family-centric shop in that it sells products that are safe and appropriate for all members of the family, including children and pets. Zavy Green, run by two married Colorado natives (former teachers), aims to sell the best, healthiest products out there. The shop walks the walk, too. Its website lists the many ways it strives to be a green company.
11. Adornables, 661 Fourth Ave., Longmont
Adornables Little Ones Boutique is a tiny shop in downtown Longmont and it’s easy to miss; it doesn’t even have a website. But it’s worth the hunt (and a favorite destination for locals in the know). Adornables specializes in children, from gifts to clothes to decor. You’ll find one-of-a-kind, handmade, quirky and fun goodies here, including Ugly Dolls, Jelly Cats and Trumpettes.