Category Archives: Travel

American Girls in Canada

We took a family vacation this month to Toronto, and I was so happily surprised to come across an Indigo Chapters store (like a big Barnes and Noble) where they have an AG boutique within the bookstore.

The store is a little bit smaller than your average GAP store in the US. They offer doll hair styling but no tea parties or create your own doll/clothes.

Hair styling station in right side, background, of photo above. No customers alas. The doll sitting poolside (or is it puddle-side?) isn’t looking too comfortable!

I saw the newly released outfits. This is a cute display.

They were featuring the summer camp items, and I was tempted by the s’mores pajamas, but they were sold out!

I hadn’t been in an AG store for about a year, so I was struck by how few historical dolls are left, and how little there is for them. No Addy? No Josefina?

… And then there were 7. . . Barely.

I did bring home Blaire’s new book, which I read quickly and have moved on to the second one already! More on that in a future post.

I really enjoyed seeing some of the current AG items, but didn’t get the sense that they were seeing big sales, at this downtown Toronto location anyway. Maplelea may still rule the Canadian market. If you would like to know more about Maplelea and Canadian dolls, visit this blog post over on Hannah’s Dolls.


Old World with Kit

Put on your bonnet, today we are off to Old World Wisconsin, a delightful living history museum where you can visit immigrant homesteads from the 1800s in a natural setting.

We have Kit with us — is there any doll easier to travel with?  Her cute hairstyle can endure all the traumas that come with doll adventures.

Our first stop always has to be the restaurant The Hen House in Eagle, Wisconsin.  You can get a breakfast with homemade white bread toast for 3.99.  I won’t pass judgement if you start your meal by sharing a homemade donut!

Old World Wisconsin is on a huge parcel of land.  There are trams to take you from one Settlement (Norwegian, German, etc.) to the other.  The buildings have been relocated here from all over the upper Midwest.

Old World Wisc

The General Store is filled with wonderful calico prints.  Kit says, “How many yards will you need of the pink gingham?”

Kit General Store

Many of the buildings have museum interpreters in period attire doing work just as it would have been done more than 120 years ago.  You may find someone spinning yarn, making soup, or feeding livestock breeds favored by early European immigrants.

Geraniums  Cucumbers sitting on the porch were a clue that some pickling was underway inside this home.  

Kit found something she could relate to in Four Mile House. 

Doll Bed Vintage

A lucky child had a full bedroom set for her doll.  The bed looked like the right size for Kit, and the doll trunk would solve some storage issues!

I found a quiet moment with Kit at the German Homestead.  

If you go, I would recommend prioritizing which Settlement you want to see most.  By the time we got to the Norwegian area, we were hot and tired.  Next time we will start there with fresh eyes.

Kit says, “There’s still plenty of nice weather to get outside and learn about the immigrants — recent or not so recent — that came to your state or province.”




Bookworm Gardens

Brianna and I have reached the part of summer where accelerate our fun before we head back to school.  One item on our summer bucket list was to take a trip to Bookworm Gardens  in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

Bookworm Gardens has child-friendly plantings themed to match well-loved children’s books.  We brought Rebecca and Addy along on our mini road-trip.

Brianna noticed right away that the charming map’s artist was Graef – we are pretty sure it is Renee Graef, illustrator for many American Girl classics like Kirsten’s books.  She used to live in the area.

We started our tour near a lazy stream reminiscent of Jen’s favorite children’s book The Wind in the Willows.

Addy Rebecca

Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats – Wind in the Willows

Addy is wearing the new Little House on the Prairie dress and apron from The Queen’s Treasures.  She heard there might be something related to Laura and Mary and dressed the part.

Addy Beckie Wagon

“The snug log house looked just as it always had. It did not seem to know they were going away.” Little House in the Big Woods

The whole time we were taking pictures we were trying to evade YMCA camps on a field trip.  In the wagon picture above, Brianna is under the seat ready to whisk the dolls away before the Y kids are unleashed!  Doll photography is a pursuit for the brave and decisive.

Rebecca Japan

This is our cry, this is our prayer: peace in the world – Sadako Sasako (Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes)

A Japanese garden honors several books, including Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.  This book about Hiroshima would be an excellent  companion to Nanea’s books.

Addy Winnie Pooh

“Nearly eleven o’clock,” said Pooh happily. “You’re just in time for a little smackerel of something.”

One of the neat things to see at Bookworm Gardens is a real “Magic School Bus”!  It is a retired school bus with metal insect legs and ladybug wings attached to the roof.  We dared not enter because there were little boys in it opening and closing the bus doors fevently.  I could see an accident about to happen . . . the same feeling I get in the Trader Joe’s parking lot.

We moved on to calmer places. . .


“Twitch” is about a city mouse who moves to the country and builds his home in an oak tree.  The author, Judi Fors, was concerned that kids seemed to mostly play by re-enacting tv shows and video games, so she had a tiny door and mailbox attached to a tree at the school where she worked.  The story of Twitch was born from this experience.

Rebecca Bike

The Tin Forest by Helen Ward

If you go, we recommend arriving after 1:00, because the “afternoon nap” kids start clearing out around then.

Have you read any of the books featured in the photos above?




Beckie’s First Day Out

By Rebecca Rubin

Today was my first day A.W. (after warehouse) and what an exciting day it was. I woke up to a view of Lake Mendota. Madison is an isthmus–a skinny bit of land between two lakes.

We took a car ride to Cave of the Mounds, a cave formed 400 million years ago which continues to grow stalactites and stalagmites. I waited in the car because the cave gives “cave kisses” which means it drips a lot of water on your head! You can remember the difference between the two cave formations because stalactites hang tight to the ceiling.

After Cave of the Mounds we traveled down the road to Mt. Horeb “The Troll Capitol of the World”! You can visit trolls in front of many shops and businesses. Did you know trolls can live for hundreds of years? In Norwegian folklore they are simple beings who are known for guarding treasure.

Trolls in a museum

Root Beer Troll

I don’t recall hearing about trolls from my Russian grandparents, but I do know about domovoi — a Russian house spirit who lives under the stove.  It is important to keep your domovoi happy or he might rebel!  In Sweden they have tomten, which are similar.

The troll stroll made me hungry, so we stopped at a Swedish bakery. They had Princess Torte which Jen had seen on the Great British Bake-Off. it is covered in green marzipan.


It was a pretty exciting first day out.  I dream of being an actress someday, so I try to soak in all of the experiences and people (and trolls) I come across.

See you soon!

Maryellen Sees America

By “The One and Only” Maryellen

My Dad brought the Airstream trailer home!  He told Mom, “All the magazines say it’s our patriotic duty as Americans to see as much as we can of this great country.”  Mom thought that cooking, cleaning, and laundering for a big family in an Airstream sounded like a lot of work, but even she enjoyed our first stop.

We visited Cantigny Park in the outskirts of Chicago, Illinois.  It’s not a park like you might see in your neighborhood… it is actually the estate of a patriotic American named Robert McCormick.  McCormick owned the famous Chicago Tribune, and WGN TV and radio.  He also fought in World War I.

Here I am in front of a mural highlighting Robert McCormick's life.

Here I am in front of a mural highlighting Robert McCormick’s life.

His house was huge!  He had lots of fancy dinner parties where he would invite celebrities, business tycoons, and farmers from the area, all at the same time.  McCormick was always looking for more information from any source to report in his paper.  If guests couldn’t hold up their end of a conversation, he would end the party and send people home.  He had an art deco movie theater right in his house.

This art deco theater feels right at home to me.

This art deco theater feels right at home to me.

This house is bigger than the Airstream, that's for sure!

This house is bigger than the Airstream, that’s for sure!

McCormick also served in World War I in the Battle of Cantigny (that’s where the name of the estate comes from).  Serving in the military affected him greatly.  After the war he never allowed smoking in his home, even though it was fashionable at the time, because he had experienced the poison gas used in WWI.

He created a huge military museum on his estate, and it includes a tank park, where you can climb on tanks used in every period of US History.


At the museum I saw a display about the “doughnut girls” in WW I.  Women served in the Salvation Army and were dispatched to the front lines where eventually they served between 2,500 – 9,000 doughnuts a day as a tangible way to give comfort to the men in the trenches.

IMG_7826If you are a fan of The Queen’s Treasures, you know about their doll clothing commemorating the “doughnut girls.”

Soon it was time to head back to the Airstream before Scooter started howling for his family.  I hope you find some places near you to learn more about famous Americans!

Quote from Maryellen’s Dad taken from book by Valerie Tripp.




Doll Travel – New Mexico

Josefina NewIn January 2013 we received the new AG catalog featuring the Girl of the Year – Saige.  I have always loved the Southwest and West, and had never considered visiting New Mexico.  Saige inspired me to consider the logistics of such a trip.  I found out that Santa Fe is only 24 hours from Chicago on AMTRAK – now I had a really unique vacation idea taking shape!

Sleeper room on AMTRAK.  Bed above flips down and couch pulls out like a futon.  Sleeping in here with three people is memorable... Notice I didn't say what kind of memories you will be left with!

Sleeper room on AMTRAK. Bed above flips down from above and couch pulls out like a futon.

Brianna was 8 when we took this trip, and we were already fans of Josefina and her books.  My mom (AKA Grandma) and I had made a Josefina-inspired dress for Brianna a year or two earlier, so of course that came on the trip along with the doll.

Santa Fe Train Station

Santa Fe Train Station

We stayed at The Old Santa Fe Inn.  I surprised Brianna by purchasing Josefina’s summer outfit and leaving that on her bed.  Josefina was all set to be back home in Santa Fe!

Old Santa Fe Inn

Old Santa Fe Inn

New Outfit!

New Outfit!

One of the great things we were able to do in Santa Fe was visit El Rancho de Las Golondrinas.  This rancho is a museum with buildings dating to Josefina’s time and before.  They offer a “Josefina” tour for a nominal amount.  We had a tour guide all to ourselves, and she was a former schoolteacher.  Wonderful lady!  Many of the authors who have written books for AG about Josefina have visited this rancho, including Kathleen Ernst who wrote the Josefina mystery “Secrets in the Hills.”

Courtyard of the Rancho

Courtyard of the Rancho

Grinding Corn

Grinding Corn – Brianna thought it was fun, but how about doing it all day long?

Carding Wool

Carding Wool

Sombrita and Florecita!

Sombrita and Florecita!

The most amazing thing to me was that the bed in one of the rooms in the rancho looked almost exactly like the bed American Girl sells for Josefina.  Can I find this picture?  Of course not.  You’ll have to take my word on that one.

In addition, you can see the horno, or oven, outside which was also used as inspiration for Josefina’s horno.  It’s really big!

Bread in the Horno

Bread in the Horno

We did not make it down to Saige’s neighborhood of Albuquerque on this particular trip, but we really loved Santa Fe and hope to return some day.   If you love Josefina, I recommend Santa Fe’s gorgeous weather, great food, unique history, and easy driving.

Happy to answer any questions about AMTRAK trips!