At Toy Safari, the focus is always on play.

We believe that unguided play gives a child access to new realms of discovery, understanding, and engagement with the world.

Our family-run toy shop in Alameda has over 27 years buying, selling and trading toys of all kinds, for kids of all ages. Our shelves are always piled high with brand-new and used toys alongside classics, vintage, and collectibles.

Every toy at the store has been vetted for worthiness with a few simple questions:

Will a child relate to it?

Will the toy inspire play and discovery?

Will the style of play evolve as the child grows?

Think of checkers.

A very young child will interact with it much differently than an older child or a grown-up. The young child might stack and topple the pieces, or lay them out to make patterns and shapes: red caterpillars, black snakes. Then they might pitch a tent with the board and let the snakes sleep beneath it.

As the child grows, they’ll learn to set up the board and jump pieces to make kings. One day they’ll look at the board and no longer see patterns or snakes, but an ageless game of strategy.

Figures, dolls, cars, balls, stuffed animals all have a meaningful essence to a child and it’s a child’s prerogative to access that essence and see where it leads them.

They say that play is the work of childhood, but the reality is much more fun than that sounds.

The stockpile of toys we keep at the store is meant to inspire free and open-ended play, so kids of all ages can cast their imaginations outward and behold their dreams in action.


Our commitment to the kids in our community extends beyond providing the toys they use to grow, learn, and engage with the world. We also support local children through sponsorships and donations to local charitable organizations, such as literacy programs, youth athletics and arts programs,vocational training for youth with complex needs, and Child Protective Services. We’re honored to be part of such a dynamic community and it’s our privilege to pay it forward.


Since opening in 1991, Toy Safari has garnered recognition as one of the East Bay’s favorite independent retailers and one of the best places in the Bay Area to shop for toys. Over the years, we’ve received many “Best of” awards and praise from local publications like the East Bay Express, Parents’ Press, Red Tricycle, and Alameda Magazine, among others.

The best toys inspire free and open-ended play

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