PALO ALTO -- The American Girl store will open Nov. 16 at Stanford Shopping Center, becoming the first retail location in Northern California dedicated to the well-known line of character dolls and books embodying various periods in U.S. history.

The two-level, 15,000-square-foot store in Palo Alto will be one of 16 American Girl retail sites in the country and the second in California -- Los Angeles is home to the first. The sprawling store will include not only the full collection of dolls -- which sell for more than $100 apiece -- but also a bistro open for lunch and dinner, doll hair salon, doll T-shirt design shop and space to host birthday parties.

American Girl dolls stand 18 inches and portray 9- to 11-year-old girls of different ethnicities and each representing a certain time period. Each American Girl character is featured in a series of books and has her own clothing line, which also comes in matching human-sized outfits for young girls ages 8 and up. The Wisconsin-based company started as a catalogue in 1986.

Contact Heather Somerville at 510-208-6413. Follow her at Twitter.com/heathersomervil.