The holy grail of parenting = a great cafe combined with a great park (also a kid who sleeps through the night, isn’t a fussy eater etc etc but that’s all for another time).
Of course it’s possible to BYO snacks to a playground or BYO toys to a cafe. But the perfect cafe and playground combo means there’s something for them and something for you, right?
Here’s a list of my Top 18 cafe and playground destinations, where (a) the cafe is within sight of the playground or no further than across the road and (b) the food is worth recommending and the playground is at least passable.
1. Go West Tuck Shop + Woodlea playground
A large, thrilling and interesting playground that’s worth a special trip. Combine it with Go West a fantastic, light-filled eatery that wouldn’t be out of place in the hip inner city and Woodlea’s got my vote.
Go West, 27 Woodlea Boulevard, Rockbank
2. Serotonin + Golden Square Bicentennial Park
Serotonin is a health-conscious cafe where everything on the menu is gluten, dairy and refined sugar free. Across the road is a park and small playground with train-spotting opportunities
Bonus points – you can collect a picnic basket and rug from Serotonin, order from the takeaway window and they’ll bring your food out to you in the park!
Serotonin, 52 Madden Grove, Burnley
3. Curator’s Collective + Queens Park playground
Curator’s Collective is a sweet lake-side cafe within sight of a popular playground in Queens Park. The playground could do with an update to be honest but it’ll still keep the kids amused while you sip your latte. Just beware of the pigeons – step away from your food and BAM it’ll be gone.
Curator’s Collective, 778 Mt Alexander Rd, Moonee Ponds
4. Cowderoy’s Dairy + Jacoby Reserve
Cowderoy’s Dairy is an old-style milk bar cafe within sight of a small playground.
Cowderoy’s Dairy, 14 Cowderoy St, St Kilda West
5. Little Captain + Hewison Reserve
Little Captain is a sweet but slightly ramshackle cafe which wouldn’t be particularly remarkable on it’s own – but it has a back entrance that leads straight to the fenced playground at Hewison Reserve.
Little Captain, 353 Inkerman St, St Kilda East
6. The Boathouse + Maribyrnong Park
Along the shores of the Maribyrnong River you’ll find a large marine-themed playground, a coffee kiosk and The Boathouse restaurant. Depending on how busy the kitchen is sometimes you can order from The Boathouse menu and get it take away from the coffee kiosk.
The Boathouse, 7 The Boulevard, Maribyrnong Park, Moonee Ponds
7. Farm cafe + Collingwood Children’s Farm
The Farm Cafe is a brilliant little cafe focusing on local and seasonal produce (with one of Melbourne’s best milkshakes) on the site of Collingwood Children’s Farm. On the second Saturday of every month there’s a popular Farmer’s Market too and you can enter the farm for only $2 adult and kids free.
The Farm Cafe, 18 St Heliers St, Abbotsford
8. Park Street + playground
Park Street offers sophisticated brunch fare in North Carlton with a back area that spills out into bike racks and a small playground.
Park Street, 815 Nicholson Street, Carlton North
9. Federation Square and riverside eateries + Artplay playground
Federation Square and Birrarung Marr offers many places where you can get a feed (including ACMI Bar & Cafe, Pilgrim and Riverland). Then enjoy the sprawling Artplay playground at Birrarung Marr. Bonus points for excellent ice cream at Popstic by the river.
Federation Square and Birrarung Marr, Melbourne
10. Saluministi + Buluk Park
Saluministi serves rustic Italian-style panini, coffee and sweets. The unusual playground at Buluk Park and the beautiful Library at the Dock makes this playground + cafe combo one of our favourite stops in Docklands.
Saluministi, 892 Bourke St, Docklands
11. Hanhdorf Fine Chocolates + Montrose Community Playground
Possibly the only playground in Melbourne with an adjoining chocolate shop!
Hahndorf’s Fine Chocolates, 960-962 Mount Dandenong Tourist Rd, Montrose
12. The Foodrinkery + playground
The Foodrinkery is a small cafe that not only provides its own play area but opens its back gate into a large local reserve with playground.
The Foodrinkery, 22 Banksia St, Burwood
13. Cubbyhouse Canteen + playground
Cute child-friendly cafe next to a local park and playground. A more ‘grown up’ and upmarket option is nearby Gardiner and Field who also offer takeaway lunch packs (sandwich, salad and treat) that you can take to the playground.
Cubbyhouse Canteen, 43A Union St, Armadale
14. Square and Compass + Fitzroy Gardens
Square and Compass boasts a light-filled interior with courtyard just a stone’s throw from the small dragon playground inside picturesque Fitzroy Gardens. At the bottom end of Fitzroy Gardens (near Wellington Parade) there’s also child-friendly Kere Kere cafe.
Square and Compass, 222 Clarendon St, East Melbourne
15. Leroys +Paine Reserve
If you STILL need entertainment after the cubbyhouse and toys at Leroys then there’s a small playground in front the Newport Community Hub at Paine Reserve. Another alternative cafe for the same playground is The Backyard.
16. Hank Marvin Market + Alma Park East
If you visit Alma Park East on a Saturday morning then the food trucks and produce stalls are there for the Hank Marvin Market.
17. Yarraville Gardens food trucks + Yarraville Gardens playground
Every Friday night and weekend lunch/dinner a rotation of food trucks line Yarraville Gardens. The playground within the park is large and suits all ages.
18. Coburg Farmers Market + Harmony Park
Every Saturday Coburg North Primary School holds a farmer’s market and the school grounds are just behind the awesome Harmony Park.