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Published January 4th 2017
Enjoy some family fun under the trees this weekend
For parents and carers who are visiting this family-friendly city, or are lucky enough to live here, it is a welcome sight to walk into a café and see colouring-in, games or even a little playground for the kids to play on while waiting for the food to arrive. As a mum myself, I appreciate any playground that is clean, doesn't have any sharp objects to scratch and has a soft landing if any of the kids fall over. A scraped knee is one way to ruin an enjoyable morning out with the family. When you find a café that is fun and safe for them, as well as providing great service, food and coffee, then it is one that you will return to time and time again.
This Quick List is for those busy parents who are looking for somewhere to eat today, or perhaps next week, who don't have time to start researching every café in Canberra. These are our family's favourite three cafes in the region, I hope they will be yours.
1/ Rodney's Café is always number one on my list for a family friendly café and even more so now, as they have recently upgraded their play equipment. This café is located inside Rodney's Plants Plus garden centre in Pialligo, which is only a few minutes drive from Canberra Airport and less than ten minutes from the CBD. Although it sounds like a busy location, it isn't, as it is located on a long road of plant nurseries, landscape suppliers. alpaca farms and apple orchards. The café itself is quaint with various areas to sit, however families enjoy sitting under the large tree by the playground and soaking up the relaxed ambience, while their kids happily play. If you have a large group or want a particular time on weekends or school holidays, many people book ahead to ensure a spot under the trees. They also do a seriously good coffee. See website here for details.
If you have time afterwards (between February and May only), why not visit the apple orchards along this road to buy a kilo of fresh apples straight from the orchard. Kids will notice the difference from the supermarket varieties, with apple juice running down their hands after every bite. Two apple huts are at Beltana Grange Orchard and Kerrison's, however see the full list here.
2/ Tulips Café is located on the same road as Rodney's Café (above) and is across the road from Kerrison's apple orchard. This is a smaller café and playground, however it is a lot of fun for younger children with a bouncy bee and frog to ride on, cubby house, small slide and other bouncy equipment. Since these photos were taken below, they have also enclosed the playground area so little fingers can't reach through the fence. Although it isn't as large as Rodney's, it is a handy spot to go to if Rodney's is too busy, or as a destination in itself. In winter it has a cosy fire inside. See website here for details.
Tulips Cafe, Pialligo - now with colourful enclosed fencing
3/ Millhouse Café is located in Queanbeyan in NSW - which sounds far away, however it is only 20 minutes from Canberra's CBD. This historical café was built in 1883 and originally was used as the managers residence for the Byrnes Flour Mill next door. Our family simply love this café, with friendly owners, leafy areas to sit in the garden and reasonable prices for toasties and light meals. The playground has a large cubby house and plenty of plastic toys and slides for small children to play with. It is an ideal family café in summer as there is plenty of shade and a new water splash park and playground across the road to enjoy afterwards. There is also has a fireplace inside for the winter months. See website here for details. For a full article on the Millhouse Café, see here.
These are our family's favourite three cafes with playgrounds around the region, however also check out Krack'd Peppa Café in Tuggeranong, as a close fourth. There are also many other family friendly cafes, pubs, clubs and Kids Eat Free options around the city. In particular, many of Canberra's local clubs have a play area near their café and there are toddler Play Worlds near cafes at Westfield Shopping Centres at Woden and Belconnen.
Wherever you decide to go, kids will enjoy meeting other kids for some pretend play around the cubby houses or for some fun down the slides. Also parents and carers don't have to worry about enough high chairs, nappy change areas or kid friendly food options on the menu - these venues have everything covered. If the kids are happy, then we can sit back with a coffee and have a sneaky rest - even if it is only just for a short time!
Indoor playgrounds near cafes. From left to right/ top to bottom: Erindale Vikings Club playground, Jamison Southern Cross Club playground, Woden Southern Cross Club toddler playground, Westfield Shopping Centre Woden toddler Play World