Enjoy coffee with one of the best views of the city
Sprout Cafe is located inside the Visitors Centre at the National Arboretum, less than 10 minutes from Canberra's city centre. As well as all the other things to do at this popular attraction, the cafe is one of the most scenic places to have a coffee with a view in Canberra. I remember when my family first moved to Canberra, we had no idea what an "arboretum" was, which seems to be a common comment when visitors come to the city. The word "Arboretum" means "a botanical garden devoted to trees" and that is what you will find - 94 forests of rare and endangered trees planted over the 250 hectare landscape. At the top of one of the rolling hills is the Visitors Centre which houses the casual Sprout Cafe, which has an 180 degree view of the city through their floor to ceiling windows. It also has the added beauty of large, architecturally-striking wooden beams curving over the whole cafe seating area, which creates a feeling of being somewhere uniquely special.
The cafe is open every day between 9am and 4pm and has all the requirements you need for a casual cafe, with ready-to-eat meals that you can take back to your table or enjoy outside with a picnic on the grass. They offer sandwiches, bagels, cakes, handmade pies, quiches, banana bread, yoghurts, fruit salads, hot drinks, cold drinks, milkshakes and more. As the seating area is so extensive, diners are given a buzzer when they place their order and then they go back to the counter when their coffee or meal is ready. This cafe is particularly popular with mothers groups, seniors groups, school groups - and all age groups, as a central and scenic meeting place. Sprout Cafe can easily fit over 300 diners in the cafe at once, so it can end up feeling more like a food court than a cafe, however you can always still find a table.
Outside the cafe doors there is arguably the best playground in Canberra, Pod Playground, so the cafe is ideally situated for a milkshake before or after a play. As the seating area is part of the general Visitors Centre, the cafe has no problem if you need to pull out your child's lunch box to enjoy an indoor picnic on a windy day. It is that kind of cafe - casual, inviting and you are left to yourself to sit back and simply enjoy the surroundings.
After your visit to the cafe, there is a The Curatoreum gift shop to explore, with many items that you can't buy anywhere else in Canberra. If you are travelling and looking for some books for the kids, or if you are looking for a present for a green thumb, then you will find everything in this store. There are also informative signs to read around the Centre in this area, tours to join and doors out to the National Bonsai and Penjing Collection and Canberra Discovery Garden, just a short walk from the cafe.
The fun and impressive Pod Playground, for all ages
Canberra has many scenic cafes in which to enjoy views over Lake Burley Griffin and the region, however Sprout Cafe has the most sweeping views of the city - and more. It is more than a cafe experience, it is about appreciating nature, walking some trails, learning about bonsai's, admiring the award-winning playground and getting an overall appreciation of what this forest facility is doing for the future. It has taken a cleared piece of land that was destroyed in the 2003 Canberra bushfires and turned it into a positive experience for the whole community - and for the future of the world's endangered trees.
In short, there is a lot to see at the National Arboretum - why don't you visit it first on your trip to Canberra. Take some time to relax in the Sprout Cafe and overlook the city in which you are about to explore and there is a lot to explore.
Discover Dairy Farmers Lookout, Canberra Discovery Garden and more at the National Arboretum