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The best kid-friendly cafés in Melbourne

Fed up with tuts every time you park your pushchair at a latte dealer's? Here are six cafés happy to see you...

Photograph: Graham Denholm

Having kids might mean that your sleep patterns change, but it doesn't mean that your tastebuds will. Thankfully, kids don't necessarily sound a death knell for brunch. Check out these family friendly cafés that don't compromise on coolness or quality just because pint-sized patrons are welcome.

Once you're done, why not get some fresh air and work off the hollandaise sauce at one of Melbourne's awesome outdoor playgrounds? While we're discussing such matters, it's probably worth your while checking out some of Melbourne's family-friendly pubs, in case you're in need of a beverage more than breakfast.

Family-friendly cafés in Melbourne

Birdie Num Nums

An old favourite in the North. The shady courtyard is fabulous for eating in on those bright Melbourne mornings. There’s plenty of room for the kids to roam and on weekdays the courtyard is almost a mum-bub exclusive zone. The sand pit is perfect for playing in and is replete with lots of plastic toys for the kids to manhandle. The kids’ menu is reasonable and the ham and cheese toasty fingers are perfect for little hands. For the grown-ups, the food is tasty café fare.

Kid’s comment: “A café with an outdoor space means I get to move around. Yay!”

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Carlton North


It’s an indoor café-cum-play centre in the chi-chi suburb of South Melbourne. But this isn’t garish scrum-hall of screaming brats hyped up on E numbers. It’s a stylish venue in muted tones. The play equipment looks like it comes from IKEA’s organic cousin and is monitored by two chirpy and qualified childcare workers. The supervised play area (at $15 per hour) means you can have a conversation while the kids tire themselves out. The food is healthy and cute looking, whilst the Princess Chino with sparkly pink topping is a favourite with everyone.

Kid’s comment: “Finally, a café with the same amount of room for playing as for eating.”

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South Melbourne

Cowderoys Dairy

OK, so the inside can be packed out but there’s a good reason for this. If you can get a seat the food is delicious: dippy eggs in individual serving trays are a winner for adults and kids alike. If you’re struggling to sit down or you’re only here for coffee and cake, then this venue is next door to a council play area. You can let the kids have some play without you standing next over them, while keeping an eye on them from the outdoor balcony. Or the hoop-swing fits an adult bottom. Just saying…

Kid’s comment: “Tons of things to play on keeps me interested, and there’s soft stuff to fall on to stop Mum panicking.”

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St Kilda West

Crafternoon Café

If you like sticking cute things to other cute things, prepare to wet your hand-stitched britches with excitement. Crafternoon is a café where adults and tackers alike can get their art on with face-masks, sparkly things, macaroni and everyone’s favourite childhood snack – Clag glue. If you’ve never tried the non-toxic paste, now’s your chance, but if you’d rather ride a sugar high, the lovely, pinny-toting Teagan Cumerford will bring her crafty cakes (how about a spiced carrot muffin with a cream cheese centre?) till you beg her to stop.

Kid's comment: "Great, I get to pick the glue off my fingers!"

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Happy River Café

Perfect for a big family get together. The wide-open grass at the front, complete with blankets and rugs makes for a lovely, lazy feel. It provides the best bit of picnics (lying down, getting crumbs everywhere) with café service, meaning you don’t need to worry about washing up. Plus the yummy food and fresh cakes served by watchful staff mean you don’t need to leave the blanket!

Kid’s comment: “The best bit? The tree on the grass out front is climbable!”

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This is a very family-friendly restaurant and it means there’s somewhere to eat good Italian, with the kids, in the evening. Open from 5pm onwards you can get your brood into restaurant dining practice knowing that the other patrons won’t want to kill you, or your kids. The menu caters for all tastes and sizes of appetites. But the star turn is that the staff bring dough to the table so the kids can make their own pudding pizza. It miraculously returns to the table cooked and covered in chocolate for dessert.

Kid’s comment: “Where else do I get to play with my food and everyone’s happy about it?”

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South Kingsville

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