Playgroups can be hosted anywhere, so why not at a lovely cafe? With barista style coffee available, even better.

Melbourne prides itself on its coffee and coffee shops. The cafes are many and varied, peppered throughout the city; down laneways, beside train stations and up above the busy streetscape. There are too many to visit. Some are well hidden and quiet. Others are bustling during the morning rush. The coffee shop culture branches off into the suburbs and beyond into regional and rural areas of Victoria.

We have done our research, compiling a list of the best cafes to visit with your kids and with your playgroup. It is not just about the coffee though, it is about the smoothies and the healthy produce- and the cake! We have sought out coffee shops with atmosphere and character, those suited to you, on any day of the week.

These quaint cafes have thoughtfully created spaces that allow for great imaginative play- and the quality of the food is tip top, too!

Native Home, Home of Plants, Abbotsford.

Newly opened, this plant nursery is hidden in amongst the hustle and bustle of Johnson Street. The facade is painted in gorgeous pale green stripes. It peers innocently out onto the busy streetscape, squished between other bland, nondescript buildings. Lush green plants wave you in at the entrance and continue to wind through the outdoor cafe area. It smells beautifully of eucalyptus and feels a little like you have wandered into the bush with all of the surrounding plant life and the open sky up above. Tables and benches are placed throughout the garden for you to sit at. The coffee is creamy and satisfying, as are the jaffles which you can assemble with a range of fillings. A garden mural adorning the side wall gives the space a heighten sense of authenticity; a natural feel that blends into the setting. There is a sandpit too! Children play happily as dogs wag their tails and watch their owners eat their breaky, hoping for a fallen morsel. Nature lovers will appreciate this nook in busy Melbourne. A must visit with children. A playgroup could easily be hosted here on a sunny spring day. 

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GRACE, Fitzroy.

If you head down Rose Street in Fitzroy you will happen upon a darling little coffee shop. People sit on the front verandah reading the newspaper, drinking coffee and watching the world go by. It is a great people watching spot, especially on the weekend when Rose Street Market is held next door. Little vases of paper flowers habitually rest upon the high front benches which are ideal for catching a dose of Vitamin D. Typically a little sign is perched out front saying, "We have cake." Most important. The cakes are scrumptious.

Inside you will find rustic interiors, old school furniture and trinkets, like a row of collected teapots hung high on a shelf. It has a certain charm, there is no denying.

If you continue through the cafe and out into the backyard, there is a big shipping container, fitted out with a beautiful side table with doilies atop. Hands knitted blankets are supplied in case you get cold. Neat! It feels as though a little tea room from decades ago has been transported outside. There are also picnic tables.

The style is vintage by nature; a little assortment of collectables fashioned together in a unique and comfortable way. The drinks are satisfying, the food delicious and the menu reasonably priced. This isn't a cafe made to be suave. It's not showing off. It is designed to be homely and inviting. You won't be worried that your child is making a mess or making too much noise. Grace is both casual and charming. It won't break the bank, and truly, the food is quite wonderful.

Just a short walk off Brunswick Street or Nicholson Street, Grace is well worth a visit. We recommend weekday visits for a leisurely morning tea or lunch. Weekends are fun but action packed! Lots of people flock to Grace on Saturday and Sunday. It is a very popular meeting spot and we know why. Three gold stars.



Allpress Coffee, Collingwood.

Number 80 Rupert Street is a nice place to stop, unwind, and enjoy a cuppa in the sunshine. Even on a grey skied Melbourne day it is still pleasant outside. This chic cafe is very sleek and modern. The interiors are minimalist and sophisticated. Is it sounding a bit too fancy for you and the kids? Don't be fooled, it is easily adaptable. You can still enjoy Allpress with children, in fact, you deserve all of the niceties it has to offer.

With your children in toe, head outside. Phone ahead if you can to secure a spot because the outdoor area is beautiful. Fantastic large timber and concrete benches sprawl in the courtyard which catches the sun. It is spacious with lovely surrounding greenery. The menu is great and the coffee yum yum. Allpress delivers.



The Farm Café at the Collingwood Children’s Farm.

Wow-wee, there is lots on offer for families in Collingwood. Just down the road from Smith Street, just before you hit the Yarra bend is a splendid rambling spot. The Farm Cafe is nestled in amongst the Collingwood Children's Farm. The food is gourmet. The coffee delicious. The Yarra River runs behind the cafe. Beautiful trees drape across the winding pathways that lead down to the river, around the farmland and into the Abbotsford Convent. A whole day could easily be spent here, and don't feel obliged to spend much, either. The natural surrounds will provide you more than you need in the way of enjoyment- but hey, you have to eat and there is no better place than the wonderful Farm Cafe.  


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Café Heidi at Heide Museum of Modern Art, Heidelberg.

Set in the spectacular grounds of Heide MOMA, this cafe is a joy. You can dine in, grab a take away coffee and cake or pack your own picnic to eat in the expansive gardens. There is plenty of art to marvel in the garden- and the natural splendour of the place is an masterpiece of its own making. The gallery often has free exhibitions as an added bonus, too! There is the option to indulge in a full meal with dessert, or enjoy more reasonably priced snack items such as sandwiches or focaccias.



South of Johnson, Collingwood.

This is a fantastic little gem. Popular on a weekend, it is best to be enjoyed on a weekday or during the quieter times of the weekend. A great space with a big kitchen table in the middle, it is welcoming and you can quite easily make yourself at home, but without the cleanup and with tremendous service. Terrific food options and drinks. It is very nice indeed (there is a little courtyard nook too). Super.



Studley Park Boathouse, Kew.

Studley Park Boathouse has a wonderful outdoor space where the kids can play freely. The kiosk provides great coffee and easily transportable food so that you can go and sit on the grass or by the water, admiring the ducks and beautiful surrounds! Picnics optional.


Two Brothers Cafe, Mitcham.

"A small, family friendly café in the Rangeview shopping strip. Open for breakfast, lunch & great coffee. Come in and check out our kid friendly courtyard " - Craig Wilson, one of the 'Two Brothers'


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Nature Boy Café, Murrumbeena.

"Delicious coffee, mouth-watering food and extensive wine list for you, cubby house and massive collection of toys for your kids." - Martina Falcioni, Manager

Bookings and private functions also available.


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The Merri Table at Ceres Environmental Park, Brunswick.

This cafe is a beautifully located in an environmental park that backs onto Merri Creek. You will find a nursery, and an organic grocery store onsite- as well as a sandpit for the kids and plenty of room to run around and explore!  



Serotonin Cafe, Burnley.

This cafe is both trendy and comfortable. The food is yum and the coffee is aplenty. Ticks all boxes.


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Park Street, Carlton North.

Newly opened!

Residing next to a playground and on the popular bike path trail, Park Street cafe is an ideal stop-by destination for those with little tackers. In the mornings, if it often scattered with new Mums who are catching up, enjoying the atmosphere, and most importantly, getting out of the house with their young ones. The cafe has a nice vibe, balanced between casual meeting spot/study nook or sophisticated luncheon. There are different elements to the overall design which make it dynamic. It is very child friendly and comfortable. It use to be Green Park, but soon will be the brand new Park Street. Check it out!  


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Brighton Schoolhouse, Brighton.

Steeped in history, the Brighton Schoolhouse is stunning. Dating back to 1843, the old building has bespoke charm and an impressive contemporary style when it comes to their cafe. The schoolhouse serves lattes in all sorts of colours. Matcha Purple, Sweet Pototoe, Pink Tea and Golden (Tumeric) are on the menu which look amazing in pastel and vibrant hues. The smoothies are delicious and look just as good as the lattes, with flowers on top. Have a peek at their Instagram- the chefs are artists, presenting their food and beverages in interesting ways with style. There is a terrific outdoor area with a playground so the kids will be happy. You can sit out and watch them while they play. With the beauty and colour, chances are, Brighton Schoolhouse will inspire your own artistic flair or at the very least, be a real treat to visit.


Bean Counter Cafè, Fairfield.

This cafè has a cute outdoor area with a toy box. Hooray! Dogs welcome too. Locals highly rate the coffee.


The Boathouse, Moonee Ponds.

Locals love it, visitors love it just as much. This cafe/restaurant is situated on the Maribyrnong River. Great outdoor area. The kids can play freely with grassy embankments and nature abounding.



The Stables of Como, South Yarra.


Birdie Nums Nums Café, Carlton.


Cowderoy's Dairy, St Kilda.


Riverside Café, Ascot Vale.


Out of the city:

Cafe Botticelli, Geelong.


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Café Moby, Torquay.

Cafe Moby does milkshake making workshops.   

Mule Coffee Shed, North Geelong.


Article by Sinead Halliday