Sip and Play: The Bay Area’s Kid-Friendly Cafes
Coffee should be on the list of required items for parenting. Luckily, the Bay boasts plenty of cafes that offer a little something extra for patrons with little ones in tow. From those designed especially for crawlers and their caregivers, with toys that tempt as much as the coffee, to others that are simply more laid back and inviting for families and singles alike, we round up the local cafes to visit with with your kiddo.
Photo courtesy of Play Cafe
This Oakland spot prides themselves on being a place where families can play, learn, and eat. $9 per child admission fee gets you in the door for a fun-filled time, where your little one can choose from various free play activities, such as wading in a ball-filled swimming hole to playing dress up in the theater room. The café area is also spacious, with multiple tables and a full range of espresso drinks to go with your gourmet panini. Kid-friendly options like edamame or mac ‘n’ cheese come with a side of fruit or juice.
4400 Keller Ave., Ste. 410
Serving organic fair trade coffee, this spot is great for vegan or vegetarian diets. Saturn Café offers an awesome brunch menu, using only organic and cage free eggs, and mouthwatering sweets like French toast or Banana Walnut pancakes. Best of all, kids entrees are only $4.95,and features catchy names as Kidzadilla—two corn tortillas with jack cheese and sour cream—or Trees & Cheese—organic broccoli with melted grated cheddar. Each entree comes with choice of drink: milk, juice or even soymilk. And take home some house-made vegan, gluten-free cupcakes. Choose from two locations, Berkeley or Santa Cruz.
2175 Allston Way
This cozy little San Leandro spot is meant to celebrate the coffee house tradition as a local gathering place. And one thing about moms is we like to gather, giving our wee ones a budding community of their own in the process. Unlike other kid-friendly cafes, Zocalo doesn’t feel like one giant play room. The décor is earthy and, well, grown-up—with some nice parenting perks thrown in, like cushy sofas, indoor kid space, and of course, organically grown coffee roasted in house.
San Leandro, Ca
Julie’s Coffee & Tea
Local neighborhood spots like Julie’s in Alameda make it easy to get out and take a break over a steaming mug accompanied by an organic lemon ginger scone with Devonshire cream. At Julie’s, kids love the warm and colorful décor indoors, complete with a sofa area, and the cozy garden out back. They even sell kid-sized tees for little Julie’s fans.
1223 Park St.
Photo by Mari N. via Yelp
Enjoy a relaxing morning or afternoon with your little one at this charming Corte Madera café. With great outdoor patio space to accommodate strollers, as well as lots of natural light streaming through the large windows inside, Café Verde is a great spot to hang with your tiny tots. Your kids will especially love that it’s a stone’s throw from Corte Madera Park.
502 Tamalpais Dr.
Corte Madera, Ca
Depot Bookstore & Cafe
With an outdoor patio on the plaza and an adjoining bookstore complete with a nicely stocked kids’ corner, you can’t go wrong with the Depot Café in Mill Valley. The muffins are freshly baked in-house and your salad veggies come from local sources. It’s no wonder that Marin parents and kids flock here, where they can play right on the open square with nary a car nearby.
87 Throckmorton Ave.
Mill Valley, Ca
Photo courtesy of Rigolo Café
Rigolo in San Francisco’s Laurel Village is extremely popular among the kid set, and it’s easy to see why. With kids’ play area, chalkboard, crayons, balloons, and yummy kids menu, this modern French café is a great place to enjoy with the whole family in tow. Enjoy croquet Madame and a single vanilla latte as your little one enjoys their La Combo Enfant Kids selection, a selection of what they refer to as Tummy Fillers (Alexa’s Grilled Cheese or Les Chicken Fingers) alongside a delectable side, drink, and Rigolo cookie for $5.99. Did we mention kids eat free on Saturday nights?
3465 California St.
San Francisco, Ca
Dolores Park Cafe
Snag a corner spot at Dolores Park Café, a neighborhood joint with prime real estate off 18th and Dolores in San Francisco. With large windows facing Dolores Park and Bi-Rite, you and your kiddo will enjoy taking in the sights and sounds of this hip San Francisco hood. And your little one can choose from a variety of eats from their Just for Kids menu, from their cheesy mini-pizza on Leadbetter’s English muffin to PB & Homemade Jelly sandwich. And of course, one of the city’s best playgrounds (Dolores Park) is just up the block.
501 Dolores St.
San Francisco, Ca
With locations in the Fillmore, Yerba Buena, and Hayes Valley, The Grove makes it easy for the San Francisco stroller set to fill their tummies before or after a day on the town. Cozy with mismatched chairs, rustic wood furniture, and a fireplace, it’s a friendly place to warm cold fingers, and when it’s nice out, there’s outdoor seating, too. And changing tables in both men’s and women’s restrooms make it easy to share diaper duty.
2016 Fillmore St.
San Francisco, Ca
Photo courtesy of Cafe Barrone
In Menlo Park head to Café Borrone, popular among Peninsula parents for brunch, or little bite in between. With fast service, plenty of outdoor seating with umbrellas to shade your little one, and ample room for strollers, Café Borrone is ideal. For breakfast, try one of their house-baked specialties like berry streusel muffins or pecan buns alongside their signature Frosted Mocha or Mexican Hot Chocolate. For lunch the littles can feast on ooey gooey open-faced cheese melt from the kids’ menu, followed up with one of their oversized cookies. And with Kepler’s Books right next door, it’s the perfect way to spend a leisurely afternoon.
1010 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, CA 94025
This Palo Alto bakery/cafe takes breads and pastries to the next level by offering a full breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and kids menu. The cafe seating is spacious, with lots of wood furnishings to give it that “rustic” look. With everything from grilled cheese to omelets on the kids menu, your kiddo will be hard-pressed to find something he or she won’t like. A great hangout for rainy days (or any day, really) Mayfield Bakery is a tad on the pricey side, but well worth shelling out for the atmosphere.
855 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, Ca
Photo by Mondy L. via Yelp
It’s easy to see why Blvd Coffee is a favorite amongst South Bay locals. Blvd Coffee prides themselves on their welcoming and friendly atmosphere, and embrace the known Cheers lyric, “”Sometimes you wanna go, where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came…” Your kiddos will devour one of their yummy pastries or cookies while you enjoy a latte alongside their signature Paganini panini. Blvd Coffee truly is a home away from home.
15525C Los Gatos Blvd
Los Gatos, CA 95032
In San Jose, Roy’s Station in Japantown is the spot for a pit stop. Once a pre-WWII-era Mobil gas station owned by “Grandpa Roy,” the property was transformed by his children and grandchildren, and stands today as a retro family-friendly coffee shop. You’ll enjoy great outdoor seating, and if your little one’s into classic car toys or hot rods, they’ll enjoy the gas station themed space, including a Mobil gas pump from the 1930s. And if you have a four-legged friend, bring them along, too. as Roy’s is also dog-friendly.
197 Jackson St.
San Jose, Ca
What’s your neighborhood gem or favorite coffee spot? Tell us in the comments below.
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