Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Move over Starbucks... Play Cafés abound around town

It's the latest trend - play cafés where kids can let out some energy and parents can relax with a cup of joe. For cold or rainy days, here are a few that you might enjoy.

Family Grounds Cafe
3652 N Lincoln Avenue, Chicago
Family Grounds Cafe is a hip coffee shop with an area where kids can play, and a separate area where parents can relax an enjoy Intelligentsia espresso, coffee or tea, savory treats, and even free WiFi and free parking. The play area includes a Victorian playhouse, performance stage, train area, schoolhouse and more. Special classes and events take place on a regular basis - for example, violin classes, mom supprt groups, special musical performances and more.

You can reserve play time blocks ahead of time for 2-hour blocks on Mon-Fri at 9:00 or 11:00; or on Saturday at 8:30, 10:30 or 12:30. It's $5.95 for adults & children (crawlers/walkers) You can also drop in to play on Mondays - Fridays between 1-6pm, and the fee is $10.95 for the first child (crawlers & up), $5.95 sibling rate (crawlers & up), with non-crawling infants free with a $4 minimum purchase. Parents are free.

Little Beans Cafe
1809 W. Webster, Chicago
Parents can enjoy their coffee in the separate cafe, or at one of the tables inside the play area. The play area is a cute little village with a grocery story, service station, playhouse, school and more, with a corner for kids to cozy up with their favorite books, puzzles or games. The play area is large, so there's plenty of room for running around. Little Beans also offers a wide range of classes like Music & Movement, Mom & Tot Yoga, and even an upcoming Spanish class with Multilingual Chicago.

Little Beans is open Monday - Friday 9am - 6pm; Saturday 9am - 3pm, and Sunday 9am - 11am. A daily pass is $12 with a sibling pass for $7. Supervised Play is also available for $20 for up to 1.5 hours, M-F from 2-5pm.

Little Monkey Bizness
229 Rice Lake Square, Wheaton and 4700 Gilbert Ave, Suite 51, Western Springs
Little Monkey Bizness offers a full-service gourmet coffee bar, and a wide assortment of delicious and healthy choices of food. The seating area overlooks a 3,000+ square foot play area, where kids enjoy playhouses, dance floors, educational computer games, and a separate area for babies and crawlers. A separate art area provides activities during special art sessions and open art time.

Play hours are Monday, Wednesday, Thursday 9am - 6pm; Tuesday and Friday 9am - 8pm; and Saturday and Sunday from 9am - noon. Open play admission is $7.50 per child over the age of 1, and $5.00 per child for crawlers between 6 months and 1 year. Infants and parents are free.

Nibbles Play Cafe
13 Huntington Lane, Wheeling
Parents will delight in the bistro-style menu and kids will enjoy a great selection of kids entrees after they've built up an appetite playing. Play areas at Nibbles include an area for non-walkers, trains and tracks, a construction zone, small toy area and arts and crafts. Nibbles also has hosts fun family events on a regular basis, with concerts, storytelling, and other themed activities.

Hours are 9:30am-8:00pm weekdays and 9:30-3:00 on weekends. Admission is $5 for kids age 1-7, with additional siblings $3.00. Older children and adults are free.

Pickle's Playroom
2315 W. Lawrence Ave, Chicago
Pickle's Playroom opened its doors just about a month ago, so it's the newest play cafe to hit Chicago. The cafe offers Metropolis brand coffee and organic baked goods from local favorite Bleeding Heart Bakery, plus a lunch menu with basic kids fare and a few selections for the grownups. The play area includes a kiddie rock climbing wall, factory control room, large tunnel slide, grocery store, towering dollhouse, and a separate area for crawlers/tiny tots. Classes and events are said to be coming soon. There's also a kids' hair salon on site, so for an additional $20, your little one can walk out with a new 'do.

Open play is $12, and siblings are $9, with multi-visit and monthly passes available. Hours are Monday - Friday 9am - 5pm; Saturday 9am - 3pm; Sunday 10am - 3pm.

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