I love it when people tell me about some hip cafe they’ve been frequenting with their babycino loving toddler. It reminds me of how much my kid hates froth and how much I enjoy spending my mornings rearranging sugar sachets, salt and pepper shakers, table numbers, serviettes and cutlery. Coupled with an eye-rolling hipster seated at a nearby table who’s sneering at your “lifestyle choice” it almost makes for the perfect outing.
Apparently one day your children will let you eat a meal without you contracting heartburn but then they tell me you have, “I’m bored”, to look forward to. Until then here are three places in Melbourne to take your toddler if they have less than desirable table manners and need copious amounts of space.
1. The National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
You may think small children and precious artwork are four words that should never be used together and you’d probably be right. However just inside the doorway of the NGV is NGV Kid’s Space. This is actually a neat little play area with toy fruit, puzzles, a giant interactive kaleidoscope and drawing on offer. If the rug rats start to get antsy there is an outside area with a climbing frame towards the back of the gallery. If they’re on their best behavior you can attempt to check out some artwork or the Gallery shop, which has some unique books and gifts for children.
Open from 10am – 5pm daily and totally free there is plenty of takeaway coffee available and its also kind of heart-warming watching future generations discover the Water Wall or throw coins in the fountain.
2. The Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden, South Yarra
Located near the main entrance of The Botanical Gardens, South Yarra, this place is a gem for kids that like to bolt. With lots of little structures, pathways and plants plus coffee at the entrance you can also reminisce about your misspent youth watching adult music in the Sidney Myer Music Bowl instead of Barney the freaking Dinosaur.
3. Birrarung Marr, Melbourne
If you find yourself in the city visiting former work colleagues or a spouse and your child is laying spread-eagled, screaming in the Bourke St Mall head over to the north bank of the Yarra near Federation Square to regroup. There is a great playground with plenty of shade and room to run around plus plenty of takeaway options. My pick is the sausage sizzle at Riverland, you order at the BBQ and there is no need to be around breakable objects. Just avoid on Fridays.