Bay Area’s Best Kid-Friendly Cafes

May 24, 2011 2:13 PM

Fun neighborhood cafes where both parents and kids can let their hair down are much sought-after venues. From rowdy, anything-goes to quaint and neighorboody, we have you covered.

Play Cafe
4400 Keller Ave, Suite 410
Oakland, CA 94605
Play Cafe

Oakland’s Play Cafe is probably the biggest and most popular kid-friendly cafe in the Bay Area. The space is divided into partitioned play areas, including a ball pit, a kitchen, a tea room, a train room, and a room for playing dress-up, with lots of stuffed animals and toys scattered throughout. There’s also a large outdoor deck area, and let’s not forget the large space for parents and caregivers to sip lattes.

East Bay and San Francisco

Locations in San Francisco, Oakland, and Emeryville

Farley’s started out as a cozy neighborhood cafe in Potrero Hill and has grown to also include two locations in the East Bay. All three locations are kid-friendly and feature toys and books for the little ones, as well as a great selection of magazines, monthly art shows, and regular live music events. Additionally, Farley’s East in Oakland has a loft that includes children’s seating and a game area.

San Francisco

3465 California St, San Francisco

Laurel Village’s Rigolo Cafe is an oasis for San Francisco families. In addition to offering coffee and espresso drinks, they also offer beer and wine — for those who really want to let their hair down. Rigolo also has a full menu, featuring reasonably priced meals for kids. Their play area is located at the back of the cafe and is charmingly fenced off. To top it all off, kids eat free on Monday nights.

Little Bird Coffeehouse
835 Geary St, San Francisco
Little Bird Coffehouse

Little Bird’s quaint children’s area hasn’t yet been discovered except by a handful of neighborhood parents-in-the-know, including this contributor (who also works at Little Bird a few hours per week). Visitors can expect delicious artisanal coffee and vegetarian/vegan fare, a cozy community vibe, and a monthly art exhibit, and tucked away in the little nook along the left wall of the cafe is an adorable collection of toys, books, and a couple of seats for kids.

South Bay

Cafe Zoe
1929 Menalto Ave, Menlo Park
Cafe Zoe

Located in a residential area, Menlo Park’s Cafe Zoe offers a quiet, relaxing, and community conscious vibe. They feature regular live music and art shows, and they have a fun children’s play area with a doll house, books, and toys out on the back patio. Be sure to order a “Babyccino” for your little one as a special treat.


Depot Bookstore and Cafe
87 Throckmorton Ave, Mill Valley
Depot Bookstore and Cafe

Mill Valley’s popular Depot Bookstore and Cafe is strategically located adjacent to an outdoor plaza, providing parents and caregivers ample time to sit back and watch the little ones run wild. Grab a book, have a bite to eat, sip some coffee, beer, or wine, and spend the afternoon on Mill Valley’s beautiful town square.

Leanne Maxwell is the mother of a toddler who loves checking out the many kidcentric activities the Bay Area has to offer. She’s also a freelance writer, designer, and all-around web enthusiast. You can find her over at

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