I often see exasperated parents at open homes. Kids of all ages quickly tire of looking at house after house (after house). When you're looking in a new area, the local kid-friendly spots are not always known or immediately obvious. Whether you need a break or a bribe, here's a few pit stops with coffee nearby to make the family day out easier.
Rodneys Cafe at Pialligo provides a great outdoor area, complete with cubby house, trees to climb and a decent cafe. If you want to be beside them while they play, grab a table or the hut beside the playground.
Yarralumla Gallery & Oaks Brasserie Cafe is at the entrance to Weston Park, and is a beautiful, leafy stop after a bike ride with the kiddies. There's room to explore the gardens and more trees to climb, with one side being dog-friendly if you've got a furry friend along for the ride. Bookings advisable.
If you're hunting in the Inner South, grab a coffee from Me & Mrs Jones and head around the corner to stretch their legs at Telopea Park. Pack a picnic if you're organised or send your other half for the short stroll over to Kingston shops to grab lunch at Silo bakery.
Boundless is Canberra's newest playground, and has something for the littlest ones through to upper Primary-aged kids. The nearest coffee stop is a cart down by the Carillion. A good option if you need somewhere fully-fenced for peace of mind.
The National Arboretum is an award-winning favourite with its acorn-style pod playground, but it's quite new and the site is very exposed. On a windy day, rug up! There's a cafe indoors and often a cart outside, and the playground is a big winner with the kids. If you're crossing town between North and South this is a great place to take a break on the parkway.
Up in Gungahlin, Yerrabi playground has a skate park, flying fox and ball courts for the older kids, while the little tackers will love feeding the ducks and swans at the jetty. There's also a mini skate ramp alongside a pirate ship playground for the youngsters. Careful of the magpies, they will eat food right out of your hand - even as it's going towards your mouth! You can grab a coffee at Samekesh or Da Nunzio along the Yerrabi waterfront, and the lap of the water is an easy flat few kms for the family to enjoy.
John Knight Park at Lake Ginninderra has been a Northsider's favourite for years. The snake park now has a flying fox and a second play area, just beware of the mossy rocks in the river as I've seen many a drenched kid emerge from a chilly slip into the water! Be advised, BYO coffee here. There's a few fast food places around the lake or coffee from one of the cafes near the Mall (Black Pepper is easy to get in/out quickly), or take advantage of the BBQ facilities and make a real meal of it.
Ricardo's in Jamison is a popular cafe, with the killer combo of mouth-watering desserts to die for plus prime parenting vantage points, looking onto a playground. Book a table outside, next to the playground specifically. The overhead heaters are welcome on a cooler day.
If you're in Woden, head to the Chifley shops for a suburban playground with the local cafe A Bite to Eat. There's also ball courts and plenty of open space for a game of footy or cricket. Lyons cafe Stand By Me is another good option.
Down on the Southside, Fadden Pines and Kambah adventure park are great for both younger and older kids alike. Coffees are not handy though, so make a preliminary stop at the local shops beforehand, or make use of the BBQ facilities for a lunch stop instead.
Chisholm shops have a convenient playground outside Coles, with the local Turkish 'Fig and Olive' serving up good coffee and great lunch options.
When the weather turns, you need somewhere undercover for them to burn off their energy. There's indoor rock climbing at Mitchell and Hume, iPlay or Skyzone trampolining at Belconnen Mall, Flip Out at Mitchell, karting at Fyshwick for the over-6's, ten pin bowling in Tuggeranong and Belconnen, or the treat of a movie at any of the major shopping centres might earn some good behaviour!
Other options are any of the national attractions - think Questacon, the War Memorial where they can play in a real submarine, National Gallery and Sculpture Gardens, National Museum, the Dinosaur Museum in Gold Creek, MoAD, Botanic Gardens etc. Many are free but the paid ones are well worth the fee. Most have a cafe within the premises - if you're out at Nicholls stop in at Cafe Injoy or Adore Tea, which now has a littlies play nook plus a small playground around the corner.
There's so many more kid-friendly spots with a coffee nearby, it's a matter of getting out there and trying them all. And if you've got a long day of house inspections lined up, the promise of a playground can often buy you a little more time.