If you’ve ever tried to meet up with a friend or send some emails while juggling a toddler's attention and a hot drink in a narrow, busy cafe, you know the stress even such a simple outting can be.
While local cafes don't exactly offer playgrounds with their java (though, come to think of it, that's totally a great name for a coffee shop: Play + Grounds), several spots are especially good at accommodating all ages with wide tables, book nooks, play areas, cozy seating, and healthy children's menus. These are my stress-less favorites when I have kids in tow for a meeting or we want a fun (and delicious!) eating-out experience with friends.
Carpe Café in Smyrna (below) is known for its bright, colorful interior as well as hearty breakfast and lunch menus (try the homemade Quiché or toasty ham and cheese sandwich) and artfully poured hot drinks.
Picky little eaters will enjoy no-fuss PB&J or honey sandwiches and simple sides like carrot sticks and kettle chips. Kids and adults can take advantage of the book nook and board games in easy reach of a comfy leather sofa. Smaller children will be entranced by the colorful artwork on each tabletop and enjoy the view from the windows of the Depot District. If they’re lucky, they'll get to see a train go by! Open Monday-Thursday 7:30am-6:30pm, Friday 7:30am-10pm, Saturday 10am-8pm. 115 Front St. Smyrna. 615-984-4040
Catfeine Café, while more cat than café, is still a delightful spot to take the slightly older kids for a unique outing and oh yes, delicious treats. The café serves a full line of coffee beverages along with hot chocolate, and on the weekends guest can choose from an assortment of pound cakes from The Curious Kitchen. After grabbing a beverage, guests age seven and up can purchase time by the hour to go hang with the adoptable felines in house and get a good snuggle and relaxation fix. Check out their fun events and party options, too! Open Wednesday-Friday 12-6pm, Saturday 11am-8pm, Sunday 12-5pm. 1602 W. Northfield Blvd. Ste. 500.
Just Love Coffee Roasters attracts all ages for the very good reason that there are offerings and spaces for everyone, including outdoor tables, quiet spots upstairs, and tables in the main hub in the center of the shop.
Kids will see plenty to interest them, including the wishing wall, the glass viewing window of the roasting machine, and sofas perfect for snuggling up with books. A simple but delicious menu, including one for children, features wraps, salads, and their famous waffles next to the stellar coffee and tea choices. Kids will get a kick out of the “waffle-everything” cooking technique that applies to all hot menu items—even the chicken tenders! Open Sunday-Saturday 7am-7pm. 129 MTCS Dr. 615-624-8169
Barnes and Noble Bookstore and Café in The Avenue offers a welcome retreat for kids and parents with its popular arrays of Starbucks, Harney and Sons, and Tazo drinks, cravable baked goodies, and even options for a light lunch and healthy snacks. Parents and older kids can peruse countless attractive book stacks, while small ones can keep happy and busy at the train table in the children's section. Open Monday-Thursday 9am-9pm, Friday and Saturday 9am-10pm, and Sunday 11am-8pm. 2615 Medical Center Pkwy. 615-895-8580
Simply Pure Sweets in downtown Murfreesboro is a staple in the lives of many locals with its scratch-made artisanal breakfast and lunch items, along with quality coffee drinks, teas and lemonade. Children will love picking out their sweets (macaroons, cookies, cinnamon roles, and cream pies, to name a few) in front of the glass cases before settling in at the play kitchen just for them at the back of the restaurant. Handmade long tables invite families to spread out a little, and comfortable couches and chairs invite patrons to stay a while. Visit them at their new location opening this week! Open Monday-Friday 6:30am-4pm, Saturday 6:30am-2pm. 128 N. Church St. Murfreesboro. 615-962-8086