Cafes have come on a long way since I was a nipper.
They used to be places which served one type of tea in floral china on wobbly saucers. Nowadays, they serve decaf vegan latte macchiatos and smashed avocado on toast. Well, apart from the ones who are using mismatch floral china on wobbly saucers in a self-aware nod towards the past.
Anyway, child one recently suggested that we share ideas for cafes on the Isle of Wight which are particularly good for younger visitors.
So here goes:
1. Board, Newport
The Isle of Wight's only board game cafe is in Newport town centre. Not exactly the most picturesque location on our beautiful Island, but it's a welcome shelter on a stormy day. You pay a small cover charge to have access to all the games and then order whatever you like.
If you've not been to a board game cafe before, these aren't the sort of places which have a copy of Connect 4 with half the pieces missing. There are loads of interesting games to choose from, including some complicated ones for grown ups which take all afternoon to play.
Youngest player rolls first.
2. Arty Shakes, SHanklin
There are a few pottery painting places on the Isle of Wight, but if you want to combine it with a sugar rush then head to Arty Shakes in Shanklin.
Last time I checked, you paid a four pound fee for the paints and glazing and then buy whatever you want to paint (from about three pounds). I recently spent forty pounds painting a mug and a cupcake at Center Parcs, so Arty Shakes seems pretty good value to me. Needless to say, I felt like a mug.
Other pottery painting options on the Isle of Wight include Isle of Sweets Craft Centre in Shanklin which is great value and very friendly but not really a cafe, Fired Art Ceramics in Ryde (not really a cafe either, but they do painting and glazing) and Chessell Pottery Cafe in the West Wight (more of an emphasis on the cafe side of it than there used to be, but you can still paint pottery there).
3. Brown's Golf Course Cafe, sandown
Brown's Golf Course Cafe doesn't look anything much from the outside but inside it's a lovely light and spacious cafe with toys for toddlers.
The golf course also hosts free Campfire Sessions on some evenings with live music, fire pits and the like.
4. Comicoffee, Newport
Newport is also home to ComiCoffee, which will probably appeal more to older children (and Dads).
It's a half-coffee shop, half comic-book store which can be found in Pyle Street.
5. Soft play cafes
I reckon there are two types of parents at a soft play area.
The first is the parent who runs around with the children, offering 'supervision' whilst trying not to smile too much or say "weeeeeeee" too loudly when they go down the slides (that's me).
The second is the parent who orders a coffee, sits down with their phone and leaves them to it until one of the children turns up at the table and says "daddy, Harry's hurt himself...".
There are a few soft play areas on the Isle of Wight with cafes attached. Tapnell Farm Park is probably my favourite as it is a large space and has a proper cafe. However, it is part of a larger attraction so you pay about ten pounds to get in and really need to spend a few hours there.
A more recently opened option is Monkey Madness, which is attached to Amazon World but runs as a separate attraction. The cafe area was quite small when we visited, although that was a few months ago. Leave a comment below if you've been more recently and can offer an update.
Other soft play areas are covered in our toddlers' guide.
6. Freshwater Coffee House
The Freshwater Coffee House in the West Wight was very child-friendly when we popped in a little while ago, even though we blocked off a big chunk of the cafe with our huge pushchair.
There's also a fairly good playground nearby in the playing fields in Freshwater. NearbyFreshwater Bay is a great spot for children to fill their pockets with stones and then argue with you about whether or not they can take them home.
As it is February and howling a gale outside, it didn't occur to us that some Isle of Wight cafes are perfect for children in the summer.
Thanks to Andrew for the suggestion of Besty and Spinky's Cafe in Ventnor which sits alongside the Isle of Wight shaped paddling pool.
You don't have to visit the cafe to use the paddling pool, but it's an excellent opportunity to drink a latte whilst your children try not to fall into the 4-inch deep Solent.
Know of any other child-friendly cafes on the Isle of Wight? Comment below if so...
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