Winter is HERE which means my warm, sunny mornings or late-afternoon crisp fall days at the playgrounds are over.
And I have to move inside.
Luckily, Toronto has a plethora of indoor-play spaces.
Some better than others and this is one: Sprouts Growing Bodies & Minds
183 Carlaw Ave (between Queen and Dundas)
How to Get Here:
We drive and find street parking.
Streetcar: 301, 501, 502, 503
Bus: 72A, 72B, 72C, 325
Why We Like it:
We have been Sprouts fans since George first started to crawl. It’s a wide, open and bright space with two large wooden play structures.
There are trampolines, surrounded by soft mats, a little playhouse, an additional slide to the ones on the structures, and lots of fun toys like bouncy horses and spinny saucers. There are play mats that my kids love to play obstacle course on.
Not to mention Magformers Construction sets, lego, and lots of toys for babies.
It’s a fantastic space that I have loved watching both my kids grow and build their confidence in.
People always comment on George’s fearless climbing skills and I attribute them to letting him run wild at Sprouts – it’s a safe place!
It’s SPOTLESS. They are always cleaning and there is a bin for slobber toys so you know that they clean their toys regularly.
FREE COFFEE! And hot chocolate! They provide travel coffee cups so you can drink coffee to your heart’s delight while your child plays. They also have plenty of sippy cups for your child.
It’s perfect for those cold days when your kids just need to burn off energy (although as George gets older it is hard for us on a busier day due to all the little guys he runs over) AND in the summer when it is stinking hot and you need a break from the sun.
It’s carpeted (socks for adults are mandatory) which is nice as so many other indoor play places have cold floors that freeze my feet.
Yes including teeny tiny potties that your newly trained child will insist on going to every ten minutes to pee because they love them so much. Change tables (with wipes! And diapers if you run out).
There is even a ‘quiet’ room for breastfeeding if you want privacy or need to calm a tantrum.
Feeding the Kids:
They have a separate area where you can feed your kids. I love their little tables where you can pop your baby in while you feed them (modern and non-ugly circles of neglect if you will).
They do have a vending machine with healthy snacks you can get if you have forgotten your own as well as a selection of sandwiches and wraps delivered daily.
You are allowed to bring in your own NUT FREE food.
Monday to Friday: 9AM-6PM
Saturday & Sunday (winter/fall): 9AM-4PM
Saturday & Sunday (summer): 9AM-1PM
First visit is free and then it is $69.50 plus tax for a 6 play pass (each play includes up to 3 siblings and 2 adults).
WHERE TO GET COFFEE?
Even though they have as much coffee as you might want, I am not a huge fan of Starbucks brew so bring in my first cup from somewhere else.
Or if I want a cappuccino.
Or if I need an iced coffee in those hot months.
Here are some options:
1773 Dundas Street East
(corner of Dundas and Carlaw)
This corner coffee spot has fantastic coffee (seriously one of my favourite cappuccino’s in the city). In the summer, you would actually sit outside on the patio (fenced in!) with your kids and enjoy a pitcher of sangria with some mom friends. Ah, but that is a far off fantasy as I watch snow fall outside my window.
They do have some baked good items and dip platters/charcuterie boards if you want to grab some food.
CASH, CARD, DEBIT AND APPLE PAY
915 Queen Street East
Basically at Queen and Carlaw (one block west on Morse), it’s a quick stroll to Sprouts.
Mercury has amazing coffee – especially their summer speciality treats (the iced coffee with cream and vanilla is INSANE). In general, their cappuccino’s, lattes, etc are super tasty.
Sometimes they have 40th Parallel beans and this makes me HAPPY #vancouverforever
CASH, DEBIT, CREDIT AND APPLE PAY
913 QUEEN STREET EAST
Right next door to Mercury is this lovely little shop selling soups, salads and sandwiches. That are healthy! Which is great because my next few suggestions are not.
They always have a great salad suggestion but my personal favourite is their tomato soup that is sooooooo yummy and tastes like they plucked the tomatoes right off the vine. Even in January.
CASH, DEBIT, CREDIT.
**RITUAL** I OFTEN USE THE RITUAL APP AND GRAB OUR STUFF QUICKLY
929 QUEEN STREET EAST
Also on the corner of Queen and Carlaw is this adorable, retro gas station that serves AMAZEBALLS BBQ.
A gas station that serves BBQ.
I love the owners here. They got their inspiration in one of my favourite places (Whistler) and brought the idea back to Toronto. And the food is AWESOME.
So is their drip coffee!
I love their BLT and the chicken thigh sandwich. The buns are so yummy and always fresh (which makes a good sandwich right?). And lets not even talk about the poutine . . . .
CASH, DEBIT, CREDIT
**YOU CAN CALL AHEAD TO PLACE AN ORDER**
983 QUEEN STREET EAST
East of Carlaw you will find Te Aro. Home of Pilot Coffee (yum) which means fantastic (albeit very expensive) coffees.
They do make a wicked iced coffee!
181A CARLAW AVE
Basically next door to Sprouts is this location of Mean Bao, home of DELICIOUS bao, bowls and dumplings.
I love it so much. My favourite is the pork belly.
CASH, DEBIT, CREDIT
**I ORDER VIA RITUAL AND PICK UP**
These great places are not necessarily walking distance (especially in the winter!) but are super stop-by coffees on your way to Sprouts.
1304A QUEEN STREET EAST
This is my ABSOLUTE favourite place in Leslieville.
Great coffee? Yes (I believe it is Pilot)
Great owners? Pretty much the nicest people ever
INSANELY DELICIOUS SCONES? Check check check! In fact I am pretty sure these are the best scones in all of Toronto.
Seriously. You need to go.
CASH, CREDIT, DEBIT
**ONLY OPEN THURSDAY TO SUNDAY**
1121 QUEEN STREET EAST
I mean if you are coming to Leslieville to play, you may as well come to the prettiest bakery that ever was. You know Bobbette and Belle right? This is the original location. And it’s soooooo lovely inside.
We used to live just down the street and on a very blizzard-y day, at 7 months pregnant, I trudged in the snow to satisfy a cupcake craving. And why not? You just have to step inside to feel all cozy and warm. They serve Balzac’s coffee (yum!) and the BEST hot chocolate.
This is actually a great place to come post-play. You can use it as a bribe to get your kids to leave!
CASH, DEBIT, CREDIT
That should do you for good coffee, great food, and delicious sweets!
This stretch of Queen Street has plenty more food so on a warm day you could explore the area before or after a play at Sprouts.
As always, happy playing!