Even though Richmond’s seen some truly fantastic weather lately, we’ve still got several weeks of winter left. On the days when the temperatures are a bit more seasonal–and much-needed trips outside are cut short by frozen fingers and toesies–local parents are left asking one question: What are supposed to do now?
Luckily we don’t have to search too far or too long. On the corner of Cary Street and Colonial Avenue in Carytown you’ll find the gem that is Cartwheels & Coffee: a locally-owned, indoor play space where kids ages 6 and under can sufficiently shake their sillies out while their parents enjoy a hot or cold beverage…and perhaps even a complete conversation with another adult! And really, Cartwheels & Coffee’s appeal extends well beyond the winter months. No matter the time of year, it’s a great place to take the kids when you’ve got a free hour after school, if you need a change of scenery, or if you’re just looking to take a break while showing a friend around Carytown with tots in tow.
Somehow, Cartwheels & Coffee manages to create an atmosphere that is both playful and peaceful. The decor is bright and kid-friendly, but not at all over-stimulating–no cartoon craziness in this place. It’s also quite obvious that some serious thought went into which activities to include in the space and how to lay them out.
Right when you walk in the door you’ll find a quiet corner just for babies 1 and under. It’s stocked with age-appropriate, bleep-and-bloop-free toys and enclosed by cushioned benches–perfect for parents to sit on and for little ones still in that cruising-but-often-falling-into-things stage of development.
The jungle gym is smack dab in the center of the space and closed off by a half wall and a baby gate. This area is where things can get a bit more chaotic, but the set-up keeps things contained and enables parents to keep an eye on their kids at all times.
Towards the back you’ll find activities geared more towards imaginative play, including a train table, a mirrored stage platform, and a nook complete with a play kitchen, table, dress up clothes, and baby dolls. There’s also a reading corner with kid-sized chairs and a nice selection of books. Best of all, tables and couches are scattered throughout, giving moms, dads, and caregivers a chance to take a load off, have a cup of Blanchards Coffee (another local favorite), talk with friends, and maybe even get a bit of work done with the help of Cartwheels & Coffee’s free Wi-Fi.
And while hours and hours of free play is nice, if you’re looking for a bit more structure, Cartwheels & Coffee offers music classes on Mondays and story time (which usually involves a cute craft of some sort) on Fridays—both at 10am and free with admission (more on that below).
Cartwheels & Coffee is open Monday through Thursday 9am-5:30pm and Fridays and Saturdays 9am-6pm. They do close for birthday parties and private events from time to time, so be sure to check the calendar before heading over, particularly on Saturdays.
Admission is $5 for kids ages 1 and older ($4 for each additional kid), and infants under 1 are free.1-month and 3-month memberships (which get you access to events like their monthly “Night on the Town”) are also available, so check the website for details.
(Pro tip: Show up during the last hour of the day and you get half off your admission.)
Cartwheels & Coffee
2820 West Cary Street
(Parking available on the street or in the free parking deck just behind Coppola’s)
Valerie Catrow is the former editor of RVANews and a current contributor to their parenting column, Raising Richmond. A Richmonder through-and-through, she grew up in Midlothian, graduated from the University of Richmond, and currently lives on the city’s Northside with her husband, Ross, and their son, JR. You can see what she’s up to on a day-to-day basis on her personal blog: Made in Richmond.