Mom'n ain't easy and that's why God gave us coffee beans. I like mine straight up, no mixers or in the form of an Americano. And sometimes I just want a solid cup of joe with my kid in tow. You too? Considering a few factors: kid-friendly atmosphere, ease of parking (because the distance I have to haul my kid and her stuff matters), coffee quality and treats... here are our TOP 5 RECOMMENDATIONS for getting local coffee with kids in Grand Rapids where you're going to feel welcome, aren't going to feel like you're bothering other patrons and ones that AREN'T Biggby or Starbucks.
Early Bird is located in Eastown on Lake Street. Open Monday through Saturday from 7a-9p and Sunday from 8a-9p, they serve breakfast from 7a-3p! They've also got a great pastry display including lots of sweet treats like their delicious lemon thumbprint cookies as well as gluten free/vegan options like their homemade granola bars. They serve Rowsters Coffee (which is another great coffee shop located on Wealthy not too far away - a much less kid friendly location) which is so tasty. What makes their place great for kids is not only the adorable sugar cookies your kids will leap over, but also their atmosphere. Early Bird is always busy which means a constant 'buzz' is in the air. In other words, if your kid sometimes gets really excited and forgets their indoor voice, no one's going to look at you funny. They also have a special kids table complete with wooden blocks and coloring books set up just for them. And last, don't worry too much about parking when visiting Early Bird, there are usually plenty of metered parking spots along Lake Street.
If you (or your kids) are into donuts, be sure to check out D'arts located on Lake Street as well, just across the way from That Early Bird. Individual donut prices range from $1.25 to $2.75 depending on what kind you order. They make their donuts fresh daily and come in a multitude of unique flavors like PB&J and Whiskey Bacon. The space is a great setting for you to sip your coffee (they serve both Madcap and Ferris Coffee - both local and excellent depending on your preference of coffee bean) as well as for your kids to hang out in and munch on their donut. Again, the atmosphere is such that no one would be bothered if your kid decided to get down from their seat to wander a bit and check out the scenery. Here you may want to bring them your own coloring books and crayons or something to keep them occupied (and seated if that's what you prefer) while you enjoy your caffeine and sugar buzz. Parking is the same for D'arts as it is for Early Bird, metered street parking along Lake or any of the side streets which are free. Store hours are: Tuesday through Friday 6:30a-6p and Saturday and Sunday 8a-3p. They are closed Mondays.
For something a little closer to central downtown you can count on Ferris located on the Westside of Grand Rapids just across the street from the YMCA. One of the best things about Ferris, behind their great coffee of course, is that they have their own parking lot which makes for super easy kid transfer. Their space is larger than most coffee shops and includes a few soft seating options that'll be more comfortable to relax in while you sip your coffee and your kid munches on their scone. A great perk about Ferris is that their coffee shop also doubles as their store front where you can buy nuts, candies and more in bulk. I usually try and plan my coffee stops at Ferris when I also need to pick up a quick gift - packaged coffee and nuts make a good one! Another great thing about Ferris is their outdoor seating space which is great accommodations for kids. Keep in mind it's not completely fenced in and still near the road, but it's much more manageable than the outdoor seating space at That Early Bird which is directly on Lake - a very busy street.
Madcap Coffee in the Downtown Market (NOT the Center City location)
Unless you're simply walking downtown with your kid(s) in the stroller and need a cup to go, Madcap downtown on Monroe Center is NOT the place to post up with your kid(s) for coffee. Why? It's a popular spot for business meetings and quiet creatives who use the space to do heads down work. Trust me, I was once cool... I lived downtown... it's where the 'cool' people meet for coffee and they're going to make you feel bad if your baby cries in the middle of their very important meeting. "But the coffee is so good!" you say? I hear you, but no. Don't go there. Instead, you can get the same awesome coffee at their newest location just south of center city inside the Downtown Market. The Market is a much better place for you and your kid(s) to roam. You can grab a cup to go and walk around the market or go find a spot on the second floor indoors or if the weather is nice, on the balcony - its all walled in so the kids are trapped and you have a wonderful view of downtown. Bonus: the Downtown Market also houses Sweetie-licious Bake Shoppe which means: cookies, cupcakes, muffins and more. Your kid will be talking about it for weeks. For parking, the Market has it's own lot that's going to run you around $5 to park, but the cost is worth not having to try and find side street parking for free or at a meter.
Wealthy is a family owned bakery and cafe located of Wealthy Street just East of downtown. They have an incredible cranberry almond scone and feature daily cookie and muffin options. It's a popular spot but usually has available tables to sit with your company either indoors or outdoors (perhaps indoors with your kids, Wealthy is a busy street and the seating outdoors isn't fenced in). For parking, they have their own side lot that will sometimes have availability if you're patient (lots of folks pop in and out to pick up coffee/treats - stops lasting only a few minutes) or you can find plenty of spots along Wealthy which is free street parking. While you're there I highly suggest picking up a loaf of fresh baked bread for lunch/dinner later. It's fantastic. They also always have gluten free options if that's a requirement of yours. Again, I'd suggest bringing some crayons/coloring books to keep the kids occupied while you enjoy your coffee or chat with a friend, but rest assured you'll feel more than welcome getting coffee with your kids here.
HONORABLE MENTIONS - Also great options to try out... we could only pick 5!
- Hall Street Bakery - Same great offerings as Wealthy Street Bakery (they have the same owners!) but perhaps might be closer to you? Located on Hall Street and in the summer they have a wonderful patio! Outdoor voices!
- Cakabakery - Who doesn't love a good cookie? In their new space on Fulton they now have cinnamon rolls, serve local coffee and yes, they have seating so you can get comfortable and chat for a while.
- Brown Butter Creperie & Cafe - A great new place in Eastown in the Windmill Building (aka the former residence of Cakabakery). Unique sweet treats, same great atmosphere.