Stay All Day at The Red Balloon Café + Play

My husband and I bought our first house in Pleasant Ridge: a two-bedroom cape cod within walking distance of the downtown. We loved walking to the restaurants and local businesses when it was just the two of us. Once Julian was born, the library and coffee place became a daily walk — infant Julian strapped in the carrier, and this mama carefully walking him to sleep.

Aside from the library, there wasn’t much in the way of indoor options for our new family. I didn’t know many other moms — none of our neighbors were new parents like us. It was a lonely and overwhelming time for me. A place like The Red Balloon Café + Play, which arrived to Pleasant Ridge after we moved, would have been so appreciated.

Located in the heart of Downtown Pleasant Ridge, The Red Balloon Café + Play is exactly as its name suggests: a café and play space. (Oh, and also a full retail shop stocking parent essentials: baby carriers, natural and organic skin and hair care, teething jewelry for mom and baby and lots of non-toxic toys.)

It’s a place for parents and kids — but also folks just looking for a great meal. Red Balloon’s café has been lauded by several local publications for its delicious menu, which features locally sourced, organic, homemade meals. This is healthy, homey comfort food at its best: melty Hot Ham and Cheese, smoky and spicy Roasted Yam Burritos, creamy Mega Mac and Cheese bowls. There are also sweet and savory breakfast options, delicious desserts and a full service coffee bar.

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There’s also a very extensive kid’s menu that features a rainbow of healthy kid favorites. This is a cafe that truly caters to families: co-owner Cera Dudas wants Red Balloon to be a place families can stay all day. In fact, the Eat + Play Combo at Red Balloon costs just $10, and includes unlimited play and a kids meal and drink. So you can come, play, eat — then play some more!

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And your kids will want to play at Red Balloon. The playroom is a large, open, brightly lit space featuring a gigantic, hand-built jungle gym, several imaginative play areas, wooden blocks, arts and crafts tables, a sensory play tub and several bikes, scooters and push toys.

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Red Balloon’s play area is designed for kids 1-6; but kids under 1 are welcome (and free!), and kids over 6 are allowed as long as they play mindfully with the littler kids. My three are 5.5, 4 and 2.5 — and they had an absolute blast. Julian loved climbing the large play structure, Mary was all about the bikes and Harvey loved building various forts with the large wooden slats.

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In addition to the $10 Eat + Play combo, you’ll also want to come on a Friday night for “Free Friday with BYOB”: from 4-7 p.m., kids play for free with purchase of a kid’s meal ($5), and parents provide the beverages. This isn’t just a great deal — it’s also a great way to meet other families!

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As winter sets in, I recommend planning a cold weather play date at The Red Balloon Café + Play. Enjoy a home-cooked lunch or relaxing cup of coffee with your friends while your kids burn off some of those pent-up crazies.

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The Red Balloon Café + Play is located at 6200 Montgomery Road in Pleasant Ridge (45213). Hours vary by day and can be found here. Be sure to bookmark Red Balloon’s events schedule: they offer a range of classes for both kids and parents that you’ll definitely want to check out!

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