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An animation switches between coffee at Encino Park from Laidrey and a coffee from Kumquat Coffee in York Park.
Coffee at Encino Park from Laidrey and a coffee from Kumquat Coffee in York Park.
(Lynda Lin Grigsby / For The Times)

Caffeine for you, play time for your kid: 9 L.A. playgrounds near life-giving coffee shops

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Parenting, with all its unpredictability, has two universal truths: Kids need space to romp freely, and parents need enough energy to keep up. Why are those little ones bestowed with so much energy? It seems like the cruelest fate. They run with glee. We dawdle behind like zombies necromanced to life.

For those days when you can’t persuade the kids to play sleeping frogs (an ever-so-fun game in which all participants lie down), the park playground continues to be the most sacred space for much-needed unstructured playtime.

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It’s also a place when parents need a jolt of liquid energy — a life-sustaining cup of coffee. For a parent like me, coffee is an elixir sent down from the heavens. It stretches patience to entertain the endless refrain of “Look at me!” and the demands for a snack that 颈蝉苍’迟 the ancient granola bar at the bottom of the bag.

How many times have you been hiding in the shade of a play structure and thinking, What would I give for a latte right now?

For those moments, here is a list of go-to park playgrounds with coffee shops within walking distance, so you can take your little ones before play or at the end of a tantrum. Each swig of coffee promises to calm frayed nerves and bring you back to yourself.

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Note: Marked addresses on the map show the parks. Coffee shop addresses are listed in the descriptions.

Community Goods consistently has a one-hour line. The coffee and food are fine, but the real draw is that the shop has become a spot to see and be seen. And maybe see Hailey Bieber.

March 11, 2024

Showing  Places
A photograph of Coffee Fix and Beeman Park
(Lynda Lin Grigsby)

Beeman Park and Coffee Fix

Studio City Park
Other surrounding parks look like lonely landscapes compared with the bustle of Beeman Park. Those in the know come here because majestic giant trees shade most of the playground. On warmer days, when your kids still need free play, Beeman Park is the place to be.

And for a coffee fix, there is an eponymous destination on Moorpark Street, about a five-minute stroll away (depending on how quickly your little one can walk). From the playground, walk south on Beeman Avenue through a residential neighborhood toward Moorpark Street. It’s the longest walk on this list, but on multiple visits, parents and caretakers followed the same path with their little ones on scooters, strollers and feet. Follow the painted elephant fa?ade for your fix — both caffeine and sugar. Pastries include huckleberry doughnuts small enough for the littlest of hands.

Coffee Fix feels like the “Cheers” of coffee shops. Baristas greet customers by their first names. There is a little library at the front — a genius idea. For the awkward moments when your little ones find it difficult to wait for the latte to be made, whip out a picture book!

The Studio City Public Library is right across the street from Coffee Fix, so if you time it right, you can drop in on a story time at the library and chug the coffee when your little one is being entertained by someone else.

Coffee Fix is a five-minute stroll away at 12508 Moorpark St. Hours: 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
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A photograph of Laidrey and Encino Park
(Lynda Lin Grigsby)

Encino Park and Laidrey Coffee Roasters

Encino Park
The playground is gate-enclosed (bonus if you have a runner) and shares the space with a local preschool, so your little one may have the chance to meet a new bestie. Sure, the play structures and surrounding seating areas are cool, but the park’s best feature is perhaps its one-block proximity to a cup of joe.

Stand at the edge of the grass area at Encino Park facing Ventura Boulevard and you can see the painted mural for ruby red coffee beans over your right shoulder. It’s there as if to say: Hope is close by.

Laidrey Coffee Roasters attracts many parents, says Gacia Tachejian, co-founder and managing partner. On weekdays most come after preschool drop-off. On weekends, families drop in before sporting events at the park. On most days, they arrive ready for a caffeine jolt and carry out the cups with the Laidrey’s logo — the picture of a woman’s profile. It’s a fitting ode, says Tachejian, because most coffee farmers harvesting coffee cherries in the fields are female.

You can try a CBD add-on to your coffee and see how you feel.

“We hope it can provide parents a little more patience when taking their toddlers out to the park!”

Laidrey Coffee Roasters is one block south across the street at 17034 Ventura Blvd. Hours: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
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A photograph of Alana's and West Hollywood Park.
(Lynda Lin Grigsby)

West Hollywood Park and Alana's Coffee Roasters

West Hollywood Park
Under the cloak of night, the park adjacent to the Abbey, a popular nightlife destination, is a freewheeling and bacchanalian place to extend festivities. During the day, West Hollywood Park is a wholesome picture of strollers heading to the playground.

There is a good reason that parents come here. The playground is enclosed by a fence in the shadows of Technicolor high-rises. Even though there are many entrances, the only unlocked one is by the bathroom door facing Robertson. During visits to the playground, there were many perplexed-looking grown-ups with little ones looking for the right entrance. Once you get in, the play area is, as one little reveler kept exclaiming, “So fun!”

But to maximize the park experience, walk through the park toward Robertson Boulevard, turn left and walk one block toward El Tovar Place until you find Alana’s, a small, plant-decorated coffee shop with strong drinks. The standout selection here is the spicy chipotle mocha that doesn’t skimp on the spice. If you have little ones who are patient enough to enjoy some quiet time in a coffee shop, enjoy the mocha on the patio and marvel at the unicorn latte art.

The art is only for lattes enjoyed at the shop, says Ezekiel Gonzalez, Alana’s social media manager, and is also subject to the whim of the barista. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take your to-go cup to the playground and pretend you’re a unicorn.

Alana’s Coffee Roasters is around the corner and one block south at 634 N. Robertson Blvd. Hours: 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily
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A photograph of Lo/Cal Coffee and Virginia Avenue Park.
(Lynda Lin Grigsby)

Virginia Avenue Park and Lo/Cal Coffee

Santa Monica Park
Sometimes playgrounds are designed with just one sandbox, which can cause a congestion of shovel-wielding toddlers. In this situation, the risk of sand in the eyes and anguished wails is high. At Virginia Avenue Park, the square footage of sand is generously dispersed throughout the playground to dig, roll in and, yes, even eat. We all know that one kid.

The structures are also generously spread out, which can shift the margins toward a better play day. Across the street on Pico, Lo/Cal Coffee is a beacon. With kids, it helps to show them where they are expected to walk. Simply point across the street from the playground. Walk past the Pico Branch Library to the pedestrian crosswalk and follow the wafting scent of coffee.

Lo/Cal is in the brick building with a sign boasting cold brew. Inside, it has a stamp-size sitting area with industrial vibes. A narrow breezeway leads to the best part of this place: Its shaded patio is enclosed with creeping bougainvillea vines and orchestrated by a tinkling water fountain. It gives serenity — a clean, well-lit outdoor place to distract a kid away from the creative types seated inside tapping on their laptops with furrowed brows while your green eye (double espresso and matcha) is being made.

The coffee shop is close enough to get a quick cup and return to the playground, where you will inevitably get talked into a game of tag.

Lo/Cal Coffee is across the street at 2214 Pico Blvd. Hours: 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday
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A photograph of Interstellar and Tongva Park.
(Lynda Lin Grigsby)

Tongva Park and Interstellar

Santa Monica Park
In this area of Santa Monica, convenient curbside parking is rarely available. But the intention of coming here is not so much ease as it is the accessibility to the sights of the Pacific Ocean, the thumping sounds of musical buskers and the old-time appeal of the iconic Santa Monica Pier.

Sometimes a park day is about the ease of pulling your car up to a playground, letting the kids get their yayas out and going home. Coming to this side of town is experiential. It can be sensory overload with its tourists, midday brunch-goers and crescendo of car horns. Once inside the heart of Tongva Park, the soundscape is serene. Tucked away from Ocean Avenue, the park has an unexpected minimalist playground with hive-like structures, climbing walls and slides. Oh, the slides!

The playground looks like an art installation that can be touched, jumped on and climbed — basically, it’s every kid’s dream.

If you walk one block north along Ocean Avenue past the pier and the Ivy at the Shore and turn right on Broadway, you will find Interstellar, a self-described easygoing cafe featuring Korean fusion fare. At first glance, it appears to be a sit-down-only cafe, but don’t let that turn you away from your caffeine quest. Here, the culinary and the coffee worlds coexist. Trust the awning out front advertising coffee and get yourself a cup of joe. Interstellar welcomes to-go coffee orders.

“Coffee is an integral part of many people’s daily routines, and we wanted to ensure that our coffee could be enjoyed by everyone,” says Angie Kim, owner and executive chef. “Even if they’re on the move.”

Free 1.5-hour parking is available in parking structure 6 on 2nd and Broadway. Once there you can stroll around the pier and take a Ferris wheel ride.

Interstellar is one block away at 109 Broadway. Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 to 10 p.m. Friday to Saturday; 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday
Route Details
A photograph of The Trails and Fern Dell Playground
(Lynda Lin Grigsby)

Fern Dell and the Trails

Griffith Park Park
The road up to the Griffith Observatory wends through Fern Dell, a magical woodsy playground where kids and kids at heart can jettison city life by crossing one of the Terabithia-like bridges to a treehouse playground.

If the kids grow weary of the play structure’s rope bridge and synthetic rocks, nature beckons. A babbling creek flows gently along the side of the playground and trail, which is home to about 50 fern species.

The playground is the start of the Fern Dell Hiking Trail, so on weekends expect to see a steady stream of hikers and bikers. But the trick is to follow the strollers directly across the street to the Trails, a quaint walk-up cafe. The chai latte, both sweet and spicy with notes of cinnamon, is best enjoyed at one of the cafe’s outdoor benches or on the shady playground.

Sometimes, the Trails is the fueling station on the way to a longer family hike up to the observatory. Other times, it is the destination after a 0.2-mile walk, then a double-back to the playground.

Occasionally, I promise the kiddos hot chocolate or one of the cafe’s house-baked scones to stretch out the hiking distance a few more steps while I wait for the caffeine to jolt my neurons awake. Some call it bribery. I call it a good time.

The Trails is directly across from Fern Dell. Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday through Monday.
Route Details
A photograph of Kumquat Coffee and York Park
(Lynda Lin Grigsby)

York Park and Kumquat Coffee

Highland Park Park
This park on the corner of York Boulevard and North Avenue 50 in Highland Park 颈蝉苍’迟 green. No grass or mature trees thrive on the playground. What does? The cool vibes. York Park’s aesthetic unabashedly celebrates its former identity as a gas station with repurposed signs. The high-octane fun here is 100% free. Novelty, after all, is a kid’s playground.

The playground is covered in undulating sand-color rubber to connote a desert habitat for the snake-themed play structure. The park is also fence-enclosed with an ornate metal gate. Don’t let the keypad door lock turn you away. Just pull the handle and set the little ones free.

During the summer months, the desert motif is apropos when the sun’s rays permeate the thin overhead covering and induce thirst. Directly across North Avenue 50 is Cafe de Leche, a solid choice that you can see from the playground, but another option is just steps away in the other direction.

From the entrance gate, walk east toward North Avenue 49. Past a screen and glass store is Kumquat Coffee, a minimalist coffee shop with a great rotating monthly drink menu, so taste buds never get bored. June’s drink is the golden mule, a summer refresher with mint, espresso, organic lime juice and ginger beer, says Andres Jin Han Kim, a co-founder.

On the weekends, if enthusiasm for the park wanes, take your latte and little ones across York Boulevard for a puppet show. The Bob Baker Marionette Theater is celebrating its 60th anniversary, with a show dedicated to the City of Angels. Every performance ends with ice cream for the kids. It doesn’t get more L.A. than this.

Walk east past the park’s gated entrance to Kumquat Coffee at 4936 York Blvd. Hours: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily
Route Details
A photograph of Ginger Market and Grant Park.
(Lynda Lin Grigsby)

Grant Park and Ginger Corner Market

Pasadena Park
The insect-themed slide and the sandbox spring rider bring all the toddlers to the yard, but the spiderweb-like climbing structure in the park’s heart is the main attraction. Like the Giving Tree, the structure invites kids of all ages to swing from its sturdy ropes, bounce in its center trampoline or climb its pinnacles.

Coffee is so close by you can almost hear the espresso machine hissing. Directly across the pedestrian crosswalk on Michigan Avenue, Ginger Corner Market, a family-owned bodega-like cafe, is an oasis for the caffeine-deprived.

You can stay basic and get an iced coffee or try one of the signature lattes, including the rosemary and vanilla latte, an unusual marriage of flavors that works.

Drink syrups are made in-house, says Liz Hollingsworth, who has been running the market with her mom, Linda, since 2012. As the name implies, this 颈蝉苍’迟 just a coffee shop. Zoning permits require half of the shop to be a marketplace for curios like a Betty White worship candle or a duck-shaped whistle.

Grab a latte before play or a BLT sandwich afterward. If your kids are old enough for some independence, let them play at the playground while you sit alfresco across the street and sip on an espresso, feigning sophistication under one of the market’s umbrella tables while still within hollering distance from the kids.

Ginger Corner Market is directly across the street from Grant Park at 217 S. Michigan Ave. in Pasadena. Hours: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
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A photograph of Kafn Coffee and Adams Square Playground
(Lynda Lin Grigsby)

Adams Square Mini Park and Kafn Coffee

Glendale Park
The park and playground are small but rich in history and convenience when a caffeine craving kicks in. This hamlet park in the Adams Hills neighborhood of Glendale is a historical site that reminds us that in L.A. County, the car is king. A former gas station built in 1936 by the Richfield Oil Corp., the grounds are now home to a small play structure and rotating art installations.

Little ones can press themselves against the glass of the restored gas station — an official Glendale historic site — and take in art. Because of its diminutive size, the playground is lesser known than other Glendale parks, which can be a reprieve from playground politics.

When you need refueling, follow the sign across Palmer Avenue that shouts “coffee” in a large sans-serif font. Kafn Coffee has been caffeinating parents and caretakers since 2017. Parents come in all the time, says Andrew Atkin, one of the partners and co-owners. The park doesn’t have a public bathroom, so Kafn is an essential pit stop for a changing station and a salted caramel latte. Superhero caretakers may want to order the cheeky Kryptonite, a matcha latte infused with charcoal.

So how do you pronounce the name? Is it “caffeine” or “kaffen”? The setup is like a dad joke. Pronounce it either way. Insert drumroll here. It’s just good coffee.

Kafn Coffee is across the street at 1019 E. Palmer Ave. Hours: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday
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