• With Kids in the Westcountry

Pit stop and a play at Full of Beans Family Café, Honiton

Updated: Jun 7, 2020

#playcafe #childfriendlycafe #softplay #indoorplay #wetweather #thingstodowithkids #honiton #eastdevon

Ahh, another day, another café, you know I love it! And when I’ve got the youngest one in tow, I especially love it when it’s a play café, the new-ish concept that’s saved many a day. Like the last time we visited Full of Beans in Honiton, which was after a spectacularly unsuccessful trip to Clarks to buy Livvie some new shoes which turned into probably the worst tantrum I have ever seen, resulting in the shoe shop lady getting donkey kicked in the face, and me having a nice public cry afterwards in the Post Office queue from the stress of it all. Thankfully that day was saved by a brief trip to the play café which allowed both me and the devil child (not really) to get back on an even keel before we headed home.

Full of Beans play café is a relatively new establishment, so although it’s set up in an old Methodist Chapel it’s nice and shiny and new on the inside with modern play equipment and plenty of seating for customers. It’s set just off the main high street through Honiton on New Street, and although there’s no dedicated parking you can park for an hour for free along the high street or park in the long or short stay just up the road from the café towards the train station.

Inside, there’s a two-floored play structure for children aged 7 and under, which packs a lot of punch for its modest size with a slide, various obstacles, sensory areas and even a piano to keep the kids entertained for ages.

Aside from the main play structure, there’s a handy separate padded (and contained) area for younger tots, with some soft shapes, sensory toys and books; a wall-mounted busy board, a basket of books, giant dolls house and an activity table which today was set up with a dinosaur theme. (A child behind me had a great time smashing a dinosaur loudly against a chair which was quite annoying as kids often are but I thought hey, I’m in a play café, not a spa.)

Today’s visit came after a suspiciously uneventful return trip to Clarks to attempt another shoe purchase, and after the previous disaster, I can’t say I was particularly looking forward to it. But, it went very smoothly and Livvie was so compliant that I even dared to take her for her first haircut afterwards in the salon opposite the shoe shop. So as a reward for such angelic behaviour, I decided a trip to Full of Beans was in order.

The café has a full breakfast and lunch menu, with a great range of options optimised for children’s tastes and appetites. As well as cooked choices and a specials board, there’s a great ‘pick and mix’ selection of sandwiches, fruit and veg sticks, nibbly bites and yoghurts (etc) to build a kid’s lunchbox, and the prices throughout are very good value. If we are just popping in for a play, drink and a cake, I sometimes struggle to make the £5 minimum card charge! So if you’re visiting you can relax knowing it’s not going to break the bank. Admission is free for the under 1’s, and just £1.50 for 1-7 years.

One thing I particularly like about this café is their daily and seasonal specials. They do the most amazing-looking traybakes (malteser/chocolate orange rocky road type combos where your favourite/most guilty treats are baked into the cake) as well as one of the most indulgent hot chocolates I’ve ever seen, so you’re sorted if you need a sugar hit. I managed to resist a cake today and went for scrambled eggs (aaaand a third of Livvie's cupcake when she wasn't looking), and on the note of diet, I noticed that they offer a full selection of dairy free alternatives and 'free-from' options across the menu.

Facilities-wise this place has truly thought of it all, there’s an abundance of high chairs, kids’ cutlery, baby change facilities, steps and loo seats for the toilet-trained, and anything you could really need for a pit stop with small children.

It’s not a huge place but a welcoming, friendly and inexpensive pit stop for families with young children, plugging the gap for a less full-on soft play experience in Honiton (Playdome, the large soft play warehouse is just up the road, but sometimes you just want to go somewhere a bit more chilled out and café-ish than the full soft play whammy.)

Note – Full of Beans will be shut from Monday 29th July – 14th August 2019 to allow the team to take annual leave. Aside from that, it’s open 6 days a week, and closed on Sundays. You can follow the café and check for updates on opening hours on their Facebook page.