A Visit to Little Beans Cafe in Evanston

It’s relatively well-established that I love toddler-friendly playspaces. My two-year-old easily entertains herself and there’s usually coffee and free wi-fi for me — win-win!

Unfortunately, in the suburbs of Chicago, playspaces and play cafes are few and far between, so when my family was invited to check out the new Little Beans Cafe in Evanston before it opened to the public, we of course said yes.

Put Little Beans Cafe in Evanston on your toddler's bucket list: There's so much to see and do including a huge play space, a cafe, a "ninja-style" obstacle course, a karaoke room, a gym, and more!

This is the second location for Little Beans Cafe — the location in the city has been open for several years, but since we live in the suburbs, we’ve never actually been, so I had no idea what to expect from Little Beans Evanston. What we saw blew us away.

First of all, the playspace is HUGE. Emme was immediately off and playing. Cafe tables are set up around the parameter of playspace where parents can sip coffee while their little one explores. Want to guess where I was hanging out?

Little Beans Cafe in Evanston

Emme surveys the playspace.

Little Beans Cafe in Evanston

The General Store was Em’s favorite part.

Little Beans Cafe in Evanston

There’s a great tot-sized climbing structure, which was a big hit with Emme as well.

The space also has a separate section for crawlers and a room for babies that includes comfortable chairs for nursing mamas. Always a plus.

But wait! There’s more!

Little Beans Cafe in Evanston has way more, including a “ninja-style” obstacle course perfect for older kids. We couldn’t resist letting Emme give some of the equipment a try (with her daddy close by).

Little Beans Cafe in Evanston

Daddy helping Em across a climbing net. In the background you can see the zip line that hovers above a pit filled with foam cubes. Yes. I said a zip line.

Little Beans Cafe in Evanston

Little Beans Cafe in Evanston

Emme bounces across the bosu balls.

Little Beans Cafe in Evanston

Opposite the obstacle course area is a half-court gymnasium complete with basketball hoop. There’s also an arts and crafts room, a few multipurpose spaces, and a karaoke room <— A karaoke room!

Little Beans Cafe in Evanston opened to the public last week and is a great location for Chicago-area families in northern and Northshore suburbs — a must-do for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and even older kids.

Party at Peekaboo Playroom

Last year, for Emme’s 1st birthday, we rented a picnic area in a local park, where we moved tables, decorated, picked up food, set everything up, and, when it was over, cleaned it all up. It was a great party, but it was exhausting.

For my daughter's second birthday, we threw a party at Peekaboo Playroom in Oak Park. Peekaboo Playroom is one of my favorite indoor toddler play spaces.

For her 2nd birthday, we decided to make it easier on ourselves and let someone else do the heavy lifting. Enter: Peekaboo Playroom in Oak Park.

Mommy Sanest | Birthday Party at Peekaboo Playroom I’m obsessed with Peekaboo Playroom. It’s a large space with several playhouse structures, including a kitchen, a grocery store, and a workshop. They have a fleet of Cozy Coups, a massive collection of Legos, a train set, an area to read, and a separate section for non-walkers.

Mommy Sanest | Birthday Party at Peekaboo Playroom

Here’s the best part: Peekaboo Playroom only has toddler-friendly toys, and it’s wide open. So basically, you can find a spot on the couch with your coffee and Kindle, keep an eye on your kid from afar, and just let them play. No hovering necessary.

Mommy Sanest | Birthday Party at Peekaboo PlayroomIt’s toddler paradise, but (more importantly?), it’s mommy (and daddy) paradise.

We frequent Peekaboo Playroom, so we knew they offered birthday party packages. Despite it being a bit pricier than other options, we decided to go for it. And we were able to get 10 percent off simply because it was summer.

The day of the party, all we did was bring in food–I made salads; we ordered pizza; we bought a cake from the grocery store. I didn’t bother killing myself to come up with a theme–I let the staff at the playroom take care of the decor with minimal direction (you can let them know if you have a theme; I just told them to do whatever), as well as gift bags and snacks for the kiddos.

When we showed up 30 minutes before the party, the room was ready, and the staff immediately took the food and put that out as well. We were free to do whatever, so Emme got the party started early and made good use of the facilities.

Two things struck me: First, I didn’t know what to do with myself because the staff did everything, and what little directing I did, I was able to do because my kid was totally occupied and happy. I’ll be honest though, it kind of stressed me out to not be stressed out. Go figure.

Mommy Sanest | Birthday Party at Peekaboo Playroom

We had nearly 40 guests, the vast majority of whom were adults. The party package we chose allowed for up to 20 kids, but we had 13, mostly between the ages of 1 and 4. I worried a little about the adults not having a good time, but honestly, I think it was more fun because no one was worried about their kids. The early toddler years are a tricky time in most “kid” party spaces–I feel like Emme’s either going to run off if she’s not completely contained, or she’s going to get run over by bigger kids.

We had the space for two hours, which is about the perfect amount of time for toddlers to keep it together. I actually was able to have conversations and visit with friends and family, an amazing feat in room filled with little ones. But that’s the beauty of Peekaboo Playroom.

At the end of the party, we packed up the leftover food and the gifts and headed home. No cleaning required.

I honestly can’t recommend this place enough–for parties or just for play. Check out Peekaboo Playroom’s party package options, as well as their daily open play rates and information about special events.

Mommy Sanest | Birthday Party at Peekaboo Playroom

This is how you get a crazy two year old to attempt to blow out her candles.

If You Go to Peekaboo Playroom

  • Wear socks. It’s a shoe-free environment for adults and kids. But if you forget, you can buy a pair for a nominal free from Peekaboo Playroom.
  • If you want to go on a Saturday afternoon or a Sunday, call first. They regularly shift their hours on the weekends to accommodate private birthday parties.
  • Keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates. Not only do they regularly post information about special events, they also typically update weekend hours here.
  • There’s free wi-fi! And it’s possible that you could get a few things done on the computer because your kid is going to be otherwise occupied. Just ask for the password.
  • You can bring in your own food, but they have a few snack options as well as coffee and tea for a few dollars.
  • Parking is primarily metered. Bring change (no fancy credit card meters here). Parking is free on Sundays.
  • Remember it’s a nut-free facility.