Toot Toot Toys - Bentleigh East - Melbourne - Review

Kate and her adventurous twins headed out to Toot Toot Toys recently in Bentleigh East for a play and a shop. Toot Toot Toys is a cute toy shop which lets your little ones have a play while you shop for them, family or friends or have a quiet coffee on rainy days.
 Photo credit: @kateflatman

Photo credit: @kateflatman

The whole area where you shop and play is fenced up (amid the gate needing a little work) so no kids running out of the shop so you can relax, browse and enjoy that cup of hot coffee for once!

 Photo credit: @kateflatman

Photo credit: @kateflatman

Kate's little ones were happy to escape the rain that day and play away for an hour or so and make new friends while they were there too.

 Photo credit: @kateflatman

Photo credit: @kateflatman

 Photo credit: @kateflatman

Photo credit: @kateflatman

Toot Toot Toys has a café onsite which is perfect for a break after all that playing - ha! The café only uses takeaway cups but I am sure you can bring your reusable coffee cup when you pop in for a coffee, play and/or shop.

 Photo credit: @kateflatman

Photo credit: @kateflatman

 Photo credit: @kateflatman

Photo credit: @kateflatman

 Photo credit: @kateflatman

Photo credit: @kateflatman

And of course after a little play of some toys and equipment available, you can browse through the great selection of toys for sale and pick something up for your little ones, their friends or siblings' birthday party.

 Photo credit: @kateflatman

Photo credit: @kateflatman

 Photo credit: @kateflatman

Photo credit: @kateflatman

 Photo credit: @kateflatman

Photo credit: @kateflatman

Toot Toot Toys is a fun space that provides an hour or so of entertainment for the kids. The café onsite has a basic offering of hot & cold drinks and the shop has a fantastic range of trains, Lego, Duplo, Salvanian family and more. It is best suited for kids under 5.

 Photo credit: @kateflatman

Photo credit: @kateflatman

For more info on Toot Toot Toys, head to their Facebook page.

To follow Kate and her poppets around Melbourne, head to her Instagram page.

For more ideas on what to do with the little ones, head to our blog or CBD Top 5 FREE activities or our popular Daily Spots List.

Hank Marvin Market - St Kilda East - Melbourne - Review 

Kate and her little ones recently visited the Hank Marvin Market in St Kilda East and with a great selection of food from both farmers, local producers, food trucks and makers, kid friendly activities, a nearby playground and a relaxing atmosphere for the whole family - these things make it a perfect market to hang out on weekends! Thanks for the review Kate xo Catherine
 Photo credit: @kateflatman

Photo credit: @kateflatman

My British-born husband is quite a fan of Cockney rhyming slang so I'm quite familiar with the phrases “I’m hank marvin!” and “I’m proper hank!”.  So when Hank Marvin Market opened in August 2015, I instantly fell in love with the name (FYI Hank Marvin is Cockney rhyming slang for starving) and have since become big fans of this weekly street-food and produce market.

 Photo credit: @kateflatman

Photo credit: @kateflatman

Located within the picturesque Alma Park in St Kilda East surrounded by a busy sporting oval, two popular public swimming pools, a great play park (more about that further down) and close to the busy Chapel Street precinct, Hank Marvin is a foodie paradise + it’s fantastic to visit with toddlers!

Presenting a rotating, carefully selected group of food trucks, fine and fresh produce merchants and community stalls - with approximately 40 stalls each week - there really is something for everyone at Hank Marvin. Alongside many traders who Melbournians have grown to love (and actively seek out at different events), you can also expect new vendors you’ll likely become very familiar with soon.

 Photo credit: @kateflatman

Photo credit: @kateflatman

 Photo credit: @kateflatman

Photo credit: @kateflatman

 Photo credit: @kateflatman

Photo credit: @kateflatman

 Photo credit: @kateflatman

Photo credit: @kateflatman

On our most recent visit we couldn’t go past visiting a few of our favourites; delectable doughnuts by Cobb Lane Bakery, coffee from the gang at Little Big Sugar Salt, toasties by Toasta (order the Mack filled with cheese blend, cheesy mac & cheese and caramelised onion, yum!) as well as Korean Japanese street food from Kimu (the Breakfast Kimchi Omelette with free range smoked thick bacon was out of this world!).    

 Photo credit: @kateflatman

Photo credit: @kateflatman

Our #minimelbournefoodies love the market too! On this occasion they were kept satisfied with many samples from the friendly food vendors, dog cuddles from the beautiful Gumtree Greys greyhounds (+ the many other super adorable pups who visit the market), creative time at the large blackboard and face painting by the lovely ladies from Where’s My Unicorn?.  *Alejandro the Mexican Music Man entertains children of all ages once every month too with his vibrant Mexican and Latin music.

 Photo credit: @kateflatman

Photo credit: @kateflatman

 Photo credit: @kateflatman

Photo credit: @kateflatman

 Photo credit: @kateflatman

Photo credit: @kateflatman

 Photo credit: @kateflatman

Photo credit: @kateflatman

 Photo credit: @kateflatman

Photo credit: @kateflatman

A visit to Hank Marvin Market wouldn't be complete without a play in the nearby playground.  This has definitely got to be one of the best playgrounds in Melbourne.  It’s the perfect spot for children to run around while you finish your coffee and that scrumptious pastry or tasty plate of food that you picked up next door.  

 Photo credit: @kateflatman

Photo credit: @kateflatman

 Photo credit: @kateflatman

Photo credit: @kateflatman

 Photo credit: @kateflatman

Photo credit: @kateflatman

The park itself is separated into different playing areas with various sized and shaped slides, a flying fox, swings, monkey bars, rockers and an assortment of climbing equipment; there really is something to suit every age and ability.  The playground is surrounded by tall gum trees and a stunning Moreton Bay fig tree and offers an abundance of nature play areas for little ones to explore too.  

 Photo credit: @kateflatman

Photo credit: @kateflatman

With some of the best food that Melbourne has to offer - not to mention the 28 metres of dining hall, ample seating and blankets aplenty – Hank Marvin Market is more than just a place to grab some delicious food or the weekly shop, it’s a gathering place for friends and families alike.  Go check it out this weekend!

 Photo credit: @kateflatman

Photo credit: @kateflatman

For more information on the Hank Marvin Market, head to their website.
To follow Kate and her poppets around Melbourne, head to her Instagram page.

For more ideas on what to do with the little ones, head to our blog or CBD Top 5 FREE activities or our popular Daily Spots List.

Little Creatures Play Space - Balwyn Melbourne - Review

Kate and her little ones were out exploring again and discovered Little Creatures Play Space last week. Such a brilliant idea! Kids love to play pretend and this unique indoor play centre ticks all the boxes and they will be entertained for hours - perfect for those rainy days! I still can't stop laughing at Master Arlo wearing his Fireman outfit the whole time he was at the centre! Thanks for Kate for the review! Checkout Kate's adventures via her Instagram page.
 Photo credit: @kateflatman for @busycitykids

Photo credit: @kateflatman for @busycitykids

The toddler years are the golden years of creativity.  Toddlers can pretend with just about anything, even if it’s not meant to be a toy!  Little Creatures is a unique indoor play centre in Balwyn designed specifically to facilitate a young child’s imagination and creativity.  

 Photo credit: @kateflatman for @busycitykids

Photo credit: @kateflatman for @busycitykids

With an open-plan set up consisting of different play themes including a home corner, grocery store, fire station, builder’s workshop, costume room, soft play equipment, reading corner and train table, Little Creatures is the perfect play space for little ones.

It came as no surprise to me that Master Arlo went straight to the fire station as soon as we arrived while Miss Macy preferred to find a cosy spot in the reading corner, cuddling up to the big teddy bears and playing with dolls (her latest obsession!). 

 Photo credit: @kateflatman for @busycitykids

Photo credit: @kateflatman for @busycitykids

 Photo credit: @kateflatman for @busycitykids

Photo credit: @kateflatman for @busycitykids

Once their curiosity got the better of them, they began exploring the other areas together and individually. 

 Photo credit: @kateflatman for @busycitykids

Photo credit: @kateflatman for @busycitykids

 Photo credit: @kateflatman for @busycitykids

Photo credit: @kateflatman for @busycitykids

At one point they positioned themselves behind the grocery store cash register and had a team of little people collecting items in trolleys and bringing them to be scanned!

 Photo credit: @kateflatman for @busycitykids

Photo credit: @kateflatman for @busycitykids

 Photo credit: @kateflatman for @busycitykids

Photo credit: @kateflatman for @busycitykids

The train track and workshop were also favourite areas, as well as the home corner which saw Arlo whizzing around the centre with a vacuum cleaner helping to tidy up. I was super proud.

 Photo credit: @kateflatman for @busycitykids

Photo credit: @kateflatman for @busycitykids

Little Creatures also runs FREE activities during the week including story time, arts & crafts and children's yoga.  On the day we visited the team from Kindy Groove ran a thirty minute session which had the poppets singing, dancing and moving to songs, stories and dances based on the theme, The Woods.  Watching the little ones learn to bunny hop was seriously one of the cutest things I have ever seen!
 Photo credit: @kateflatman for @busycitykids

Photo credit: @kateflatman for @busycitykids

Although it may not offer equipment or toys that children can ride, climb or bounce (with the exception of a short rope ladder in the fire station), Little Creatures will be sure to entertain little ones while also challenging their skills and encouraging them to play, learn and interact with each other.  We highly recommend that you visit!  

 Photo credit: @kateflatman for @busycitykids

Photo credit: @kateflatman for @busycitykids

Our tips:

  • Entry is $5 for 6-12 months and $9.5 for little ones 1+ and allows unlimited play.  Babies under six months and adults are free of charge.  No need to book, just turn up.
  • Take advantage of one of the special offers: Play & Snack Deal ($11) which includes unlimited play, a mini muffin or cupcake and a babycino OR Play & Lunch Deal ($13) which includes unlimited play, a sandwich and juice box.
  • There is a café onsite serving a range of food and beverages with two seating areas so you can easily watch your little ones play whilst enjoying a coffee.  Highchairs are also available.
  • The space is pram friendly and there is a toilet with change facilities.
  • Little Creatures is available for private birthday parties on the weekends.  Check out the website for more information.
  • FREE two and three hour street parking (believe me, you will need it!) is available opposite Little Creatures on Cherry Street.
For more information on Little Creatures, head to their website.

For more ideas on what to do with the little ones, head to our blog or CBD Top 5 FREE activities or our popular Daily Spots List.

Shelly Beach - Sydney

Shelly Beach is located off Bower Street in Manly. It has a beautiful lookout area where you can view the amazing blue waters, a small beach with a restaurant & kiosk, a promenade walk to Manly and rock baths along the walk.

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The beach is great for families to visit, play on the sand and enjoy lunch or an ice cream from the nearby restaurant and kiosk. There is no shark fenced area where little ones can swim in and the beach is not patrolled. There is no parking on the beach as such but up on the hill which gets pretty busy in summer starting from 9am. We have visited both late afternoon and early morning and had no issues finding a car park there.

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It is a popular spot for diving and snorkelling as the beach is in the protected Cabbage Tree Bay reserve where all sorts of marine life can be seen. 

 It has a grassy lawn areas for picnics as well as some areas for relaxing under the shade. It has a number of divers onsite 

The Boathouse restaurant, café & kiosk is a great spot for all meals during the day or a sneaky coffee and ice creams to keep mumma and the little ones at bay.

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On the left hand-side of Shelly beach, there is a walking path to Manly which is great for spotting beautifully carved sea creatures and real water dragons on the way to Manly and little crabs on the rocks on the way back.

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There are also rock baths along the path to Manly which are good for older kids or adults as well as shops.

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Tips:

  • Bring sunscreen and a hat for your little ones
  • Bring some swimming gear and towels
  • Bring some sand castle gear
  • Bring some chairs and a picnic blanket
  • Bring a beach umbrella
  • Bring a shade tent if you have one as there is only a few shady spots
  • Bring a picnic, snacks and water bottles
  • Bring your pram for a stroll along the water

This beach and playground has:

  • Accessible public toilets next to the restaurant
  • Accessible Permit or Paying parking area near the lookout area
  • Areas for little ones to play
  • BBQ equipment
  • Picnic areas
  • Seating, tables, benches
  • Shower on the beach near the walking path or next to the toilets

For more Sydney beaches, head to our dedicated page.

For more Sydney playgrounds, head to our dedicated page.

Little Manly Beach - Sydney

The Little Manly Beach (also known as Little Manly Cove) is located off Stuart Street in Manly which is a about 20 minutes walk from Manly Wharf.

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The Little Manly Beach is a great beach for children. We visited on a warm Saturday afternoon, did not find it too crowded and we were able to find a spot on the beach close to the water. The hardest part of it was finding a parking spot nearby and convincing the kids to leave the beach after we were there for an hour. 

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When we visited, kids were playing in the rock pools next to the shark fenced swimming area. My little ones loved this beach and playing in the wet sand making sand castles. I wish we had taken our tent or beach umbrella to shade us from the late sun though.

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It is a great little beach for kids to swim around while being able to touch the bottom in parts and great for families to be able to sit on the beach while watching their older children swim without having to worry about waves, sharks or other things. 

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There is also a non-fenced swimming spot on the right hand side of the Little Manly beach as well as a swing set with a baby and child seat and a larger children's playground at Little Manly Point Park next to the beach.

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There is a kiosk café on the beach with some reasonably priced food if you don't manage to pack anything for snacks, lunch and dinner. There are also council operated toilets and beach showers right next to the kiosk café.

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Tips:

  • Bring sunscreen and a hat for your little ones
  • Bring some swimming gear and towels
  • Bring some sand castle gear
  • Bring some chairs and a picnic blanket
  • Bring a beach umbrella
  • Bring a shade tent if you have one as there is only a few shady spots
  • Bring a picnic, snacks and water bottles

This beach and playground has:

  • Accessible public toilets
  • Accessible parking area nearby and street parking (paying parking for non Northern beaches residents)
  • Areas for little ones to play
  • BBQ equipment
  • Picnic areas
  • Seating, tables, benches
  • Shower next to the kiosk
  • Swing set for babies and older kids

For more Sydney beaches, head to our dedicated page.

For more Sydney playgrounds, head to our dedicated page.

Hello Kitty Diner - Sydney

Little M's (Little Miss & Little Mister) and I recently moved to Sydney and of course we couldn't help ourselves and explore! Little Miss loves Hello Kitty so we headed to the Kitty diner in Chatswood's new The District food court complex on top of Chatswood station.

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Little ones will love having their photo taken next to Hello Kitty and hugging her at the front entrance of course!

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There are a few Hello Kitty themed features in the diner but not as many as I would have liked.

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The neon bow was by far our favourite feature in the diner. We also liked the cute Hello Kitty napkins. A colouring Hello Kitty page and pencils are available on request to keep the little ones busy.

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Before we sat down, we ordered an afternoon snack of Cinnamon Waffles with apple pie ice cream and salted caramel sauce, a Kid's Vanilla Milkshake and a Smoked Lemonade.

The Cinnamon waffles came out fast, the little bow was cute, the waffles were nice and fluffy, the ice cream and salted caramel sauce were quite sweet though even for little Miss! Her vanilla milkshake with fresh cream on top had a nice flavour.

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The Smoked Lemonade on the other hand although it sounded interesting, tasted very strange. After a few sips, I still couldn't drink it as the smokey flavour was too strong for my liking so I changed it to the Dry Ginger Ale which was very nice.

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Overall, the Hello Kitty Diner is a cute place to bring the little ones to or catchup with friends for a milkshake. As a fan of Hello Kitty, it's a shame the décor has been toned down a little, I would have loved more theme carried out. Although it's a small diner, I managed to sit with little Miss at a booth and have little Mister's pram next to me. 

Hello Kitty Diner is located at The District, Chatswood Interchange on top of Chatswood Station.