If you’re a parent, you know it’s usually (make that always) all about the kids. You spend half your life hauling them to the park, play dates, swimming lessons, dance class, soccer and baseball practice—places where you get to hang out, and they get to have all the fun. It hardly seems fair.
Have you ever wished someone would invent a place where the kids can burn off some energy while moms and dads relax with a frosty beer or a calming glass of wine? Well, someone did, and that magical slice of heaven is called Perch & Play.
I wanted to check it out, but having no rugrats (sorry, is that mean?) of my own, I had to borrow my friend Laurie and her two completely adorable kids, Zane and Ruby. And what a great time we all had!
Zane is eight years old and Ruby is almost five. They’re high-energy, smart and really like to have fun (no surprise there). Their mom, Laurie, likes to relax with a friend and a beverage, but it’s tough to make dates with the ladies when you’re spending half your life hauling kids to the park, swimming lessons, dance class, etc. (see above). Luckily, Perch & Play meets everyone’s needs! We biked over to their State Street location from Bellingham’s Sunnyland neighborhood.
I was immediately impressed by how well the space is planned and decorated. It’s appealing to kids and adults, with walls covered in fun graphics of Pickles, the owl, his animal friends, big trees, sunshine and airplanes.
The place is immaculate, too (not that it matters to the kids).
Ruby and Zane immediately headed to the play area, while Laurie and I immediately headed to the counter to order a couple of beers to enjoy up in the Perch, where the chairs are comfy and the mood is relaxed. We had a birds-eye view of the entire play area.
The Perch & Play cafe’s bottled beer selection included an Elysian IPA, Pike Kilt Lifter, Two Beers Pale Ale and Ninkasi Pilsner. For wine, there were three reds (cabernet sauvignon, syrah, and a blend) and three whites (chardonnay, pinot gris and sauvignon blanc), all available by the glass. We decided on the pilsner, and were handed two frosty jars full of goodness. Laurie opted for a sippy top for hers—to prevent spills as we negotiated the stairs. Smart!
Perch & Play has lots of breakfast, lunch and snack items to choose from. We decided on an appetizer of pita with salami, hummus, cheese, apple and pesto. Perfect to munch on while we sipped our bevvies, caught up and watched the kids have a blast.
Zane and Ruby are big enough for the Backyard, which features a massive climbing structure and a two-story playhouse with “appliances,” toys, games, books and a big curly-Q slide. Children under age three have their own area, the Pea Patch. Parents stay with the little ones here.
Laurie said the best thing about the Perch & Play Backyard is the play monitor, an employee who watches over the kids and intervenes on squabbles. This means grownups, while ultimately responsible for their kids, don’t have to keep two eyes on them at all times. They can actually focus on a conversation, their work or just themselves!
I spoke with Raleigh Kukes, the owner, who launched Perch & Play after earning her MBA at Western Washington University. While she was in school, she found it difficult to find a place where she could study while her daughter could safely play. She had an aha moment, and Perch & Play was born.
At Perch & Play, safety is a big deal. The common-sense rules are posted and enforced. To prevent allergens, no outside food is allowed (plus, they’re a fully-operational restaurant, so they need to keep the health department happy).
Keeping adults happy is also important. That’s why there’s free wi-fi, and a big-screen TV, where sports fans can get their fix while the kids play downstairs.
Perch & Play offers classes in movement and art, pajama parties, a play school for kids 3 – 5, a beginning reader book group, and of course, birthday parties. For grownups, there are moms’ groups, knitting classes and more.
According to Zane, the children at Perch & Play are “very, very friendly and fun.” He also appreciated the fact that the telescopes on the play structure “actually work!”
Perch & Play is the ideal place for parents, grandparents or caregivers to enjoy a libation and socialize while the kids expend all their extra energy. They may even fall asleep early for you! (Can you tell I have no children?)
Perch & Play, 1707 N. State St., Bellingham, WA. 360-393-4925
Monday – Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Sunday 9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Perch & Play on Facebook
Here are some additional kid-friendly, adult-beverage spots in Bellingham:
The Old Town Cafe: Enjoy a mimosa with breakfast or a beer with your lunch. Old Town is family oriented and the kids even have their own play area. 316 W. Holly St., Bellingham, WA
Boundary Bay Brewery’s Beer Garden: Always a hit no matter what the weather, the beer garden is all ages until 10:00. There are toys to climb on and often, music to dance to. 1107 Railroad Avenue, Bellingham, WA
Elizabeth Station: With a chalkboard and toys to entertain the kids, plus a mind-blowing selection of bottled beers, and five rotating beers on tap, plus an excellent assortment of wines, this neighborhood gathering spot is a favorite with parents (and the rest of us). 1400 W. Holly St., Bellingham, WA