If El Nino really does grace us with its presence this year (please, please, please!) you’ll need to have a plan B in place for when your go-to playground is socked in. The Bay Area is full of all sorts of indoor play spaces where you can slide, bounce, swing and climb while staying warm and dry. We’ve checked them out and recommend you do the same the next time your little one needs to let off some steam!
Photo: Peek-a-Boo Factory
Peek-a-boo Factory, San Francisco
A former bank in West Portal is now home to a four story, rainbow-colored climbing structure. The centerpiece is the Junior Area, where kids 3-10 can explore four stories of ladders, steps, slides, balls and bouncy rooms. An enclosed toddler/baby area boasts mini slides, plenty of musical toys to bang on and even a funhouse mirror. A play nook offers more mellow entertainment, such as books, Legos, a train table and a kiddie kitchen. But perhaps some of the best perks are for the parents—Wifi, café seating and a big screen TV playing all the big games, just in time for playoff season.
2 West Portal Ave.
San Francisco, Ca
Courtesy of House of Air
House of Air
This place totally blows your backyard trampoline out of the water. It’s a huge warehouse filled with trampolines, airbags, dodgeball courts, and a bounce house. Let your little jumpers (ages 3-6) bounce away in the Air Junior Bounce House, or go for a jaunt on the bigger trampolines during their Junior Geronimo Open Jump sessions (the new and improved version of their Mini Jumper Program.) If your bouncers get hungry, stop at the House of Snacks and pick up a little something to munch on (they have healthy snacks!)
926 Old Mason St.
San Francisco, Ca
San Franciscans seek shelter from the rain at Recess in Potrero Hill. Aside from a huge indoor slide, climbing area, and swing, the 3,200-square-foot space has a nursing room, cafe, and free wi-fi. Kids can take class series in cooking, singing, and “messy art.” But Recess isn’t restricted to play. They also offer parent workshops on topics like tantrums, money management, and getting into preschool.
Note: Recess is only open to members on rainy days, a $75 monthly commitment—worth every penny when you think about the frequent rainy days we have here in the Bay Area.
470 Carolina St. (Between 18th and Mariposa)
San Francisco, Ca
Other options in the city include Noe Valley Recreation Center (the large gym offers classes for old and young, and like many indoor play spots, can be rented for birthday parties) and Peekadoodle Kids Club in Ghirardelli Square (the play space features a Victorian house, a cable car, a grocer’s market, and a giant Golden Gate Bridge).
Like Crunch fitness for the under-15 set, this kiddie gym offers classes such as speed and agility, hip hop, Spooner boarding, yoga and balance, self-defense, and strength training.
3151 Crow Canyon Pl.
San Ramon, Ca
We Rock the Spectrum, Berkeley
This unique kids gym is more than just a place for littles to let off steam. It was founded by a mother of a child of two after she discovered what a positive effect physical and sensory play had on her kids—one of whom is on the autism spectrum. Every offering—from swings, tunnels, crash mats. Trampolines, ziplines, climbing structures and even and arts and crafts area—are designed to be enjoyed by children of all abilities.
2920 7th St.,
Studio Grow has locations in Berkeley and Blackhawk. Stop in for a music class or story time, or to romp through the huge gym space that’s rigged with padded toys to climb over, roll on, or crawl through. There’s also dress-up, painting, and pretend kitchen play. Snacks are sold here, but for a lunch or latte you’ll have to bring your own.
1235 10th Street
3612 Blackhawk Plaza Circle
Small Talk Family Café
This charming cafe-meets-playspace caters to every parent’s unpredictable and always changing schedule needs. Drop in with tot in one arm and purchase a cup of coffee, which gives your kiddo 20 minutes of free play while you relax. Small Talk is also a clean and safe space for your kids to romp around while you connect with your friends (online or off, they have free wifi). Kids can play with trains, a rocking giraffe or inside the miniature house! Or take weekly music, yoga or mom and infant classes before indulging in some free play. There are so many toys and activities, your kids may never want to leave. Read more about it right here.
1536 Newell Ave.
Walnut Creek, Ca
This 9000-square foot building is chock-full of amazing things to see and do. There are 30+ pinball machines set on Free Play, arcade games, videogames, carnival games of skills, antique penny arcades, live magic shows, an amazing hand-carved miniature circus, and historic exhibits with artifacts from the Sutro Baths and Whitney’s Playland in San Francisco. Oh, and did we mention that it was the winner of the Red Tricycle Totally Awesome Awards Most Awesome Indoor Playspace?
10979 San Pablo Ave.
El Cerrito, Ca
Photo courtesy of Kathryn W. via yelp
La Petite Playhouse, Redwood City
This 10,000 sq. ft. facility was dreamt up by the folks behind the Bay’s favorite swim school: Le Petit Baleen. So of course this kiddie wonderland has an under-the-sea theme with features such as the Whale Lookout Sphere, Shark Tank Pendulum Walk, Sea Weed Zig Zag Run and so much more. There’s a separate baby/toddler structure, an interactive “Eye Click” game, a climbing wall and 2 sport courts. Birthday parties are big business here (the playhouse is closed to the public on weekends, when the parties take over) and private rooms and simple, all-inclusive packages make planning a snap.
1264 Oddstad Dr.
Redwood City, Ca
This sweet spot is designed just for the little ones, ages 0-4. Rollers, crawlers and toddlers can go wild chasing lights, popping bubbles, climbing soft steps and cruising down slides. Three distinct play areas will keep them busy between naps!
544 San Mateo Ave.
San Bruno, Ca
Photo courtesy of Melody M. via yelp
Menlo Park’s paragon of play is the bright and modern U-Me. Run by three moms, the 4,000-square-foot play space is the largest on the Peninsula. Adults can take yoga or Barre classes while their little ones explore. Classes for kiddos include tumbling, science, yoga, music, and martial arts.
3355 Edison Way
Menlo Park, Ca
If you want a large, well lit space for your kids to play (and one that’s clean) then look no further than Play! in Los Altos. Play! is one huge room so parents can see kids wherever they decide to hang out while their kids play. Plus, the toys are educational, fun, and high quality. For the older toddlers, there is an arts and crafts room. The staff is super friendly and they actually enjoy playing with kids! Weekends (and rainy weekends) can make this place super busy, so be prepared. An added bonus: plenty of street parking.
170 State St.
Los Altos, Ca
While your little ones are playing dress up, performing on the stage, climbing to the top of the wooden gym, or getting messy with arts and crafts, you can sit back with a coffee or tea, do some work, or catch up with a friend. What sets Whimsy apart is that there they offer trained staff members to supervise the children in the play area at no extra charge, so parents, while required to stay on site, can truly take a break themselves.
14510 Big Basin Way, Ste. 3
With two locations to choose from, Safari Run is a great spot for kids who want to run around in a safe, contained and clean environment. Your admission gets you an hour of fun and it does get crowded, especially on school holidays (your best bet is to get there when it opens). Weekends are often reserved for birthday parties so check the online schedule before heading over. In the summer, the San Mateo location has drop-off summer camps for kids.
1180 Kern Ave.
Sunnyvale, CA 94085
341 North Amphlett Blvd.
San Mateo, CA 94401
Photo courtesy of The Duck Pond
The Duck Pond
For just $7, your kiddo can explore a variety of different play areas, imagination stations, a jump house, a pretend theater, a large and clean play area filled with toys, and lots of Playdough crafts. The Duck Pond is only open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00am to 11:00am, so it’s a great way to kill a few hours before heading out on your next rainy day adventure.
GateWay Community Center/GateWay City Church
5884 Eden Park Place
San Jose, Ca
Photo of Billy Beez by Kate Loweth
This new kid on the indoor play seen took up residence at Westfield Oakridge earlier this year and the kids have gone wild! It combines the fun of a massive climbing structure full of stairs, slides and tunnels with a pretend-play village where the littles can shop, hit the doctor’s office and pick up a pizza. Your entrance fee gives you in-and-out privileges so make the most of your time there by taking a break at the mall’s food court or movie theater before heading back for a second visit at Billy Beez. Check out all the nitty gritty details in our post here.
Westfield Oakridge (entrance near Sears)
925 Blossom Hill Rd.
San Jose, Ca
Photo courtesy of Debra E. via yelp
Silver Creek Sportsplex
For two hours of non-stop bouncing fun, head to Silver Creek Sportsplex and their enormous inflatables! Open play runs pretty much all day (call first to check the hours) so pick your two hours, pay your $8 per kid ($15/child after 4 p.m.) and get bouncing! Take the sweaty kids over to High Five Pizza (also located within the sportsplex) to grab some pizza and burgers while watching hockey practice through the windows.
800 Embedded Way
San Jose, Ca
Photo courtesy of Cindy C. via yelp
Dive head first into the foam pit (or maybe just feet first) for some sky-high fun at Rockin’ Jump. A whole room devoted to trampolines is the focus but kids line up to get into the room where supervised dodgeball is play on, what else, trampolines. Parents will enjoy the plentiful seating and Wifi while the kids bounce, bounce, bounce.
401 Quarry Rd.
San Carlos, Ca
1901 Monterey Rd.
San Jose, Ca
Much like the House of Air (only smaller) Play Land has four unique jumpies, the largest being a 40 by 20 foot inflatable sports arena, perfect for dodgeball, soccer, basketball, and volleyball, and jousting contests! Two slide jumpies and jumpies with a basketball hoop, climbing wall, and play zone for the younger ones. Once they’re tuckered out, kids can head to the art room for crafts, play with toys in the tumble area, or play for points at the air hockey tables (they have two!) Best of all, every activity is designed to keep kids 0-6 warm and dry.
610 Coloma Street (in the MLK Gym)
Photo courtesy of Play-Well Enginnering Center
Play-Well Engineering Center
With two activity center locations in the Bay Area (and dozens of class locations), Play-Well offers drop-in classes and weekly camps for the LEGO fanatics in your family. Apply physics concepts, engineering and architectural designs to your builds to make catapults, pyramids, and more. Just the collection of bricks alone is amazing; boxes stacked form floor to ceiling in every imaginable color and shape. Classes vary by age group, starting as young as 3 up to age 12.
216 Greenfield Ave.
San Anselmo, Ca
5737 Valley Ave.
Where do your kids like to go for some indoor fun? Let us know in the comments below!
—Kate Loweth, Erin Feher and Sarah Bossenbroek