Rainy Day Fun: Bay Area Indoor Play Spaces
In the East Bay, Studio Grow has locations in Berkeley and Concord 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.
Another option in Oakland that allow parents to watch their kids while they grab a bite is Play Cafe. The indoor ball pit and dress-up clothes work particularly well with the under-five crowd.
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.
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), 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).
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.
In Marin, the newest indoor drop-in space in Playland in Sausalito, with bouncy houses galore, crafts and an air hockey table, it’s designed to keep kids 0-10 warm and dry. Note: Playland has a second location at the Corte Madera Rec Center on Mondays.
Another favorite is the Bay Area Discovery Museum, which has enough indoor attractions to entertain little ones when rain is whipping through the Golden Gate. And some Marinites take their restless tots to run around in the newly renovated Northgate Mall (with its National Geographic play area).
More Indoor Favorites:
House of Air – (San Francisco)- The newly opened trampoline training facility in the Presidio also caters to the 3-6 year old crowd with a specially supervised area called the “Air Junior Bounce House”.
Children’s Creativity Museum (San Francisco) – The Children’s Creativity Museum is an amazing place to bring curious kids on a rainy day. The museum has everything to keep a little one entertained from interactive indoor play to hands on art activities to even a mini studio where kids can belt out tunes, this museum really has it all.
Randall Museum (San Francisco)- Does anything beat a free kids museum that is home to rabbits, birds, snakes, a beehive, and a hawk?
Play-Well Engineering Center (San Anselmo and Pleasanton) offers drop-in play for LEGO affectionados, with floor to ceiling containers of bricks in every imaginable color and shape.
Bay Model Visitor Center (Sausalito) is a hidden gem in Marin, offers a massive indoor open space for kids to frolic while adults marvel at the mini-scale exhibits of the bay and estuaries.
Please call ahead and check hours and availability before heading out.
Also, add your favorite rainy day play space in the comments section below so we can make this one of the most comprehensive lists for Bay Area parents (looks like it might be a wet winter).
Older comments (before we moved over to Facebook comments):
Peggy L.: Also don’t forgot Pump It Up (www.pumpitupparty.com) – also a screaming deal and get the kids so tired they’ll nap. (Horray for mom). Also other cool venues — Exploratorium and Cal Academy — both great rainy day spots.
Amy K: Funny you didn’t notice the Daly City Party Playhouse — extremely good value, as opposed to that $20-a-day behemoth in the photo.