Go Wild Inside: The Coolest Indoor Play Spaces
No one likes a water-logged slide or a soggy sandbox. If the rain is keeping you and your littles away from local play ground, it’s time to find a indoor alternative, stat! Luckily, there is no shortage of places for to kiddos to climb, jump, swing and slide while staying warm and dry inside. From an underwater-themed wonderland in Redwood City to a stunner of a four-story climbing structure in San Francisco, these indoor play spaces will have your tykes doing a rain dance.
Peek-a-boo Factory, San Francisco
A former bank in West Portal is now home to a four story, rainbow-colored climbing structure. This brand new playspace has something for everyone. 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).
Courtesy of Play Cafe
It’s nice to go to an indoor playspace that caters to both adults and kids. While moms and dads can grab a bite to eat, kids can jump in the indoor ball pit, try on dress-up clothes, and play with a bunch of toys that are great for the under-5 set. They also host a variety of events such as movie screenings, guest speakers and authors, and more that are a sure-fire way to keep both you and your kiddo entertained while you forget all about the gloomy weather outside.
4400 Keller Ave., Ste. 410
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.,
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
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.
1235 10th Street
2202N South Shore Center
3612 Blackhawk Plaza Circle
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
Le Petit 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
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
The Duck Pond
For just $5, 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
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 you take your kids on a rainy day? We know there are tons of places to play when the weather is wet, so leave a comment with your favorite places below!
—Erin Feher and Sarah Bossenbroek