Looking for a little creative inspiration this summer? Add some hands-on art to your must-do list with these classes that encourage the little Picassos to let their creative juices flow. Many are free and you don’t even have to make reservations in advance (because, let’s be frank, that’s a little ambitious for the summer). Best of all, you’ll avoid having to be on clean-up duty!

photo: Little Tree Stuidos

Little Tree Studios in Marin

This brand-new spot in Marin hosts drop-in art classes for all ages. In the summer its all about camps but during the non-summer months you can come on Saturdays for their open studio times. Ages 2-4 come with a parent helper and ages 5-13 are drop-off optional. Kids can explore all sorts of mediums from painting to sewing to sculpture. In addition to the Saturday hours they offer after school classes, drop-in classes, school break camps and movie nights. 

14 Ross Ave.
San Anselmo, CA


Saturday Studio at the de Young, San Francisco

The de Young has always been a hot spot for families who love to enjoy and make art together. Saturday Studio offers kids 6-9 the opportunity to engage in a different art-making technique for each two-part session(10 a.m.-noon) . Family Art Making also takes place on Saturdays (from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.) and is included with admission and perfect for all ages. Check the calendar here

Golden Gate Park
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr.
San Francisco, CA
Saturday Studio: 10 a.m.-noon, $50/member, $70/non-member for each two-day series
Family Art Making: 11 a.m.-4 p.m., included with admission
Online: deyoung.famsf.org

I Heart Art - Pleasant Hill

I heart art is a studio offering art and craft projects in the form of open studio time as well as private events and parties. I heart art is an oasis for children and their parents seeking a safe, energizing and beautiful place to spend mornings, afternoons or weekends enjoying an art experience in a nurturing environment. All art mediums are taught by the founders as well as expert guest teachers utilizing their exceptional skills and experience in teaching young people.

15 Vivian Dr.
Pleasant Hill, CA


Make Art the Museum of Craft and Design, San Francisco

 These first Saturday events feature tactile materials introductions for toddlers, guided activities for kids, gallery tours and in-gallery drop-in projects for families. Check for upcoming workshops here

2569 Third St.
San Francisco, CA
Cost: Included with admission cost of $8/adults, $6/students and seniors, 12 and under are free
Hours: Saturdays, times vary, please check website for details
Online: sfmcd.org


Art Lab at Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito

You can make art every day of the week at the Bay Area Discovery Museum. The Art Project is available all day for anyone to stop by and get inspired with a project that changes every two weeks. Artists ages 3 and up will love Art Lab where they get to explore various techniques and mediums. In the Local Artist Spotlight, kids ages 5 and up will explore a specific artistic technique through a project inspired by a professional artist. Inspirational, indeed!

557 McReynolds Rd.
Sausalito, CA
Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tues.-Fri., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat., 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun.
Cost: $14.95/general; $13.95/babies 6-12 months. Free admission the first Wednesday of every month

Art Pushcart and Drop-in Art Studio at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco

Sunday is the day to make a stop at the CJM for some hands-on art making for all ages. On the first and second Sundays of the month, make some art like a machine that “helps” you do something in your daily routine, inspired by the exhibition The Art of Rube Goldberg, on exhibit through July 8, 2018. If you are there one of the other Sundays of the month, look for the roving Art Pushcart that’s full of games, materials and questions meant to inspire visitors.

736 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA
Hours: Sundays, 11 a.m.–3 p.m.
Cost: Adults/$14; kids 18 and under are free

Family Fun Day at the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco

Leave the country without ever having to take BART to the airport! Every first and third Sunday, immerse yourself in Asian art and culture as you make origami flowers and more. Start the morning with a family-friendly tour of the museum and then get down to business making your own creations. Storytelling starts it all off at 10:30 a.m. and art making takes place until 2 p.m. 

200 Larkin St.
San Francisco, CA
Hours: Every 1st and 3rd Sunday, 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
Cost: Free admission on Family Fun Day
Online: asianart.org

photo: Cantor Arts Center by Angela Drury

Second Sunday Drop-In Studio Stanford’s Cantor Arts Center, Palo Alto

When you have one of the world’s most prestigious universities in your backyard, you play in your backyard! Your whole family will enjoy tours, hands-on art projects, independent sketching and special programs such as storytelling, book readings, and movie screenings. Bonus perk: Wednesday through Sunday you can sign out an art pack from the main lobby front desk. Stocked with colored pencils and sketching paper, you can encourage your Baby Buonarroti to create amongst the greats.

328 Lomita Drive at Museum Way
Stanford, CA
Hours: Second Sundays, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Cost: free
Online: museum.stanford.edu

Exploring Art for Children at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, San Francisco

Explore traditional Latino art and techniques every Saturday using textiles such as clay, flour, paints and paper cuts. Think paper mache and those big, bright, beautiful paper flowers we see all over the place during Dia de los Muertos, and so much more!

2868 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA
Hours: Saturdays 10-11 a.m.
Cost: $10
Online: missionculturalcenter.org

See and Make Art at the Richmond Art Center, Richmond

The Richmond Art Center supports artists in all forms and offers various programs including Sprint Family Day—a free event with art making for all ages. Check for other free events here

2540 Barrett Ave.
Richmond, CA
Cost: free
Online: richmondartcenter.org

Art Studio at Habitot Children's Museum, Berkeley

Drop in anytime during museum hours for an art explosion here at Habitot. The focus here is on the process, not the end product, and nowhere is that more evident than on your child's paint-speckled clothes and smiling faces. Choose between Clay Play (think GAK and scissors) and Mixed Media (think coffee filters and glitter). Don't fret over the inevitable mess, as apron—and clean-up—are provided and all materials are non-toxic!

2065 Kittredge St.
Berkeley, CA
Spring/Summer Hours: Mon.-Thu., 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 9:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. (Sun. parties only.)
Cost: $12/person, under 1 are free
Online: habitot.org

photo: Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose

Art Loft at Children's Discovery Museum, San Jose

Stop in anytime during museum hours to take advantage of the wonderful array of materials from which to create your own unique piece of art. And, even though you'll walk away with something at the very least interesting, end product isn't the goal here—it's all the mess, creativity and learning that happens along the way! Art projects offered include, but aren't limited to, sculpture, printmaking, painting, drawing and collage.

180 Woz Way
San Jose, CA
Hours: Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun, noon-5 p.m.
Cost: $15/person, under 1 are free
Online: cdm.org

Saturday Drop-Ins at The Randall Museum, San Francisco

Design, craft then play with your very own yo-yo or top, turn a simple game of connect-the-dots into a layered oil pastel painting, make wallets, medicine bags—even mix and make your own paint! Yes, we are talking about the Randall Museum. Catch all of these excitingly artful opportunities at Afternoon Art Saturdays. Register at the front desk when you arrive.

199 Museum Way
San Francisco, CA
Hours: Saturdays, 1-4 p.m.
Cost: $10 adult/child combo, $5/each additional person
Online: randallmuseum.org

MakerSpace Open Studio at NUMU in Los Gatos

NUMU’s Open Studio offers visitors of all ages a hands-on opportunity to explore, discover and create! Programs are inspired by current exhibitions, and the museum's mission of art, history, education and innovation. Designed for ages 4 and up, all children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult

NUMU Los Gatos
106 E. Main St.
Los Gatos, CA
Hours: Saturdays and Sundays, noon-4 p.m.
Cost: materials fees vary, plus adult admission

photo: Sabrina Martire

Young Art Lessons

With nine Bay Area locations, you will want to run, not walk, to these fantastic drop-in art classes! They offer art lessons to your kids while you shop, eat or take a coffee break. The concept is easy. Your child tells the instructor what they want to draw, the instructor walks them through drawing step by step and teaches them how to paint. Voila! Your little artist has created a masterpiece! Read our full review here

Hours: Vary by location

Cost: $12.95/15 minutes, $19.95/30 minutes and up. 


Bundle Options: $100/4 hours, $180/8 hourse, $340/16 hours


Where do you go to express yourself through art? Let us know in the comments!

—Sabrina Martire, Kate Loweth & Heather Rodgers

Featured photo: Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose



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