School has been in full swing now for a month or so and you’ve accomplished a smooth transition into your routine. Well done! The next challenge is already waiting for you: after-school playdates. Let’s face it, kids crave quality playtime with old or new pals to shake out their legs after a long day in the classroom. Where to go? We gathered a few signature spots that will guarantee a bonding experience for all energy levels. Scroll down for your next stop!

mission pie

San Francisco

All-Ages Happy Hour at Mission Pie
All that studying is sure to make little bellies rumble. Start a new after-school tradition and stop by Mission Pie in the Mission District for a delicious, all-ages happy hour. Tuesday through Friday, 3 to 7 p.m., the kitchen turns out a delicious, nutritous afternoon snack for just $5. From do it yourself sandwiches to ants on a log to baked beans to tomato soup and cheesy crackers, each house made snack comes with your choice of chocolate and strawberry milk. The sunny corner neighborhood locale is the perfect spot to talk over your day or put your heads together over a board game or puzzle (tables closest to the front windows are generously stocked with quality kids toys and games). For mom and dad, enjoy local beers for $3 and $20 for wine bottles. And of course, there is always pie…lots and lots of delectable pie.

2901 Mission St at 25th
San Francisco, Ca

Mission Bay Children’s Park Playground
This awesome playground is one of the newest in the city. Tucked away in the Mission Bay area, it is a great urban spot to meet school friends and have some outdoor fun. Scholars get to try out funky new play structures and can let their fantasy go wild exploring the park’s extravagant mount-like formations.

Long Bridge St.
San Francisco, Ca
Corner of Longbridge & China Basin St
Open Daily from 8 a.m.–9 p.m.

                                                                                            Photo credit: YBISBC via Facebook

Yerba Buena Ice Skating and Bowling Center
For more of an extravagant outing with one or more friends, take the gang to the Yerba Buena Ice Skating and Bowling Center. It is open all year around. Whether you and the kids want to knock all the pins down or sharpen your skating skills on ice for the holiday season – whichever venue you pick, a good time is guaranteed.

750 Folsom St.
San Francisco, Ca
Between 3rd & 4th Sts.
Open every day of the year. Bowling every day from noon–10 p.m. For detailed Ice Skating schedule click here.

Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito

Photo credit: Bay Area Discovery Museum


Bay Area Discovery Museum
This Bay Area kids’ paradise with view of the Golden Gate Bridge is ideal for the 10 and under set. With so many activities and exhibits to choose from, it’s always fun, always entertaining and educational to boot. Their outdoor, nature-inspired play areas are perfect for letting run wild after a day full of reading and math. If you are planning to go there regularly, the annual membership is the way to go.

557 McReynolds Rd.
Sausalito, Ca
Hours: Tues.–Sun. until 4 p.m.; Closed Mondays



hamilton_novato_park_via_facebookPhoto credit: City of Novato Parks, Recreation and Community Services

South Hamilton Park
Little aviation lovers will be over the moon for this after-school hot spot. If you have a toddler and older kids to please at the same time, this is your place, as all will be happy playing and running around this plane-themed playground—it is actually a former US Air Force base! Yep, kids imagination can go wild here. Take a soccer or a baseball with you in case your youngsters get bored of the play structures and want to hit the sport fields right next to the park. There is also a community pool open during the summer months.

Hangar Ave.
Novato, Ca


Photo credit: SensationALL Kids Gym

East Bay

SensationALL Kids Gym
Need to get those little legs moving after sitting in class all morning but it’s too cool to romp around outside? Visit SensationAll Kids Gym, an indoor play space and treatment center for all abilities that opened in spring of this year. It has all kind of playrooms and activities, from spinning, climbing to face painting’s to satisfy your youngster’s play cravings.

1770 Willow Pass Rd.
Concord, Ca
Hours: Mon.–Sat., 9 a.m.–6 p.m., Closed Sundays for private parties
Cost: $15/drop-in ages 2 & up, $12 ages 2 & under, free under 10 months old. Monthly family passes also available.

indianrock_russelb-_via_yelpPhoto credit: Russel B. via Yelp

Indian Rock Park 
Sure-footed scouts will feel like they scaled a mini Mt. Everest when they climb to the top of Indian Rock, an 11-million-year old volcanic formation within the Berkeley public park of the same name. This park on the slope of Berkeley Hills features huge rock formations you can climb up. Not traveling with a master climber? No worries, as there are different levels of difficulty and even a stair-like paths to get up. It is fun and the views from the summit over the Bay Area are breathtaking. Pack a nice picnic to reward your young climbers and enjoy a relaxed afternoon with stunning views.

950  Indian Rock Ave. at Shattuck Ave.
Northeast Berkeley, Ca

Photo: Peter Loftus Playground by David A. via Yelp

South Bay

Peter Loftus Playground
We are well familiar with the struggle to please everyone in the family, but this playground is sure to impress even the pickiest child. With two separate play areas (for 2-5 year olds, and 5-11 year olds), a rockwall, play structures, fast slides, a sand box, plus rubber turf to catch the inevitable tumbles and falls—the real question is: what doesn’t this playground have?

477 Lincoln Cir.
Millbrae, Ca
Map it: Google Maps

Japanese Friendship Garden Regional Park
This South Bay garden was created to celebrate the friendship between San Jose and its Sister City of Okayama, Japan. It is a relaxing spot to indulge on natural beauty and calm down from a hectic day at school. Picturesque Japanese bridges, beautiful flora, waterfalls and golden koi fish will guarantee some quality time. Unwind and simply take a moment to celebrate friendship.

Keller Park, 1300 Senter Rd.
San Jose, Ca
Hours: Open daily, 10a.m.–8 p.m.


Photo courtesy of CuriOdyssey


CuriOdyssey at Coyote Point
Once known as the Coyote Point Museum, this San Mateo center includes science exhibits and is home to over 100 Bay Area critters being rehabilitated from the wild. See them firsthand in CuriOdyssey’s wildlife habitats, carefully replicated by the keepers. Looking to make a day out of your visit? The nearby Coyote Point Magic Mountain playground is huge, has great spots for picnicking and is fun for all ages.

1651 Coyote Point Drive
San Mateo, Ca

Gamble Garden
It’s the perfect time of the year to go outside with friends and admire the change in season. Or explore what’s actually blooming right now while having a nice relaxing stroll through Palo Alto’s beautiful Gamble Garden. See the changing colors and feel the fresh air while having your kids fantasize about what the upcoming festive season will bring.

1431 Waverley St.
Palo Alto, Ca
Hours: Open every day during daylight hours

What is your child’s favorite after-school spot? Share it in the comments section below.

-Sabine Klensch