Skip the Matinee and Head Towards Gilman Street  StudioGrowPic

When you and the kids get the itch to explore, a little Bay Area rain shouldn’t stand in the way. Studio Grow in Berkeley provides an inviting indoor space with several open play areas that encourage creativity, interaction, and learning. Your kids can dance to their own tunes in the mirrored music room, build collages and paint up a storm in the art studio, and cook up the best pretend meals ever in house play. There’s also a room with play structures, a quieter room for nursing and one for pre-walkers, and a courtyard for when the weather gets sunnier.

The idea is to feed your children’s curiosity with free play that nurtures their desire to learn. The play dough in the art room is non-toxic or “Studio Grown.” Also, delightful instruments and guest musicians can be found in the music room. It’s a family-owned business created by educators, writers, musicians, and performers, and they’ve really built a place that feels spacious, light filled, and stimulating, with a variety of independent and guided activities that don’t feel overwhelming. The cost is under $10 per person ($9 per person before 1:00 pm, and $5 per person after 1:00 pm), and they’re open Monday through Saturday for kids 0-6. On Sundays, the space can be reserved for parties.

Studio Grow is located on 10th Street, near the popular Gilman St. outlets (North FaceRoyal Robbins) and specialty furniture and antique stores (Trove, Reliance Antiques). The outing is a good excuse to stop over at Picante on 6th Street, which has been around for years but has never lost its signature touch with authentic Mexican food and a real kids’ menu.

—Renee M. Rutledge