If you’re looking for a new place to play this year, the Kroc Center, located in the College Area, offers the arts, fitness fun, and classes, all at affordable prices. Be part of the fun by participating in a free family event, ice skate year round, try your hand at rock climbing, or set the big kids free at the skate park. Read on to plan your day at one of San Diego’s largest state-of-the- art facilities that you haven’t tried yet.

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Photo: Bolga Music

Arts and Entertainment
Each month, the Kroc Center teams with Young Audiences of San Diego to offer amazing free programs. Arts and Literacy evening performances are a terrific way to add some culture and diversity to your little Picasso’s world without the cost of an expensive class. These inspiring evenings are include a 30-minute arts show, an art activity led by a teaching artist, and a book for each family attending — all for free! Arts and Literacy Nights take place on the fourth Thursday of the month at 6:30 p.m.

Bring your little mateys to the next performance on January 28 to see Treasure, a show by San Diego State Performing Artists celebrating pirates and the search for treasure in our lives. Upcoming shows include a commemoration of Black History month in February with an anticipated performance by Akyaa and Bolga Music, featuring terrific African-inspired percussionists. Other acts scheduled for the year highlight storytelling with the popular book Beautiful Oops, tap dancing, rhythm, funk and Matisse inspired art.

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Photo: cleverCl@i®ê via Flickr Creative Commons

Literacy and Family Fun
Another Kroc Center free program that promotes literacy is Family Read. Offered the second Tuesday of each month from 10-11 a.m., this program geared toward toddlers and preschoolers hopes to inspire a love of books and reading. The event consists of a themed story time, followed by playtime and the bonus of a new book for each family participating to take home.

If one of your goals for 2016 is to play or exercise together more as a family, the Kroc’s Family Fun & Fit Nights are for you. These themed events promote healthy lifestyle choices for San Diego families. January’s theme is winter fun, where you can challenge your family to an obstacle course followed by a healthy treat. Family Fun & Fit Nights occur most months on the third Thursday. This year’s plans include family soccer, yoga and new games that will add to your summer fun. Click here to get the details about all the Kroc’s free family programs.

RockWall

Photo: The Kroc Center

Outdoor and Sporting Fun
In addition to its terrific family programming, the center offers a day pass that allows visitors to drop in and try an activity on its vast 12-acre complex. Choose from the rock wall, indoor skate park or pool. Kids weighing 40 pounds and over can try the exhilarating experience of rock climbing. Rock wall participants are fitted properly with gear, given instructions on raising and lowering themselves, and tips for climbing. The Rock wall is open Thursdays through Sundays each week.

The Kroc’s indoor skate park offers a fun way to spend a rainy afternoon. The skate park is open Thursday through Sunday to kids age 6 and up, and can accommodate skateboards and rollerblades.

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Can’t make it to the snow? Go ice skating instead. The Kroc Center Ice Arena offers winter fun year round at great prices.  Check out their calendar to see special discounted days and evenings. The Ice Arena folks offer classes too. Kids can learn to skate, figure skate, or play hockey.

Tiny Tikes Sports introduces simple, fun interactive games to toddlers Wed. at 10 a.m. Tiny Tikes yoga is offered Fridays at 10 a.m. Adult athletic offerings range from basketball leagues to pilates to personal trainers. Drop in athletic classes are available for adults and kids, free for Gold members, $5 per guest user.

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Photo: The Kroc Center

Know Before You Go
The Kroc Center is a huge complex. There is plentiful parking in their lots, but some events bring large crowds. Arrive early if possible and check out the complex map beforehand to park closest to the area you will be visiting.

If you love your first visit, consider a membership for a great deal. The best price is Family Gold, which for $71, covers two adults and up to six minors in a household. Everyone can enjoy unlimited access to Athletics/ Aquatics (hours and age restrictions apply), unlimited access to Group Exercise Classes, and up to two hours of free childcare per child, per day.

No tickets or reservations are needed for family fun events. Just show up and enjoy!

Cost: Day Pass: $6/adults; $4/child; Kids under 3 -free; Skating: $10/person; Family Programs: free

6845 University Ave.
San Diego, Ca 92119
619-287-5762
Online: sd.kroccenter.org

Have you been to the Kroc Center? What’s your favorite part about this family-friendly spot?

— Cherie Gough