Looking for famtasticTM (family-fantastic) things to do on a rainy day in San Francisco Bay Area with kids? How about 102 of them?! Chose a few or make this your family bucket list! Fun doesn’t have to end just because it’s raining when you live in a place like the San Francisco Bay Area!
Table of Contents
- 1 Think Indoor Sports – Bowling, Bocce Ball, Ping Pong, and Miniature Golf (+ most places involve wine)
- 2 Museums
- 3 Indoor Play Spaces
- 4 Indoor Swimming Pools
- 5 Arts and Crafts Studios
- 6 Indoor Malls with Something Special for the Kids
- 7 Go Watch a Play at a Children’s Theater
- 8 Sing Your Hearts Out at Karaoke
- 9 Say Eff It and Play in the Puddles
- 10 Sign up so you don’t miss the next 102 Famtastic List! (Hint: Wine will be involved.)
Think Indoor Sports – Bowling, Bocce Ball, Ping Pong, and Miniature Golf (+ most places involve wine)
As long as kids can walk or like balls, they will love any of these activities!
Most bowling places will have a ramp you can help younger kids drop the ball and watch it roll. Bocce ball – well, you may have to ignore all rules and drink your wine and let your kid just throw some heavy balls around. Ping Pong too – no high expectations if your kids are small but we are all for balls they can throw without really hurting anyone.
Always a good idea to call ahead to reserve or check for crowds.
- We love this traditional bowling place nestled in the urban woods at Presidio Bowl.
- Bowl under cool lights at Lucky Strike, right by AT&T park.
- Bowl and skate (if your kids are old enough) at Yerba Buena Skate and Bowl.
- Urban Putt is our favorite place. It’s not big, but so much to look at. Try to get there right when they open or on a weekday for an extra family-friendly vibe. Kids under 5 are free.
- SPiN for indoor ping pong action! Check their website for private events and reservation info!
- AMF Boulevard Lanes in Petaluma not only has bowling but pool tables and arcade games too.
- Take in the ocean view on the way to, and while you are at Pacifica Sea Bowl. It will make a nice nap drive on the way home.
- Campo di Bocce in Los Gatos has 4 indoor bocce ball courts. Call ahead when you see rain in the forecast to make a reservation!
- Bel Mateo Bowl was my old stomping grounds but new updates seem to make it a must-check-out!
- You can even get serious and take lessons here at Top Spin Ping Pong space in San Jose, drop in during their daily open play hours! (No alcohol for sale.)
- Campo di Bocce in Livermore and Fremont also has some indoor bocce ball courts. Call ahead when you see rain in the forecast to make a reservation!
- This Table Tennis Center in Alameda has open play hours most days of the week!
Did you know that San Francisco by itself has over 50 museums? Not all of them are super kid-friendly, but these are definitely approved by us!
- Hate to share our hidden treasure – Presidio Officer’s Club has a little nature museum, a cozy lounge (with a restaurant attached to it where you can get a glass of wine – or a margarita) and a play area that’s open to the public and it’s free (not the wine or the margarita). Shhhhh don’t get this place too crowded!
- Asian Art Museum offers stroller tours, and family fun days.
- Ripley’s Believe It or Not was established in 1918 – whaat? Open every day of the year. Buy your ticket online to save! May not be appropriate for younger kids so do a little digging before you go.
- Cable Car Museum won’t take you long to go through, but you and your littles will be able to see antique cable cars from the 1870s along with mechanical devices that make up the cable cars!
- Creepy dolls alert! But if you are not scared by looking at the photo’s on their website, check out the Musee Mecanique – museum housing a collection of more than 300 coin operated mechanical musical instruments and antique arcade machines.
- Get your scientist’s hat on at the Exploratorium!
- Cal Academy of Sciences can be a zoo on a rainy day, but it’s still so much fun. Only place where you can see an albino alligator and gaze at the starts at the same time!
- Some say it’s more for adults and older kids, but we still like to take our toddler to the Walt Disney Family Museum for a quick trip, especially on a rainy day!
- Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze at Pier 39 is a trip down “the most psychedelic place one can legally reach within the city”. Do you dare? Kids under 5 are free.
- Get creative and run around at the Children’s Creativity Museum. The carousel is covered too!
- Not only do they have cool art, they also offer arts and crafts times for kids at De Young!
- Definitely geared more towards adults, but nevertheless, we love the SFMOMA! Never too early to expose our kids to modern art!
- Randall Museum isn’t fully open yet (supposed to be open late winter), but they have drop-in art studio times! When the renovation is done, it will sure be another amazing SF museum that will be in your family’s regular rotation!
- Bay Area Discovery Museum seems like a perfect place for a sunny day, but it’s also great on rainy days. Yes, you will have to walk outside in between buildings, but a lot of the museum is indoors! We love coming here when it’s raining.
- Children’s Museum of Sonoma County has plenty of indoor space to run around for kids 10 years and younger.
- Some parts of the CuriOdyssey in San Mateo is outside, but there’s plenty of inside fun to be had here! (Even some animals you can see from an indoor tunnel!)
- Hiller Aviation Museum – it won’t take you long to go through this place but it’s a lot of fun! Can get crowded during special events, but otherwise it’s an easy place to go through!
- Check out mammoth fossils, be a shopkeeper at the rainbow market, or play with water (indoors) – you can do it all on a rainy day at the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose
- Check out alllll the pinballs at Playland-Not-at-the-Beach in El Cerrito.
- Museum of Children’s Arts in Oakland – check their open studio time to create something! Check their calendar for upcoming events on a forecasted rainy day!
- Oakland Aviation Museum is part outside, but there’s an inside portion too!
- This place has been on our bucket list for so long but still haven’t gone – Jelly Belly Factory Tour! Open daily! It’s a self-guided tour (kind of a must with small kids) with free samples. We have no idea why we haven’t done it yet… (Moving away from the computer slowly and getting my car keys…)
- Chabot Space and Science Center is a pretty big place great for all ages. They have a tots room even if your kid isn’t into “science” yet!
- Habitot Children’s Museum in Berkeley has a firehouse, water play, infant-toddler garden, little reading tent, wind tunnel, train table, and a face painting table!
- Drive up during nap time and your kid will love waking up at the California State Railroad Museum! Have dinner in Old Sac, put on PJs after (you and your kid) and hope for a quiet sleeping drive back! This museum is awesome, rainy day or not. Even if your kid isn’t too into trains, they will be after coming here!
Indoor Play Spaces
These places may get crazy on a rainy day, but strength in numbers, right? Ok, maybe try going the first or the last hour they are open, or around nap time. Either way, these places are awesome!
- So much fun at Recess Urban Recreation. Not only do they have an awesome play space (separate one for little kids too), they have fun classes too. Perfect for a rainy day in San Francisco wtih kids!
- We love Play Haven – parking available, Nestcafe coffee, and tables and chairs where you can sit and watch your kids play from near or afar.
- Peekadoodle in North Beach is a perfect fun place in Ghirardelli Square with sensory area, separate play area for little kids, play house, cable car and a boat.
- Peek-a-Boo in West Portal will guarantee a good nap after. Special area for small kids, a reading area, train sets and of course, can’t forget the giant slide!
- Check out their schedule for their open jump time to get ants out of pants at Pump it Up. Kids under 34 inches are not allowed.
- As long as you are 3 years old and up, you can have fun jumping around at the House of Air!
- Imagination Playhouse has a giant slide with climbing structures, ball pit, and art classes!
- Gymboree Play and Music has classes and open gym hours for up to 5 years old!
- Tiny Tots Gym and Tot Times at various SF Park and Rec are a great way to get to know neighborhood kids and get out there on a rainy day.
- Hop into Pump it Up in Cotati for pop-in playtime hours to play and jump around in giant inflatable structures and slides.
- Kids Party Central in Santa Rosa also has open playtimes with climbing structures, giant slides, bouncing areas.
- Party like animals at the Safari Run at San Mateo and Sunnyvale with big mazes, climbing tunnels, giant slides and parents lounge!
- Diddalidoo in San Bruno is a play space for 4 years old and younger. So if you have younger ones, you don’t have to worry about big kids stomping all over.
- La Petite Playhouse in Redwood City is an underwater themed playhouse with slides, tunnels, and parents seating area to induce one good nap afterwards!
- Billy Beez in San Jose will have your kids buzzing with excitement!
- Kids Gym in Berkeley is a 10,000 square foot facility for kids 11 and under. Zip lining and rock wall climbing? Your kids will wish it rained all the time. J
- Appropriately named for this list – Rain or Shine in Berkeley offers educational play and programs… rain or shine!
- Twirl in Alameda is a total Instagrammable play space. Colorful and playful. Will bring light to your rainy day.
- The Fun Zone at the Bladium Sports and Fitness Club has areas for kids 18 months to 6 years old to run around, jump, and overall have a blast! (Free wifi for the adults!)
Indoor Swimming Pools
Getting wet may not be the first thing on your mind when it’s raining, but why not!? Check out these indoor pools next time you are trapped inside staying dry. Getting wet may be the funnest thing to do in San Francisco Bay Area with kids!
- SF Park and Rec Pools are scattered across the city and have various family swim hours. (Note: Some of these pools are cold, so plan accordingly!)
- If you are an existing student – take advantage of family swim times at La Petite Baleen! Super warm and friendly pool.
- Splash around in the indoor pool at Mill Valley Recreation Center Swimming Pool during their open and family swim hours!
- Check out this indoor heated swimming area during rec swim hours at Giammona Westmoor High Swimming Pool in Daly City.
- Orange Memorial Pool in South San Francisco not only has an indoor pool, but has a sauna for an extra R&R if you can take turns with your partner. J
- Pacifica’s Jean E. Brink Swimming Pool offers family recreation swim hours during the day on the weekends and evenings couple nights a week!
- Waterworks Aquatics in San Jose has open swim nights for registered students.
- Check out the tot slash hours good for kids 0-5 years old at the Richmond Swim Center, which has a shallow tot pool!
- Richmond Plunge also has tot splash hours and a gloating pumpkin patch in the fall. Note to self: MUST GO NEXT YEAR!
- Albany Aquatic Center in Albany has both indoor and outdoor pools but the indoor pool has family swim hours every day except Sundays!
Arts and Crafts Studios
Use your left side of the brain with your kiddos on a rainy day! These art studios and business will give you a cozy shelter from the rain and create something you can take home!
- Little Artistas has 4 locations in San Francisco and offers date nights and drop-in classes. Check their website for available times!
- Culinary Artistas isn’t necessarily “arts and crafts” but had to put it in here because it’s creative!
- Did you ever wonder what that building by Koret Playground was? It’s an art studio! Sharon Art Studio offers adults classes, but they also have youth classes. Check them out.
- Get your pottery coloring skills on at Earthfire Arts in the Inner Sunset. Drop-ins welcome!
- Terra Mia Decorative Art Studio is also a pottery coloring place where you can drop in during business hours!
- Studio 4 Art in Mill Valley or Novato offers arts and crafts for ages 2 and up and can drop in during business hours!
- I Made It Glass in San Rafael lets your kids make art with fused glass. So cool! Drop-ins welcome during business hours.
- C is for Craft – what a cute name and such a cute place! In downtown Palo Alto where kids can drop in and have open-ended art fun!
- Scribble Me Happy in San Mateo is a super cute arts and crafts studio and has open studio time available (reservation only) or classes your kids can take!
- Color Me Mine in Alameda is a walk-in paint yourself ceramics studio but they also have kids’ night out!
- Junior Center of Art & Science in Oakland doesn’t just have art spaces, it has a library, play space, and animals!
Indoor Malls with Something Special for the Kids
Some malls are just shops, but these malls have something extra to make it fun for the kids!
- Make your rainy day a cultural experience at the Japantown Mall – it has a replica of a castle, yummy crepe stores, and toy stores.
- Westfield Mall has a cozy family lounge with a play area with play mats, mini tables and chairs, and TVs with kids shows.
- Hop and Play at Shops at Tanforan has play structures that move (spin, turn and roll) to help young toddlers learn and enhance their gross motor skills.
- Serramonte has a small but cute little play area for kids. Perfect spot to let your little ones play around to give them a break from shopping.
- Hillsdale Shopping Center in San Mateo has a Kids Club, where they frequently have special events for kids!
- Stoneridge Shopping Center in Pleasanton has a play area near Sears as well as Build-A-Bear and Lego stores.
Go Watch a Play at a Children’s Theater
- The Rabbit Hole not only have productions but also classes so kids can fall in love with the arts of theater! Check out their daily schedule for what they have happening!
- Creativity Theater at the Children’s Creativity Museum hosts performances, screenings, and presentation for all ages!
- For kids 5 and up, San Francisco Children’s Musical Theater offers “high quality performing arts experiences”.
- Plays for kids, by kids – at Young Performers Theater. If you have an aspiring actor in the house, their classes start as young as 3.5 years old!
- Throckmorton Theater has Youth Theater, where students can audition for performances between ages 8-18 under the youth performers program!
- Luther Burbank Center in Santa Rosa has a family fun series where they have plays for kids all year long!
- Hop and Play at Shops at Tanforan has play structures that move (spin, turn and roll) to help young toddlers learn and enhance their gross motor skills.
- Training starts at 5 years old, but performances are for the entire family at the San Carlos Children’s Theater.
- Kids ages 3 and up can experience hands-on learning experiences at the Children’s Theater of Palo Alto and performances are geared towards kids 2-6 years old.
- Oldest performing arts organization in San Jose, their training is geared towards kids ages 4 and up, Children’s Musical Theater of San Jose with shows all year long.
- Bay Area Children’s Theater in Oakland has shows appropriate for even the younger ones!
- East Bay Children’s Theater in Oakland has shows matinee and evening times.
- Learn how to sing, perform and dance or just watch the shows at the Starstruck Theater in Fremont!
Sing Your Hearts Out at Karaoke
You don’t have to take your kids to a bar – that’s not what we are encouraging here. There are karaoke places where you can rent a private room just for your family. Most places will let you bring in snacks, and your kids will have a ball just screaming into the microphone as loud as they want and no one will judge you for it.
- Do Re Mi Music Studio is a no frills private karaoke room. You can bring your own food and beverages for a small fee. By no frills – we mean a room, couch, TV and microphones so check out these Yelp reviews before to see if it’s right for your family.
- Yamasho has karaoke rooms for rental, and it’s part of a restaurant. You can order sushi and other Japanese food while you have your private room to dance and sing in! Reserve a room right when they open for a more family friendly environment.
Say Eff It and Play in the Puddles
Excuse my (toned-down) French. Sometimes you just have to put on some rain boots and rain jacket and play in the puddles. These are some places where you will find amazing puddles.
- Golden Gate Park – our backyard is full of puddles during the rainy season. Check them out on the way to the museums we listed above, or just go there to walk around and get dirty! If you really want to find shelter, there’s always DeYoung, Cal Academy, or the Boat House and the Chinese Pavillion at Stow Lake!
- We like this list of parks and playgrounds by Marin Mommies!
- We love this list of parks and playgrounds listed by Mommy Nearest! Some of these have water features too. 🙂
- Red Tricycle put together this awesome list of playgrounds and parks in the East Bay!