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Rainy Day Places to Go
With the rainy season approaching, I'd love to get suggestions on where to take a toddler on cold, wet days. I'm getting tired of going to Habitot & the library every time it's foggy out. Are there other drop-in places that are affordable & worth the $$? Julie
Another possibility is to try /other/ libraries. Most libraries have story times once or twice a week so you could hit a different one almost every day. There are also other kids activities at local libraries. For example, the SL library will have a morning toddler concert on Nov. 11th and a puppet/etc. show on Nov. 22nd Marga
Also Tumble & Tea and Play Cafe great. Both in Oakland. Drop in fee of $5.95 and yummy warm coffee/tea drinks for parents.
In Alameda there is Wee Play on Wed and Fridays. It's a huge room filled with baby and toddler toys. Drop in only. It was $5 last time we went. 10am-1pm in the Vetrans Memorial Building located on the corner of Walnut and Central Ave.
Pump it Up in Oakland 2500 Embarcadero in Oakland also has drop in times if your kids like jump houses and big slides. Plan to bring socks for all. Also under $6 for drop in. Tues & Thurs 10-11:30am and Mondays 3:30-5pm
Does anyone have any ideas on things to do with pre-schoolers and toddlers on a rainy Monday? We love Lawrence Hall of Science but are looking for more ideas. We're willing to drive a bit! Kim in Montclair
I saw some of places that have been posted in the past for the place to go on rainy days. But the last posting is on 2001 and I am wondering if there is any new places since then. Now that rain season has begun, it is essential for me to get my kids somewhere to burn their energy! The one place I can put in is the place in Pleasant Hill. The Jungle is a bit of a drive but it is worth it. It has a small children area and big kids area all indoor. Food court and everything. It is a dream place on the rainy day. Does anyone know anywere that's closer?
TOP TEN PLACES FOR LITTLE KIDS ON A RAINY DAY:
1. Habitot, Habitot, Habitot ... Just about ALL the replies to your posting will mention Habitot. But there's a REASON for that! They have lots of great things for creating, exploring & messy play, including a room with all kinds of neat water tables & toys; a fabulous art room with finger paints, playdough & more, a quiet little reading room, cool stuff to climb on & more. After spending an hour or two there, the kids conk out for their naps no problem. It's kind of expensive -- something like $5.00 for kids over 12 months & $6.00 for the grownups accompanying them. But there are ways around it (1) Buy a yearly membership for $70 for you & your child (cheap if you plan on going a lot), or; (2) Buy (or split with another family) a $100.00 family membership which allows you to bring guests; or (3) Scrounge through that East Bay parents magazine for the occasionally published free coupons. Their Website is at www.habitot.org
(2)If you have a gym membership, you might want to consider switching to the Downtown Berkeley Y, which has great classes & facilities for grownups as well as programs for kids of all ages. Kindergym at the is open just about every morning & the kids love it. It's basically a room covered with soft squishy mats & lots of things to climb on & slide down & there's also a pit full of balls for the kids to jump into. This wonderful woman named Nancy also does a fun circle time with music, puppets, games & fun some mornings. If you want to try it out, I think you can buy a guest pass inexpensively -- or find a friend who can bring you in as their guest. For more information & schedules, visit www.baymca.org.
(3) Ikea: Thousands of East Bay moms in-the-know will revile me for revealing our special little secret ... Ikea is the PERFECT place to take kids on rainy days. Since my daughter's still innocent, she thinks of it as some sort of a museum & it hasn't yet occurred to her to pester me to buy things she likes. I get to have a semi-civilized & delicious cheap lunch while she nibbles my french fries & meatballs & hangs out with other kids in the play area (complete with a play kitchen & art supplies). The food's yummy, appealing to kids & even fairly healthy (not organic or anything, but fairly balanced & you feel pleasantly full rather than totally gross after eating). They also offer juice, little cartons of milk & jars of baby food. The restaurant even has a view of the highway overpass, the water & the San Francisco skyline in the distance ... not particularly romantic, but definitely interesting.We then run around in the store playing with stuff, climbing on furniture, etc. until we're exhausted & then we leave. When I actually need to SHOP at Ikea, I try to leave my daughter at home! If you have a toddler AND a nursing baby, you'll love Ikea even more, since they're extremely child (and MOMMY)-friendly & they have the most wonderful & comfy nursing room with soft cushy furniture & cool toys for the toddler to play with & a changing table. If you have older kids, you can even sign them into the supervised play room down stairs.
4. Wee Play in Albany on Solano. I haven't taken my daughter yet, but I've heard good things about it. They have drop-in play sessions for about $7.00 per hour, along with reasonably priced classes. For more information, visit www.weeplay.com.
5. Elephant Pharmacy in Berkeley on Shattuck (in the Gourmet Ghetto) has all sort of classes & workshops (for grownups as well as kids), including a music for kids class at 4pm on Fridays. I think their URL is www.elephantpharmacy.com
6. Your local library: All of the libraries & branch libraries around here seem to have story hours & other events for toddlers as well as older kids. The downtown Berkeley library devotes an entire floor (the 4th) to the Children's section. This gives the little ones enough room to read & even run around a bit ... as long as they do it quietly ;^)
7. Go Shopping! Sounds like a total nightmare. But if you decide to just pick up a couple simple things ... or not buy anything at all, it can work. In fact, if you embrace the concept of the modern store as a museum exhibit or attraction, rather than as a place where you have to buy something, you can totally have a blast. At Barnes & Noble, they have a huge Thomas the Tank Engine play table & a stage with little chairs that's decorated to look like Pooh's Corner. At pretty much any Goodwill or Ross (stores that my daughter & I have found to be large & diverse enough to be interesting, but not large enough for losing kids!), playing hide & seek amongst the clothes racks & shelves, playing with toys & climbing on furniture can keep you guys busy for hours. At a good, small, child-friendly neighborhood grocery, you can pick up some produce & miscellaneous items while teaching your child a little about fruits & veggies & how to buy something. The folks at Berkeley Natural Foods in my neighborhood treat kids like royalty & even have toy shopping carts & a little play house.
8. Hilltop Mall: I haven't done this yet, but a couple of moms I know take their kids to the play area there & everyone has a grand ole time. The play area looks like a frog pond with green carpeting & lily pads & room to run around. From what I hear, parents should wait till their toddlers are steady on their feet before going to the Hilltop Mall frog pond, since things get pretty crazy there with the older kids & all. For information, directions, a floormap, etc., visit http://www.shophilltop.com/.
9. Various Museums: The East Bay -- and the Bay Area in general -- abounds with wonderful museums. If your children are age three and up, take them to one of the many museums around here that are geared towards kids. If they're younger, you might as well just do something nice for yourself & check out that art show you've been dying to see, since little toddlers don't NEED museums. For them, everything's a museum.
and FINALLY ... #10 (drum roll, please)
10. OUTSIDE!!!!: Most kids ADORE rainy days, along with the requisite puddles & mud. For any child -- let alone a child growing up in California who hasn't seen rain since last year when they were too young to remember -- rain is totally fascinating. Sometimes I just let my daughter frolic amongst the raindrops, prance through puddles & wallow in the mud. After all, she has the rest of her life to be clean & dry & orderly. And the ability to enjoy getting cold & wet without dying from frostbite or hypothermia is why we pay beaucoup bucks to live on the left coast! EAP
I agree with the recommendation for Habitot, with one caveat -- it can get amazingly crowded on a rainy day. My son doesn't seem to mind -- he loves being around other children -- but be aware that you will spend much of your time there mediating disputes as your child tries to snatch something out of another's hands, or vice versa. If you or your child are especially shy, or you don't handle chaos well, you might find that this is not the place for you. Diane
I'm looking for good rainy day places for an active young crawler who lives in a tiny, tiny house in Rockridge. Where do the crawling babies go when the parks are wet? He's not crazy about Habitot. We're thinking bookstores, cafes, etc. But where can a small guy enjoy some supervised floor time without getting scowls? Hilary
From: Natasha As it just so happens, I am in the midst of putting together a list of indoor activities for Neighborhood Moms; but it won't be available until October 15th (the deadline for our print newsletter). Meanwhile, here are a few suggestions: The Oakland Museum - Especially the Natural History section. We once lucked upon a kindly docent who took the children around. It might be worth calling ahead to see if someone is available. If you can face a drive to S.F., The Steinhart Aquarium is wonderful for all ages, and the Exploratorium works best for five year olds and up, though I hear they have a new area for younger kids. The Lawrence Hall of Science. Most exhibits are for school aged kids, but there is usually an exhibit with foam blocks or some such activity for little ones. There is a cafeteria downstairs which works fairly well for antsy kids. The Nature Center at Tilden Park (by the Little Farm). Children enjoy going through the exhibit on Wildcat Canyon. It would not be appropriate to eat inside or to let them run completely amuck. I'd rather lie on a bed of nails than go to Chuck E. Cheese (in El Cerrito), but if you're desperate, it has a ball room and mechanized rides. The Emeryville Public Market has a small ball room and a couple of rides, adjacent to some fairly decent food. People have been known to drive to Concord or S.F. to "the Jungle", which is one of those large Discovery Zone type of places. The Albany Library and the Berkeley Main Library have nice areas for small children to read and hang out. I'll send more ideas as they come in from Neighborhood Moms, and will have a Web Page up by mid October.
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