Friday, January 6, 2017

A Quick List of Rainy Day Outings in the South Bay/Peninsula


If you're seeing the same weather reports that I am, you're preparing for a deluge this weekend, followed by a veritable "conveyor belt" of storms (thanks to a NASA scientist and the Mercury News for that metaphor!) coming up next week.

With all that rain on the way, now is the perfect time for a new, highly abbreviated (but at least current!) list of rainy day activities for kids in the South Bay. At present, this list won't contain links or long descriptions -- balancing the needs of an infant and a 4 year old just won't allow it -- but at least it may give you the inspiration you need to get out the door when the kids are getting a bit too wiggly at home. 

Enjoy and stay safe!

(This post contains affiliate links.)



San Jose
  • Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose
  • Tech Museum of Innovation
  • IMAX at the Tech Museum of Innovation (Closed until mid-fall)
  • San Jose Museum of Art
  • The Duck Pond (indoor play space on weekday mornings)
  • Silver Creek Sportsplex (inflatables)
  • Rockin' Jump (trampolines)
  • Pump it Up (inflatables)
  • Billy Beez (Oakridge Mall)(indoor play structure and pretend play village)
  • Fun Factory (Oakridge Mall)(arcade with several toddler-friendly games)
  • California Sports Center (drop-in gymnastics -- multiple locations)
  • The Jungle (indoor climbing structure and video games)
  • Barnes & Noble Stores -- Steven Creek Boulevard, Almaden Plaza, or Eastridge (train tables, Duplo building areas, story times)(7/26/17 Note: No more Duplo table, at least at Almaden location.)
  • Valley Fair Mall (Young Art Studio for drop in -- and drop off! -- lessons, Disney Store for coloring and video shorts, Build a Bear for fun with the bathtub, coin-operated rides, a soft play area, Nordstrom kids' department fish tank and free balloons)
  • Oakridge Mall (Fun Factory Arcade, Billy Beez, coin-operated rides, train, movie theater, Apple store with multiple iPads for kid use, Gymboree, soft play area, attached Target)
  • Westgate Mall (soft play area, Gymboree, coin-operated rides, attached Target)
  • Almaden Plaza (Barnes & Noble, Diddams for various tester toys, Petsmart for fish/bird/reptile/rodent watching, and sometimes even dogs in the doggie hotel, Buy Buy Baby for complete over-stimulation)
  • PetSmart at San Jose Marketplace (Coleman/Taylor), also known as "the free zoo." Visit a whole wall of fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians, rodents, and cats awaiting adoption. There's also a dog grooming area in the rear of the store (Toddler X enjoys standing on the bench outside and watching the dogs get snazzy) and a doggie hotel, with a great window to the play area.
  • Kids classes at various YMCAs (if you're a member -- if not, ask about a trial membership and try a class out)
  • Drop-in/Sample classes at various kid gyms (try calling Gymboree, Little Gym, and My Gym)
  • One of San Jose's many wonderful libraries with large kids' areas (our favorites are Bascom, Almaden, Evergreen, and Willow Glen)
  • Bass Pro Shops (a haven for hunters and anglers, there are lots of stuffed -- like, literally -- animals and a big fish tank, as well as the awesome Uncle Buck's bowling alley).
  • Uncle Buck's bowling alley (underwater-themed alley with kid-friendly features like frame-by-frame bumpers and ball ramps)
  • Lakeshore Learning on Bascom (lots of tester toys and Saturday activities)
  • The Dancing Cat (a cat lounge near downtown SJ -- kids are welcome, as long as they follow cat etiquette -- I've never been, but it sounds awesome for a cat lover!)
  • Ice Skating during public skate at Sharks Ice
  • Chuck E Cheese
Santa Clara
  • Pump it Up (inflatables)
  • Sky High Sports (trampolines)
  • Lemon Tree (cafe with play space, including toys and pretend play)
  • South Bay Historical Railroad Museum
  • Santa Clara's Main Library on Homestead (also Rivermark and Mission library branches)
Sunnyvale
  • Safari Run (indoor play structure)
  • Library
Saratoga
  • Whimsy (play space with pretend play area, various toys, small climbing structure, art activities, and cafe)
  • Library
Los Altos
  • Play! Los Altos (play space with pretend play, various toys, foam pit) (7/26/17 Update: Play! is permanently closed as of this month.)
  • Area 151 Arcade
  • Bumble (kid-friendly restaurant with check-in play room)
  • Adventure Toys (awesome toy store)
  • Kiwi Crate store (New! I haven't been yet, but will report back once I check it out.)
  • Libraries
Los Gatos
  • Library with one of the best kids' areas in the South Bay
  • Automobuild (awesome toy store with tons of "tester" toys)
  • Mon Amie Harlow
Cupertino
  • Vallco (defunct mall is perfect for running around and burning energy -- also great movie theater) (August 2017 update: They have effectively closed off the half of the mall that was great for running about. Farewell, Vallco!)
  • Chuck E Cheese
  • Library
Morgan Hill
  • California Sports Center (drop in hours for gymnnastics)
Palo Alto/East Palo Alto
  • Wund3rkid (play space with toys and classes)
  • Palo Alto Children's Library (wonderful kid-focused library with a perfect room just for the littlest ones)
  • Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo (the indoor portion -- right next to the library, so a great combo outing)
  • Ikea (drop off play area, kids' section full of fun and toys to test, little game kiosks throughout the store, tons of space for exploring, kid-friendly cafe)
Milpitas
  • Bounce a Rama (the Great Mall)(inflatables and arcade)
  • The Great Mall in general (train, coin-operated rides, trampoline with harness, Bounce a Rama)
  • Library
San Mateo
  • CuriOdyssey (the indoor and covered outdoor portions)
San Carlos
  • Hiller Aviation Museum
Redwood City
  • La Petite Playhouse (huge indoor play structure with some pretend play too)(Often fills up on rainy days -- call before you drive up there to find out wait list status.)
  • Sports House (haven't been yet, but a reader reports that they have an inflatable with a drop in fee and free trial soccer classes)
Castro Valley
  • Mel's Play Place (never been, but a reader reports that it's clean, with both physical and pretend play options -- be sure to call ahead to find out if it's full on rainy days)

Various Locations
  • Call that ballet studio (we love Tutu School in Saratoga, Willow Glen, or Redwood City), martial arts studio, gymnastics class, music class, or kiddie gym (Gymboree, Little Gym and My Gym come to mind) that you've been eyeing and ask if they offer free trial classes or, if not, drop in visits.
  • Visit a pet store (aka "the free zoo") to check out the fish, birds, rodents, reptiles, amphibians, and sometimes cats (at shops with rescue centers) and dogs (at shops with pet hotels or grooming areas). PetSmart at the San Jose Marketplace (Coleman and Taylor) is our favorite, but the PetSmart at Almaden Plaza and the one at Charleston Plaza are good too (haven't been to the latter, but a reader reports that it's good).
  • Visit a fast food restaurant with an indoor play structure -- we've tried the Chick Fil A in San Jose and the McDonald's in Morgan Hill, and both are pretty fun.
  • Movie theaters for a kid-friendly movie.
And our personal rainy day favorite (Peppa Pig's too!)...

Jumping up and down in muddy puddles!


These are the outings I came up with off the top of my head -- I'm sure there are many, many more options, and I'm equally sure that my awesome readers will help me fill in the gaps! Later on, I'll go through and add links to each website, as well as my reviews where available.

Stay safe and enjoy the soaking!

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