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Bay Explorers

My vision is to inspire families of all backgrounds to explore, be present, and have fun with their children in the Bay Area.

Rain, rain go away!

Rain, rain go away. We've had enough of you, we want to play! I guess this rain is just not gonna let up even though we are in April! With more rain in the forecast it has me thinking about my favorite rainy day activities. We've been watching a ton of kids movies (If I watch the Secret Life of Pets one more time, I'm gonna cry!), we've brought back the ancient art of hide and go seek, and doing some painting and puzzles. But sometimes these are not enough to take your mind off of the rainy day blues. So I thought I'd share some of our favorite places you can go even in the rain, in case you are stuck inside wondering where you can take your kids during these rainy days. You can click the link on their names and be redirected to their main pages on my website...

1) Take a hike in the rain. While I don't necessarily recommend this if your child is on the brink of a cold (getting over it or showing symptoms) or if they have a fragile immune system. But if they are in perfectly good health... bundle them up, take an umbrella, and find a paved trail to walk on. Forget the dirt paths when it's raining, the mud makes the situation completely different! We like to hike behind Piedmont Community Center. It has excellent paved paths perfect for not getting muddy! Plus with all this rain the usually very mundane waterfalls are swelling and gushing- beautiful site to be hold. And our favorite part is that our pooch can run off leash to her hearts content.

2) Head to one of the many indoor discovery museums that the Bay has to offer! Here is my best tip: Get a season/ yearly pass to a museum in the Bay Area. Make sure they are a part of the Association of Children's Museums reciprocal Network. Choose whichever one you think you will frequent most based on where you live- I'd say. Once you join and are a part of this network you can visit any other children's museum on this list of networks for 50% off! That makes a big difference! My mom bought a grandparents pass to Bay Area Discovery Museum and named me as the other adult, we have been getting in all the other museums for half price! Here is a list of some of the museums in the Network: Lindsay Wildlife Museum, Bay Area Discovery Museum, Children's Creativity Museum S.F., Chabot Space & Science Center, Children's Discovery Museum S.J., MOCHA, Lawrence Hall of Science, & Habitot. Plus the list goes on for other states and more in California just a little further out. When we went to Children's Discovery Museum in San Jose instead of paying $60 for my family of 4, we paid $30. At Children's Creativity Museum and Lawrence Hall of Science we paid $12 total instead of $24 and Ayala was free at both places. If you can swing it, getting an annual pass at one of these places is the way to go!

While we are talking about these discovery museums in the network of Association of Children's Museums, here is a breakdown of them...

*Bay Area Discovery Museum: Bay Area Discovery Museum is one of my favorite places to go! The backdrop is beautiful, surrounded by the Marin headlands with the Golden Gate Bridge in plain view (easy picture access). Parts of the museum are outside so you can enjoy the outdoors and the view from wherever you are. There is an on-site cafe with various healthy choices for you and your little explorers--something for the whole family. There are many different houses to explore with lots of different activities in them. One house has a train room, one has a water/ ocean room, there is an arts and crafts house, and there is a rolling activity house.This place is truly a "discovery" museum.

*Children's Discovery Museum: Children's Discovery Museum in San Jose is a whole lot of fun for children to explore! There are two floors of things to discover and not just that but a magical outdoors area. First starting inside children can paint their own faces at the face painting station. Climb aboard a firetruck, stagecoach, or an ambulance. Cook something up or go grocery shopping in the dramatic play area. Make a project like corn husk dolls at the art station. Or get all wet in the awesome water play area. The water play area has swirling pools of water with levers and spinners. Grab a ball and toss it in a vortex or send a ball up in the air using a lever. Whatever you so just remember to bring an extra set of clothes for little ones because this is a real life splash zone!

*Habitot: Habitot in downtown Berkeley is a great place to take toddlers and young children up to 4.5 years old. It's a hands on exploration center that has plenty of room for children to use their imagination and creativity. There are water tables, playdough tables, painting, and daily projects that children can sink there hands in to. There is a gopher wall maze for climbing, but be careful if your child is too big it is a good way to make them feel stuck. There is a big space space ship complete with astronaut dress up clothes for the imagination and dramatic play- that was the highlight of the trip for my crew. If your toddler is getting hungry or tired there is a snack area and also a mellowed out reading room. Also more dramatic play areas that have dress ups and various other themes like the supermarket and such.

*Children's Creativity Museum: Children's Creativity Museum in San Francisco is a very creative way fro children to spend the afternoon! There are two floors of fun activities for kids to get their hands into or to put their artistic touch on. Plenty of chances for them to use their imagination all over the museum. On the ground floor is an aesthetically pleasing section for children to touch sand and shove around sand in sand boxes, mold and sculpt with floam, build with giant blue foam blocks, put on a puppet show, drive trains, make an art project, create a cartoon to be featured on the screen, draw on a chalk board, or go mellow out in the reading room. Upstairs was my favorite part- little kids karaoke, it was the most hilarious thing ever! Also upstairs is a creativity room where kids get a tool box, a mission, and recycled materials and have to create what the card tells them too. All the kids had a fun time figuring that out lol.

*Lawrence Hall of Science: Lawrence Hall of Science is a wondrous place that will ignite your little scientists' mind! Children of all ages can literally run around for hours exploring all the different activities in different rooms, on different levels that this place has to explore. There are different exhibits displayed every few months in the main exhibit halls so there is always something new to check out! It is worth it to get a yearly family membership as this is a place your children can come to with endless possibilities! Also the family memberships are very reasonably priced compared to that of other discovery and science museums. If you do get a membership, Lawrence Hall of Science is connected with a network of local Bay Area museums and discovery places for children that you can then get a discount on. There is a decent cafeteria where you can eat lunch at on-site, so you don't even have to leave for a meal.

*Chabot Space and Science Center: Inside Chabot you will find everything to ignite your little space explorer's minds and it's pretty interesting for adults too. The Planetarium offers different shows for you to relax and gaze up at "sky". You are relaxed back in chairs and get to have the trippy experience of feeling like you are exploring outer space from the comfort of your chair. There is a hands on room- only open at certain hours for your smallest astronauts.In one of the rooms there is the Black Hole experience with colored lights and lasers as well as a crawl through tunnel to disappear in to the abyss. Also in that room is a giant kaleidoscope swirling together many earthly pictures. Of course the Space Center documents every lunar event and you can go watch it or star gazing through their giant telescope. Upstairs there are many rooms to explore. There is a room where your children can get the feel of what it is like to be an astronaut.

*Lindsay Wildlife Museum: Lindsay Wildlife Museum located in Walnut Creek has fun furry critters for your viewing. They rescue wild animals in the surrounding areas and rehabilitate them before setting them free again. Unless the animal is unable to return to the wild, then they give them lifetime homes. I was taken aback when we first walked in the museum as they have many wild birds just sitting atop of the displays. The birds have tethers on their legs so they do not fly away, but they advise you not to lift your kid up to see them none the less. There are some cute furry friends to view such as a bunny, guinea pigs, rats, and the cutest porcupine you will ever meet. There are many chances to listen to animal presentations, see them fed, or chances to pet them.

*MOCHA: MOCHA is a large sized art studio in the heart of downtown Oakland. Every day they set maybe 6-7 different art projects out on each table. A paper in the center of the table tells you what you are supposed to be making at each station. All the supplies are set out for the project in nice baskets and you are free to use them as you please to create the specified project. The first time we went Ayala made a big wall painting, played with clay with cookie cutters, did a leaf project, made a painting with cars rolling through the paint & feathers, and the most fun dream catcher project. We sat together while she painted the dream catcher & I tied the strings around the hollowed out plate. Then we carefully threaded beads on the strings & tied feathers around the ends. I really especially enjoyed that project. I felt like it was a really excellent way for Ayala to sit and concentrate on something for so long.

3) California Academy of Sciences: California Academy of Sciences is a must-see place located in Golden Gate Park. Once you are in you can have hours of amazement but it's definitely a bigger commitment then your weekend outing to the park. If you plan to visit more than once a year you may want to consider purchasing a family pass. We got a family membership one year for Christmas. We really utilized it and visited about 7 times throughout the year with different configurations of family members plus you can pay for it monthly instead of all at one time. My daughter's favorite area is the aquarium down below. With towering tanks and brightly colored fish it is a sight to behold! . They will also be entranced by all the jellyfish, pikes, the anaconda, and seahorses. Upstairs thereare fun roaming exhibits, a planetarium, a living roof, and a hall of stuffed animals (not my favorite, I prefer live ones). But in that hall are very real and alive penguins which are fun to watch feeding. Our other favorite attraction is walking up the inclined dome in the rain forest. It is humid in there but it is exciting to catch a glimpse of macaws, butterflies, and all the insects roaming around.

4) Exploratorium: The inside of the Exploratorium is made up of hall after hall filled with hundreds of experimental science exhibits! There are so many exhibits for children to see and touch that there is no way you can accomplish it all in one visit -which is great because the next time you return there will surely be new things to see and do. Every exhibit is interactive and hands on for children- so no telling them not to touch things. My daughter was so curious about every experiment and spent a significant amount of time at each one she walked up to trying to figure out the cause and effect of the situation. Along the way my daughter made friends and interacted with other interested children, waited very patiently for her turn with items, and shared when someone else who was waiting. So it is also a great experiment on a social scale with child interaction, LOL. My daughter was fully engaged with all the sensory exhibits that she could sink her hands in to, silly pictures to take, and new friends to meet for the two hours that we were there.

5) Sky High Sports: Many, many gigantic trampolines for families to bounce, flip, topple, and laugh on. No matter your level of skill and capability to do tricks there is something euphoric about bouncing around with your loved ones that turns you into an uncontrollably laughing child again. The air in there will make you giddy. There is also a swinging rope area where you can drop or flip into a pit of foam in. Children and adults alike have fun swinging all different types of ways into the foam pit, and it is harder than you think to try and crawl out of -- which will also have you laughing, but this time at yourself! They have organized games of dodge ball, airobics, and "after dark" hours for your older children to have some fun. There is also a special court for tiny jumpers where they will not be trounced by older feet.

6) Lost World: Lost World is dinosaur themed indoor play place and tons of fun! It is also very reasonably priced for the activities they offer. Lost World has laser tag, glow in the dark mini golf, and lots of arcade games. The games have among other things a four way air hockey table- genius! Small basketball hoops, skee-ball, fruit ninja, a pirate shooting game, and all your traditional arcade games are available. The real draw of this place though is their jungle gym. It is not your ordinary jungle gym but a giant fantasy version of a jungle gym that has levels and levels of fun. The jungle gym features slides, tunnels, swinging things, maze like funnels, many climbing apparatuses, a rock climbing wall, a ball pit, and a giant trampoline that you can bounce in to a foam pit off of. They have thought of everything here because in the jungle gym area are couches- yes couches for tired parents to rest their weary feet while their children go crazy on the structure. If you are bringing a toddler or baby there is a soft smaller section area for them too.

7) Go to the mall or Target and let your kids run free, lmao, last resort!

Hope these help! Enjoy the weekend & stay dry!

We are Bay Explorers...

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