10 drop-in activities in the East Bay for $10 or less

Emeryville Open Gym

For some of us, signing up a whole session of weekly child’s activity is overwhelming in terms of both time and money. Drop-in activities are God’s gift to commitment-phobe parents who are still in need of fun ways to spend time with their kiddos. Here is a whole list of weekday things to do with toddlers and preschoolers in the East Bay.

  1. Rockin’ Kids Singalong at La Pena. On Friday mornings at 10.30, ex-punk rocker turned mom Stephanie Pepitone plays kid-friendly songs with a little extra noise. Kids can join her on the stage, stare off into space, or grab one of the instruments or scarves she provides. Best for ages 1-4.
    Cost sliding scale: $10-$20.
  2. Berkeley’s Wee Play drop-in play sessions for ages 1-4. You can find toddler playthings set up for kids and their caregivers at two Berkeley park recreation centers: Tuesday and Thursday at Frances Albrier Hall (aka San Pablo Park). The drop-in sessions run from 9.30 to 11 am.
    Cost: FREE
  3. Pop-in playtime at Pump It Up in Oakland. No birthday party invite necessary. Open Jump is Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays between 3 pm and 5 pm, kids two and up can come jump and play freely on the equipment. Bring socks! Fridays at 10-12 is the glow session, where the lights are turned down and the neon is turned up. Pump it Up also hosts all day Open Jump on some school holidays. Check the schedule.
    Cost: $10 per child. Sibs under two are free. Must be 34″ to jump.
  4. Swimming at AquaTech in Alameda. Drop-in swimming for parents and children is welcome at this beautiful indoor 90-degree swimming pool. AquaRec (family swim) hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10-2. For rookie parents who want to get in the pool with their baby under 2 years old, you are welcome at AquaRec, but know that the same timeslot on Monday and Friday is called AquaBaby and offers a calm, big-kid-free swim opportunity. See the AquaTech website >
    Cost: $5 per baby and $5 per parent
  5. Mocha Weekday Drop In Art. Kids as young as 18 months old can make art in the studio at Mocha in Oakland. The program is offered Friday and Saturday between 10 am and 1 pm. Kids are welcome up to age 6. More details.
    Cost: $7 per child.
  6. Junior Center of Art and Science is located next to Lake Merritt. Drop-in activities are for kids 2+. Meet the Animals is free at 10 am on Tuesdays-Fridays; access to a play space ($2 per visit) and painting pottery ($6). Review from 510 Families >
  7. Blue Moon Learning Center is a small indoor play area for toddlers in Alameda. The cost is $5 per child to play. Session-based language and music classes are offered in a classroom there, and every Friday, a craft session for 2- to 5-year olds is open for drop-ins for $7 per child. See the website >
  8. Wee Play in Alameda is offered through the city for children under 4. Here’s a review from a local dad.
    Cost: $6
  9. Bear Cub Open Gym at Cal Golden Bear Gymnastics in Berkeley invites kids ages 1-5 to play in the gym from 10.30 am to 1 pm on Tuesdays and Fridays when camp is not in session. It looks like it’s currently on hold, but we expect the program to resume when the fall sessions begin. More details >
    Cost: $8
  10. Open Gym time at Head Over Heels in Emeryville. Kids are invited to use any of the equipment at their own pace for as long as they want. Kids under three need a parent to join them on the floor. Bigger kids can go out there on their own if they want. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday 12 to 2 pm; Wednesday 1 to 3 pm; Friday 2 to 3.30 pm. Confirm the schedule here. Note that Open Gym is limited until August is over and Summer Camp is no longer using the space. Best for ages 2+
    Cost: $10, no membership required during the week. (Saturdays is $15 for non-members)

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  1. Jennifer says

    Kinder-gym at Temple Beth Abraham is awesome for the 3 and under crowd. At $10 per family it especially great if you have multiple kids! And Dawn, who runs it is such a great resource!