50 things to do with Bay Area kids when school is closed

chabot space and science center

50 things to do when school is out, sponsored by Chabot

With so many vacation days on the horizon, we wanted put together a list of destinations for our fellow families with grade school children to explore the Bay Area this Winter. Enjoy!

Thanks to Chabot Space and Science Center for sponsoring this post. All of the content was created by 510 Families.

  1. Watch the knives and vegetables fly at Hana Japan when you go for an exciting lunchtime date at the Berkeley Marina.
  2. Tour the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield to see how candy is made.
  3. Book a private lesson at Bridges in Berkeley to try rock climbing or slack-lining.
  4. Explore space and science at Chabot Space + Science Center (open Tuesday through Sunday).
  5. Touch stuff at the Randall Museum, designed for kids, adjacent to San Francisco’s Castro District. (Closed Sunday and Monday.)
  6. Take your big girl out for a pedicure. (Try Femimacus in Glenview, Solemate’s in North Berkeley, or Amy’s Nails in Albany for a kid-friendly nail treatment.)
  7. Visit the Children’s Museum in San Jose and catch up with your Silicon Valley friends.
  8. Bring a huge tote bag and check out the maximum number of books and DVDs from the library.
  9. Spend the day riding roller coasters at Six Flags. (Is it worth it?)
  10. Order pizza delivered to your seat when you go to the movies at either The New Parkway (family movies every Friday at 4 pm) or the Rialto Cinemas Cerrito theaters (occasionally feature kid-friendly flicks).
  11. Check out the penguins at the Cal Academy of Sciences. This museum is pricey, so reserve Discover and Go passes before you go.
  12. Let animals crawl on your arms at The Lindsay Wildlife Museum, closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, but open on the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas eve. (Check their schedule here.)
  13. Take in the view and the interactive exhibitions at The Lawrence Hall of Science. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas, but open on the days surrounding, from 10 am to 5 pm.
  14. Save your quarters and pay a flat fee for all-you-can-play old school pinball games at Playland Not-At-The-Beach which tends to be open on school holidays such as MLK’s birthday. We’ve gone there on Christmas Eve.
  15. Pile on some layers and enjoy the Bay Trail bike path near Costco in Richmond. Head towards the gas station end of Costco and look for a parking lot.
  16. Cruise around the roller skating rink at Golden Skate in San Ramon. They’re open for extra sessions on the days surrounding the holidays (but closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Days) and open on MLK Day.
  17. Go bowling at Albany Bowl, Southshore Lanes in Alameda, or for a fancy treat, head over to Lucky Strike in San Francisco.
  18. Climb around on Indian Rock in North Berkeley. It’s free!
  19. Bring a football and a fishing rod to Lake Temescal.
  20. Take BART to San Francisco’s Children’s Creativity Museum and make a stop-motion animation.
  21. Road trip up to Marin County and visit the impressive Marine Mammal Center. It’s open daily except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
  22. Give your ankles a workout at Oakland Ice or Yerba Buena with a skating session.
  23. Splurge on a visit to the Exploratorium
  24. Road trip to the American Girl Store in Palo Alto. No time for that? Take your American Girl — or fake American Girl in our case — out for tea. Try Captain’s Cottage if you’re feeling fancy.
  25. Go geocaching — this worldwide scavenger hunt is always open! More details on that.Chabot Space and Science Center is open when school is out
  26. Spend some quality time at the Discovery Museum in Sausalito. It’s different every time as kids age into new exhibits.
  27. Play on the playground of a school you don’t attend. (My husband and kids are currently doing a challenge of going to every BUSD elementary school playground.)
  28. Play miniature golf at SubPar mini golf in Alameda.
  29. Fly kites in Berkeley Marina, perfect on a day when most places are closed, like Thanksgiving Day.
  30. Celebrate your child’s unbirthday with an indoor fun fest at Chuck E Cheese in Pinole. (Did I really just say that?)
  31. Bike the new path on the Bay Bridge.
  32. Hang out with the monkeys at the Oakland Zoo. Older kids can play photographer and then come home and make a video about it with Magisto or another program. (We’ll post any kid-generated videos here!)
  33. Bring a laptop, a playmate for your kids, and spend a couple of hours at the Jungle in Concord.
  34. Let everyone stay up late for a drive-in movie. After all, it’s not a school night.
  35. Peek in at the reptiles at the East Bay Vivarium and then walk over to Peet’s for hot cocoa.
  36. Ride an Amtrak train to Martinez and back again. Skater kids can bring their boards – a skate park is walking distance from the train station.
  37. Learn to use a sewing machine, with help at Stitch Sewing Lab in Berkeley.
  38. Go out for donuts just because.
  39. Climb aboard the USS Hornet, forever-docked in Alameda.
  40. Dig through the bins at the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse or Urban Ore for some treasures to upcycle.
  41. Let your kids bounce themselves silly at a drop-in session at Pump It Up in Oakland. $9 to jump as long as you want.
  42. Go back in time at Ardenwood Farms.
  43. Hide amongst the caves in Rock City
  44. Play with art materials at the Sticky Art Lab in Berkeley.
  45. Hit a bucket of balls at the Wheelhouse Baseball Academy after 3 pm.
  46. Planning ahead? Sign your gymnast up for “No School Day Camp” at Head over Heels ($70 for 9 am to 4 pm)
  47. Take advantage of San Francisco’s treasure: Golden Gate Park. Here are some tips.
  48. Paint pottery at Color Me Mine, Alameda or Brushstrokes in Berkeley
  49. Order a sundae as big as your head at Fenton’s Creamery – but first, book a tour of the facility, for kids 6 and up.
  50. Mold something fabulous with a pottery wheel at Kids ‘N Clay where you can drop in at 2 pm or 3.30 pm most days. See PDF schedule for days and times.

Where else do your grade school age kids love to go when school’s out?

Thanks again to the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland for sponsoring this list. Visit them online to see holiday hours.