Hands-on art studios are a treasure for parents and families in the East Bay. I love a good creative space stocked with papers, paints, glue, and clay where I can let my kids get
sloppy artistic without worrying about cleaning up afterward. In the Bay Area, I’ve been impressed by the sheer number of hands-on art studios for kids and (sometimes) their parents.
Six local art spaces with fun drop-in options for families:
The Museum of Children’s Art in Oakland is a much-loved art studio and play space for children. A wonderful hands-on messy art studio with little aprons for kids age 18 months on up. Drop-in studio hours are currently select Saturdays. Families can also find pop-up MOCHA art making at AKOMA Market on the first Sunday of the month. Learn more>. Website >
Brushstrokes Studio (Berkeley)
Brushstrokes Art Studio is a premium paint-your-own-pottery place. You might not know that they also offer kids’ camps, birthday parties, team-building outings, and ladies/moms’ nights (with wine!). The fun starts at $15/person studio fee plus materials you may need for pottery painting, glass fusing, or mosaic making. There’s no time limit so you can stay as long as you need to finish your project. Read more about Brushstrokes Studio. Website >
Color Me Mine (Alameda)
Located in the Alameda South Shore Center, Color Me Mine is a pottery painting studio that brings creative fun to kids, with no mess for parents. Visits include a studio fee and the price of the painted objects, which you pick up later. Don’t miss other offerings including kids’ camps, birthday parties, and Kids Night Out—a ton of fun for kids and includes ice cream ($29/child). Website >
Aran’s Art Studio (Castro Valley)
Aran’s Art Studio is a do-it-yourself pottery painting and glass fusing studio that offers a drop-in studio, camps, Kids Night Out, paint & wine, and teens & tweens nights. Aran’s also offers birthday parties. For an average of $25, you can paint pottery or make fused glass art. Website >
Créatif combines tech and art in its sleek studio space. Drop in to paint canvas, ceramic, rock, unfinished wood, and pottery items. Handy tablets are available for step-by-step art lessons and images of painted samples for inspiration. Créatif also offers kids’ camps, classes, workshops, and parties. Website >
Clay Clubhouse (Oakland)
This artist-owned small business allows freedom of expression through clay. Children and caregivers are welcome to drop in for Open Studio hours to hand build with clay, tools, and glazes (no instruction provided). Get started for $19 per 25 lb. clay bag, plus glaze firing fees. Clay Clubhouse also offers private lessons and classes to learn hand building and the pottery wheel. Website >
These favorite places let you make art along with other activities:
Why limit your finger-painting places when you might prefer to run off and play with trains or climb on something? That’d be so silly. These establishments offer even more than a drop-in art studio.
BAMPFA Family Art Lab (Berkeley)
Were you expecting to find a fine art museum on this list? The Family Art Lab has hands-on projects with a focus on drawing, collage, stamps, prints, and books and is included with paid admission — and free admission for one adult per child 13 & under — making BAMPFA the best drop-in art studio deal in town. Open Friday afternoons; all day Saturday and Sunday. All about BAMPFA for families. Website >
Michaels (Alameda, Emeryville, Pinole and San Leandro)
Every Sunday from 2-4 pm, kids are invited to join MakeBreak crafting projects while the adults shop. MakeBreak activities are free. Occasionally, there are also Michaels Kids Club Take & Make craft bags available that kids can grab to complete a craft at home. Read about the free crafting. Website >
Where do you like to go with kids to get inspired and messy with art?