Drop-in Art Studios for Families - 510 Families
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Drop-in Art Studios for Families

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.

Art studios for families
Photo at former Le Petit Matisse in Alameda

Here are seven local art spaces that I like for families:

MOCHA (Oakland)

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. Open Wednesday through Saturday, 10 am – 1 pm. $8 per person (adults & children). Learn more>. Website >

Sticky Art Lab (Berkeley)

Sticky Art Lab has drop-in and drop-off programs for kids with different ages and interests. The shelves are filled with typical art supplies as well as scraps like boxes and bottle-caps ready for a new life. My five-year-old loves to get his hands on the hot glue gun. Located in Berkeley, open studios are Fridays & Saturdays, 10 am – 1 pm. visits are $10 per person / $25 for three. The price of classes and camps vary. Read more about Sticky Art Lab. Website >

Brushstrokes Studio (Berkeley)

Brushstrokes Art Studio is a premium paint-your-own pottery place with a few surprises. You might not know that they also offer camps, date nights, and ladies/moms’ nights (with wine!) as well as a to-go program where you can host the party on your own turf. $14/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. Fees are waived for the donation of canned goods on certain evenings. 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. Weekly Kids Night Out is a ton of fun for kids and includes ice cream. ($27/child). Website >


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Hands-On! (Berkeley)

Hands-On! Berkeley offers messy 75-minute STEAM drop-in sessions for 18 months through 6 years at $16/child (15% sibling discount). Drop-off sessions are for ages 4 to 11. Read about Hands-On Berkeley >. Website >

Merritt Ceramics (Oakland)

Merritt Ceramics applies the concept of a drop-in studio to clay hand-building with weekly sessions for ages 6-13. Hands-on clay handbuilding and sculpture with all tools and materials provided is $30 for the student artist (and you can keep what you make after it has been fired). Website >

Aran’s Art Studio (Castro Valley)

Aran’s Art Studio is a do-it-yourself pottery painting and glass fusing studio that offers 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 >


the rec room art KC
Get ready to unleash colorful imagination at the Rec Room | Photo: Kat Choi

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.


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Habitot (Berkeley)

Habitot has paints at the ready and open-ended art projects that vary from visit to visit. The art studio is always open for creating during regular business hours with a special emphasis on the littlest artists ($12/child; under 12 months FREE; note that Sundays are closed during summer). My love letter to Habitot. Website >

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 Thursday and Friday afternoons; all day Saturday and Sunday. All about BAMPFA for families. Website >

Junior Center for Art and Science (Oakland)

Located in Lakeside Park on Lake Merritt, Junior Center is a small, arts and science community center with a focus on self-guided learning through play. Activities are set up in each space as invitations to the young visitors to create and explore. General admission $6, open Tuesday through Saturday. Website >

Michaels (Alameda, Emeryville, San Leandro)

Every Saturday from 10 am to noon, kids are invited for crafting while the adults shop. Prices range from $3-5/project. Website >

Lakeshore Learning Outlet (San Leandro)

Every Saturday from 11 am to 3 pm, kids can craft with a different theme every week for free. Website >

Where do you like to go with kids to get inspired and messy with art?

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