Imagine a spacious, clean, preschool in which your child can explore at her own pace for hours and you have the pleasure of watching her do it. That is what Rain or Shine in Berkeley is designed to deliver.
Founded as Studio Grow ten years ago, this indoor drop-in playspace designed by early childhood education experts is a dreamy destination for toddlers to bring their parents or caregivers. Rain or Shine is a series of interconnected rooms, each filled with stimulus and space for children to explore.
A snack room equipped with high chairs, toddler chairs and a microwave welcomes you to eat on the premises. Nearby Whole Foods invites the unprepared parent to grab snacks on the way in. (Get to know the Gilman District, if you haven't been to this neighborhood.)
Co-founder and sole-proprietor Tim Alley recently sold his Danville Studio Grow location, along with the name, and so our beloved Berkeley play center has been renamed. Congrats, Rain or Shine! The interior, programming schedule, and activities are nearly exactly the same as Studio Grow fans have come to expect.
Those who crave climbing and rolling around on the floor will find ample opportunities to spread out and do just that. Lovers of puzzles and stacking blocks will find them. Imaginative play fanatics who want nothing more than to put babies to bed (or in high chairs) will find those things as well.
Visits to Rain or Shine may give parents ideas for things to do in their own homes (playing with magnets, giving the children their own computer keyboards to bang on, setting up tunnels and tents indoors). Even better, Rain or Shine will allow visitors provide their children with experiences that they may not want to tackle at home (wet paint, a ball pit, and a fleet of 25 wooden trucks).
Every weekday is punctuated with a group story time, music time and a parachute period. Guests are welcome to join in or to use that time to enjoy a little extra space in the other areas of the facility. The staff is simply amazing.
Plan your visit to Rain or Shine:
Regular (before 2 pm) prices are $16 per child, $4 per adult. Additional children — sibling rate — are an additional $8. Babies under six months are free. Babies 6-12 months are always sibling rate.
Various discounts are available. Entrance after 2 pm is $2 per adult and $12 per child, siblings $6. Monthly passes are offered as well – and as long as you come once per week, you'll start saving money. Or, buy a $100 credit for $85 and it will stay on file, decrementing as you use it.
When to go:
Rain or Shine is best for kids under 6 and especially good for 1-4 year olds, but anyone is welcome.
Mornings can be busy, especially on a rainy day. The place empties out after 12 pm when everyone heads home for a nap.
Get more information at PlayRainOrShine.com
[all photos by Whitney Moss except where noted]