Rainy Day Activities

Playdough Recipe
You'll never want to use store bought playdough after you give this recipe a try.
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/8 cup cream of tartar (available in the spices section of grocery stores)
  • 1.5 cups of salt
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 - 2 teaspoons food coloring (optional)
Place dry ingredients into a large pot and mix to combine. Add wet ingredients and mix again. Cook over medium heat, mixing and turning continuously, until mixture looks dry and is no longer sticky. Remove from pot (be careful - the dough will be hot!) and knead until it no longer sticks to your hands and countertop. The bottom of the dough may still be wet ad sticky, but should blend in fine. Food coloring can be added with the wet ingredients (easier), or after the playdough is done if you want to break it into batches for different colors. Use gloves if you want to avoid staining your hands. Store playdough in larger zip-lock bag in a cool cupboard (it does not need to be refrigerated). It will keep for many months since the salt is a natural preservative and anti-bacterial agent. 

Children's Museums
(many of these have a free day per week or month, so check the websites to find out)

Go to the airport?? Why not! Watch the planes coming in and taking off, check out the art & shops, or every kid's favorite:  ride the AirTrain! Park in short term parking, top level, go in and you are at the AirTrain stop. Parking is $6 per hour, AirTrain is free!

Indoor Swimming Pools

Ice Skating
Ice Center at San Mateo (
2202 Bridgepointe Parkway;  San Mateo, CA). http://www.icecenter.net/sanmateo 

Sea Bowl, Pacifica. $2 games on weekdays. 

Indoor Play Spaces
These are pay-to-play places. Clean, safe, fun -- and dry! Socks required.

    • Tiny Tots Playgym, Brisbane Community Center, 250 Visitacion (downstairs). FRIDAYS, 10am – 12pm.

      Enjoy our bouncy house, coloring area, play dough, manipulatives, toys, ride-ons, and more! All in a fun environment where parents and caregivers can get to know each other while the kids play. Geared toward infant - 4 years. Only $3.50 per session with 6-session card, or $5 drop in (slightly more for non-residents). Pay at the door. Siblings are half price, and infants under 6 months are free! Contact Jessica A. for more info at j.aloft@gmail.com or 415-867-0112.
    • Hop-n-Play, San Bruno Tanforan Mall - Ages 1-8. Bring socks! www.hopnplay.com
    • Party Playhouse, Daly City - www.mypartyplayhouse.com
    • Safari Run, San Mateo - www.safarirun.com
    • Recess, Potrero Hill (SF) - monthly membership fee required (like a gym). 1-time visitor passes available for $18. www.recessurbanrecreation.com
    • Rockin' Jump, San Carlos. Trampoline fun. http://sancarlos.rockinjump.com/
    • Diddalidoo, San Bruno. Ages 0-4. Bring socks! http://www.diddalidoo.com/
    • Parents Place, San Mateo
      Non-profit family center with AM drop-in play Tues, Weds, Friday. Small fee. Check website for hours: http://www.parentsplaceonline.org/peninsula/parent-child-activities
    • Pump It Up, San Francisco & Belmont - Ages 3 – 10 to play during open play. http://www.pumpitupparty.com/
    • Bumble, Los Altos. Cafe serves organic food and beer and wine. A playroom allows kids to read, explore, climb, slide, dress-up, create art and explore the garden. www.bumblelosaltos.com/  
    • My Gym, San Francisco. Children's fitness center. Free play for non-members too certain days of the week. $10, $5 sibling. http://www.my-gym.com/franchisee_schedule.aspx?id=195 
    • City College of San Francisco - "Child Observation Classes" These all indoor large playgroups are held several days a week, often with a snack provided. They are fantastic and free Try Googling "Child Observation Classes city college San Francisco" for the current schedule.
    • Kinder Gym - Pacelli's Gym, 145 Lake Merced Blvd.; Daly City. Great indoor playspace. Geared for ages 1-5. W|12:00 Noon-2:00pm. F |10:00am-2:00pm. See Daly City Parks & Rec guide for updated information.
    • Kinder Gym - Gellert Park Clubhouse, 50 Wembley Dr.; Daly City. Geared for ages 1-5. M | 10:00am-2:00pm. See Daly City Parks & Rec guide for updated information.
    • House of Air Trampoline Park - SF (Presidio). Wall to wall trampolines. Geared towared older kids, but also has a bounce house area for the 3-6 year old crowd. http://www.houseofair.com/
    • Play Cafe, Oakland - A place to grab a bite while kids play about 25 minutes from Brisbane. Play kitchen, indoor ball pit, dress-up clothes, etc. Geared toward under 5 years old. http://www.playcafellc.com/default.aspx
    • Tot Open Gym @ Noe Valley Recreation Center, SF - Times change regularly, but you can call for a current schedule. (415) 970-8061 http://www.noevalleyreccenter.com/
    • Play-Well Lego Activity Center, Marin & Pleasanton - http://play-well.org/drop-in/
    • Silliman Family Aquatics Center, 6800 Mowry Ave; Newark, CA. Indoor water park with water slides, kids pool, lazy river, etc. http://www.newark.org/departments/recreation-and-community-services/aquatics/

Factory Tours

Kid friendly and childcare for those that are potty trained. The childcare section is for 45 minutes. One member's suggestion: "I usually walk the showroom with my kids, then drop them off while I pick up my order and pay, and if I'm fast enough (rarely) I put it in my car before the pager goes off to pick them up. Oh, and the food there is inexpensive so you can make a day of it. Fun."

For free, high-quality activities, you can't beat libraries!