Just like Paul Revere, parents are roaming the countryside, going from playdate to playdate, warning anyone they can find: The Rains Are Coming, The Rains Are Coming! It's getting colder and wetter, and that means bundling up at the park, cutting those outings short... or staying indoors entirely. Whatever the weather, children need some kind of physical outlet, and parents can only take so many arguments and laps around the coffee table. Here are some great places to shake the ants out of your kids' pants when the weather won't cooperate:
Exploratorium, San Francisco
At the Exploratorium, kids can take learning into their own hands, literally. There are hundreds of amazing hands-on exhibits spread out over the warehouse-sized space, exploring the concepts of biology, physics, listening, cognition, and visual perception. Kids of all ages—grownups too!—will enjoy playing with amazing gadgets like the giant bubble wand, pedal generator, wind machines, giant chair, smoke signal maker, and more. Don't miss the hands-on demonstrations upstairs. If you're lucky, you'll get to see a cow's eye dissection!
Children's Discovery Museum, San Jose
What could be better on a rainy day than a big indoor playground? Why, a big indoor playground that encourages learning through exploration. The Children's Discovery Museum is full of interesting things to discover. The water play area is bigger than any bathtub at home, their arts and crafts activities let kids paint and glue without messing up mom's kitchen, and no one is ever going to say, "Don't Touch!"
Habitot Museum, Oakland
Habitot may be a small museum for small children, but it packs a big punch. The museum has won multiple awards over the years, and as soon as you step into the museum, you'll know why. What infant, toddler or young child doesn't enjoy wheeling a cart around the Little Town Grocery and Cafe, choosing plastic food from bins, paying at the cash register, then sitting down with mommy for a pretend tea? How can they resist splashing in the Waterworks play area, with all its waterwheels, pumps and buckets? There's even a fenced-in infant/toddler garden with wooden carrots to plant or harvest.
CuriOdyssey, San Mateo
Formerly known as Coyote Point Museum, CuriOdyssey has some fascinating exhibits—a fog machine, optical illusions, magnetic sculptures, a walk-through aviary, a live honeybee colony—to keep your kids open-mouthed the entire time they're there. And once you're done with the museum, there's always the nearby Magic Mountain Playground (which is so good we'll even brave the cold weather for it!).
Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo, Palo Alto
The Junior Museum and Zoo is always a big hit with the local small fry. The museum features fun hands-on diplays that change once or twice a year; their latest exhibit, Buzzz, showcases the world of insects through an amazing hands-on exhibit with bug collections and plenty of chance to learn through play. The adjacent zoo is home to an assortment of animals from the domestic (geese and turtles) to the exotic (peacocks, sand sharks and bats).
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