All parents know that the best things in life are most definitely free. What can a fancy new car or high-tech gadget compare to a good morning kiss, a day of games and fun, an afternoon snuggled with your little one and a good book, a bedtime hug? What's more, opportunities in the Bay Area for high quality, low cost fun aren't limited to library storytimes or city festivals. Here are some ways Bay Area parents can enjoy the best things in life with their little ones, at little or no cost:
Free Museum Days
Many popular Bay Area museums—California Academy of Sciences, Asian Art Museum, SFMOMA, Exploratorium, Bay Area Discovery Museum and more—offer free admission days to the public at regular intervals (check each museum's website for specific days and times). Additionally, Bank of America cardholders get free admission to The Tech Museum of Innovation, Chabot Space & Science Center, Children's Creativity Museum, San Jose Museum of Art, Contemporary Jewish Museum, de Young Museum and Legion of Honor on the first full weekend of every month. Free admission applies only to cardholders, but four out of the seven museums give free admission to children (age cutoffs vary) anyway, so it's still a great deal. Visitor numbers tend to swell during free days, but if you plan to arrive early, it's a great way to see some of the best museums in the area for free.
Free Craft Sessions
Creativity doesn't have to take the weekend off—just find one of the many free arts and crafts workshops taking place around the Bay Area on Saturday mornings. Kids love them because they get to make and take home some seriously cool projects, and parents love them because there's no mess to clean up at home. At Lakeshore Learning's free Saturday craft sessions, kids can make cute art projects like photo frames and door hangers using basic art supplies, while at Michael's craft stores host craft events where parents can purchase a base craft material and kids can decorate and embellish with supplies on hand. And don't miss The Home Depot's Saturday Kids Workshops, where young builders learn tool safety and DIY skills while assembling their own hands-on craft. They even get an orange Home Depot apron to take home!
Free Ranger Programs
The best way to teach children how to care about the earth is to expose them to nature. Positive and frequent experiences with nature during the early years can help children develop a lifelong sense of appreciation and responsibility for the environment. If you don't know where to start, try a free family program at one of the parks and wildlife areas around the Bay Area. Whether it's a bird walk, a nature drawing session or a coastal cleanup day, these ranger or naturalist-led programs will teach you and your family more about the world around you as you spend a fun day in the fresh air. Check out the offerings at the Golden Gate Recreational Center, Don Edwards SF Bay National Wildlife Refuge Center, or East Bay Regional Park District.
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