Fun for Them, Easy for You

Ana Picazo - San Francisco Bay Area
December 24, 2012

After all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, no one can blame a busy parent for wanting to catch their breath and take it easy. But try telling that to your little bundle of energy! No matter how many holiday parties you've attended, your child always seems ready to get up and run around again the next day. This week, give your tired bones a break and check out some places where little ones can play while parents watch from the sidelines:

Bay Area Discovery Museum, Sausalito

Bay Area kids love to run around the Bay Area Discovery Museum because the inside looks so much like the real-life world they see every day. The Bay Hall is full of familiar landmarks from the ports of San Francisco and Oakland, and the art studios and craft workshops contain the supplies they love to work with, so you can sit back as they give free reign to their imagination. All exhibits are hands-on, so you don't have to run after your little explorer, pleading with him to stop touching things. Best of all, kids can run around the museum's outdoor area while parents recharge their spirits by soaking in the spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the City, and the surrounding hills.

Children's Creativity Museum, San Francisco

At the Children's Creativity Museum, hi-tech rules the day: around here, kids get to handle the latest digital tools to create multimedia works of art. They can film their own clay animation sequence, make a music video, compose a soundtrack, or bring digital art to life. Project stations are staffed by skilled artists or guides, so parents can sit back and watch as their children's imagination unfolds. They even get to take their creations home with them, so they'll end the day with a whole lot more than just memories! 

Play Cafe, Oakland

The Play Cafe appeals to kids and parents because it's clean, safe, and fun. Your little one can occupy herself for hours at the pretend toy store, tea room, dress-up room, or puppet-show stage. There's a ball pit, train room, reading nook and art/puzzle room, all well-stocked with high-quality toys and books. What's more, the whole space can easily be viewed from the sitting area at all times, so parents aren't chasing after their kids. Instead, they can sit, sip a cup of coffee or foamy chai tea, leaf through magazines, surf the internet (they have free wi-fi) and relax. When (or if) your little one realizes her tummy is growling, she can join you for a healthy snack (think fruit smoothies, fruit and cheese platters, or hummus and pita)

Magic Mountain Playground, San Mateo

There's magic in San Mateo's Coyote Point Recreation Area—the Magic Mountain Playground, that is. From the two giant purple dragons flanking the playground's five-foot hill to the 42-foot high castle slide perched atop the hill, this is a place where fairytales come true. A variety of attractions including tire swings, regular swings, a wobbly platform, and ride-on cars ensure hours of fun and play for kids of all ages. An added bonus: the playground is fenced in, so little ones can't wander off too far.

Pump It Up, Sunnyvale

This indoor party place in Sunnyvale is the tried and tested birthday party venue. What better way to let your little jumping beans get their wiggles out: have them jump up and down to their heart's content. Kids start bouncing as soon as they catch sight of all those giant inflatables—slides, obstacle courses, tracks and boxing rings—just waiting to be attacked. Some of those bigger slides can get scary for smaller kids, so right next door is Pump It Up Junior, with slightly smaller inflatables designed for those under six. Both locations have pop-in playtimes a couple of ties a week, so you don't have to wait for a birthday party to jump with excitement.

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