U-Me [Permanently Closed] - Places For Kids

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Hop N Play

1150 El Camino Real
San Bruno, CA 94066

One of the great advantages to Hop N Play is the all-day admission ticket that allows you and the kids to play, go shopping and eat at the Food Court, and come back until closing time. Even when there are private birthday parties going on, Hop N Play allows open play sessions to run concurrently, which is unlike some of the child entertainment centers. There are slides, there is an entire room dedicated to balloons, and a bouncy room to get out the wiggles. Smaller children may want to become toy train operators for a while, build Lego houses, or make obstacle courses out of blocks for the small toy cars. If you've ever had to get the disappointed look from the kids when telling them not to hang on things, or not jump on the bed, you can let them go wild here. There are floaty balls made to sustain a child's weight, so that they can get arm exercise by hanging on while the ball goes around in a circle. There's a water bed where they are allowed to jump. Maybe the jelly bean carousel is a far cry from an old-fashioned merry-go-round, but it can certainly help the kids to operate their imaginations. The teeter-totter, enlarged hamster wheel, and climbing area all move as the kids move, which adds a little welcome bit of scare factor for those who want just a bit of thrill. One of the disadvantages is the lack of a bathroom inside the actual Hop N Play facility, although there is a family bathroom complete with changing table, outside and down one hall. With proper trip planning, this shouldn't be too much of an issue – but bringing a diaper bag stocked with plenty of wipes would probably help for unforseen accidents. Reviewers have also mentioned that older children can sometimes push around the younger ones, so it's good to keep an eye out for your kids while having some much-needed chat time with other parents.

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Peekadoodle Kids Club

900 North Point St. F100
San Francisco, CA 94109

Peekadoodle is a mix between a childcare center, a playdate, and the Exploratorium. The location can't be beat, since it's near Fishermans' Wharf and the Golden Gate Bridge. The provided snacks reflects the area, from smoked salmon and capers to a full-out pizza party, and there's a model of the Golden Gate Bridge inside. The store fronts, dress-up areas, and slide are kept clean, along with the full-scale San Francisco cable car. Parents can even wait in comfort, on a suede bench. Since the owners are two moms who wanted to have an educational facility where their kids could have fun (and they could focus on personal development and/or work), there are actual classes to be had: art, cooking, Legos, self-defense, Music and Movement, etc. The Prep drop-off program normally lasts for 3 hours, though extended Prep is an option. The Academy is for toddlers aged 2 and ½ to 5 years old can be part-day or full day, and requires an application plus initial non-refundable fee ($75). They can also enroll in a week-long Kidscamp. The Clubhouse is for fun and horsing around. Class sizes are kept to a reasonable 12:2 ratio spread over 7 classrooms, and enrollment stops at 100 kids. Even the goodie bags reflect responsibility, since they include hand sanitizer. Personal responsibility for the adults must be exercised, as alcohol is allowed on-site. Parents may want to investigate discounts, especially if they want to sign up for Summer Kidscamp or date night drop-offs. Also, since many parents and mompreneurs may be the networking types, it's worth considering having a Peekadoodle-endorsed family photo shoot done by Niall David, or investigating the nearby Tutu School on Bay Street.

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Playland Sausalito

610 Coloma St Bldg 6, Sausalito, CA 94965

Parents love the clean bathrooms, free coffee and tea offerings, stack of magazines, and friendly staff. Kids love the bouncy castles, train tables, arts and crafts tables, and music classes. Oh, and there's also the toddler bouncy zone, puppets, snack tables, and free cookies. Who could say no to free? Actually, that's just the offerings for the younger tots (parents of all ages are welcome to the free snacks and magazines). Some of the three to five-year-olds will probably want to investigate the air hockey tables, basketball hoops, and plastic cars and wagons that are just screaming for bumper car time. The air slide can be good for kids of all ages, but the younger ones may need some help. Since Playland Sausalito is geared toward kids of up to 9 years old, there are drop-off times for the six to nine-year-olds in the afternoons so parents can run errands....or whatever they like. When the description says 'jumpies' or 'bouncy castles', that doesn't just mean two with one under constant repair with duct tape. One of the slides on one of the jumpies measures 15 feet long, and another is an inflatable gym. The older kids can get out some serious energy and practice bad British accents during jousting contests, play dodgeball, or miss a lot of spikes in volleyball practice. If you have a climber, send him (or her) to the climbing wall. If you have a budding Michaelangelo, bring a plastic smock and send them to the art tables. For future environmental activists, let them know that the paper is recyclable and the balloons are biodegradable. Getting a tattoo and a balloon animal helps everyone leave happy. If your kids have a great experience during the week, think about signing up the older ones for a summer camp experience, or a Flag Football camp in March at the Strawberry Recreation field.

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Pump It Up

1309 Elmer St.
Belmont, CA 94002

Pump It Up is definitely geared toward private parties and birthdays, but that doesn't mean that open jump sessions can be any less fun. How could they be, with so many things to do? If you're not into air hockey, there are lots of ways to discover your leg muscles on the bouncers. If you'd rather slide than climb rocks, there are small slides and big slides. Imagination blocks can serve as a faux Legoland experience, and the Octagon is a challenge for everyone. If group activities are your thing, check out the soccer and basketball zones. Just remember to bring your socks along with the kids. What's really great is that there are separate rooms with different activity zones, so that movement is restricted but everyone gets a turn. Since it's nearly impossible to jump for more than an hour without getting sweaty, workout clothing is recommended. Also, since it's nearly impossible for children and adults to be around inflatable structures without things happening, everyone has to watch a safety video before their session. Make sure you get in at least 20 minutes early, to allow enough time for parking, checking in (and signing the safety waiver), and watching the video. Any delays means that you don't get to bounce as much, and staff members have to keep to the schedule. If you come once with the kids and then decide to host an adult party at 7 pm – that can be accomodated. Adults will be pleased to know that their belongings will not be left out in an open cubbyhole, like a pair of shoes. No, your belongings get taken from one room to the next in a pushcart, although after 40 minutes of running around bouncy houses, you might need a pushcart yourself. Warning: adults may get caught up in the spirit of the thing, and start yelling show tunes while thumping down the slides. It has been known to happen.

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Recess

470 Carolina St.
San Francisco, CA 94107

Recess is no longer an outdated word for children shoving in line to get on the school swings. Recess Urban Recreation is a toddler and preschooler play zone that's mainly indoors, so remember to bring the required socks. Since parents are welcome to be involved, there's free WiFi access and an honor-system kitchenette with coffee, and microwaves for chicken fingers or mac and cheese – for you or the kids. Every child personality is covered - mirrors fascinate the thinkers, the slides and swing offer movement for the active ones – even a gated area for the speed crawlers. There are eco-friendly wooden toys for the chewers and builders, and a lighted tunnel for the observers. No need to worry about clean-up, as there are many bins that slobbery toys can be tossed into for staff to clean and sanitize. Also, if you want a safe place for teaching the kids that clean-up is a great privilege, there are plastic brooms and vacuums that can give them the general idea. Once they get tired of parents pushing chores on them, there's always carpentry and gymnastics. The readers can quietly while away time, and there are a variety of choices. Beyond story time and musical art, the weekly playgroups can add some consistency and Q&A time with other adults. Also, though only members can reserve space for the In a Pinch childcare slots, this can be a great way to run toddler-free errands. There's a good blend of kids' classes: cooking, crafts, music, obstacle courses, yoga. The parent classes are even better, whether you want to learn CPR or Pilates with other parents, or have the guidance of experts on how to make it through the Terrible Two's and potty training. Required extra payments for the class and childcare is worth it, especially for physical therapy sessions.

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