Rainy Day Activities for Kids in Santa Cruz County

rainy day activities for kids in santa cruz

Photo by Kelley Thompson

It’s raining, it’s pouring, the kids think everything’s boring…

Time to get them out of the house!

To prevent everyone from going stir-crazy during cold, wet weather, keep these ideas on your rainy day bucket list for indoor fun in Santa Cruz.

Burn Off Energy

When the rainy day forts, board games, and video games just aren’t cutting it anymore, get the kids moving their bodies at the following places which offer open gym and drop-in times.


Rainy day activities

Your kids get a trampoline, slides, ball pit, and ride on toys…you get a relaxing lounge area with super fast wifi. Win win!

What: Indoor playground
Where: Capitola Mall
Website: http://www.gigglesnwigglescapitola.com

Pump’d Family Activity Center

Got kids bouncing off the walls at home? Take them to Pump’d, a huge indoor bouncy play space that has open jump hours during the week and flexible open jumps on the weekend.

What: Inflatable fun center
Where: 555 Main St., Watsonville
Website: http://www.pumpdfuncenter.com

Additional Places to Burn Off Energy

Explore and Be Inspired

Opportunities for learning abound in Santa Cruz County. Stimulate their minds and stay dry at the following museums and exploration centers.

Santa Cruz Children’s Museum of Discovery

Rainy day activities

MOD is made for little discoverers and their families with a dedicated space for toddlers two and under, plus interactive exhibits with hands-on activities for all ages, including parents. Kids can explore the unique wonders of Santa Cruz County through ocean, forest, agriculture, and technology-themed areas.

What: Children’s museum
Where: Capitola Mall
Website: http://www.sccmod.org

Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History

Save the whale climbing for a sunny day and take the kids inside the Museum of Natural History where they can explore a touch pool, dig for fossils, and check out Ohlone artifacts, among other interactive exhibits.

What: Museum of Natural History
Where: 1305 East Cliff Drive
Website: http://santacruzmuseum.org

Seymour Marine Discovery Center

Rainy day activities

The Seymour Center is like a slice of the Monterey Bay Aquarium in our own backyard. Touch a sea star, pet a shark, and take a tour of a working marine laboratory. If there’s a break in the rain, head outside to check out the outdoor giants: an 87-foot blue whale skeleton (Ms. Blue), gray whale skeleton, and life-sized elephant seal replicas.

What: Seaside exploration center
Where: 100 Shaffer Road
Website: http://seymourcenter.ucsc.edu

Canepa Motorsports Museum

Canepa Motorsports Museum

Home to an amazing collection of racing cars and motorcycles, this little-known car museum in Scotts Valley is open to the public Monday to Saturday, from 10am to 5pm. Read more about Canepa in My #SantaCruzLife.

What: Racing car museum
Where: Scotts Valley
Website: http://canepa.com

Additional Places to Explore

Imagine and Create

Kids will forget rainy day boredom at the following places which offer creative outlets for art and hands-on activities in a variety of fields.

Petroglyph Ceramic Lounge

Rainy day activities

Kids can choose a piece of pottery and personalize it to their heart’s content. No need to rush; a day pass allows you to come and go as you please, or take a little break in the “Kids Cave” and watch a video.

What: Paint-your-own pottery studio
Where: 125 Walnut Avenue
Website: http://www.petroglyph.com

Update: Try Petroglyph’s sister store, Glow Candle Lounge, to create personalized candles. Perfect for gifts or for when the power goes out during a rainstorm.

Learn to Discover

Rainy day activities

Shop while your child learns through hands-on activities focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math.

What: STEAM activities for preschool through high school
Where: Capitola Mall
Website: http://learntodiscover.org

Kaiwa Art & Play Space

Kaiwa’s unique environment encourages kids ages 1-12 to express themselves through conversation, art, play, experimentation, and invention. Collaboration with professionals from diverse fields and sharing ideas with the community are part of the magic.

What: Play space, art studio & experimental gallery
Where: 185 Walnut Ave.
Website: http://www.kaiwaspace.org

Art Lab Boulder Creek

Art Lab celebrates creativity and provides space for studio painting, mixed media, collage, drawing, sculpture and more!

What: Studio art classes
Where: 13124 Highway 9
Website: https://www.facebook.com/bouldercreekartlab/

Play While You Shop

Not only do the following businesses cater to families, they provide play space to occupy your child so you can shop semi-distraction free.

Jelli Beanz

A cute, enclosed kitchen play area corrals your kids while you shop new and gently used clothing, toys, books, music, and equipment.

Where: 2555 Soquel Dr.
Website: http://www.jellibeanzonline.com

Wonderland Toys & Classroom Resources

A crafting table, dress up area, and pretend kitchen are more than enough to keep kids entertained while you check out Wonderland’s selection of quality specialty toys, gifts, books, games, and classroom resources.

Where: 4101-B2 Soquel Dr.
Website: http://www.wonderlandsantacruz.com

Additional Rainy Day Activities

  • Get cozy at one of our 10 public library branches and be sure to check out books for some rainy day reading at home—inside your rainy day fort, of course!
  • Save sunny days for the beach and head to a theater for popcorn and a movie.
  • Kids can play video games at home, but not air hockey, skee-ball, laser tag, miniature golf, and bowling! Enjoy the Boardwalk Bowl, Arcade, and Neptune’s Kingdom year round.
  • On Wednesdays, 10 – 11am, bring your toddler to Preschool Storytime at Bookshop Santa Cruz.
  • Most coffee shops around town will cater to kids, but The Abbey is known to make an adorable kids’ hot chocolate. Looking for a coffee shop with dedicated kid space? Try The Ugly Mug in Soquel or Companion Bakeshop on the westside.Rainy day activities

Lastly, nothing looks and smells fresher than a redwood forest after a rainy day. The forest comes alive with banana slugs, newts, mushrooms, streams, and waterfalls–plenty to fascinate children of all ages. So once the rain subsides, get back outdoors and enjoy our surrounding natural beauty.

Forest post rain

About Christine Candelaria

Christine Candelaria is a local mom of four who enjoys sharing her Santa Cruz adventures. You can follow her #santacruzlife on Instagram at @theaumsmama.