By Emily Bernstein 

“Mom, we’re bored. Why can’t we play outside? I’m hungry. She’s touching me. No I’m not!” You get the idea. With the mere hint of rain, one can already hear those voices begging for something to do.

Luke-childrens-museum-72In California, we can usually count on the option of going to the beach, playing at the park and being outside year-round; without the extensive clean up that wet, cold, cranky, muddy kids require post puddle hopping.

Don’t despair! San Luis Obispo offers multiple rainy day activities to engage youngsters no matter the day or time.

Let’s start with a good story.

The San Luis Obispo County Library hosts story times for all ages. Cuddling with your kids in the warm corner of the library makes the rain outside seem like a lovely natural melody tapping against the windows. On another note, it might give you a solid three minutes not chasing a sprinter in an Elsa dress across the library.

The library is located at 995 Palm St. in San Luis Obispo 93401 and its hours are 10 a.m. -7 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Story times:

  • Preschool Story time: Monday at 10:30 a.m.
  • Toddler Time: Tuesday at 10:30 a.m.
  • Paws to Read: 4th Thursday at 3:30 p.m.
  • Spanish Story time with Sara and Pedro: 4th Monday at 5:30 p.m.
  • Teen Book Group: 3rd Friday at 3:30 p.m.
  • SLO Library Book Club: 2nd Thursday at 10:30 a.m.

And for those times when even Maurice Sendak and the Wild Things can’t hold a little one’s attention the library offers moving pictures. On the first Saturday of each month, these free movies can provide a temporary respite from actual parenting and comes with a side of buttery popcorn.

Let’s be honest, the Central Coast just isn’t that without “beach days.” Take advantage of the rain and head indoors for an experience that would probably have you pushing over four-year olds and screaming as loud as one if it actually happened on a beach day.

At the Central Coast Aquarium (50 San Juan Street, Avila Beach), kids can touch and view everything from guppies to anemones to sharks (that’s right) in an interactive exhibit. The Central Coast Aquarium specializes in exhibits that display native ocean species. Visit the aquarium between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, or Monday 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Not only will the beautiful underwater animals fascinate children, but your kids will be attended to enthusiastic staff who are well trained and full of the patience with preschoolers that you may have ran out of by 10 a.m.

San Luis Obispo is also home to several museums, which will captivate children’s imagination, pique their interest and, more than likely, flip their “What’s that” switch.

jack childrens museumIf playing is all that your five-year-old can think about, the San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum (1010 Nipomo St. in San Luis Obispo) is the place to be. Opened in 1990, the San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum has spent more than 20 years making their creative and active play space available for as many kids a possible. Check out the huge building blocks, science stations, indoor climbing structures, kinetic sand, painting, pretend doctor’s office and kitchen, life size toy trucks, and performance stage.

It’s okay to admit that you’ve always wanted to explore this place. Yes, it is as cool as you always knew it would be. Now remember to share, wait your turn and don’t push your kid out of the way to get to the kinetic sand.

The Children’s Museum is open Monday through Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.

Got that young Picasso who likes to “do art” on everything from the coloring book to the bedroom wall? As an artistic institution on the Central Coast, the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art showcases various forms of art and creativity. Strolling through its halls on a rainy day will provide inspiration for both you and your children. Now until January 29 the museum is offering an event that intersects California’s National Parks through paintings by Leslie Love Stone.

Maybe that sounds risky because your precious kiddo might think that the artwork needs to be “redone” by a younger artist or “touched up” with a squeezable yogurt packet. In that case, head over to Anam Cré Pottery Studio (1243 Monterey St. San Luis Obispo CA) where your Play-Doh savant can actually make something useful. Check out their pottery classes for kids on Tuesdays and Thursdays, between 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Railroad museum_6982_72Name a time where your child hasn’t stared with wide eyes when a train passed. That’s right, you can’t. Kids love trains. Gigantic, blaring, and fast—trains are intriguing. Taking them to the San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum (Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) will let them experience little model trains, massive real trains to climb on, and lots of opportunities to practice their verbal train whistle.

No need to dread cloudy skies anymore. This winter make a point of taking your children to visit all the places for Central Coast rainy day fun.

Still looking for more rainy day activities? Check out last year’s rainy day guide post.


Emily Bernstein spent years shepherding kids through rainy day activities during her time as camp counselor and recreations worker. She is currently studying communications at Cal Poly, and is serving as the communications intern for the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce