Teen Escapes

Let’s face it, a DVD and a frozen pizza on Friday night no longer passes for tween or teen entertainment. There’s a lot more for the younger set do out in the big wide world. Here are some teen centers around the Bay Area that offer activities – both structured and unstructured – and classes that teens will enjoy.




Teen Zone. Offers computers, games, movies, cooking, fitness areas and a snack bar. Hours vary, but the center is generally closed weekends. Use of the center requires an annual after-school pass, which is $10. Mill Valley Community Center, 180 Camino Alto. 415-383-1370. millvalley.org.


Novato Teen Center. This facility offers a wide variety of activities for young people in grades 6–12, such as drop-in activities, classes, workshops and trips. The center is staffed by adults, college and high school students. 950 Seventh St. 415-899-8270. cityofnovato.org.


San Francisco/Peninsula


Boys & Girls Clubs of America. In San Francisco, there are nine Boys & Girls Clubs. The clubs, for those 18 and younger, offer leadership development, education and career development, health and life skills, arts, sports, fitness and recreation. Clubs have different hours and phone numbers. bgcsf.org.


Friday Night Fun. The San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department offers a citywide teen program promoting leadership, cultural awareness and social interaction by providing youths with recreational opportunities every Friday evening during the school year. Various locations. 415-934-4858. sfgov.org.


Daly City. Offers after-school programs that include arts and crafts, music, sports and games, homework assistance, and other recreational programs. Various locations. 650-991-8004. ci.daly-city.ca.us.


Brisbane Teen Center. Open to middle- and high-school students, it offers an outdoor basketball court, pool table and big screen TV, as well as scheduled activities, special events and trips. 22 San Bruno Ave. 415-468-6467. ci.brisbane.ca.us.


Pacifica Community Center. Offers monthly teen dances, ongoing recreation classes and other activities for the younger set. It’s in the Linda Mar area and hours vary. 540 Crespi Dr. 650-738-7389. cityofpacifica.org.


Burlingame Teen Lounge. Billed as a safe place for teens to come and hang out, make friends, play video games and enjoy other recreational activities. 850 Burlingame Ave. 650-558-7300. burlingame.org.


The VIBE. Open to grades 6-12, it offers students a place to hang, play games and watch TV. Special events are held as well. Hours vary. 670 Shell Blvd., at the south end parking lot of the recreation center, Foster City. 650-286-3254. fostercity.org.


Belmont Teen Center. This drop-in program for Ralston Middle School students gives them a place to play games, do arts and crafts and homework. Barrett Community Center, 1835 Belburn Dr., Room E.  650-595-7441. belmont.gov.


Red Morton Teen Center. Offers games, homework tutoring, basketball and more. The cost is $10 a year. 1120 Roosevelt Ave., Redwood City. 650-780-7311. ci.redwood-city.ca.us.


Boys & Girls Club, Menlo Park. Offers academics, physical education, science and technology, social education, and visual and performing arts programs. 401 Piece Road. 650-322-6255. bgcp.org.


Mitchell Park Youth and Teen Center. Offers games, computers and homework assistance. Registration required. 3800 Middlefield Road. 650-329-2192. cityofpaloalto.org.

East Bay

Pleasant Hill Park Teen Center. Offers programs for sixth to 12th graders, although some programs are open to younger grades. Classes range from babysitting certification to beginning guitar to Friday night drop-in basketball. The current location is 147 Gregory Lane. 925-682-0896. pleasanthillrec.com.


Pittsburg Community Center. Teen activities include a chess club, fashion design program and fitness center. There’s also a recording studio, drama club and homework help. Hours are mostly after school. 60 Civic Ave. 925-252-0140. stsacademy.org.


Red House Studios, Inc. Offers jam sessions for budding musicians. The venue’s Red House Band Foundry will connect teens with players of the same skill level along with an instructor. Plus, there’s also a summer camp and other occasional events for musicians of all skill levels. 1667 Botelho Dr., Walnut Creek. 925-938-6900. redhouselive.com.


The Underground Teen Center. Open to grades 6-8, it offers computers, games, homework help, sports activities and a safe place to be with friends. Transportation to the site is provided from Chipman, Lincoln, NEA and Wood middle schools for $2 per trip. Center is open weekdays from 3-5:30pm. School pick up is from 2:50-3pm. 2203 Central Ave., Room 170, Alameda. 510-748-9466. ci.alameda.ca.us/arpd/teens.html.


Berkeley Youth Alternative Teen Center. Exposes teens to technology and training in music and video. Runs after-school programs, including, dance, sports and fitness, DJ training, music and video production, and an open mic/poetry workshop. They also offer basketball, college-prep classes and tutoring. 1255 Allston Way, Berkeley. 510-638-3984. byaonline.org.


Urban Services YMCA. Formed to organize three inner city YMCA’s under one umbrella. Each site is located in Oakland and offers sports programs, camps, a speech and debate club, leadership training, and other classes. Eastlake YMCA, 1612 45th Ave. 510-534-7444; YMCA Teen Center, 5908 Foothill Blvd. 510-638-3984; M. Robinson Baker YMCA, 3265 Market St. ymcaeastbay.org.


Middle School Student Unions. Teen centers are located at three Danville middle schools and offer pool tables, games, sports equipment, snack bars and more. Charlotte Wood, 600 El Capitan Dr.; Diablo Vista, 4100 Camino Tassajara; Los Cerros, 968 Belmer Dr. Registration required. 925-314-3400. danvillerecguide.com.


The Elbow Room. A place where teens can hang out with friends,  and play games, music and more. Robert Livermore Community Center, 4444 East Ave. 925-373-5700 (teen activities) or 373-5702, ext. 2 (teen hotline). larpd.dst.ca.us.


Fremont Teen Center. Offers teen band nights, junior high school dances and holiday parties. HangTime during the summer gives teens a place to play games. 39770 Paseo Padre Pkwy. 510-494-4344. ci.fremont.ca.us.


Milpitas Teen Center. Offers a computer lab, homework room, full kitchen, two pool tables, ping pong table, big screen TV and games. Weekly activities and monthly events are also offered. 1325 E. Calaversa Blvd. 408-586-3296. ci.milpitas.ca.gov.


Holly Teen Center. Offers after-school activities for teens, such as basketball, pool, ping pong, crafts and cooking classes. 31600 Alvarado Blvd., Union City. 510-471-6877. union-city.ca.us.


Kristin Bender is a frequent contributor to Bay Area Parent.
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