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Fun Places to Take the Kids

Summer Amusement Park Fun

Bonfonte Gardens features acres of fun and beauty encompassing 22 rides and 20 attractions including theme gardens, food concessions, an event plaza, and 25 of the world famous Circus Trees. This park is wonderful for kids about 8 and under. Lots of kiddie rides for the toddler/preschool set. The gardens are beautiful and immaculately maintained. We have all been impressed with the parks cleanliness.

Paramount’s Great America fun for young and old.

Indoor Play Areas for Kids

Having a problem keeping your children entertained on a rainy day. Here are some of our favorite indoor play areas. Other good rainy day play areas include the museums following this list.

Westfield Shopping Town - Valley Fair Shopping Mall: near Macys there is a wonderful, safe play area for toddlers and young children.

Entertainment and learning for the entire family.

The Jungle
Adventure indoor family entertainment center for children under 12 and their parents.

Chuck E. Cheese
Pizza, rides, and tubes — Chuck E. Cheese restaurants provides hours of indoor entertainment and birthday party opportunities for children and their families.


San Jose Children’s Discovery Museum:
National Award Winner for Exceptional Community Service 2001; 5200 square feet of childhood fun, learning, and adventure!!!

The Tech Museum of San Jose :
San Jose’s Premier Museum of science, technology, and innovation

The Intel Museum:
Learn how transistors work, how microprocessors work, or how a memory chip is made.

San Jose Museum of Art
Kids Art Sundays. This popular monthly program introduces children and their families and friends to contemporary art through musical, theatrical, storytelling, or dance performances, plus hands-on art activities inspired by current exhibitions.

San Francisco Exploratorium
A museum of science, art, and human perception. This museum is geared toward elementary school children; however, we have found that even our preschoolers love going to the Exploratorium.

California Academy of Sciences
Located in San Francisco’s beautiful Golden Gate Park, the California Academy of Sciences is really three museums in one: the Natural History Museum; the Steinhart Aquarium; and the Morrison Planetarium. Plan to visit often as children and adults of all ages love the academy. The first Wednesday of each month is free admission; however, plan for large crowds on that day.

Bay Area Discovery Museum
Just under the North tower of the Golden Gate Bridge is a fantastic place where toddlers to ten-year-olds and their families will find limitless opportunities for discoveries in art, science and media.

Coyote Point Museum
It’s mission is to inspire people of all ages to act responsibly from an informed awareness of, and respect for, the interdependence of people and nature. A fabulous museum for environmental education.

Rosicrucian Museum 
Explore Ancient Egypt’s fascinating view of the afterlife through the extensive collection of human and animal mummies, canopic jars, ushabtis, and detailed funerary boats and models. Discover colorful and precious jewelry, predynastic pottery, glass and alabaster vessels, bronze tools, sculpture, and Coptic textiles.

Palo Alto Junior Museum, 1451 Middlefield Rd., Palo Alto, CA (650) 329-2111


Ardenwood Historical Farm (Fremont)
The East Bay Regional Park District and the City of Fremont invite you to come to Ardenwood and the Patterson House; to picnic, play and see for yourselves what life was like at the turn-of-the-century. It’s a way of life nearly forgotten in the East Bay.

Emma Prusch Farm
In the midst of a bustling city, visitors to Emma Prusch Farm Park experience a bit of San Jose’s rich agricultural past. San Jose’s largest barn is home to everything from sheep, pigs and steer to ducks, chickens, geese and rabbits. The park also features vintage farm equipment, robust community gardens, a rare fruit orchard and acres of open grass perfect for picnicking, kite flying, games and relaxing. Take fun gardening, landscaping and cooking classes throughout the year and don’t miss the cultural and harvest festivals.

San Antonio County Park
One of the most popular destinations for school groups and families within this Open Space Preserve is the Deer Hollow Farm which is operated by the City of Mountain View. A variety of environmental and agricultural education programs are conducted here throughout the year. Deer Hollow Farm is closed on Mondays.


Website for Fremont Regional Parks   Website for Newark Regional Parks

Website for San Jose Regional Parks  Website for Santa Clara County Parks

San Jose Parks with Bathroom Facilities (always important with kids):

Bramhall Park: This park has 2 play areas; one gated with sand, and the other open with sand/foam matting; lots of grass, good bathrooms plus lots of trees for
SHADE! Great park for the afternoon. Kids love chasing all the squirrels.

John D. Morgan Park: This park has a water play area and sprinkler fun.

Jack Fisher Park: This park has a water play area and sprinkler fun)

La Colina Park: Newly remodeled, this park has a great water play area and a wonderful play area just for the wee toddlers.

MariJane Hammon Park: This park has a fenced-in toddler play area.

Paul Moore Park

Lone Hill Park

Campbell Park: Also know as Campbell Central Park, this park has a wonderful water play area and a fenced in toddler play area with water too.

Oak Meadow Park: This park has a real airplane for kids to climb on and a water play area.

Vasona Park: This park has an old-fashioned merry-go-round and a steam engine train that runs on weekends.

Parks Outside the San Jose Area

Golden Gate National Recreation Area
The Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) is the largest urban national park in the world. The total park area is 74,000 acres of land and water. Approximately 28 miles of coastline lie within its boundaries. It is nearly two and one-half times the size of San Francisco.

Tilden Park Botanical Preserve
From a pony ride to a carousel ride, from a picnic and swim at Lake Anza to a stroll through the Botanic Garden, Tilden has variety to delight everyone. Yet there are plenty of quiet places in Tilden’s 2,077 acres to shelter the wildlife and preserve natural beauty.

San Antonio County Park
This 165 acre County Park, combined with the adjacent 2,135 Midpeninsula Regional Open Space Preserve (MROSD), provides 2,300 acres of trails and other recreational features.


Happy Hollow/Kelly Park and Zoo 
Toddler friendly rides, inviting play areas, and a petting zoo for the children; this park is one of our favorites!

The San Francisco Zoo
Located in San Francisco along the Pacific Ocean, the San Francisco Zoo is home to over 250 species of exotic and domestic mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates. The zoo is a delight for children of all ages — 0 to 110!

Oakland Zoo
The Oakland Zoo is nestled in the rolling hills of 525-acre Knowland Park. Each year thousands of families and school groups from around the Bay Area come to visit over 300 native and exotic animals that live in naturalistic habitats at the Zoo.

Beach Get-Aways

Monterey Bay Aquarium
While you are in Monterey visit the Denice The Menace PlaygroundCannery Row, and Fisherman’s Warf. For people with older/water safe children, try your hand at kayaking. The area outside the aquarium provides a wonderful opportunity for beginner level kayak. Explore kelp beds and visit with Sea Otters and Sea Lions. Kayak rentals are available at Monterey Bay Kayaks.

Any of California’s many State Beachs, Natural BridgesState Park
Beach, nature trails, butterfly preserve, and tidepools, this is a great beach for a picnic (arrive early to get a table). Bathroom facilities and cold showers are available. There is a charge for parking within the park, but if you are up to walking you can park free outside the park. This is the only state Monarch preserve in California. The butterflies begin arriving in October and usually leave by March.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk: You just can’t beat the fun at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. California’s only major seaside amusement park. Choose from heart-pounding rides like the Hurricane, Tsunami, and Chaos. Or classic rides like the 1924 Giant Dipper roller coaster and 1911 Looff Carousel. Plus, there are great rides for kids of all ages — over 30 rides in all! Enjoy a day on the beach, walk the warf, or ride the rides — there’s plenty of entertainment for every member of the family.

Pescadero State Beach: F itzgerald Marine Reserve, Near Half Moon Bay — Great Tidepools! Check tide table to arrive at low tide.

Capitola Surrounded by the Santa Cruz Mountains on one side and the Monterey Bay on the other, west of Capitola Village are New Brighton State Beach and Pot Belly Beach and sharing a common boundary with the city is Soquel, which extends up the hillsides that climb all the way to the top of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Between two cliffs in a river valley, lies the beach. Capitola-by-the-Sea is a great place to stroll with a little one, shop the boutinques, grab a bite to eat, or just play on the beach. For vegetarians, you’ll find world renouned Dharma’s Restaurant on Capitola Road in Capitola.

Ano Nuevo State Reserve
This 4,000 acre Reserve is a major gathering area for northern elephant seals, which may be seen year-round. The males battle for mates on the beaches. The females give birth to their young on the dunes. During the breeding season, December 15 through March 31, daily access to the Reserve is available only via guided walks. Advance reservations are recommended for walks.

Point Reyes National Seashore
If you want to see marine mammals at play, Point Reyes National Seashore is wet and wild. An elephant seal overlook at Drake’s Bay offers an impressive vantage point from which to view the 5,000-pound elephant seals as they form a breeding colony from December to March. Listen as the adult male, called a bull, lets out deep bass saxophone-like bellows through his overhanging nose (proboscis). Watch bulls as they barrel into one another like WWF wrestlers in male-dominance contests to impress the ladies. There is also a California sea lion overlook where a 54-step staircase descends the face of a cliff to a platform where you can watch sea lions basking in the sun year-round. This is also a good perch from which to view the California gray whale migration in April. The gray whale undertakes the longest migration of any mammal on the planet: 10,000 miles from Alaska to the shallow lagoons of Baja, California.

While you’re in the area – Kayak Tomales Bay 
Paddle the glassy waters of Tomales Bay with its sheltered coves, tidal marshes, remote beaches, shallow lagoons, and forested ridges. The 15-mile long bay is a pupping site for harbor seals and is the largest unspoiled coastal embayment on the coast of California. Its waters are also a major spawning ground for Pacific herring, as well as an oasis for crab, cod, perch, and halibut. Along its shores, brushy hillsides are home to coastal scrub and Bishop pines with their tight-fisted cones that only open up when exposed to the heat of forest fire.

Fun Family Places

Santa Cruz, Big Trees & Pacific Railway Company
Take a timeless ride on an old fashioned steam passenger train through the Santa Cruz redwoods.

California’s Beautiful Caverns
Sierra Nevada Recreation Corporation is dedicated to bringing the wonders of natural caverns to the general public while preserving their delicate environment. They operate four caverns in California. All of them are located in beautiful countryside; three in the historic gold country of the Sierra Nevada foothills; the fourth in the spectacular Kings River Canyon, Sequoia National Forest. Visit their website for more information.